by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
Newspaper headlines tell the story. “When Dogma Meets Drama on Television.” “It’s the End of the World – on NBC.”
NBC’s mini-series of religion-flavored drama, Revelations, is being scoffed at by Biblical scholars while drawing in millions of viewers.
Last year, no one predicted the extraordinary box-office success of The Passion of the Christ. Nor the public and media frenzy that surrounded it.
Bestseller The Da Vinci Code has created a stir of discussions and debate among the general public, media, and churches, authors and scholars, which will not end. Soon The Da Vinci Code will make its movie debut.
The trend in exploring all things spiritual is not a new one. Is this hunger growing? Or does this desire now crave more specificity?
Regardless of one’s opinions, viewpoint or interpretation of Scripture, surely spiritual exploration is good. And perhaps it’s not so surprising that in the search to understand spirituality, the need has grown to want more definitive answers. Not surprising if one acknowledges the inherent nature of humankind as a spiritual one with the same divine Creator.
The urgency ignited by the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism has fueled the fear of “humanity at the brink.” Many believe this fear is also feeding the surge of religious-themed entertainment.
Certainly, Hollywood wants to cash in by accommodating public interest. And Hollywood’s goals are more about entertainment than presenting fact. But I think even in fictitious religious dramas, nuggets of truth can be found worthy of contemplation.
NBC’s Revelations features the unusual partnership of skeptic and believer, Science and Christianity – Dr. Massey and Sister Josepha. Their dialogue in the first episode sets up the ensuing conflict.
“Believe whatever you want to,” said Dr. Massey.
“Deny whatever you want to,” replied Sister Josepha.
But it was something Sister Josepha said in the second episode that has given me pause. Dr. Massey asked, “…even if this child is Christ, how can this child save the world?” And Sister Josepha responded, “Christ is hope…Perhaps hope can save the world.”
Now there’s a thought worthy of reflection. How can hope save the world? What kind of hope would it take? What message of hope comes from Christ?
Few would deny the effect of depressed hope. The history of civilization provides its chronicle. Unending cycles of poverty. Stalled progress. Limited vision. Ignorance. Anguish. Envy. Misunderstanding. Fear. Hatred. And so on. History has shown that depressed hope unchecked leads down paths toward doom and death.
So what of hope?
For centuries, many have thought of the Christ-child as a symbol of hope. The life and lessons of Christ Jesus teach of the infinitude and inclusiveness of God’s love and of the infinite possibilities of God’s help. History has also shown that faith in Christ Jesus and his teachings restore hope and lead up paths toward healing and life.
So maybe hope can play a part in the world’s salvation. Maybe humankind can change its destiny, as the character of Sister Josepha asserts. Biblical scholar and author of her own book on spirituality and healing, Mary Baker Eddy, describes the ministry of Christ Jesus. “Panoplied in the strength of an exalted hope, faith, and understanding, he sought to conquer the three-in-one of error: the world, the flesh, and the devil.”
Perhaps we must put on the same armor – exalted hope, faith and understanding – in order to win our own battle for salvation. Christ Jesus’ example affirms our hope that victory over evil will be the outcome. Such a victory was his.
In the meantime, the warfare between good and evil will probably continue in the creation of more shows like NBC’s Revelations. Ultimately, I believe the heart of humanity forever cherishes hope and no fear of Armageddon can destroy it. Hope will enable humankind to endure, overcome and win the day.