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Cracker: it's a cracker

It is probably a good thing that I find telly increasingly boring. I've  always watched too much, and to have that temptation removed by restlessness is much easier than to have to resist it through discipline. But I quite miss the days where I was at least capable of sitting down for more than 20 minutes at a time and genuinely enjoying something without feeling like it was stealing a chunk of my life. So now, whenever I do find something that successfully keeps me entertained enough to not count the minutes, it's quite satisfying.

One recent such discovery has been 'Cracker'…they were repeating it on one of the ITV channels last year and, thus inspired, we've managed to pin down a generous-hearted friend with a boxset. It is gripping stuff…

Mr W says it's a program for ladies, cos it's all about a man who understands you perfectly, and that's what ladies like. He could be right. Most programs for ladies don't have so much violence, depravity and shock-factor plot lines though.

At the heart of it, there really is some remarkably empathetic and even warm writing, which the central performance -- by Coltrane, as police-assisting psychologist Fitz -- aptly matches. Even though he's the classic anti-hero -- drink, gambling, rudeness and crudeness -- yet his insight and his awareness of personal weakness makes him irresistible, to the point that even some of the criminals he is set to interrogate seem more relieved than anything else when he perfectly describes the darkest places in their minds and then owns up to having something of the same dark instincts in himself. There is a 'goodness' to him which almost seems to spring from his humility in the light of his own acknowledged 'badness'…indeed, an ongoing theme is the magnetic appeal that he has whilst being superficially rather unappealing. This lands him in all sorts of trouble though, and in spite of his good intentions he doesn't half make a mess of things, as his family (and various other) relationships bear testimony to.

It was said of Jesus that he 'knew what was in man' (John 2:23-25; see also Matt 9:4). The gospels contain many powerful stories of his encounters with people; how he astounded them with his knowledge and insight, and with an access to information that certainly seemed to be supernatural (Fitz's insight, of course, is very much limited to his grasp of psychology). One of my favourites is the account of his meeting with a woman by a well in a Samaritan village.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. (Read the full story in John 4:1-42)

Jesus does not make this revelation in order to embarrass or condemn her, rather to offer her a right understanding of who he was (and who she herself was) and the opportunity for healing and restoration from her broken life in the context of a relationship with God. While Fitz's insight comes only with the reassurance of shared sinfulness, Jesus' insight comes with true hope, precisely because of his sinlessness:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:17-21)
It says in Hebrews (4:15-16) that Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father, and that, having entered into this world and shared in our experiences and suffering, he is able to completely identify with our struggles and weaknesses:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


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