According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Christian Review: History Channel's "The Bible" Miniseries


 
Watching Mark Burnett's version of "The Bible" on the History Channel last night made me think that it could have been more appropriately titled "The Mythologies of Modern Evangelical Christianity." Its grasp of ancient biblical history, cultures, and the biblical record was abysmal. In short, its a film about the ideology of Evangelicalism's own "approved" version of biblical doctrine. One to which Emergent Christian theology is thankfully replacing.
 
Positively, the film created a pathos of spiritual and emotional experience between the believer willing to trust God for his or her life while expecting God's direct intervention based upon this act of trust and belief. In the case of the bible, those believers who heard God's word aright did find God's help and intercession. For those believers who misheard God's calling and direction found only hardship and faith's bankruptcy. We see its parallels even now today between true biblical faith and religious delusional calling and interpretation.
 
Thankfully, Mel Gibson's version of Jesus can now be replaced by Burnett's version.... Gibson's picture was of an earthy, very tortured and abused, version of the Son of God as His kingship is rejected on this earth. Burnett's thankfully is one of the Son of Man's uplifted redemption for mankind; and, of His atonement for sin's destruction and ruin upon His holy creation. Only a holy God of love and justice can do this - who was born as the incarnate Son of God and raised as the Prince of Life and Everlasting God as our Priest and Mediator (sic, the book of Hebrews), kneading His heart to the heart of mankind.

At the last, the death knell of evangelicalism can be heard tolling in Burnett's remake of The Bible. We should be thankful for Christianity's past 200 years of struggle with Industrial society's Enlightenment and Secular Modernism, but be willing to gladly close its end chapters as we move forwards into Christianity's postmodern, emergent phase of recapture and reimagination of God, man, and all things biblical and spiritual. Emergent Christianity and its theology are the new frontiers of faith and contemporary relevancy. In it may be found that ancient, orthodox faith of the Bible - ever old, yet ever new.
 
R.E. Slater
March 5, 2013

*Addendum: I would caution readers to not be so quick to think of the Bible as simply a collection of "stories" as mentioned by Dr. Joel Hoffman in the Huff Post. Yes, I do understand what he means by this, and do think he has a legitimate observation. However, as an emergent Christian, we too hold the bible "near and dear" and are careful to interpret difficult sections of the bible appropriately. The age of biblical characters, the number of Israelites leaving Egypt, and scribal renditions of later culture backwards into earlier biblical proceedings should be recognized. But we do not jettison them all under the categorical label of "stories" lest we oversimplify the Word of God. Nor do we include everything in the Bible as "literal" for to do so is to likewise misapprehend God's Word.
 
Moreover, Dr. Hoffman also is catching on to another area reflected here on this blog site which is the tendency by Christians to read in their own cultural expectations and values into the Ancient Near-Eastern settings of the Bible. This form of reading is unhelpful, and serves to support Evangelical ideology rather than Biblical accountancy. Good theology derives from careful analysis of the Biblical narrative. If the narratives of the Bible are misunderstood than we will misunderstand the God of the Bible behind the narrative. Hence, Christians are to proceed with caution when handling the Word of God.
 
R.E. Slater
May 2, 2013
 
 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Bible - http://www.history.com/shows/the-bible

"The bible is HISTORY's new docudrama featuring unforgettable stories from the Books of Genesis to Revelation. Find out about all 10 hours of the series on www.History.com.

Wikipedia Info on Film Series - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_(TV_series)
 


 
The Bible Isn't The History You Think It Is
 
March 4, 2013
 
Some stories in the Bible were meant to be history, others fiction. But modernity has obscured the original distinction between the two kinds of biblical writing, depriving readers of the depth of the text.
 
Perhaps surprisingly, this confusion lies at the heart of the History Channel's miniseries "The Bible," which continues the pattern of blurring history and fiction, and thereby misrepresenting the nature of the Bible to its viewers.
 
One way to understand the difference between history and fiction in the Bible is through the Old Testament's natural division into three parts:
  1. The world and its nature (Adam to Terah).
  2. The Israelites and their purpose (Abraham to Moses).
  3. The Kingdom of Israel and life in Jerusalem (roughly from King David onward).
Even a cursory look reveals a clear and significant pattern.
 
In the first section, characters live many hundreds of years, and in the second, well into their second century. Only in the third section do biblical figures tend to live biologically reasonable lives.
 
For example, Adam, in the first section, lives to the symbolic age of 930, and Noah lives even twenty years longer than that. Abraham, from the second section, lives to be 175, his son Issac to 180, and Jacob "dies young" at the age of 147. But the lifespans from King David onward, in the third section, are in line with generally accepted human biology.
 
Furthermore, historians mostly agree that only the third section represents actual history.
 
The reasonable ages in the third section of the Bible, and, in particular, the wildly exaggerated ages in the first, suggest that the authors of the Old Testament intended only the third part as history. Underscoring this crucial difference, some of the lifespans in the first two sections are so absurd as to defy literal interpretation. These hugely advanced ages are central clues about the point of the stories.

The Old Testament contains a wide range of texts in addition to stories: laws, prayers, moral codes, and more. But even the stories come in more than one variety. Noah and the Great Flood are not in the same category as Moses and the Ten Commandments, and both are different than King David and the First Temple.
 
History and fiction mingle throughout the Old Testament, so these divisions are just rough guides. Jeremiah's historical description of the siege on Jerusalem is not the same as Ezekiel's non-historical vision of the dry bones, just as there are historical elements (like the invention of fire-hardened bricks) even in the non-historical account of the Tower of Babel.
 
The interesting point here is not that some of these stories happened and some didn't (though that's almost certainly true). The point is that the Bible itself portrays them differently, only presenting some of them as having happened. In other words, sometimes "believing the Bible" means believing that a story in it didn't happen.
 
The situation not unlike a modern newspaper, which combines news with opinion, puzzles, comics, etc. The news can be accurate even if the comics are not. The same is true for the different parts of the Bible.
 
The New Testament similarly offers more than just stories, and, as with the Old Testament, only some of the stories in the New Testament were meant as history. Others were intended to convey things like theology and morality. The account of Jesus' life in the Gospels is not the same as the beast in Revelation or Adam's life in Genesis. (The issue of different categories for Jesus and Adam is a matter of fierce modern debate because of its potential theological significance and its interaction with the theory of evolution.)
 
All of this is important for people who want to believe, for instance, that a man named Jesus was crucified in ancient Jerusalem (as described in the Gospels) even if they don't believe that a donkey spoke aloud (Numbers); or that Jews lived in Jerusalem during the first millennium BC (Kings, for example) even if they didn't leave Egypt 600,000 strong (Exodus).
 
More generally, this recognition that Bible stories are not all the same is part of understanding the essence of the Bible, and is crucial for people who believe that the Bible remains relevant even if parts of it aren't true.
 
Like combining a newspaper's news with its comics, painting the Bible with a single brush obscures its original nature. Unfortunately, by using the same style to dramatize all the biblical stories, the History Channel's "The Bible" — regardless of its other qualities — distorts the Bible's original spirit, and does a disservice both to history and to the Bible. 



 
'The Bible' Miniseries on History Channel Gets Poor Reviews
 
by Alexandra Ward
March 4, 2013
 
Sunday's premiere of "The Bible," a new miniseries on the History Channel that dramatizes scenes from what one producer calls "the most debated book of all time," may not have gotten the best reviews from television critics, but the show's creators still expect the holy drama to draw record numbers.
 
Divided into five two-hour episodes, the series covers Genesis to Revelation with one overarching narrative, according to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, "The Bible" husband-and-wife producer team. Burnett is known for his work on "Survivor" and "Celebrity Apprentice."
 
"The Bible" highlights some old favorites — Noah's ark, Adam and Eve, and the Exodus — and includes both the Old and New Testaments. The series, despite its modest $22 million budget, has an action film feel, with a lot of computer-generated scenes meant to wow audiences.
 
"We wanted it to look, sound and feel like a $100-million production, not some old donkeys-and-sandals movie of the past," Downey said. "We have incredible special effects with Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water. We have this amazing international cast. We set out to create scale."
 
But Sunday night's premiere left most critics scratching their heads. Here's an overview of what everyone's saying about "The Bible."
 
The New York Times – Neil Genzlinger
 
Overall feeling: Mark Burnett missed out on a good opportunity to do something great.
 
"The result is a mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally, a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they're great. The Red Sea parts no more convincingly here than it did for Charlton Heston in 1956."
 
The Hollywood Reporter – Allison Keene
 
Overall feeling: The show struggles with identifying its central audience.
 
"Unfortunately, The Bible is fractious and overwrought. Others are sure to pick apart the deviations from the sacred text, but that's just the beginning of the miniseries' issues. In the end, this is the most well-known and popular book in the history of humanity for a reason—it's exciting and interesting and full of hope. The Bible is unfortunately none of these."
 
The Los Angeles Times – Robert Lloyd
 
Overall feeling: It's been done.
 
"The Bible according to Burnett and Downey is a handsome and generally expensive-looking production, but it is also flat and often tedious, even when it tends to the hysterical, and as hard as the Hans Zimmer soundtrack strains to keep you on the edge of your sofa, the dialogue is pedestrian and functional… It is 'psychological' only in obvious ways, with the poetry of the King James version all but ignored."
 
The Miami Herald – Glen Garvin
 
Overall feeling: Totally unbelievable.
 
"With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune — laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city — this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian. 'The Bible' marks the first attempt at drama by reality-show maven Mark Burnett, whose soul I would consider in serious jeopardy if it hadn’t already been forfeited during the second season of 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?'"
 
The Christian Post's Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, however, called the miniseries "a remarkable spiritual and emotional experience."
 
"The theme of God's love and hope for all humanity is the thread that holds the entire series together," Tunnicliffe wrote. "I received a fresh new perspective on many of the famous Bible stories: Looking through the eyes of Sarah as she thinks that her husband, Abraham, has sacrificed their son Isaac; listening to Noah telling the story of Creation to his children on the ark; agonizing with Mary (played by Roma Downey) as she sees her son, Jesus, beaten and crucified. These and so many other stories allow you to connect with the characters on a deep emotional level."