This year, in which we remembered the late Billy Graham, I had to reflect on this movie, its grand and epic scale, and that brand of Christianity that became associated with Graham, fitting like a glove with the United States in the years following America's triumph in WWII.
|A Japanese minister quipped, on the day Japan surrounded, that he had no idea why Japan ever thought it could win.|
All was big. All was massive. All was larger than life. And The Ten Commandments followed suit. The miracles became bigger, God became capable of creating this vast universe science was exposing to the world. The heroes were larger than life. The villains were epic. It was all big.
|Graham preaches to an audience over approximately one million in S. Korea|
Graham, in many ways, became known because he was big. His revivals - crusades in the day - were big. He set up shop in a city and stayed for weeks. He drew audiences by the tens of thousands. And in such a day, that's what Americans liked. Even when I was a pastor in the 90s, in the twilight of Graham's influence, I used to quip that Christians today judge a pastor by the size of his gymnasium. It was all about big, size, epic, grand, huge, whatever suggested larger than larger and vast and sprawling.
I know we're no longer there. Nihilism vies with narcissism to be the greatest virtue of today. The Church, stumbling to figure out how to make six figures ministering for Jesus in a society increasingly hostile to the same, is scrambling to whittle down the Faith, minimize the miracles, psychoanalyze the sinful, and generally erect a Faith where God miraculously wants us to have life and have it to the full - in a way commensurate with this age of nihilistic narcissism.
That doesn't mean I don't miss the bigger than life God of old, because I can't help but think that, despite our attempts to reduce God and only leave Him big in a vague way, His vastness seems closer to the way DeMille envisioned, or those old artists of bygone ages. It's just a thought I had.
One of the truly iconic scenes in movie history