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Reform Magazine | July 13, 2024

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Reviews October 2022 - Reform Magazine

Reviews October 2022

Testing conventions

Doctor Who Am I
Directed by Matthew Jacobs & Vanessa Yuille
Certificate 12a, 80 minutes
Released in cinemas 27 October and
DVD & Digital 28 November

What is a church, and why do people attend it? This is a documentary about Doctor Who fandom and conventions. At no point does it suggest, at least not in so many words, that such gatherings might be churches. Hold that word, ‘gathering’. It’s one that those of us who are religious often employ to describe ‘church’.

Screenwriter Matthew Jacobs has, for many years, avoided attending such gatherings, and the accompanying visits to individual fans’ houses they would also entail. With good reason, or so he thinks. He was the writer of the US TV movie Doctor Who (1996), the ill-fated attempt to relaunch the much-loved BBC franchise in the US market, in which the Doctor was played by Paul McGann.

As Jacobs sees it, in his script he made two mistakes. Firstly, he recast the alien Doctor – a Time Lord – as half human. Secondly, he had the Doctor kiss a girl. And now he fears that if he were to turn up at a Doctor Who convention, the fans would crucify him for these innovations which seemed such a good idea at the time.

However, it turns out he couldn’t be more wrong. It’s true that some fans didn’t like what he did (‘you ruined my childhood,’ says one cheerfully), but they are swift to distance any such judgements from who Jacobs might be as a person and, circulating a cosplaying Time Fairy, a Dalek hat- and dress-wearer, and Tardis Tara – who transports her lovingly recreated full-sized model of the Tardis from one event to the next – he finds himself universally loved and appreciated.

Conventions aren’t churches. Jacobs gets paid for attending ($15 per signature, which can clearly add up to a tidy sum) and admits to enjoying the worship heaped upon him. Conventions are, however, both gatherings and communities.

Fandom even fulfils functions we might ascribe to our faith – one woman talks about how her love of the TV show ‘pulled her out of her head’ when dealing with grief following the loss of her husband in 2009. This fascinating and provocative film, while not about the Christian Church or our faith as such, has a great deal to teach us.

Jeremy Clarke is a film critic. His website is


Yes and no faith

Do I stay Christian? A guide for the doubters, the disappointed and the disillusioned
Brian McLaren
Hodder and Stoughton

Brian McLaren is a much-travelled person – in several senses. As a teacher, pastor, writer and speaker he is frequently away from his home in Florida. As a person he has journeyed from youthful certainty through questioning, challenge, fearful doubt, and into places which some might call both humble and wise. As a Christian he has been led from the security of a conservative, fundamentalist upbringing through a sometimes disturbing and sometimes exhilarating wildness where belief and reality collide, until today he finds himself in a spacious place where Christianity can be much more concerned with being honest, understanding and open-heartedly generous than being doctrinally correct. A lifetime’s experience has taught that the process of evolution has as much to say to ideas and faith as it does to biology….

Ian Fosten is Book Reviews Editor for Reform


Past speaks to present

Celtic Prayer: Caught up in love
Edited by David Cole
Bible Reading Fellowship
ISBN 978 1 80039 053 9

This compilation comes from the Community of Aidan and Hilda, which takes its inspiration from Celtic saints. It is a dispersed community with a residential base on Holy Island, Lindisfarne. Over some 30 years the community has developed an ethos and lifestyle which is well represented in this book. The purpose of the book is to help those who have been ‘stuck in a rut’ by offering diverse ways in which readers can find ‘fresh ways of communicating with the Divine’.

Some themes will be familiar to readers: discovering a rhythm to prayer; ways to pray for social justice; praying as a disabled person, or for gender equality and diversity in society. Less familiar may be a section on spiritual warfare in which the writers suggest ways of loving people and resisting evil…

Richard Church is a retired minister and Convener of URC Spirituality


This article was published in the October 2022 edition of Reform

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