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A story that’s better than any Hollywood tale

Rocking Chair Musings
By Jack Van Zandt

Talk about getting caught off guard — the folks in Hollywood are totally confused and confounded.
According to the Nielsen’s Ratings released last week, the made for TV mini-series “The Bible,” produced for The History Channel and available only to cable viewers, attracted more viewers than anything on TV the entire week.
This follows a record breaking 13 million viewers and 11 million more during re-broadcasts that week for the first segment.
This was followed by 10 million viewers for the second episode, beating out programs like “American Idol” and “Survivor.” (Of course, God’s Word has always won over idols.)
Further, this was not a billion dollar epic produced by the likes of Stephen Spielberg, but a low budget effort produced by a husband and wife team.
But aren’t Americans done with Biblical movies? Didn’t they go away with technologies like Cinerama? Don’t we like explosions and car races? Guns firing? Steamy love scenes?
So, what is the reason for its success? Maybe its success is the cast. Not likely. With the exception of Roma Downey, it lacked any big name actors. Perhaps it was the marketing. No, a few radio and TV promos, but nothing much more.
It lacked everything professional movie makers deem valuable. Its success was, simply, the story, one that is etched in the hearts of each of us. It is the story of our creation, of God working in the life of Israel, and visiting us in human form in the person of Jesus Christ.
I remember being awed by the great epics like “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben- Hur.”
However, Hollywood had moved away from portrayals of Biblical topics for many decades.
This combined with the removal of teaching about the Bible from our schools seems to have left a void in our populace for knowledge about its message.
Of course a movie is not designed to present a deep theological message.
It can only provide a dip in the shallow end of the historical and spiritual pool, not a scuba dive in the ocean.
This type of presentation almost demands a few departures from fact to hold the viewer’s interest.
I have to admit looking through my Bible and wondering where in the scripture did they find this or that.
I was dismayed that some of the strongest contextual parts of the stories and events were missing. That often changed the context from one of faith, repentance, and dependence on God into a story about God’s warriors.
While not perfect, this portrayal has sparked interest in the Bible’s historical story like no other media since the last century.
Now, Hollywood has seen the light and new movies on Noah and Moses are planned.
As imperfect as it may be, God’s Word is coming to the forefront again, and many are responding, wanting to know more.
As the old cliche goes, the book is always better than the movie.
If this series gets families to start reading and studying their Bibles together, that will have been a great service.
Yes, the Book is truly better than the movie!