Just as Jesus Christ caught the attention of friends and foes alike, the “Son of God” movie (debuting in theaters February 28) has something to pique the interest of people from all walks of life.
Obviously, it is geared toward churchgoing families (such as mine) who want something that sticks to the ribs better than the cineplex’s latest bed-hopping romantic comedy or brainless shoot-em-up.
It also offers opportunities to the unchurched, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, but who feel more comfortable and less conspicuous washing righteousness down with theater Big Gulps instead of communion wine.
Activists and agitators - who never pass up a chance to piggyback their agenda on the latest trend -- will have a field day with “Son of God.” The pivotal scene of Satan tempting Christ has already been edited out (because the Prince of Darkness actor allegedly resembled Pres. Obama), but I’m sure there are other scenes that will elicit outcries for apology or modification.
Someone will undoubtedly say that Jesus should have built a wheelchair ramp while out there walking on water, or that when healing the mute, Christ should have offered “Press Two if you would like to speak in Spanish.”
Similarly, Jesus probably should have stipulated that he who belonged to the stone-casting union should cast the first stone. When feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, he should have specified that no exploitative toy came with the kids’ meals. And the angel announcing the Virgin Birth to Mary should have also noted the location of the nearest Virgin Planned Parenthood facility.
It goes without saying that Jesus’ invitation should have been rewritten as “Suffer the little children to come unto me -- that I may help resolve their gender identity issues.”
And “Son of God” gives the skeptics something to rally against, even though they’re even more divided than the umpteen church denominations. “Jesus of Nazareth is a complete fairy tale; no historical figure remotely resembling the image ever existed.” “Well, he existed but he was just a deluded peasant who thought he was the Messiah.” “No, he was a good man who never claimed divinity, but whose followers hijacked and altered his message. And the only commandments which have been faithfully preserved are the parts that I just happen to agree with. What are the chances?”
At the moment, the film (and the upcoming “Noah” and “Exodus”) appeals to Hollywood. Tinseltown moguls are notoriously lax on commandments about marital fidelity, substance abuse and honesty; but the film IS being touted as the first Jesus movie in a decade, so obviously the scripture “Yea, verily, thou shalt not neglect the franchise reboot” is irresistible.
(Hopefully, the movie won’t be as over-merchandised as the typical animated blockbuster; but then again, the uncut version of the advertising tagline is “Their empire. His kingdom. Your Visa card.”)
As I say, something for everyone. Go to restore your faith. Go to find answers to life’s troubling questions. Go to point out deviations from the Biblical text or to nitpick the Roman centurion’s wardrobe. Just go.
It’s not every day that I get to plug a movie about my Best Friend, so I hope that whatever your preconceptions and motivations, you will avail yourself of this opportunity to experience the Good Shepherd in a new way.
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.