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Ben-Hur’s chariot race to the bottom: Maybe it was the watered-down, boilerplate Christianity

August 31, 2016

From my latest for the Wall Street Journal:

Image result for morgan freeman ben-hur image

Morgan Freeman: Same message as Jesus, but better costumes


While the filmmakers treat the Messiah with utmost reverence, he offers only a mix of platitudes about peace and forgiveness. This watered-down Christianity mirrors the sentiments of today’s fearful-to-offend evangelicalism, which often seems more concerned with wooing new followers than offering a complete understanding of Christianity’s demands and rewards.

“Love your enemies,” Jesus tells a young Judah. Later, he pacifies an angry mob of Jewish-nationalist Zealots with more boilerplate, telling them that violence against the oppressive Roman regime won’t solve anything. A few scenes later, an impressively costumed Morgan Freeman, playing the wealthy Sheikh Ilderim, who becomes Judah’s chariot-racing patron, also points out that violence isn’t the answer. If you’ve got Morgan Freeman, who needs Jesus?

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


From → Uncategorized

  1. I don’t care. I REALLY enjoyed it, and Morgan Freeman is the MASTER of the closeup. There was only one cheezy place at the end where they must’ve run out of CGI funding…..

    I watched all the way to the end of the credits and thought, “That is a LOT of paycheques”. I will support and watch EVERY movie which is brought about by a Christian organize, watered-down, cheezy or not, just to support all those PAYCHEQUES.

  2. “organization”

  3. Lastango permalink

    For someone who wants to watch a non-passive Jesus, I recommend “Jesus of Montreal”, a french-language film.

    Be sure to get the version with english subtitles, NOT the version with english overdubbing. This applies even if you don’t understand basic french.

  4. Lastango permalink

    One more thing… a special cheer for employing the term “boilerplate”. We use it in the corporate world, mostly regarding lengthy legal documents like contracts, but I wonder how many people outside of such environments — especially college-age and younger — know what it means.

    Last time I was around a campus for an extended period I got the feeling people don’t know as much as they once did. I’m reminded of professor Judith Adler quizzing her incoming students in order to gauge their ability relate to the material. The result? If it wasn’t true we would scarce believe it:

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