The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Mark Hadley

Mark Hadley
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Episode 44

Mark Hadley: Episode Description

On this episode of The Inspiration Project, Brendan Corr talks to Mark A. Hadley, a professional journalist who has been writing for over 30+ years. They talk about his early life, why Mark wanted to do something significant, stories being a big part of his childhood and how they impacted him, when the Gospel story became personal for Mark, the power of stories, how even in fictional stories there needs to be an element of truth told, and how God is the ultimate storyteller. Among other things Mark shares:

  • Why Mark wanted to do something significant with his life.
  • Growing up being surrounded by stories and how that impacted Mark’s view of life.
  • When the Gospel story became part of Mark’s story.
  • God is the ultimate storyteller and why that’s important to understand.
  • The idea that there is still an element of truth to fictional stories.
  • How Mark’s English teacher inspired him to become a journalist.
  • The power of story and why they can be so moving.
  • The current meta-narrative for Christians.

Mark Hadley: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student well-being, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project, where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Inspiration Project. The guest that we have today may be well known to some of you, Mark Hadley has been writing professionally for over 30 years. He’s listed his profession as a journalist for most of that time, although his experiences in writing have exploded into many other areas beyond just the documentation of years and events. He’s scripted and produced television series and documentaries in most of the major countries of the world: the BBC, PBS, and SBS, as well as the major broadcasters in Australia, Seven, Nine, and Ten networks. His award-winning movies, The Christ Files and The Life of Jesus were shot across eight countries around the globe and are now available widespread across global networks. He’s cohost of Hope 103.2’s FM The Big Picture, a weekly radio show vodcast looking at TV and culture productions from a Christian perspective. Mark, it’s fantastic to have you with us this afternoon. You sound like you’re a busy young fellow. How are you fitting all of that into life and managing family and the demands of a schedule like that?

Mark Hadley
I’ll take that young fellow every day of the week. Thank you very much. And my age is a closely-guarded figure.

Brendan Corr
As it should be.

Mark Hadley
With the years behind me. How do we fit it all in? Definitely, when this drive started at a very young age, I did not think it was going to encompass all of what we’re doing today or in fact that it was even going to be more than just me. And I think that’s got a lot to do with God’s graciousness in that he not only takes you amazing places. Any story can be incredible in his hands. But I also think he doesn’t reveal everything to you at once. It would be like actually asking you to eat every meal you’ve ever had to digest in one sitting and some of the things that we’ve gone through, I wouldn’t choose and others have just as easily made us who we are today. So I think it’s been a great process.

Brendan Corr
Well, that’s interesting that you describe that you recognised a drive as you described it very early in your life. Did you have big dreams at that stage? Did you think of a big future when you were a kid at school?

Mark Hadley
That’s a really good question. I think we often underestimate how kids think about their lives. I remember as a very young kid, probably in infant school. I don’t know if we even still call it infant school but I was around first class or second class and I remember thinking then about having aspirations about life, about what I wanted to do with my life. Now, they were childish. I guess some people were saying they wanted to be fighter pilots, and some people wanted to be firemen and things like that. And I remember as a kid. There’s nothing particularly Christian about it. It was just the desire to be remembered.

And that sounds really selfish when I say it that way but as a kid, I thought I wanted to do something that mattered, not something that was forgotten. Now, I sometimes think about that as an adult and I look back on that and I’m reminded of that verse in Ecclesiastes that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. Yeah, there’s something in us that longs for forever. And so even as a little kid I was thinking, “What can I do that lasts?” Now, I am enamoured with books. I loved books. My second best friend was the librarian at the local library that was only open two afternoons a week and one evening so it was a truly local library. And I think I saw books at a young age that were I realised, to be written a long time before me and I thought, “Wow, these can sit around for a long time.” So writing I guess or storytelling just seemed to be something very early on that was calling to me and maybe gave me this idea of I could do something that lasted. And like I said, this is big stuff. Every other dream that a kid has is to playing forever and never going to school or just having fun with their family or all sorts of other things that underneath it all was just this desire to see yourself devoted to something that mattered as opposed to things that didn’t. I guess from an early age as a kid and my parents. I was raised in a Christian family and my parents were forever talking about things in terms of what mattered and what didn’t. Living for God mattered. Whether or not you’re rich or poor didn’t. What you did for a living didn’t. How you did it, who you did it for, did matter. And so I guess things mattering meant a great deal to me as a kid.

Brendan Corr
So that aspiration that you had for a certain type of life or a certain sense of recognition, was more than just fame. It was more than being popular or well-known. It was value-laden, understanding even in your early formative years.

Mark Hadley
Look, I think you’re being really generous to me. I think as a kid I would’ve loved to have been famous too, but…

Brendan Corr
Well, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, I guess.

Mark Hadley
Yeah, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. But actually, as I’ve gone on in life, what I’ve noticed and I suppose we’ll come back to this as we talk on but what I’ve noticed is that if you pursue. I’m quoting C.S. Lewis now, but if you pursue the world, you’ll generally miss it but if you pursue God, you will get it indefinitely and you may get the world thrown in as well. So I’ve never really pursued fame or I guess I’ve just tried to do the work and things have happened along the way. It was interesting, you introduced me because to some degree I don’t even recognise myself. When people list things or they’re written down on a website or stuff like that it doesn’t really remind me of me. I’m still the same kid trying to tell stories. And I think that’s really where it began. I think it’s as simple as this. I remember being given an opportunity when I was in kindergarten too. I think I must’ve come across as a religious kid or something like that. To tell the Christmas story. Yeah and I asked if I could just have a little while to organise this and not come out the front and tell it. So I roped in with some friends. We made some finger puppets. And we turned it into a performance more than just a story. And I think at that point, as a kid, it just lurched in your heart that you could tell a story and people could be enraptured or you could just say facts and it would just glide over people’s heads. There’s something about stories, even at that age. Who doesn’t remember the teacher saying in the classroom, “We’re going to have story time now,” or, “We’re going to the library”? And they’re saying, “We’re going to have story time.” And it’s the hype and excitement. So I guess I realised from an early age that I don’t think I really understood it all but I did understand that telling stories could be cool, could be great fun, and also could be powerful.

Brendan Corr
So were stories a big part of your childhood? Were you in a home where stories and books…

Mark Hadley
Yeah. This is not an attempt to do a sob story or anything like that. We came from a fairly socially-disadvantaged home, and I didn’t have a television. Even though I’ve worked in television for more than 30 years now, I didn’t have a television till quite late in life. So what Dad would do is he would take us up to the library every Thursday night. This is like a family excursion. And we were allowed to borrow four books each. And I was so enraptured in this place. It was exciting if as a kid, you got to go out at night. So that in itself always meant something special. And for some weird reason because Mum was a nurse and things had to get done in order and on time, we were all in our pyjamas so going out in our pyjamas to the library seemed strange, too. We were in our dressing gowns and such. But you’d wander around this place and Rita, this wonderful huge Bavarian woman was the local librarian and she took it into her head to spare me the books every Thursday night. And so I would go. I always used to sneak in maybe two extra or something like that and we’d get home and it would be my goal to read these books in a week so I could get new ones. And I remember my grandfather saying to me. We had a bit of a country town situation. And my grandfather would be visiting and he’d say, “What are you reading, Mark?” And I’d say, “Oh, I’m reading.” and I’d list off these books. And he says, “You can’t be reading all those books at once, Mark.” And I said, “Oh, yes, you can Granddad because what you do is when you get tired of reading one you just put it down, you pick the other one up and you keep reading the other one.” So there was this situation I guess, in my family where if batteries ran out in torches, my name was mentioned. Because there was this suspicion that Mark had run the batteries down again.

Brendan Corr
Reading the books under the covers.

Mark Hadley
Reading the books under the covers. Who hasn’t done that? Or at least I thought that was everybody’s experience but it was definitely mine. So books and stories meant a lot. And I think that was just a way out, in some respects too. A very small town in the country New South Wales or south coast New South Wales, a farming community and not in a bad way but I was envisioning something much, much bigger in the world.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. So you talked about growing up in a Christian home so the Christian story was obviously one that surrounded you and that you were immersed in growing up. When and how did that change from being a story to your story?

Mark Hadley
Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of childhood. My father started reading Bible stories to us every night. It’s like my sister says who had gone off and had her own children was that they would never remember when Bible stories began in their house. Yeah and I think my dad achieved that. I have no idea when it started. But I do remember, this is going to sound improbable. I’m just warning everybody who’s listening. It’s going to sound a bit strange. That’s okay. But I was four and I remember having an argument with my brother, who was the height of all wisdom. He was nine. So there’s an argument between a nine-year-old and a four-year-old about how one comes into a relationship with God. Now I was arguing that you would repent of your sins and you would come into a relationship with God. One’s Christ had paid for everything. It’s weird to me even recounting this. And he would be saying to me that, no, a relationship is a continuous thing. You might repent of your sins but you need to keep coming before God, bringing the things that you’d done wrong. And this was a great matter of consternation to me. So, he and I headed out into the background where Dad was mowing the lawn, and we waited patiently until Dad had finished mowing and then we stood there and we said, “Which is it, Dad? Do you say sorry once or do you keep saying sorry?” And he said, “Well, it’s like a relationship. You enter into it by repenting once. As you go on, if you upset someone who’s important to you, you want to say sorry because it matters to you, not because it changes the relationship.” So, I marched back into my room, I kneeled down next to my bed and I said, “God, I’m really sorry for” and I tried to think of the things that I really wasn’t proud of for that day and I think I have been doing that pretty much ever since. Yeah. I grew up a covenant kid if that makes sense. I grew up in a family that loved Jesus. Then I owned that. And I think like most Christians, God has deepened that and changed that in the direction as I’ve gone on. My wife likes to say that God moves into your life as he moves into your house and you think he’s there and then he peaks in your room to renovate almost every year. And I feel like that’s my experience. So, I started the journey very, very young.

Brendan Corr
So, it’s not finished?

Mark Hadley
But I think there have been key points. No. Gosh, no. It’s a good thing you’re talking to me and not my boys. They are well and truly aware that their father has things at play. I think he won’t be finished. The day I’m finished, God will take me home. I’m only here for as long as God is seeking to achieve a purpose. So, yeah, there’s plenty of work to do. Yeah.

Brendan Corr
So you’re quite young. You’ve found this relationship with God that is vibrant, and it’s active. You find love for words and for stories. You’ve talked about a drive that was inside you to achieve something significant. When did all of that come together for you and you had this sense of, “This is my call”?

Mark Hadley
Yeah, I know. I wrote my first book at 12, but it remains unpublished. And I drag it out every now and again and shake my head at it. Maybe one day when I’ve got nothing better to do, I’ll clean it up. But the truth is that I started trying to write things very early. I wrote my first movie script at 10, In my year four class. And these are kids’ versions of these things. Today, kids make videos, and you know they’re kids’ videos when you look at them, but there’s also something in there. And so, when I was in high school, I think it all really started to come together, as it so often does, when the right person comes along.

Brendan Corr
So, who was the right person for you?

Mark Hadley
So I had an English teacher. Ah. My English teacher in year seven, Mr. Brown. He seemed to take this seriously. I was talking about what I’d like to write. And English was my favourite subject. But I was telling him I wanted to do something bigger and he said, “Well, why don’t you write a book?” And I said, “I’m not sure if I can do that.” He said, “Well, try.” And so, I would send him a chapter every week and I wrote a novel over a period of about a year. Again, that one’s never been published. I’ve had a few published since but that one was just awakening to the idea that you can do this. And I remember just thinking, “Can you do this for a living?” Because I came from a very manual community. My father unpacked ships. My grandfather was a farmer. There were butchers and trainees and all sorts of things. So I was kind of used to looking at work as things you did with your hands and then if you’re writing, that might be something you are good at and then, Mr. Brown pointed out to me that you can be a journalist and that was a person who wrote for a living. And I thought, “Wow, that sounds like a really interesting idea.” So when work experience. I’m going to skip forward a couple of years. When work experience came along, I was always writing in my personal time but I went out and I did work experience for the local newspaper and it’s still in publication. It’s the Illawarra Mercury, down in Wollongong. And I went there for two weeks and I realised that there was something. I realised two fundamental facts about journalism. The first was that no one was going to pay you much ever. There were only two or three people at the top of the tree making a lot of money but generally speaking, it was a pretty poorly-paid job. But the rewards besides being paid were immense because everything that everybody else learned about you experienced firsthand. And I thought, “Wow.”

Brendan Corr
What do you mean by that, Mark?

Mark Hadley
Say there was just something as simple as whales washing up on the beach and people finding them. In order to report on that story, you had to go and experience it. You wouldn’t just get something on the phone. You’d go down to the beach. And I remember stories covering things alongside the journalists in work experience and realising that you could really be right at the heart of life and seeing things happening, whether it be everything from refugees through to political situations, through to strikes and all lots of stuff. Later in life became an industrial roundsman and then a political roundsman for the region so that you would be right at the heart of stories that were happening. You’d see history happen and then you’d try to convey that to people. And then, every now and again too I noticed one last thing and that was your stories as a journalist could actually make a difference. That wouldn’t be clear to most. I would say working in newsrooms for probably about 10, or 15 years, I’ve noticed my stories make a real difference maybe two or three times. They make a real change. You live for those two or three times and you wonder each time you do something if this was one of those days.

Brendan Corr
Yeah that’s interesting. You hinted at an idea in your response there that unpacking what it meant to people reading about stories, your experiencing stories and you made some sort of observation that it’s almost like that life is a story, that you are involved in the story of people with shared experiences unfolding. Is that how you see relationships and your engagement with the world?

Mark Hadley
I’ve never actually thought of it that way but I think I’m now going to pass it off as my own idea if you don’t mind. I think that life is. It doesn’t really matter if you’re talking about creative writing, and say something we might call fictional or factual writing, as I’m writing documentary scripts or things like that. It is all life. Because even the best made-up stories have to reflect life as it really works or we’re not going to recognise them. That can take place on a starship or that can take place in a fantasy world. It really wouldn’t matter. The audience has to recognise them. There are three basic scripts that you write. One is the quest. It’s when a hero has to try and get something. It might be getting the girl, getting the job, that kind of stuff. There’s the chess game, where it’s your protagonist is faced with an antagonist like in Star Wars. Luke has got to confront Darth Vader or there’s no real story. It’s a chess game. You could be the hero and the villain could be a storm. You do one thing and the storm does another thing. The third type of script, which I think I’ve always been attracted to and I’ve tried to write, whether it be in documentary form or in the story, is the life lesson. And the life lesson script has one fundamental rule. There are probably a million others I can go into but the one fundamental rule is when you say a lesson at the end of the script everybody’s going to recognise that that’s true. Your audience is going to be nodding. You’ve made your argument well. And I think that when you say that is how I see life, as a story and I’m telling parts of the story, I think I’ve been trying to tell life lessons, one way or another, whether it be news or whether it be fiction that I’ve written. It’s all about coming to something that people actually latch onto and see the truth in.

Brendan Corr
Yeah that’s interesting because reading a little further along that line of thought at least for my thinking, what I’m hearing is a description that even if it’s a fictional story it must be speaking truthfully. There’s got to be an element of truth even in fiction that makes a story or that makes a story make sense.

Mark Hadley
Yeah and in all honesty, it doesn’t even have to be an attractive truth. Sometimes, it can be a character, whether it be a true story or a fictional one. Getting right to the end and realising, “Oh, they’re not that great,” or that they couldn’t really achieve things by themselves. It could be a life lesson that says you can’t be separate from your family or a storyline that I prefer very much is that there is more to life than just what we bring to it that there is another layer to reality the spiritual, that there is God out there and we’re kidding ourselves if we think to ourselves that we’re going to get through this life all on our own. And so I feel like these truths, positive or negative, however, they make you feel, make you recognise, make you nod. That’s real. I feel like the interesting thing about the story as a format is that it gets around our intellect. You couldn’t talk to somebody outside of that. You might be catching up with a mate or a friend or something like that for a coffee, and they could come across as the most hardened atheist or something like that. They could come across as the most antagonistic person. But take them into a film and they set aside their presuppositions for a moment and they listen to the story. The story bypasses their presuppositions about life and speaks to something quite deeper. And people can come out quite profoundly moved in ways that they never quite saw coming. And that’s what I like about the story. It sneaks under your guard. There’s a sociological theory that says that there are only three places in a human experience where we actually stare into the light sources and all of them are related to reflective moments and open-hearted moments. One is we stare into the fire. We’re sitting around a fire and you see people just reflecting and looking upon it. The other one is I was staring into the stars. A lot of people sit back and look at the stars. And the third one that sociologists point out is television or cinema, that there’s something about that experience of sitting isolated, somewhat in the dark, opening yourself up and having light poured in that seems to make us particularly malleable and tender to touch in terms of the stories. And I think a lot about that and try to think to myself, when I write, I don’t want to go head-on into somebody and say, “This is how you should think,” but more to ask the question which they already know the answer to but maybe haven’t got around to saying. There’s a line in Romans 1 where Paul talks about the fact that creation and the existence of God are known to people, but in some respects, it’s written on their hearts by God and so that’s why they’re accountable. But I also see that as a positive thing. I think to myself when I’m starting to try and talk about truth in a story or I’m doing a good interview and I’m trying to bring out the truth or we’re bringing together a lot of things from different countries we always try and keep our eye on what is the central truth here and we feel like we have an advantage because we know that it’s true to scripture because we know that it’s true to God. We know that there’s a germ of that truth already sitting in our audiences’ minds to some degree. We just have to bring it out.

Brendan Corr
The notion we’ve been talking about the power of story, have you come to any conclusions about why a story gets under our presuppositions, why it’s so penetrative?

Mark Hadley
Yeah Gosh, you’ve got some great questions. Obviously, you’ve got good researchers and things working for you. I think my conclusion is that we are in a story. That God is a storyteller.

But there is a grand narrative going on. There is the hero story of all hero stories. There is the life lesson story of all life lesson stories going on and it started when God said, “Let there be light.” And in his role it hasn’t come to an end. And every aspect that we like about the story, the classic hero structure, here is the hero, the hero is faced with a particular trial, the hero gets stuck up a tree, things get worse, rocks and stones were thrown at them, how are they going to find a solution to their problem, the moment of realisation or what we call them on and then the solution. That structure is history. That structure is what is going on all around us. I think we’re in a story. It’s inescapable for us. I think that we are in someone else’s story. And here’s the tricky thing. In most human stories, we write ourselves as the hero and so it’s very, very easy to sell a story to someone where we are the hero. Everyone likes to identify with the fact that they’ll overcome and they appreciate what the hero’s done and they probably would’ve done the same thing or they value what that person has done. But the truth is in this story, we’re the ones being rescued. We’re not the hero. And I think that’s probably the hardest thing for people to get about the gospel. I think that they can admire Jesus and they can love Jesus but they can stop at that point because it gets very hard in some respects to identify with Jesus because we just can’t be him. Because there’s been no one like him and there never will be someone like him. And when you come to terms with that there’s only one role left in the story and that’s the person who needs rescuing by the hero, not the hero. And I think that’s where emotionally a lot of us stop because it’s a big thing to admit that you need rescuing. And I think stories are both attractive because God has put the story in our hearts, we’re part of a story but I think that the story is hard to hold onto because it’s an unflattering role that we have to come to that we’re not going to rescue ourselves in this one.

Brendan Corr
So you’ve been talking in that response Mark about the story of our own existence and our own life, that we cast ourselves in this story and the challenge it is to cast ourselves in not the centre. There’s also the issue where people are telling them stories where they’re central, though it’s not a happy story. It’s not an optimistic story. It’s full of challenges and trials and desperation and disappointment. How important is it for you to wrestle with what stories you tell about yourself as you make your way in life?

Mark Hadley
I think you’re going to go nowhere until you actually realise where you should end the story. I think that for lack of a better phrase, I think your story is going to be a particular type of story, and it’s called a tragedy. The basic definition of a tragedy is that the hero, the protagonist in the story, the main character, carries around inside of them the seeds of their own destruction. So Hamlet is the classic tragic story because in the end, Hamlet is I hope I’m not doing any spoilers here. Hamlet basically ends up becoming his own enemy, destroying himself because he can’t make the decision he needs to make. And I think if we don’t realise where we fit in this life story, if we don’t realise where we fit in our relationship to God, then the story we’ll write because it’ll be a tragic one. It’ll look like we’re making advances but in the end, how does Jesus put it? We’ll be building a house on sand and your idea that you will be sufficient will be valuable. I think you and I can reflect because we are men of a certain age. I feel that there is a lesson that comes to you somewhere in your 40s, where the dream has lost a bit of the shine and you’re starting to look down the next 40 years and you’re realising that everything you did in your youth and your strength did not amount to everything you thought it would. And if that’s all there is then you start to realise that this is going to be a pretty sad finish line. Now some people manage to lie to themselves all the way through the 80s and the 90s, to their death bed. I’m not trying to be depressive. I’m just trying to say, if you can actually grasp the truth, it’s a lot happier to be in but if you keep telling yourself like I’ve had some older relatives and things like that, “It’s all going to work out for me and I’ll be the source of my own salvation,” if you keep telling yourself that, it’s a very sad finish. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone have a happy ending on that basis.

Brendan Corr
Yeah so we’ve been talking with the assumption that we need to find our place in the meta-narrative that recounts the story of redemption. You’re part of a regular process of critiquing the culture and the stories that culture is presenting. What do you think is the current meta-narrative that’s the alternative to a religious view or a Christian view?

Mark Hadley
These things move slowly through society but the current meta-narrative. It probably has two prongs to it. The first is postmodernism which was introduced in the ’80s and ’90s, mostly through university. The idea was that there was no real understanding of life to be had, that all truths were equal, that all things were true, that you could choose and that it was relative to the individual. So what I believed was good for me and what you believe is good for you and so long as we didn’t hurt each other along the way, that was equally valid. I think that’s the first thing, that we still particularly as Australians still love this idea that so long as you’re all right and I’m all right, we’re not hurting each other, no skin off my nose, we’ll all be fine, which is manifestly untrue. Some things have woken us up. We’ve got nasty jolts over the last 20 years or so. 9/11, September 11th, I was working in New York actually just a few months on a documentary and watching that roll out and having been in that process. I was working on a documentary about the insane confidence in that city of New York, that everybody felt like they were on top of the world and this is where you came to make it and everyone was going to be a great success. And we made this documentary about this incredible confidence and it was a questioning documentary and then six months later, the Twin Towers were in rubble, and that city’s psyche crashed. So the first thing is this idea of postmodernism. We seem to get it very easily but the truth is there is a truth and not all truths work the same way. They’re not all equally valuable. The second thing that seems to drive our society is what I would call hyper-individualism and it’s this idea not just that there’s a value to the individual. In fact that’s a very Christian idea. Historically speaking, The United Nations developed that into a chart of an individual based on some key Christians working on that each individual does have value because Christians think we’re all made in the image of God. But hyper-individualism says that the most important person in the universe from my perspective is me and I find that to be a very damaging storyline. It’s told in some insane ways, particularly to kids. Firstly, things like you can be anything you want to be as if somehow we all started from an equal playing field, which is a terrible thing to say to someone if they are asking themselves after 10 years of striving for something, “How come I’m not as successful as that person?” Or, “How come that didn’t work out for me?” When the truth is, there’s a lot in this world that is well beyond our control. And there are other things too about individualism that tell me that I can justify my actions in almost any respect, that tell me in times like this as I’m walking towards the pasta aisle in the shopping centre and there’s one bag left on the shelf, if I can get there before the person hovering the aisle, then it’s perfectly okay for me to take it out and that’s okay. There’s no consideration for their needs. It’s me taking care of myself. So I think no truth and me first are the narratives that shaped a lot of storylines. I’ve got some good friends working at Disney, but I would say that Disney storylines help kids digest that from a very early age. Find your way through. It’s your way that matters, so it’s the no-truth idea, and be all you can be, which is the hyper-individualism idea put yourself first are just staples for Pixar and Disney and Touchstone and all the rest of them.

Brendan Corr
And pop culture in general.

Mark Hadley
It’s a bit of a tragedy in that respect. Yeah, I think we just grow up on it and then we replicate it as we go. But that’s not to say that there are not great storylines out there. One that keeps on coming back is. We can’t make sense of it. Everybody always gets struck by wonder when this storyline comes out. When somebody sacrifices for love, it could be the love of family or love of their community or just the love of people they don’t even know, like crippled children or people with eye conditions. When somebody sacrifices that goes right against everything we understand that there is no truth and it’s all about you. When somebody sacrifices, our society stops and takes bread and we question ourselves and we celebrate it when we don’t quite understand it at the same time. And how could you? If you didn’t understand it actually, the hype of love is someone else first, and me last.

Brendan Corr
So you’re suggesting there that for the noise of our cultural story, there is something that even still transcends that is eternal. That phrase you said earlier-

Mark Hadley
Oh, absolutely.

Brendan Corr
In the hearts of humanity, there is a call to something bigger than the everyday culture we’re influenced by.

Mark Hadley
Yeah. Let me put it this way if you don’t mind me being a bit of a storyteller for a moment. If you look at creation, as if God made humanity in his image, it’s almost like a small figure looking into a big mirror. Or maybe the other way around, a big figure looking into a small mirror. But the idea is that there we are, in our hearts the reflection of God on a much smaller scale. Now, you can take that mirror and you can smash it but you can’t eliminate the fragments of reflection that go on. Whenever I do film or TV or things like that, I never fail to find those reflections of the character of God. No matter how dedicated the society or the storyline is to oppose God we can’t help but find those reflections again. Because we were made in someone’s image and we’re not going to get rid of that simply by saying we don’t want to be part of this story anymore. It’s like my kids are never going to cease to be my kids no matter what happens to our relationship. For a start we’ve only got one set of genes and we all look pretty normal and you’re pretty much the same. But you can take that to a spiritual level too. And I think that’s why regardless of how hard this society pushes against God, we’re always going to be drawn back to our Father. We’re always going to have that link and we’re always going to know the story. Whether or not we admit it to ourselves is another thing.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s wonderful. Mark, our time has pretty much run. There are so many more things I’d love to ask you about. I wanted to know, having spent a lifetime crafting your writing skills, what has it done to change your perception of the stories of scripture? Do you look at those in a different way because of your journalistic experience?

Mark Hadley
One thing I want to say straight out is that as a Christian, honing my skills, I’ve become more and more certain of the end of every story. It’s much easier to see. As a principal, I’m sure you never did this but you were probably just very good at your maths but if I didn’t know how a problem was working out and I was trying to work on some at school. I’d flip to the back, find the answer and then try and work backward. And the Bible for me the more I have spent time writing, the more I’ve spent time digesting God’s word, the more I realise that we have an ability as Christians to flip to the back, see how things are going to work out, see what the truth is in people’s hearts, whether they say it or not and then we can come back into our lives and go, “Well, I know I’m talking to somebody whether they believe it or not, whether they say it or not, in their heart, they know there’s right, they know there’s wrong, they know there’s more than themselves.” There are answers I can actually put back into it. And I guess it doesn’t matter now. Even as I’ve honed my skills as a writer, I used to think of a dozen different ways to end the story and maybe I still have a dozen different ways to end something but the truth is, I still know that real endings are going to line up with what the Bible says about the world. And whether I’m writing a news story or whether I’m writing a documentary, whether I’m writing a novel or a children’s book or something like that, it’s not really true in the end for me unless it rings true with His story.

Brendan Corr
Mark, that’s fantastic. I’ve so enjoyed hearing a bit about the way you have responded to God’s unfolding story in your life.

Mark Hadley
I’m glad. I’m glad it’s been a pleasure for you.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. And the way that He’s using you to shed some light on the story of the world. And I’m very prayerful that people will be listening to this, and that it can encourage people in their own stories.

Mark Hadley
Always happy to help, and thank you very much for having me on the show.

Brendan Corr
Been a delight.

Mark Hadley

About Mark Hadley

Mark Hadley has been writing professionally for 30 years. He has been a journalist for most of that time, employed by a range of prominent radio, television and web publications including the ABC. For the past 20 years he has scripted and produced television series and documentaries all over the world for the BBC, PBS, and SBS as well as Australian broadcasters the Seven, Nine and Ten Networks. His award-winning The Christ Files and The Life of Jesus, were shot in eight countries and are now available in major markets around the world. In addition, Mark has been reviewing films, television programs and children’s books for the past 15 years for Australian papers and magazines, nationally syndicated radio programs and internationally read web sites. He is the co-host of Hope 103.2 FM's The Big Picture, a weekly radio show / podcast / vodcast of film, TV and cultural productions from a Christian perspective. For five years he edited the repeat winner for Australia’s ‘Best Religious Website’, Sydneyanglicans.net and he continues to consult on web community and content development for a number of organisations.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).