A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode 2

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I continue to be impressed with this show’s accuracy, in terms of painting an (almost) realistic portrait of what life was like in Judea around the time of Christ’s death. And I like what they are doing with Pilate, in the sense that he is becoming the personification of Rome itself within the Judean government. He is the villain of the story, a domineering force literally threatening to crush the life from Caiaphas, who lives in a subdued constant state of fear as to what Rome might do. I love what they are doing with Caiaphas… he is sympathetic, despite being the man who schemed to bring about “The Nazarine’s” death. To make me like, care about, and fear for the man who bayed for Jesus’ blood is a testament both to good writing and good acting.

This episode pulled no punches in the violence department and in doing so revealed a lot about Roman rule for those ignorant of how the process worked. After all, if you cannot silence a story, as Pilate says, “you kill it.” And he chose to terminate the Roman soldiers who witnessed the happenings at the tomb in front of the shocked, horrified, and terrified Caiaphas… whose mind no doubt flitted back to Joseph of Arimathea’s earlier warnings that he would “come to regret” an alliance with Rome. The writing is on the wall, so to speak. I have actually seen some viewers stunned at Pilate and his behavior, though it is wholly in keeping with his historical character and the methods of Rome. (Please read the history of the period, not just your Bible.) Continue reading

A.D. The Bible Continues, Episode One

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I’m a Biblical epic junkie, and geek historian. I’ve read Josephus. I’ve read scripture. And I’m currently working my way through all of theologian, pastor, and historian N.T. Wright’s sermons on the gospels. I am never NOT in the mood for a good Ancient Roman-Judean epic and… I’ve just found my proverbial new best friend. Literary and film crush. Whatever you want to call it. I really had no idea of what to expect going into this first season (hopefully, not the last) of A.D. on NBC, but … it blew away any preconceptions formed through The Bible miniseries. This is a full blown serial epic, featuring historical, Biblical, and fictional characters interacting at the crucifixion and in the aftermath. And, it’s awesome.

So far, the main character seems to be Caiaphas, High Priest of Israel, Leader of the Sanhedrin, and a man so desperate to preserve Israel in the face of Roman occupation that he throws the Messiah to the Romans and insists upon his death, merely to avoid any potential uprisings or contradictions to the ancient Judean laws. His “persecution” of Jesus leads one of his own priests, Joseph of Arimathea, to turn against him and indirectly fulfill prophecy by offering the fallen Messiah a resting place in his tomb. Not only that, but Caiapha’s insistence upon the crucifixion (urged on by his wife, who believes Israel must capitulate to Rome to survive the occupation) creates friction between him and Pontius Pilate, who is uneasy at his role in events… so much so that he takes a hard hand with his wife, Claudia, in convincing her that no one comes back from a Roman crucifixion. Continue reading

Testing Faith

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I’m always a little surprised to come across statements that encourage people to avoid growth because reading that book, or seeing that adaptation, or discussing this theological perspective “might weaken your faith.”

Is our faith so fragile that a movie full of bad theology might turn us away from the Messiah? Is it so weak that reading an author who is not a Christian might cause us to turn away from God?

I can understand the idea of protecting an immature faith, one that has just started to grow, like you would shelter a baby plant in soft earth. But at some point, the plant must grow up. Its roots must dig deep. It must thrive on its own, without you hovering over it. It must face the wind and the rain and … survive. Isn’t that what faith is supposed to do, too? Aren’t we supposed to mature beyond the stage where the slightest wind will tear us free?

If we never face things that test our faith, it never grows beyond a seedling. I don’t think we should avoid things that challenge our faith, or contradict our faith, or ask questions about our faith … because if our faith cannot sustain asking questions, is it even a true faith at all? If a seam cannot stand someone pulling on it, it was sewn wrong. It comes apart. If we cannot defend our beliefs, if we are afraid to question our beliefs, they will not withstand a good tug. The slightest pressure will make them falter.

We grow through adversity. Our faith increases when it is tested. But how can it grow, if we are afraid of the slightest pressure? I would rather have it tested by entertainment than by extreme circumstances. I would rather grow it through reading writers I do not agree with, and thinking about their arguments, forming my own beliefs along the way, than in facing some incredible loss in real life with a baby faith, and suddenly finding myself asking, “Does God even exist?” When those tough times come, I want to have an aspen of faith, not a seedling.

Entertainment is powerful. There is no question about that. It can shape worldviews and lives … but is the influence of entertainment really greater than our faith? And if so, is our faith even faith at all?

Christians should fear nothing in the literary realm. Fear implies weakness. We do not need to ban or burn books. A boy wizard is no threat to our faith. A poorly done movie about Jesus is no threat to our faith. Our faith is not so fragile that it is going to break when we try to strengthen it. Muscles only fade when they are not exercised. Faith only fades when it is not tested.

We don’t have to be afraid of conflicting opinions, or of testing our faith. Growth only comes by asking hard questions.

Femnista: March / April 2015

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The latest issue of FEMNISTA is out, centering around ancient times. This issue explores Biblical history and figures as well as films set in an earlier time period. Includes: Rahab & Ruth, Pompeii, Jezebel, Gladiator, The Maccabees, Clash of the Titans, Til We Have Faces, Ben-Hur, and a hilarious interaction between Jesus’ disciples.

You can DOWNLOAD  the issue or READ IT ONLINE.

I am always looking for contributors, so if you’re interested in writing for the publication, check out our upcoming themes.

BONUS: Charity’s Place should now work on your mobile phone. And some new reviews are up…

Holy Week: Music Video

Bit surprised that everything is so dead this week, blog-wise. Seems a prime time to post faith-based posts. I plan to, later in the week, when I have some free time. If you’ve posted anything of the like to your blog, please let me know! I’d love to read and comment as part of my Holy Week experience.

After the lousy Killing Jesus, I felt like revisiting one that emulated the real traits and divinity of Jesus. Out of all the many Bible-based films I have seen, I felt The Bible‘s characterization of him was the most authentic to the kind of personality Christ really was.

Music: Plumb, “I Don’t Deserve You.” She seems to be my go-to for vidding Jesus films.

Have a blessed day.

Zach Nichols, The ISTP Detective

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I first discovered Law & Order when I was still living with my parents. One afternoon, they started watching. Tried to interest me in it. Didn’t work. Then, I caved one afternoon, got hooked… and that was all, she wrote. I watched back to back episodes on TNT and new episodes on NBC for years. I started watching SVU once in awhile, and got hooked on Criminal Intent, too.

The introduction of Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) in the eighth season of the latter series was an interesting choice; I recognized him from Jurassic Park, but didn’t really care either way. I simply liked him as a detective; he was a great alternative to Bobby Goren, the intense, hyperactive detective more than willing to play “bad cop” … because Nichols was the quiet, introspective, analytical “good cop.” Put them in the same episode, there were fireworks set off by two distinctly different personalities, each with differing strengths … but most of the time, Nichols went head to head with villains of every stripe alongside one of his two female partners. Continue reading

Jurassic Park: A Lesson in Fatherhood

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In a high pressure, intense situation… what would you do?

Airlines tell you, in the event of a disaster, to put on your own oxygen mask before attending to the mask of the person next to you. The implication is that in disastrous situations, many would be selfless. And, human beings have proven this time and again … rushing into burning buildings, flooding rivers, or flaming overturned vehicles to save people they have never even met before. Why do we do it? Maybe because it’s inborn in us, to want to help where we can; that those stronger must help those in need. Evolution can’t explain it. Survival of the fittest doesn’t come into play… when we’re protecting the weak.

The granddaddy of all “protect the weak” stories is the Jurassic Park franchise. It exploded onto the big screen around the same time I was fully fascinated with dinosaurs … and in some sense, cured me of my desire to be a “dinosaur doctor” … ie, to have Alan Grant’s job. It’s still one of my favorite franchises, despite being gruesome; and though I have seen it dozens of times, it still scares the hell out of me every time I watch it. Spielberg knows how to create suspense. When Carissa invited me to participate in Jeff Goldblum Fest, I realized it was the chance to talk about one of my favorite film franchises … but I had no particular angle with which to approach it. And then, re-watching the second film with her over the weekend, everything fell into place, the common theme woven throughout these stories of people being eaten because of one man’s desire to play God – family. Continue reading