Saturday, March 16, 2013

In the Beginning ...

It seems all you have to do is make a series about the Bible and you have a ratings bonanza.  History Channel's 10-part series on the Bible drew a larger audience than American Idol.  The series literally chronicles the Bible  from beginning to end, with the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey recreating many of the scenes, and finding their "Jesus" in a 33-year old Portuguese model, Diogo Morgado.  Of course, this shouldn't have come as a surprise given the huge success of Mel Gibson's Passion a few years back, but apparently Hollywood execs were still left "dumbstruck."

It seems that the so-called "fact based" cable channels have increasingly turned to religious, supernatural and hot button domestic themes in recent years to boost television ratings  National Geographic has been running all kinds of specials from Doomsday Preppers to Omens of the Apocalypse, which I'm sure would make the founders of the society role over in their graves.  History Channel had been relatively immune from this virus, but it too has succumbed to the ratings bug, heavily pushing this series, and given that it is paying off big time, I'm sure we will see more of these religious-based specials.

I would think I'm not the only one who has a sensed a third Religious Awakening taking place in America.  One can chart this rediscovered faith to the advent of the Cold War, which led Congress to push for adding "One Nation Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and stamping "In God We Trust" on our coinage.  Eisenhower seemed to be a reluctant Christian soldier but signed off on these measures just the same.  The real "awakening" seem to occur under Reagan when religious leaders like Jerry Falwell discovered just how much power the church had in shaping national elections.  This eventually led to the reverend Pat Robertson running for President and more recently Mike Huckabee.  Of course, Billy Graham has been minister to the Presidents (Republican ones anyway) ever since Eisenhower.

It seems we can't get too much of that "old time religion" given the astonishing growth of "Megachurches" across the country and the attempt by many state and local legislatures to inject religion and Biblical theories into the classroom.  Guys like David Barton actively rewrite history through rose-colored evangelical religious lenses, as I've noted before, influencing high school curricula in Texas, and in turn the country.

Rather than act as a voice of reason, time honored institutions like National Geographic seem to be feeding into this religious awakening by running specials that appeal directly to this ever-growing audience.  Now History Channel has one-upped NG by updating and expanding Dino De Laurentiis' The Bible, which John Huston directed and played Noah.

Where all this goes remains to be seen.


  1. You should publish a book of essays on America from your vantage point. I hope you are compiling all these commentaries.

  2. Thanks av. Over here we have the Poles trying to strengthen religious teaching in schools (there already are religion classes), not only in Poland but Lithuania as well. I guess this comes with being Catholic countries, but Lithuanians as a whole aren't overly religious, at least not the ones I know.

  3. {another meander}

    Am enjoying C-Span III which has American History on weekends. Great stuff as usual.

  4. I love C-Span! I used to be a regular viewer of C-Span II on the weekends. I need to get back to checking their schedules.

    Looks like we need a meander -- haven't had one in awhile.

    1. Unfortunately, our building has now removed all free tv and we have to pay Comcast just to watch the local channels. ARGH! I refuse to succumb to that crapola idea and decided that henceforth I am going to watch online TV. C-Span is defo on my bookmarks as are several European sports channels.

      There's lots of Book TV & American History shows to enjoy ...

  5. You were saying .....


    After Glenn Beck and others noted a striking resemblance between the character of Satan on the History Channel’s The Bible miniseries and President Obama, the channel and the show’s producers have denied any intentional resemblance, The Wall Street Journal reports. "This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan … has previously played parts in several Biblical epics—including Satanic characters, long before Barack Obama was elected as our President,” the producers said in a statement.

  6. What I find interesting is all these persons of color in this production, an admission it seems that these Biblical characters were Semitic in nature, not forerunners of the Aryan race, as usually depicted.