8th March 2023

Last Wednesday evening I was certain that I would be writing this “thought” inspired by the excellent concert I had just heard given by the Bristol Consort. Then I got to the weekend and all was changed as I watched the second episode of “Beyond Paradise”, the new BBC comedy police drama. It had an absurd plot, resorted to melodrama and took unlikely shortcuts to reach its conclusion so this is not exactly a recommendation but I found myself moved nonetheless. The emotional appeal of the episode relied on the importance of family. There is a thread running where the lead couple cannot even start their family and we see the emotional, financial and practical turmoil that can result from the rounds of IVF. At the same time, we saw another apparently happy family almost destroyed by betrayal and lies. But, in the best traditions and somewhat improbably, love and forgiveness win through in the end.

As I watched I remembered that melodrama, humour and the occasional unlikely plot twist are characteristics of many parables told by Jesus. I am sure that the first hearers were drawn in to stories such as the prodigal son by the same clever devices that are used by modern script-writers, directors and actors. Perhaps the trick is not to worry too much about the practicalities of the plot but to open ourselves to the teller’s messages.

Nick Parsons