Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Christ-centered Documentary

I'm giddy with anticipation. The first episode will air this Sunday. I'm wondering if any of our fingerprints will still be legible on a project touched by so many able hands.

I'm talking about the new BYU documentary, "Messiah: Behold the Lamb of God." There was an excellent write-up about the birth of the documentary at the Mormon Times. My favorite paragraphs were these two.
Not long after this decision, [BYU Professor S. Kent] Brown is introduced to Matt Whitaker, who wrote the screenplays for the second and third "Work and the Glory" feature films. Brown, Whitaker and Thomas Lefler, the associate chair of BYU's department of theater and media arts, hatch an idea to create a class at BYU called "Jesus Christ in Media." The class begins October 2001 with a dozen students. The next semester, winter 2002, the students develop scripts. The documentary is beginning to take shape.

For the next three years the project goes through several scripts -- each refining and building upon the last. But no matter how good the scripts, it will never be made without approval and funding.

I was a student in that first class and my wife joined me in the class the second semester. I hardly expect anything of those early scripts to have survived. When Brother Brown nixed my inclusion of material about the sacrifice of the red heifer, it become a running joke with Brother Whitaker that we could use a red heifer for the icon in the bottom right corner of the screen that directs people to the companion website.

Whatever comes out on Sunday, I'm sure it will be fact-filled and testimony enriching. The books that these scholars have been producing leave me with no doubt about their grasp of the issues. I can tell you, based on my personal interactions with a few of them, that they are fully aware of the complexity of issues that surround the scriptural history.

Someone once observed to me that we didn't need to know all the things a famous scholar knows about the gospel and about the history that has transferred the gospel down to the present day. We only need to know that they know it. Just knowing that answers to tough questions exist, even if we don't yet know them personally, is reassuring. With this documentary, we will be able to see that they do indeed "know it." And perhaps we'll also come to know a bit more and strengthen the buttresses of our own testimonies all the more by watching. While you watch, keep an eye out for that heifer.


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