Wednesday, February 25

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) was one of the most remarkable preachers the church has ever produced. In addition though, he was a tireless social reformer, educator, statesman, economist, theologian, author, publisher, entrapreneur, scientist, and missionary. In the difficult years just after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, he preached the astonishing message, "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." It had a surprisingly powerful Gospel impact then--first in the city of Glasgow, where Chalmers was pastor of the famed Tron Church, then throughout Scotland, and ultimately all around the world. It ought to still have that kind of impact. I have posted it on the hubbub page of the King's Meadow web site with the prayer that it would. Let the hubbub begin!

Thumbs Up

Roger Ebert,acknowleding his own religious and metaphysical doubts still gave the new Mel Gibson release, The Passion of Christ, four stars in his Chicago Sun-Times column yesterday. Citing Gibson's "awesome" directorial technique, actor James Caviezel's "heroic depiction" of Christ, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel's painterly "artist's eye," and John Debney's "powerful but unobtrusive" musical score. Ebert offered thoughtful and appreciative praise for the film.

Over the weekend, Ebert and his television co-host Richard Roeper gave The Passion "two thumbs up" According to Roeper, "Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime."

Not all movie reviewers agree, of course. Several critics have weighed in condemning The Passion for its unrestrained violence or its supposed anti-Semitism. Indeed, according to a World Net Daily article some of the same reporters who regularly hail violent and perverse films that assail viewers taboos have suddenly found a heretofore hidden moral conscience in order to label Gibson's portrayal of the last twelve hours of Christ's life "an obscene and contemptable movie," "a compendium of tortures that would horrify the regulars at an S&M club," and "a sick exercise in physical abuse, engaged in for power." Where was that conscience when they were telling moviegoers that Kill Bill or Gladiator or Quills or Saving Private Ryan or American Pie as "must-see" epics?

Amazingly, the always over-the-top movie site Ain't It Cool bashed the contrarians saying that The Passion "is possibly one of the greatest films ever produced in the history of cinema." The normally hipper-than-thou reviewer concluded, "I can not possibly recommend this film higher. It is art, intensely brave cinema and astonishingly beautiful even in its brutality. I fully believe the film will become a classic. We haven't seen the likes of this one before."

Regardless, the critics have had their say. Now the box office will have its say. The Passion opens on more than 2,500 screens all across America today.

Who Killed Jesus?

Christians do not need Newsweek magazine, talking heads on cable TV, or even radio call in celebs to tell us. The Bible is clear enough: it was the Father who delivered up Christ as a sacrifice for all men. "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know--this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" Acts 2:22-23 (ESV).

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