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'Christ the Lord' is out of GNH

Peter Chattaway posted news that Good News Holdings has released its film rights to Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a novel that focuses on Jesus' life when he was 7 and 8 years-old. Chattaway thinks that's a good thing - and so do I. Rice's book was fantastic - not only is she a good writer and storyteller but her research was impressive (and the testimony that grew out of that research is more than the icing on the cake) - and, like Chattaway, I didn't want to see it become just another Christian movie. I want to see it done right.

Chattaway excerpts part of a CT Movies article about the release of the film rights, and I was bothered by this part:
[GNH president and CEO Christopher] Chisholm added that "some people were worried that we were leading with a movie that was based on the Apocrypha." Rice's novel, the first of a series she is writing about Christ, focuses on Jesus at the age of 7, drawing from the Apocrypha and other noncanonical sources.
It strikes me that this is an example or symptom of one of the greater underlying problems in Christian filmmaking. The concerns of offending or fitting within the narrowest common denominator ("some people were worried") outweighs telling a great story (even one that is true). Please hear me on this: One of the things I share with evangelicals (and Anabaptists) is a very high view of Scripture. Having read Rice's book, however, I don't find much of anything that conflicts with that. The parts of the story that stem from sources other than Scripture don't conflict with what we know of Jesus from the Bible.

I'm not saying the book is without its debatable points. I read this book as a panel member of a televised book club, and one of the central issues we discussed is whether or not Jesus could have performed miracles in his childhood (something Rice includes in her story). I thought his temple experience was enough to allow for it. Other's didn't. So, I'm not saying I think it happened exactly the way Rice puts it - I would venture to say that she would be the first to admit that. In fact, there are parts of the book I would have done differently. But the strength of the story she tells outweighs these points. Overall, Rice gives us a wonderful (and very traditional) glimpse into what Jesus' childhood could have been like.

Ironically, this story - too much of a risk for the Christian filmmaking industry - is a rather tame one for the mainstream film industry. It gives us a very traditional view of Jesus in a very solid historical context. (Think Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ and you'll see what I'm getting at.) I hope it gets picked up again - soon.

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