"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Michael Medved on Pop Culture Attacks on Christianity

If the mind behind Titanic and The Terminator had not been behind it, that lame documentary on the Discovery Channel last week purporting to have identified the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth would have passed from the scene little noticed and joined the ranks of just another crack-pot theory on a minor cable TV show. Unfortunately, because of James Cameron's hype its bad science and open hostility to Christianity got quite a lot of airplay a couple of weeks back. Fortunately, however, it has now pretty much fallen off the radar screen again. But if you would like to read a fine critque of the show and of anti-faith trends in Hollywood by Michael Medved, I commend this piece from USA Today to you:

... nearly all prominent Israeli archaeologists reject such reasoning. Amos Kloner, who conducted the original excavation, has denounced the project as sloppy, exploitative and irresponsible. Joe Zias, who was the curator at Jerusalem's Rockefeller Museum for 25 years and personally numbered the now controversial bone boxes, has said this of Jacobovici: "He's pimping off the Bible...Projects like these make a mockery of the archeological profession."

Such critical voices receive scant attention in the documentary, where their absence contributes greatly to the listless energy level of the proceedings. The show also displays no awareness of the religious implications of its controversial conclusions. If his followers really interred Christ under the label "Jesus, son of Joseph," wouldn't that indicate that they didn't consider him the son of God? And if they allowed his remains to decompose for a year before they sealed his bones in a limestone box, doesn't that contradict the New Testament account of a miraculously empty tomb and a Resurrection after three days?

According to a Newsweek poll for its "From Jesus to Christ" issue of March 2005 (yes, it was Easter season again!), 78% of Americans say they believe "Jesus rose from the dead." The Lost Tomb of Jesus largely ignores this prevailing faith, while the documentary's cheesy Monty Python-style re-enactments of Christ and disciples remain too lame to convince or offend anyone. Suggesting that he views the conclusion jump as an Olympic event, Jacobovici even cites flimsy or non-existent evidence to echo the Da Vinci-coded conclusion that Jesus bore a child with Mary Magdalene.

Such provocations helped draw a respectable audience for The Lost Tomb of Jesus, allowing it to tie for sixth place among the most-viewed cable programs of the week (but still significantly below such worthy offerings as World Wrestling Entertainment Raw). Newsweek.comcalculated that its report on the show represented the week's most-viewed article, but that reactions "ranged from outrage to outright indifference." Jacobovici still hopes to gain additional traction for his theories and allegedly history-changing discoveries with a new book, The Jesus Family Tomb (co-authored with Charles Pellegrino, one of the "experts" who appeared in his film), released to coincide with the broadcast of the documentary.

Meanwhile, some offended Christian callers to my radio show expressed the conviction that this project represented one more component in the aggressive secularist counterattack on traditional religious beliefs, along with best-selling books such as The God Delusion and Letter to a Christian Nation, and tireless efforts to remove crosses and Ten Commandments monuments from public places.

At the moment, major media outlets certainly seem to grant more publicity to academic efforts to challenge religious orthodoxy than they do to countervailing evidence to confirm it.
Biblical support

For instance, Simcha Jacobovici himself created a 2006 documentary, The Exodus Decoded, on the History Channel that argued for the factual basis of the Moses story, but it drew vastly less attention than Lost Tomb. Dore Gold's excellent new book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, is also full of dramatic proof that blows away prevailing scholarly skepticism about the historicity of King David's reign. But these richly documented discoveries never received the intensive coverage offered to feebly supported speculations that "disprove" the Bible.

Another fascinating book, The Exodus Case: New Discoveries Confirm the Historical Exodus by Swedish scientist Lennart Moller, provides gripping evidence about deliverance from Egypt and the real location of Mount Sinai. It also has inspired an ambitious feature film now in production. Considering general media instincts to slam rather than support biblical narratives, it will probably struggle to impact pop culture.

If The Lost Tomb of Jesus provides little basis for a re-examination of Jesus, it does offer a sad perspective on Cameron's once-flourishing career. With Titanic, he emerged as one of the most successful filmmakers in entertainment history, so it's surprising to see his current association with a sketchy project seeking attention through frontal assault on cherished beliefs.
Sadly, J.C. of Hollywood may no longer say, "I'm King of the World," but he has done nothing to alter the fact that J.C. of Nazareth still inspires billions as King of Kings

Hat tip to Titusonenine.


Anonymous Father Ronald said...

Greetings, good Deacon!

Congratulations on your ordination and God be with you as you begin this chapter of life in Him. I have a new blog just up if you'd like to check it out sometime:



Fr. Ron Drummond+

2:47 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks for dropping by, Father. And welcome back to the realm of blogging!

9:24 AM  

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