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HOLLYWOOD JESUS
NEWSLETTER #31
Pop Culture From A Spiritual Point of View
HJ News #31 Main Page

December 25, 2001
Greetings from David Bruce, Web Master

This page was last updated June 21, 2003

Main News Letter Page
Page Two -Comments
Page One -Comments

___________________________________

Main Topic:
EUCATASTROPHE

Sub Topic
POST MODERN REALITIES

Contents
1. Merry Christmas J.R.R. Tolkien Style
2. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are Not Satanic
3. An Appeal to the Boomer Generation
4. Why Protestants Dislike Image

*************************
1. MERRY CHRISTMAS
or in the words of J.R.R. TOLKIEN
MERRY "EUCATASTROPHE"

*************************

Welcome to the dawning of a new age.
Welcome to the season when "Myth becomes Truth"
J.R.R. Tolkien looked forward to Christmas with joy!
For him it was a time of Fantasy and happy endings.
He coined a word for Christmas --EUCATASTROPHE!
The "sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth"
with the ultimate "happy ending."

He believed that the birth of Christ was the EUCATASTROPHE (happy ending) of human history.

He believed that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was the EUCATASTROPHE (happy ending) of the incarnation (Christmas).

C.S. Lewis joins in and says that
"The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens - at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by debatable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to an historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate."
This is the meaning of Christmas.

Tolkien and Lewis anticipated the Post Modern Era.
They sensed the culmination of the Enlightenment,
the end of the Age of Reason, the doom of the Modern Era.
They understood that the Modern Scientific Age was limited.

The meaning of life could not be found in a scientific approach.
Rather, truth was best expressed in Fairy Tales and Myth.
Christmas was magic.
Christmas is "mystical" like a "fairy-story" said Tolkien.
Indeed so, and merry EUCATASTROPHE to you all.

What are your thoughts -email me:
Do you think Christian faith should be couched in myth as CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien do?

*************************
2. J.R.R. TOLKIEN AND C.S. LEWIS ARE NOT SATANIC
How God is Operating in the Post Modern Era
*************************

Why is the magical Harry Potter so popular? What does it mean that it's Presbyterian Christian author has become the first billionare-author in history?

Why is Lord of the Rings, a fairy tale, considered the finest book of the 20th century by literary scholars? What was the shift from just 20 years ago when no scholar would admit to enjoying it?

Why did movie critics give the Lord of the Rings a whooping record high 96% thumbs up rating?
And why did this fairy-story set the largest December weekend opening ever?

Why has the highly mythical Star Wars captured the current generation as it has?

Why are Christians generally considered out of the loop?

Welcome to the Post Modern (Post Christian) Era.

So what's happening? I believe the stones are crying out. God is doing something different as the church regresses into silent isolationism, and irrelevance. God is speaking through popular culture to the culture.

I was at a Community Bible Church this past Sunday and someone asked me if The Lord of the Rings movie was a good thing. "It's about wizards isn't it. It sounds so occultish to me," she said.

I have heard this before. So, I told her that J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of LOTR, was the one who introduced C.S. Lewis to Jesus Christ.

She then asked who C.S. Lewis was.

I said, "He wrote The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe." I explained a little bit about the story. She interrupted me and said, "A Christian isn't suppose to write about witches and magic? It's like Harry Potter. It is very wrong. Children could become curious about satanic things".

And I knew there was no way to go forward in the conversation.

This story represents the struggle going on in the Christian world. The culture has changed and the Church is finding it difficult to change with it. The Modern Era has crashed. And the Post Modern Era has dawned. And it looks for truth, meaning and EUCATASTROPHE in Fairy Tales, Myths, Fantasy and Art. Consider the ten top grossing films:
1. Titanic
2. Star Wars
3. Star Wars Episode I
4. E.T.
5. Jurassic Park
6. Forest Gump
7. The Lion King
8. Star Wars Episode VI
9. Independence Day
10. Sixth Sense

They are mostly mythical, fairy stories and fantasy. And people are eating them up. All of them have parallels found in the Bible. God is speaking to this culture through its mythical movies.

Among those people who claim to have no religion, 78% agree that "God performs miracles" (University of New York study). Somehow God is speaking and breaking through. These are exciting times.

Geoffrey Hill in Illuminating Shadows notes:
"As ironic modern worshippers we congregate at the cinematic temple. We pay our votive offering at the box office. We buy ritual corn. We hush in reverent anticipation as the lights go down and the celluloid magic begins. Throughout the filmic narrative we identify with the hero. Vilify the antihero. We vicariously exult in the victories of the drama. And we are spiritually inspired by the moral of the story, all while believing we are modern techno-people, devoid of religion. Yet the depth and intensity of our participation reveal a religious fervor that is not much different from that of religious zealots.

C.S. Lewis said, "I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual truth sustenance from myth they did not believe than from the religion they professed.

Jesus said the fields are ready for harvest and Tolkien and Lewis have given us an example to follow. A EUCATASTROPHE is possible.

What are your thoughts -email me:
Do you think JRR Tolkien and Lewis were on target writing about magic, wizardry and mysticism?

*************************
3. AN APPEAL TO THE BOOMER GENERATION
in regard to the POST CHRISTIAN (Post Modern) GENERATION
*************************

Douglas Coupland states in his generation defining book, Life Without God, to Generation X "You are the first generation raised without God... (yet) we are all living creatures with strong religious impulses..."

An entire generation, raised by non church going baby boomer parents, feels deep religious impulses. But "where do these impulses flow?" Coupland asks. Where does the current generation go to satisfy its religious impulses? Well, for one, it is not flocking to the churches. The most secular non-religious person today is likely to be a male in their 20s or 30s and single, according to study released this week by the University of New York.

They look to movies like The Matrix (mystical), and TV shows like Friends (fellowship). They are deeply involved in the culture.

I was talking with my Gen X niece the other day. She called her generation "the generation of the divorced." My heart sank as she spoke those words. As a boomer, and I must say we have let our children down. We hold the world's record for divorce. The boomers are the "Me Generation" of self absorption. We divorced ourselves from each other and from God. We pass on no real foundation to the next generation. As a boomer, I feel shame, for I too am divorced and have put my children through much pain. I feel very badly. May God forgive my sins and the sins of my generation.

In reaction to our sins of broken family relationships, we (boomers) have launched churches and movements that "Focus on the Family." We want to become "Promise Keepers" to correct the sins of our past. We rename our churches "Family Worship Centers." The remorse for our sin leads us to a false center --we have become "family centered" instead of Christ centered. And we have regressed to a more traditional Modern Era form of worship masked in a so-called "contemporary" garb.

The Church seems to be hopelessly locked in the past Modern Era devoid of image, fantasy, myth, and story telling. We fail to speak the language of the current Post Modern time. Its not that we don't make an effort to connect. After all, we Boomers wear causal clothes to our Family Worship Centers and sing 70s style folk rock worship choruses which we call "contemporary." We try. But fail.

In fact the Evangelical Boomer Church is losing ground and they are not adding numbers to the Protestant faith which has declined from 60% to 52% since 1990 according to the University of New York study.

I want to make an appeal to the Boomer Generation, which now controls the churches, to open the windows and let some fresh air into the churches. Let the current generation have place and voice. Resonate with current Post Modern culture with all the zeal of a good missionary.

Allow its music.
Allow its speakers.
Allow its language.
Allow its culture.
Allow for its art.
Allow its dress.

Take a leap of faith.
Please.
And let Post Modern culture happen.
And a EUCATASTROPHE will happen.

What are your thoughts -email me:
Do you think churches should change?


*************************
4. WHY PROTESTANTS DISLIKE IMAGES
and the POST CHRISTIAN (Post Modern) ERA
*************************

Post Modern culture is filled with images. Some think current culture is becoming non-literary and image oriented. Not true. It is the coming together of both word and image. A sign of the time is the merger of AOL Internet (mass communication) with Time/Life Magazines (literary) with Warner Brothers Pictures (visual).

Communication companies understand the importance of both word and image. The Church needs to understand this as well.

"Where do you want to go today?" The Microsoft Windows Operating System has little icons that take you there. The Microsoft logo is a flying window set in a heavenly blue sky. Of course Bill Gates "borrowed" this idea of visual icons from Macintosh. However, neither Steve Jobs (Macintosh) nor Bill Gates (Microsoft) can claim originality. For centuries the Eastern Orthodox Church has viewed its beautiful venerated picture icons (paintings) as windows to heaven. The parallel between the ancient Pre-Modern and the current Post Modern understanding of nonliterary graphic icons is astonishing.

Right up to the Protestant Reformation, just 500 years ago, visual images where very important to Christianity and to pre-literary culture. Suddenly the literary linear world of the Enlightenment took priority over image (word over image). Protestant Christians saw icons and statues as idolatry (graven images) and destroyed them. The Modern scientific era was born. An era that was defined by the printing press (the "word"). It believed that all knowledge could be reduced to black ink on white paper; That the world's problems could be solved by Modern Scientific methods of linear logic. No need of the "blaspheme" of images, myth, fantasy, and dreams. We renamed the Pre-Modern Culture "the Dark Ages" -we so despised its fairy stories, religion and myth. It was an over reaction, to be sure.

In recent times we have been experiencing a back lash that has brought an end to the Modern Era's scientific linear understanding of the world. We have entered the Post Modern Era (also called the Post Christian Era). The importance of image, fantasy, myth, color, dreams, and story telling are back again. And certain Modern-Era Christians are spitting angry.

There is this idea among non-mystical Protestant Christians that the spiritual and the material are two different very different worlds. One sacred and the other profane. The early Christians though differently. Orthodox belief teaches that the whole of God's creation, material as well as spiritual, is to be redeemed and glorified. On the first Christmas God took a material body, thereby proving that matter can be redeemed. God "deified" matter, making it "spirit bearing." Therefore, though in a different way, paintings of paint and wood (icons) can point to God. Image can proclaim the Word of God.

The unorthodox view of the material universe as non-redeemable is seen in certain Protestant suspicion of the arts -especially true of the Fundamentalists. They are sure that the whole of the material universe is evil and especially Hollywood.

This is why non-mystical Protestant churches have plain walls with few pictures. Overhead projections are generally limited to music lyrics and announcements. In mystical churches such as Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Episcopal (all pre-Modern in origin) there are tons of images and they are comfortable with myth, storytelling, art, dreams, and movies. In fact, Tolkien was Catholic and Lewis was Episcopalian.

I would say that the arts are key communication tools in Post Modern times. The arts are essential. After all, all artistic talent is a gift of God. It just needs to be used for the glory of God. I also believe that even when art doesn't honor God through deliberate human intentions, that it still points to God, due to the fact that all humans bear the image of their creator.

As C.S. Lewis points out, "We must not be nervous about 'parallels' and 'Pagan Christs' they ought to be there -it would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must welcome them not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome."

I encourage non-mystical Protestant churches to take the leap of faith into the Post-Modern era and explore the value of image, movies, story telling and other non-literary forms of communication.


If you have any thoughts along these lines, email me:

May God continue to bless you.
Warmly,
David Bruce
Web Master, Hollywood Jesus.

PS To chat directly to me, email: Private 2 David

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BULLETIN BOARD
Email your response

STRUCK A CHORD
Subject: Change_Is_Good_for_Churches-News31
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002
From: Elaine Green

Mr. Bruce,
To begin with, thank you for all the thought-provoking issues and entertainment commentary you bring to the world. Your website is unique and marvelous, and I'm grateful for the work you do in the Lord's name.

 The third section of Newsletter #31 struck a very deep cord in me. I grew up in a small, rural southern church, mostly friendly and enthusiastic yet worrisome at times. The pastor once expressed his disdain with teenagers wearing ripped jeans and a few adult members made their approval known. They also blasted the music we liked. (Just because a type of entertainment is secular doesn't mean it's BAD.) Since we, the young people there, wore and listened to what all the other teenagers did, remarks like that rubbed us the wrong way. None of us were bad kids, we just looked sloppy at times! We weren't comfortable with some of the adults because of their attitudes.

 I have a problem with such comments being laid down as the law in places of worship, because not only is it discouraging and maybe offensive to the people to whom the lecture is directed, but young people, constantly in need of guidance and support, are going to shy away from the adults who could act as much needed mentors to the kids. I'm only 22, not yet an old-timer but past that tender age where approval is needed from grown-ups even though that need isn't always voiced. I had some great adults, including my parents, who helped me with the rough patches. The church can provide this positive influence, but we have to stop being prejudiced against the little things that don't matter. I wonder how many would-be preachers, missionaries and other servants of Christ have dropped out of God's plans for them because of disapproval from adults.

 What made me so excited about your website the first time I visited it was the way you present secular films as valuable lessons to be learned. What a concept! My sincere prayer is that EVERYONE who finds your site can learn from it, and learn to look a little deeper. What's that old saying about judging a book by the cover?

God bless you,
Elaine Green

Response: Thanks Elaine, I appreciate your words. -David

CHANGE OR DIE
Subject: Change_Is_Good_for_Churches-News 31
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002
From: Mark Osbun

I don't know if change is good or bad, but it is so ingrained in the human condition that it has always been a part of our life. Churches and church life are expressions of the time and place in which they exist. Because people change and customs and practices change, so do churches. Or they die. I doubt that any of us today could relate to the church life of our own faith from two hundred or three hundred years ago, any more than they could relate to our churches today. Churches and church life are a cultural reality as much as a spiritual one.
Mark Osbun

I LIKED IT!
Subject: Myth_Is_Good_Newsletter_31
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002
From: Darren
Organization: Lakeview Free Methodist Church

I think that Christianity HAS to be shown through myth. We humans have no idea of the immensity of God; how much bigger and "other" he is. I am thankful for Lewis, Tolkien, and so many others that have led the way. My own spirituality would have died without people like them.

Response: Amen! I totally agree! -David

HMMMM
Subject: Church_is_Irrelevant-News31
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002
From: Susan

I don't think the Bible would back the idea of CHURCH being irrelevant. Maybe our current FORM of church is, but not the biblical idea of church!

IMAGES
Subject: Images_and_Post_Modern
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002
From: Susan

I like your look at pre-Modern vs. post-Modern, and the connection to the images. And, that you point out that we've "exxed" out the spiritual world, etc. I agree, even to the point that we "forget" about the Holy Spirit bcs we're afraid we're gonna "get spiritual" or something! Heavens to Murgatroid, listen to me, and I'm a Baptist!

But, there is more to why protestants rejected the icons ... it is the whole Catholic (pre-protestant) belief in the idea/power of "saints" (and even Mary)and the tendency we humans have to quicly make idols out of icons. This can be seen "live" in places like South America and the Philippines, where animist beliefs of the past are alive and well in STATUES, icons of the saints and Mary, etc. Icons in and of themselves are not "evil" - it is when WE give them more value or power than they own that they get our minds and hearts off the main thing. And, if I remember my history anywhere near as well as you do, protestants were SO SICK of all the crud in the RC church at the time that our rejection of art and decoration in the church was the result, even in there being no Jesus on a protestant cross, etc. So, while I think there is this fear of spiritual stuff in the modern church, it also comes out of some basic protestant theology about what is an idol and who is a saint and man's unending tendency to forget God, and so forth.

And, on another topic, does anyone out there KNOW how to talk Jesus to the current generation - genX and the busters, etc.? I mean, it seems to me that there can't be a EUCATASTROPHE (or however that's spelled!) without someone to tell 'em! (see, I'm a boomer and I am clueless about anything beyond about 1980, bcs I turned 30 then and untrustable!)

Yak, yak, yak.
SRCravey

THE LOST GENERATION
Subject: Images_and_Post_Modern
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002
From: Cinc

People born in the late 1950's and early 1960's such as myself were ignored by the media. We are lumped in the babyboomer group but were too young to have been involved with the anti-war movement and the other activities that older group was involved in. The generation x group which is from 25 to 35 years old needs to grow up. Augustine was around thirty when he converted to chirst but there were no special art or music created for him to have become a chirstian. Generation x like my age group are longer the youngest group around. I feel that my group were the true lost geneation since the moral rules started to change for those who were teenagers in the 1970's, and the media totally missed out on us.

A RESPONSE
Subject: I_Believe_in_God_Not_Church-News31
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002
From: James C. Stephens

I don't know who I am presently writing to, but I do agree with much you say. I personally was a Buddhist prior to finding faith in Jesus Christ. Since 1984, I have walked with Christ and in 1999, I stopped attending Church waiting upon the Lord for an answer to our generational dilemma. I read that 30 million Christians do not attend Church today. Since I stopped attending Church and started being the Church, I have participated in more fruitful activity, leading others to Christ, than in my previous years. Now, I wonder, where do we go from here. I have been asked to start "A Church" . What does that mean? Everyone seems to have an answer. But I still have not heard from the Lord on this for myself and for the small community of lost sheep. I am attempting to change my language from I go to such and such church, or my pastor is so and so, he's awesome. Jesus is awesome. I feel that for the last several years God is weaning my heart from trust in men, to trust in Him. At the same time He is showing me that we are to love the Body of Christ in all its myriad sin. He loved us while we were yet sinners. We are to be like Him.

I am happy to have stumbled upon your site. Presently I am working on a twenty minute presentation for a Hollywood prayer initiative to inform others about the influence of Buddhism through Hollywood. Any thoughts? I have seen most of the Buddha films and am interested in writing something which helps us understand the human spirituality, but at the same time their determined path away from seeking Jesus as the only way. Please pray for me. Are you locally based, Los Angeles area? My family comes from the Motion picture business. My grandfather James Montrose was a sound producer for the first talking film at Warner Brothers, the Jazz Singer. My cousin, Tony Dow used to play in Leave it to Beaver. So I have some vested interest in seeing my family know Jesus and Him crucified, and the joy that He has given us in an eternal relationship with Him.
Blessings,
James C. Stephens
website http://www.sonrise.f2s.com

Response: Thanks for the wonderful letter. I will pray for your family. I would love to read your thoughts on Buddhism Please send them on to me in an email. Perhaps I could interact in that way. I am in Ashland Oregon. -David

MYTH
Subject: Myth_Is_Good_Newsletter_31
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2002
From: Michael Hermann

Michael wrote: A myth is an expression of something that is "ultimately true". If we keep this classical definition in mind we will have little trouble with myth. What is the truth about humanity that a story is trying to express? What is the ultimate truth a biblical story is trying to convey, state, make real for the reader about Jesus or God? These are the helpful questions.

Myth does not mean "untrue", or "false". It is not the same as "mythunderstanding".

Response: You are exactly right! -David

DIFFICULTY WITH IMAGE AND ICONS
Subject: Images_and_Post_Modern
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002
From: "L.D.W."

Part of the difficulty with images and icons, is that, they have been used for so long to deify Europeans. Christ, Mary, Joseph, Moses, and the apostles have been depicted as white in the European and Euro-American churches, when they were not, being of Middle Eastern and Afro-Asiatic descent. The depiction just became part of the whole colonialist movement to justify the degradation and exploitation of people of color. Over time, the political ramifications of the images overshadowed the spiritual meaning, if spiritual meaning was intended at all. The icons came to be seen as a way for European descended people in power to represent themselves as being holy or powerful and justify their exploitation of people of other races.
L. D. Waters

Response: This is why we need a diversity of image. As we become increasingly a gobal village this will naturally happen. Recent images of Jesus tend to be more international. Celebrate art! -David

REQUIEM FOR BOOMER AND X
-AND THE RENAISSANCE OF MYSTERY AND WONDER

Subject: Images_and_Post_Modern
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002
From: "mark storm"

Hi, David.
I loved your overview of the limitations of the Modernism zeitgeist. Indeed, the 'Modern' era (and the Modernism era for most of the Twentieth Century) discredited Myth vigorously.

But every generation is a reaction against the one before it. The excesses of the Regency 'Romantics' led to the stringencies of the Victorians. It was the 'Modern' Scientific mindset of the Higher Critical School of Nineteenth Century Germany that accounted for the doctrine that the Hebrew Bible couldn't possibly be true because so much of it alluded to supernaturalism and mystical events, which they disparaged as 'nonsensical. worthless. foolish. valueless.. Romantic rubbish!'.

Not surprisingly, Christians for the last two hundred years have been at pains to verify the Bible through archaeology and exhaustive scholarship. And so one can clearly see that these Christians were fighting their side of the fight within the Positivistic Rationalism that epitomises the Modernist / Scientific paradigm.

And while the Scientific paradigm has allure in its own Grand Aesthetic, for all their noble purposes, the Christians who embraced the scientific paradigm (and brought about Creation Science among other achievements) lost the enigmatic beauty that is specific to the non-rational paradigm, one best experienced when one perceives the wonder in the Mystery that is the central truth of the Christ.

But all history is a Pendulum of Paradigms. Once Science had developed to the point where the layman was at a loss to comprehend it - and in apprehension at its fearsome fruits, such as the nuclear bomb - it wasn't surprising that a generation would sooner or later arise who would reject it. Enter the 1960s where Boomers embraced the mystical and irrational.

Sadly, the Boomers lost both blessing and birthright. What began so brightly in the 1960s. such beautiful music!. such glorious, moving lyrics of truth!. was all lost when the burdens of age crept upon them. What now can be said for the legacy of the Baby Boomers? Dirty sex, dirty drugs, divorce and decadence. And no-one feels this loss of opportunity to redeem the world more poignantly than those who first cried so loudly "Peace, Love and Understanding".

And a legacy of confusion for their children.

So where are we now, we poor lost souls of the 3rd Millenium? Are we to suddenly revert to Science? Will we demand that the paradigm of Science yield us the fruits of Mammon denied us by the excesses of the Boomers? Will we chase the fool's rainbow and try to be young forever?

Or will we embrace our parents' rejection of Objectivity - and wallow in a quagmire of delusion, drugs, irrationality and superstition for as long as our youth and money last? Or will we be remembered in history as the Generation who Repaired the World? Will Generation X be remembered as the ones who paid the bill and did the cleaning up for the Boomers' party? Will we be remembered as the generation who balanced the Wisdoms of Science and Mystery? Will we be the ones who finally learnt the secret of connecting the Passion and the Prose - the Words and the Music?

I doubt it. I think Generation X is too confused, too despondent, too divided in its voice. Generation X will only claim a footnote in history as the sad, lost generation sandwiched between the greater ones that went before and.. after? At best, Generation X is the generation that knew best what the problem was, but was exhausted long before its time and robbed of its chances to act on that knowledge. Yet while I can see no 'Neo-Renaissance' from my own Generation X, when I look at the generation that is to come, Generation Y, I have hope. Given the current responses to The Matrix, Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings - and their positive reception of the mystery of Christ not least of all (for they are braver and not yet so cynical as X) I think they might just be the ones to make it.

Assuming... assuming... Generations Boomer and X teach them the hard-won lessons and yield to them the reins of power in time.

Mark Storm
Jan 2002

Response: Mark you always amaze me. Thank you for you well thought out response. I am impressed. I have high hopes for Gen Y too. And I agree generations Boomer and X need to "teach them the hard-won lessons and yield to them the reins of power in time." At the present however, Boomers need to pass off to Gen X.

TOLKIEN -RESPONSE TO CHRISTINE
Subject: JRR_Tolkien_ is right on
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002
From: Paul

Hello all - loved the movie, loved Greg's review, agreed with the newsletter. But this is more of a response to Christine's comments than anything else - although I don't know if she follows this site or whether she will be reading this or not.

Christine, I just wanted to challange you on your understanding of "abstaining from every appearance of evil" (I Thess 5 v 19-22). To put the verse in its context, Paul is giving some short advice on prophecy. He advises us not to stifle the holy spirit or scoff at prophecy, but test everything that is said. The most direct and obvious application of his words, then, is to the practice of prophecy, and to avoiding misinterpretation of it. If anyone has concerns about the inspiration of such prophecy, thinking it is of sinister origin, then this appearance of evil should be avoided by carefully testing everything said.

You may disagree with me on this interpretation of the verse, but this is the immediate context, and I don't believe that there are any other passages of scripture which emphasize the outward appearances of doing the right thing - inward motivation and attitudes of the heart are emphasized more often. If we are going to make these words into a general principle - that Christians must never do anything which is subject to misinterpretation by the uninformed - then we must be careful about lifting Paul's words out of their original context. This is something to be very cautious of - after all, the Bible says that "There is no God" (Psalm 14 v 1), if we are prepared to ignore the context. If this is to be a general principle, it should be noted that Jesus was accused of being "a glutton and a drunkard" (Matthew 11 v 19) by uninformed observers, by his association with the dregs of society. Jesus stuck to his principles and his mission, even though he risked misunderstanding by people who didn't really know what was going on - therefore his actions are not consistent with this "abstain from every appearance of evil" principle. This suggests to me that just because people who haven't read Tolkien think his books are sinister, that doesn't make him a backslider, and going to see the film doesn't make people backsliders either.

I'll admit that I am disturbed by society's obsession with all things occultish, and I want to know why the books on Wicca and Paganism are much easier to find and seem to be more numerous in my local branch of Waterstones than any Christian books or bibles. But it won't help to go condemning excellent Christian authors for their guilt by tentative association. (If you'd read the books you would know that Tolkien's "wizards" are not really human practictioners of the magic arts in the conventional sense, like they are in Harry Potter, but are mysterious and powerful characters, who are eventually revealed to be essentially angelic beings). Personally I think it's good that my non-Christian friends are watching a film that makes them think about Divine Providence and Human Responsibility. I'm really glad that the director Peter Jackson really picked up on that level of the book - I didn't think he would. Just a little thought - I hope you will give this further consideration.
Yours in Christ Paul Hutchinson

PS Is JK Rowling really a Presbyterian Christian? I enjoyed the film, but I have to admit to a bit of reserved concern that witchcraft comes off looking pretty cool and exciting in her books. I'd like to find out more about her own spiritual outlook, if anyone knows anything more about her own beliefs.

CHANGE
Subject: Change_Is_Good_for_Churches-News31
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
From: Will VanNatta

I think you raise a lot of great questions. Many of which have been asked for the past decade by many people in the church. My question to you is this: " What are the answers to the questions you raise? How do we as a church, a Christian community, and believers reach this post modern generation with the gospel in a language they will hear? "
Will Van Natta

Response: Open the door and let them in. Give them place. Sit back and behold the move of God. -David

FINDING GREAT FELLOWSHIP... ELSEWHERE!
Subject: JRR_Tolkien_is_Right_On
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002
From: Ben Wakefield

I find what you are saying to be very correct. I pastored churches for nearly thirty years, but finally left due to a serious mistake I make and found it difficult to minister as a pastor, as too many wanted to "remember what you did"! I joined a Catholic congregation and found a place where no one knew or cared what I had done. I teach a wonderful Bible Study in which adults are come week by week hungry for signs of God's presence in their lives and world. I encourage them to see God in everything and everyone, as this is what the incarnation means. Lewis is right that our myths always move us. I am grateful for all the ways God speaks and the many voices God uses to speak to me everyday. If Christians truly began to understand Scripture they would see and hear God in all things. I will be reading your site often. Thanks for your outlook. Many you see and experience God's blessings in all things.

Response: Bless you my man! Bless you! -David

CONTINUED

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