Stop Rest Listen

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I should really have been doing other more productive things, when a post caught my attention.

My friend Joel, a worship leader and talented musician has just launched a new website intriguingly called Stop Rest Listen. This struck a chord. A lot of people around me recently have been talking about stress and anxiety, and the need we all have for quiet and re-charging.

I began exploring the links Joel had posted and discovered that this really is a gem of a project. Stop Rest Listen collects scriptures grouped around a certain theme and creates audio tracks with the words read out over original music. He explains it all in this short video:

In a blog post on the site Joel says that he created these tracks originally for his own use. Reading the Bible had not come easily for him and he had often felt stuck, but when he began recording the scriptures and listening back to them throughout the day they took on new life. In his own words he says:

‘I found that by listening to the scriptures, I was able to access the bible in the car, on the train, on a run, basically anywhere! The music makes the scriptures come alive for me, it creates a great atmosphere behind the spoken word. I’ve never been great at reading and retaining information and I often beat myself up if I forgot what I had read in the bible that morning. What I found is that I could retain and recite a lot more scripture by reading and listening to it.’ (Read the full story behind the project here)

I think this highlights an important truth. Not all of us learn the same way, not all of us connect with God in the same way, not all of us access the Bible in the same way. When we push everyone to approach the Bible in one way we leave people feeling frustrated and inadequate.Which is why I love projects like this that opens up a new path for people to know God.

Stop Rest Listen now have an EP available to download on itunes with five tracks in total. Each one with scriptures on a different theme. There is something very special about hearing the word against music, I think it helps to express the beauty, passion and strength of feeling there is in the word.

On top of this they also are producing podcasts that begin with a ‘scripture track’ before moving on to interviews and discussions with special guests. I have listened to the first two today, one after the other. They talk with sincerity and passion but the feeling is very relaxed and natural, like you are overhearing some friends catch up in a coffee shop. The Mark Stevens interview is especially worth a listen.

Anyway, I am excited about this and am looking forward to seeing what they do next. In the meantime you should go and check out their stuff!

Stop Rest Listen are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Q&A with Simon Amadeus Pillario

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Hello my name is Simon. I’m 31, live in Bristol in the UK with my beautiful wife and two little boys. I became a committed Christian through a powerful encounter with God at a local Alpha course in 2005. I am currently training to be a small group leader in my local Newfrontiers church. For the last six years I’ve been researching and working on the first part of the “Word for Word Bible Comic” in my own time. Now I am hoping to make it my full time calling with the help of my Kickstarter Campaign.

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What lead you to create the Word for Word Bible Comic?
When I became a committed Christian at the age of 22, I read the Bible properly for the first time and was amazed at the provocative tales of corrupted man and an uncompromising God. These adult stories of a powerful messiah were not what I remembered from Sunday school. Reading through the Book of Samuel was like reading a Game of Thrones novel and so I became very excited about reading the Bible. There is a big gap between Bible based comics and storybooks for kids and the real harsh texts of the book we read as adults. I became aware of this gap, but only later realised God was calling me to fill the need.

One of the needs this comic will meet is to reach the rapidly increasing comic fan base with God’s word as I believe non-Christians will be happy to read the Bible if it is in a dramatic comic style.

Another objective is to improve biblical understanding and engage young and new Christians (and old ones too hopefully). I had a good quote about this in a review of the comic by Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith (Author of “Understanding the Books of the Bible” Study Guides) who said “One might argue that W4W is actually a more authentic presentation of the Bible than our bare printed texts, which invite us to fill a visual vacuum by supplying pictures in our own imagination of people and events. We tend to do this as if they happened in our own time and place, or else in a generic “Bible world” where nothing really changes culturally from Abraham to Paul. W4W instead brings the reader very authentically back into the specific cultural world in which each story originated, through careful archaeological research.”

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What is unique about your project?
The real unique selling point is the unabridged element: unlike other comic renditions of the Bible this one will be completely unabridged. All the words (even “he said” and descriptive elements) are still included into the comic but subtly in the ‘gutters’. These generally appear as dark grey on medium grey. The intention is that if you are reading it as a comic, you could ignore these phrases. However if you want to see what the Bible text includes they are present and legible.

Unabridged also means no parts of the stories are overlooked or avoided. For example, the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19), Jepthah’s sacrifice (Judges 12), or brides for the Danites (Judges 21). All parts of the story are important (1 Tim 3:16) and, in my experience, it’s the details that help you understand the full story and characters.

This graphic novel will not shy away from any issue the Bible addresses. Unfortunately, due to the corruption of mankind, these issues include violence, kidnapping, cold-blooded murder and even rape and infanticide. This work will not glamorize evil of any kind, nor will it be explicit or dwell on these things, but it will cover all the lessons that the Bible teaches. As a result I recommending an age restriction of fifteen.

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Who influenced you as an artist?
As a little kid I loved reading Asterix and Tintin, then I don’t think I read anything else until I was a young teen when I used to read manga and buy 2000AD every week, with Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter and my favourite at the time, Slaine.

Funnily enough, I didn’t read much Marvel or DC until a few years ago when I started planning this project. Marvel is obviously “the best in the business” in a lot of ways but my favourite comic artist is now Mike Mignola with Hellboy and BPRD. I didn’t read Hellboy for a long time assuming it would be anti-Christian but it’s not, there is a sort of vague Judeo/Christian mythos that runs through it and it is not dishonouring to God.

These comics that I have read have, of course, informed my own work, even Asterix as I am using different typefaces for when the characters speak in other languages. Hellboy is the biggest influence on this project it has a great atmosphere and pace, and I’m sure you will see it’s influence all through my work.

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What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
I draw on Bristol Board with pencil, then I ink it with a fine brush. I add the colour and most of the shadow in Photoshop. It’s the right tools because I have better control of the brush than a Graphics Tablet but I can render the pictures quicker and more smoothly with the computer.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
I guess I partake in our people’s creativity, by reading comics, watching TV and films like Game of Throne, Walking Dead, Marvel Agents of Shield. I also do re-enactment and other hobbies and games set in history. In those contexts getting the costumes and accessories exactly right for the era is important and this has given me a sensitivity for this that is applied to the comic so even the bowls and jugs used are linked to the nationality and time period specifically.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
When people read the comic and enjoy it, especially people who are not Christians and then say they’d like to read more of the Bible.

Once this project is completed, what’s next for you?
This project is unlikely to be completed in my life time, so heaven I guess. Before that though I need support to help me get the “Word for Word Bible Comic” started properly. If you could please check out my Kickstarter page and help me kickstart the project by either financially backing or sharing it with your friends through Facebook and Twitter.

About the Kickstarter project:
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website where you present your concept and people pledge to give you money if you hit your full funding goal. Backers get rewards based on their level of contribution. If the goal is not hit within the time scale the project gets nothing. My goal is £15,000 which is the amount of money (after deductions) that I will use to draw the comic full time for the next twelve months. As I write this the project is 40% funded and has less than sixteen days to go (ending on Sunday May 25th at 21:00 GMT).
If you would like to see this comic become a reality, pledge and partner with me in serving the Lord in this way.