Emily Graves spoke with Dai Woolridge about his innovative Christmas resources
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Emily: What is Spoken Truth?
Dai: Spoken Truth essentially is communicating gospel truth through spoken words. That's kind of my heart. It's looking at the medium of spoken word, which to be honest with you is really current at the minute. It's like poetry but sounds cooler and its sort-of hip-hop rap but its less gangsta. So it's a good equilibrium, but it's a really great way of communicating and it's been something I've been developing throughout the years as a writer, as a poet, as a performer and it's an exciting medium to communicate in because it's got lots of pace and lots of rhythm and rhyme, it's snappy, it's using words in different ways. But Spoken Truth, it's all about using that medium to communicate gospel truth. What I mean by that is essentially who Jesus is, who I believe him to be, what the nature of God is and what he's about. That's my heart: to communicate what I believe to be biblical gospel truths; what it says about God in the Bible in a new, fresh, creative way through spoken word.
Emily: Last Christmas, you launched a video on YouTube called "A Christmas Chord".
Dai: Yes, that's right.
Emily: And following launching this video you got about 20,000 views. So tell us a little bit about the story, about what happened and about this video last year.
Dai: To be honest with you it was just incredible how it all happened. Basically, I just had the heart to do a spoken-word piece on Christmas. It all started when I saw a YouTube video by this guy in America called Jefferson Bethke. I don't know if you've seen it but he did a video called "Why I hate religion but love Jesus" and just comparing the difference between following religion and also being in a relationship with Jesus and looking at the differences within that. It caused a bit of controversy but it also provoked a lot of questions and it ended up going viral all over YouTube. He did it through spoken words and I think he ended up getting just about five million views in the space of 48 hours. I was really blown away by it and how accessible it was, not just to Christians such as myself but to anyone to look at: What do you think religion is? What do you think Christianity is? What do you think church is about? What do you think God's about? Who is Jesus? You know, all these questions that so many of us have and it was just a really fresh way to look at faith from another point of view. I was really inspired and I thought I'd like to do that. So I got right in and thought it would be great to get something out for Christmas; to look at the story of Christmas from a different point of view. I thought I'd put pen to paper and ended up writing the nativity story. To be honest with you I had no clue what was going to happen, but I put it out there, got some friends to tweet about it and blog about it in the first week and it ended up really gathering momentum and people got behind it and supporting it and I felt really humbled. I think it showed that there was a need for it and there was a want to look at Christmas from a different point of view, in a fresh way. So I'm just blown away by the support. In the first eight days I got 5,000 views and it built up momentum from there.
Emily: So why is the Christmas story so important?
Dai: That's a great question. To be honest with you, I think if you take a step back and look at the Christmas story, what it's about in its essence in terms of Jesus coming on earth: it changed everything. I think it can be so easy to get wrapped up in all the trimmings around Christmas and there's nothing wrong with that - I think its fantastic - but I think it can be so easy to forget why we celebrate Christmas. The fact of the matter is as a Christian I believe that Jesus came down on this earth and we celebrate his birth; the fact that he's the Son of God coming down on earth. But it's not just celebrating a baby being born in a manger: it's what that means. If you take a step back from that, it's essentially all a part of God's rescue plan for humanity; the fact that he wants to be in a relationship with us, he wants us to know him, he wants to love us and to be known and loved by him. The plan always was for us to be made to be in relationship with him and Jesus coming on earth was a part of that plan because we can't save ourselves but he can save us. The fact I believe that Jesus grew up to be the man that he was; that he died on a cross and came back to life three days later - you know, it all started from those humble beginnings in a stable: a vulnerable little baby. I think it's just an incredible story and I think if you put it in perspective the Christmas story represents the whole of Christianity and what it's about: it's Jesus coming on earth to do what we couldn't and that is to be perfect and to take the brunt of our sin that we couldn't.
Emily: This is a story that happened thousands of years ago, so why is remembering this around Christmas time so important and why is Jesus still relevant to us today?
Dai: I think its relevant today because God is still relevant. It can be so easy to lose the point of Christmas, but despite the fact that it was 2,000 years ago it's still relevant because God is a Creator God who loves us and knows us. We're celebrating something that will continue to remain one of the most important parts of history on earth; the fact that God came down as flesh and bone to our earth and to do what he did that we celebrate at Easter time. I think that's always going to be relevant and I think it can be so easy to forget that, but at the end of the day Christ is Christmas; he is the meaning of Christmas I believe. All the other stuff is important as well and I think that's fantastic but let's not forget why we celebrate it in the first place and that is Jesus coming down to earth.
Emily: We'll talk a little bit more about your new video that's out called "Joseph" in just a while, but I'd like to talk a little bit more about how you got into writing poetry in the first place.
Dai: To be honest with you, it's been a bit of a big journey for me because when I was in school I was awful. I'd sort-of write poems and things and they would be absolutely awful; I'd just cringe now. I recently found a book of some poems I wrote when I was nine and it'd be literally rhyming "cat" with "bat" and "hat" and "mat". If it was a really productive day I'd get the four lines right. It was never something I was particularly good at or interested in in school, but I think it was a couple of things. I think one of the things was when I met Rob Lacey - he wrote Word On The Street, formerly known as The Street Bible and he was an actor, a performer, an internationally acclaimed poet and he was incredible and I think when I met him it was the same year that The Street Bible was launching. I can remember reading it thinking, wow, this is amazing! I just remember thinking I'm connecting with a Bible in a way I haven't done before. I think what really inspired me was that I believe the Bible to be something brilliant, but sometimes I'd get stuck trying to understand what's going on, or I'd see the words as a bit of a barrier and not understanding the culture of when it was written and what was going on. I think that really inspired me to look at the Bible again in a new way. I think his style of writing really inspired me to try myself. I think the other reason I've developed it is because I just want to communicate what I believe to be true and that is that God loves us and that God wants us to know him because he knows and loves us. I think that is one of the big driving forces of why I try and communicate and I think poetry is a part of that. I love it, I love the way it sounds, the way you speak it, and I love the intonation.
Emily: Would you say that God is a creative God?
Dai: Well, I'd say he's got a dab hand in being creative. I think being able to create something out of nothing, it's not bad going, is it? Yeah, absolutely, I think he's definitely a creative God. You know, he is the sole creative being in existence. I think the fact that he did create something out of nothing: that he created existence itself and he holds all of existence together: he's incredibly creative. If you look at Jesus as well, he was creative: he told stories, he was a brilliant storyteller and I think those things inspire me to try and be creative as well.