Friday, May 20, 2005

ABC 20/20's "Resurrection" Doesn't Rise to the Occasion

Cranky alert.

Pretty simple, really. Christians have always believed that Jesus rose from the dead. It wasn't a vision, wasn't a dream. It happened, or it didn't. And I'm talking it happened historically, at a real time and a real place and in a real body. Or else, as Paul said, "of all people we [Christians] are the most to be pitied."

The resurrection -- physical resurrection -- got wierdly short shrift tonight in yet another of those TV documentaries that ABC in particular enjoys trotting out. Things started well, William Lane Craig being among a number of historically rooted believers representing a solid biblical (and might I say logical?!) view. Then came the usual suspects, headed up by my favorite, John Shelby Spong. I never know whether to be mad or just start laughing. Spong's contention tonight, which unfortunately pretty much closed out the show, was the most beautifully strung together sentence or two of poetic nonsense masquerading as theology I think I've ever heard. I hear Rod McKuen and Spong are doing a rap album together. . . .

So why do I torture myself, when I know how it always ends? Well, maybe I thought the right wing evangelical nexus would lead some cynical TV exec to realize if someone did an examination of the Resurrection that actually took the biblical story at face value... well, isn't there a serious audience share out there? Or maybe they're counting on folks like me that, because we do believe in the Resurrection, can't help hearing others discuss it no matter what whacky stuff is said. At least the camera work was seriously beautiful, and the faces of those worshipping the Lord Who has indeed risen from the dead shone with His Life.

Maybe next time I'll just turn the sound off.


geoffrobinson said...

It wasn't all bad. I've posted musing on my blog if you're interested.

Sue said...

Yeah I had to walk away half way through, no sense getting angry at the mindless box.

Stan F. said...


I have to disagree with you somewhat about the 20/20
story. I thought they gave the historical evidence far
more credence than I would have expected. I also so
much less of Spong than I anticipated.

It seemed to me that those with heretical views (and
yes I mean heretical views) occupied a relatively
small portion of the program in contrast to WLC,
Jerome..., and Ben W.

It seemed to me that Elizabeth Vargas closed with more of an
emphasis on the real physical resurrection.

Now, no one can say it was a news program in the sense
that hard questions were asked directly of the
participants. I would have loved to see the host ask
Spong, "Are you saying there wasn't a resurrection,
but yet there was?"

I wanted her to ask those with the dream theory, "Are
you telling me that everyone in different
circumstances had the same dream?"

But let's face it, there is hardly any good journalism
left on TV. The Columbia Journalism Review has an
excellent article on how even 60 minutes has really

I'm also comparing and contrasting the show with those
that PBS broadcasts, whether it be Bill Moyer's
GENESIS, or some of the others it has done on
Christianity. If there is an evangelical on the
program, he or she usually is there as a token.

There was a recent dateline that I saw on the Da Vinci
Code that was so pathetically awful. Aren't these
hosts - so called journalists - embarrassed to put on
what they call news shows week after week. The entire
hour-long show built up as if the story were true, and
then in the last couple of minutes said, "oh by the
way, all this stuff we've been telling you for the
last 50 minutes has been debunked for centuries."

So Jon, I guess I'm saying it's a thumbs up for me on
the 20/20 episode.

Jon Trott said...

Heh, well like I said... cranky alert! Maybe you're right. Did you notice, by the way, the ad during the resurrection program about another program on the Da Vinci Code? It left me feeling as though the real point to both programs was "Hey, we do spirituality! From soup to nuts!" Emphasis on nuts...

Thanks for your comments, Stan.