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Gold and Jell-O
A Journal Entry for August, 2005

This page was created on August 2, 2005
This page was last updated on August 16, 2005

The After Eden Journal concludes two years of publication
with this, our final issue.

 
By Jenn Wright   E-mail Jenn
The final column. One more exercise in finding gold in the gutter, looking for worth amidst the waste. One final exploration into evocation and provocation, appetite and consumption, and the lessons available there.

Perhaps one of the more difficult aspects of After Eden's main tenet is the old adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure. In our first installment, Mike found numerous ways in which to look at the film Chicago and find gold gleaming in the gutters portrayed there. Others of us at After Eden noticed far less value and had a difficult time trying to focus on anything positive, for all the forest of negativity we observed.

From the outset, we knew that finding the gold in the gutter wouldn't always be easy, wouldn't always be popular. What we hoped was that it would be provocative, or at least evocative. And while perhaps the premise proved less enticing to the vast internet

audience than it did to ourselves, we have learned much from the two years we've been pursuing the redemptive in what often looks to be a wasteland. What we discovered is that it's hard to have a debate when the basic goal is not to argue, per se, but to look at a topic from three different angles and explore the potentially positive aspects.

After all, what fires up one columnist may seem trivial to the others, or vice versa. Or one might "take issue" with a couple of points a columnist has made, yet generally agree, which leads to a sort of milquetoast response that can be easily interpreted as "boredom." And if our culture values debate, where does that leave us? Especially when we've already gone through the debate ourselves? Where it leaves the readers is, not surprisingly, left out.

We have also learned that—while we hoped to gather an audience and promote a fresh way of viewing the world, actively expecting to find value in things that at first glance have none—an audience is not the only reason to write. We at After Eden have

had two years of lessons on the nature of redemption and where it can "hide." And that's been good for us. But how good has it been for our readers? I know from my own experience that watching someone else learn to ski isn't all that exciting—especially when you'd like to be skiing yourself.

Finally, we have learned that an audience's consumption demonstrates what its appetite is. Just as it is difficult to sell Tully's to a Starbucks crowd, it is hard to introduce the concept of redemptive thinking to those of us (nearly everyone) who have become accustomed to knock-down-drag-out polarizing rants in which each party seeks to make any opposition look foolish, thoughtless, witless and altogether vapid. Anything less barely registers on the public's scale of discussion.

Though the public's appetite exists, however, it doesn't follow that the public should be clamoring to satiate it—or that After Eden should feed it. By way of comparison, I can most assuredly state, as one whose physical appetites have been drastically tampered

with due to chronic illness, that having an appetite for a thing doesn't necessarily make its consumption good, or right, or wise. I've had to learn that it's better for me to sift the gold from a gutter full of Jell-O than it is for me to debate the relative merits of medium rare versus well-done.

Hopefully, After Eden has at least been well done even if it has come across as just so much Jell-O. And there's the gold in this particular gutter.

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The After Eden Archives

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About After Eden

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul speaks of Christianity as "the ministry of reconciliation."4 By this, he means that the central story of the faith is the reconciliation of Man to God through the blood of His Son, Jesus. Christianity, then, is the ministry of reconciliation because all who claim the name of Christ are ministers—literally, servants in the Greek—of God's specific conciliatory purpose.

But Christianity is not only the ministry of reconciliation—it is the ministry of all things godly. One of the other theological terms applied to the act of Jesus' death on the cross is redemption. In conceiving Hollywood Jesus, David Bruce understood that Christianity is also the ministry of redemption—and in particular, it is the redemptive hope for our culture: not through legislation, stone-throwing or critical negativity, but through showing us the godly things already embedded in our culture. For God reveals Himself through all that He has created, even the things that we may not particularly like.

After Eden is dedicated to this redemptive vision. We believe, as G.K. Chesteron put it, that "humanity is not incidentally engaged, but eternally and systematically engaged, in throwing gold into the gutter and diamonds into the sea."5 That's not a reality we endorse. We'd like to help salvage the gold from the gutter, and rescue the diamonds from the sea.

Mike Gunn is a pastor at Harambee Church in Tukwila, Washington, and was cofounder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

Jenn Wright is a writer with degrees in literature and theology. She is co-writing the Narnia coverage for Hollywood Jesus, which has debuted this fall in anticipation of the first movie's 2005 release.

Hollywood Jesus Senior Editor Greg Wright is a writer and ordained minister of the dramatic arts. He teaches English Literature at Puget Sound Christian College, and is author of Peter Jackson in Perspective: The Power Behind Cinema's The Lord of the Rings.

Editor Dave Stark is an ordained minister and former Microsoft manager. He is now a partner in Restoring Hope Construction.

The Devil's Advocate is a composite personality of our consultants and editorial staff. He may look like someone you know—and probably thinks like a lot of them.

Do you have comments or suggestions regarding the After Eden journal on Hollywood Jesus? Would you like to receive notification of new articles and updates?
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Editor Greg Wright
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