Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm not changing any plans

Turns out Mark Burnett, the man who invented fake reality television, is going to produce a 10 part series about the Bible on ... The History Channel.  Well, that's two strikes in one sentence.  The History Channel is, of course, the National Enquirer of historical studies, opting to go for sensationalism and lusty, superficial simplifications for the hope of a few ratings.  That's when it is airing any shows about history at all.  Not that it was always like that. But in the Internet age, one must appeal to the basest drives, and scholarship is no different.  Especially scholarship that occurs in front of a camera.

The second strike is Burnett.  The man who made an entire self-contradicting genre?  No.  It makes my skin crawl to think of what it will look like.  The HC itself subscribes to a secular, post-moder spin on history anyway.  The Bible, when covered before, is a patch collection of myths and fairy tales, with Jesus chasing Mary Magdalene around and siring an army of killers in the form of the Catholic Church who will lord it over the hapless masses until really smart people stop believing in God and give us the Enlightenment.  And all that rubbish provided without Burnett.  BTW, the presence of Roma Downy, whose TV series Touched By An Angel had more sentimentalist and Hallmark level slop than theology, doesn't increase my confidence any.

Perhaps I'm wrong.  Maybe it will be face value story telling in the best Sunday School literature tradition.  Maybe it will avoid spin and digs.  Maybe it will be methodical, careful, fair, open, honest, and attempt to get to the real question of the Scriptures, how they are used differently by different traditions, and bring out the most representative scholarship (and not just those eager to get their faces on TV) to speak to the lessons from Scriptures that we all agree on, and those which different traditions have informed differently through the years.  But I'm not holding my breath.

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