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Powerful and unique are two of the best ways to quickly describe season one of ‘The Chosen’, a ‘pay-it-forward’ episodic, visual chronicle of the life of Jesus.

The series is free to watch via an app, with the options of paying for the entire season or paying as you go. Meaning that each episode watched has been paid for by someone else, and it’s now up to you to pass that kindness on.

The pay-it-forward option also invites viewer ownership in the continued success, and advancement of the series.

There’s a list of things to like about ‘The Chosen’.

It isn’t Christian kitsch. It’s not bumper sticker theology, nor is it a grind to push through. It’s not cringe-worthy to watch, and it’s careful in handling the events revealed in the New Testament. The pay-it-forward method is ground-breaking, and the expositional bridge brings together a thought-provoking, historically accurate, multi-ethnic retelling of Jesus, as would have been witnessed by the New Testament’s original audience.

The music also deserves a mention. Like a lot of art, music takes words further than words and images can go. This is reflected in the ‘stomp and clap’ theme song ‘Walk on the Water,’ elevated by Ruby Amanfu’s vocals. Even with the theme song’s much brighter tone, it’s overpowering nuance has an engaging impact reminiscent of Fever Ray’s ‘If I had a Heart’ used in the History channel’s Vikings series.

The score for ‘The Chosen’ was penned by composer Matt Nelson and Jars of Clay lead singer, Dan Haseltine. Haseltine said he signed on because he was intrigued by the way in which director, Dallas Jenkins was drawing out the human relevance of the New Testament’s record of the life of Christ.

Haseltine described the creative inspiration behind the music as a fusion of slave spirituals, blues, and middle-eastern music; calling it ‘a combination of three textures, which aims to create a very human sounding musical bed for the show.’

Nelson (rightly) gave a thumbs up to ‘the raw, slightly out-of-tune sound’ saying that it ‘gives the series an authenticity’ that ‘brings out those [raw human] elements in the presentation of the story.’

Dallas Jenkins describes the series as being about a ‘mix of pain and hope. [That in midst of] immense suffering, [there is] also this dignified beauty that came from the hope in this belief that God was actually present and that there was going to be rescue. That’s something that I think was also taking place two thousand years ago.’

Experienced actor, and Christian, Jonathan Roumie plays the role of Jesus, telling Catholic Weekly that his focus for the role was God’s ‘infinite compassion and mercy. Otherwise it’s just a very pale representation of who I understand Him to be.’

The Chosen’ builds on the quality production standards set by the Visual Bible’s 1993 Word-for-Word ‘The Gospel of Matthew’, Dreamwork’s’ ‘Prince of Egypt’, Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’, ‘Risen’, ‘The Nativity Story’, ‘AD: The Bible Continues’, and  ‘The Young Messiah.’

Roumie’s on-screen portrayal of Jesus combines the infectious joy of Bruce Marchiano’s portrayal of Christ in the Visual Bible, with the gravitas of the Passion’s Jim Caviezel.

The team capture Jesus’ soberness, sass and sense of humour, minus the cartoonish caricatures. They bring the Gospels to life, and invite us to participate in that journey with them.

According to the official website,The Chosen’ is ‘the first ever multi-season show’ of its kind. It’s also the ‘number one highest crowd-funded media project of all time at $10 million from over 19,000 people, translated into 50 languages and counting.’

Season one of ‘The Chosen,’ with the option of paying-it-forward, is free to watch via the app in app stores.

Highly recommended.


Image: VIDANGEL Studios

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Having been buried in the topics of theology, specifically Christian history and political theology. I haven’t yet had the chance to fully engage with a lot of conservative philosopher, Roger Scruton’s work.

I’m indebted to an internet friend for posting this video on his blog otherwise I’d have completely missed it. Scruton is interviewed for an hour and half by Dutch journalist, Wim Kayzer as part of a series called ‘Of Beauty and Consolation‘.

The whole interview is worth watching. Since it is quite lengthy, my purpose here will be to share some of the more stand out points.

What this interview serves to show, among other things, is that, unlike modern liberalism and its cult-like followers, conservatives (and they’re allies) cannot be truly pinned down. Sure, extremes exist and there is [slash] are basic, tried and true, propositions by which conservatives work.

Conservatives,however, and in a lot of ways, those aligned with them, cannot be placed into a neat little box, then pushed aside under a plethora of reckless labeling that often comes their way. The freedom of religion, speech and conscience allows for the freedom of thought and the challenge of ideas.

Of everything discussed, the content between 53:00-58:00 is, to me, among the most significant.

Here Scruton states:

“Hysteria dominates modern politics … I think it’s no accident that the loss of faith in our century [20th Cent.] immediately was accompanied by the rise of totalitarian government. Communism; Nazism; Fascism. All of which are atheistic creeds growing out of superstitions [& hysteria]; growing out of a loss of the God-head”

This is the high point from which the documentary takes flight. The interview, from this point, spreads out in a range of answers to questions about society, theology, politics, philosophy and marriage.

Overall the interview follows its own organic course. The only thing planned were the questions. Outside those, Scruton leads the conversation the entire time.

Other points worth mentioning include: His response in 1:03/49 is very Barthian, and second, Scruton’s statement that marriage was a “creative endeavor”:

“Marriage is a creative endeavor that lifts us out of the animal realm and inscribes us into the eternal”

Scruton is candid, having no issue with opening up about his battle with social anxiety and how learning to overcome it has informed his philosophy; his search for truth. This is also evidenced by his thoughts on where modern (post-Christian) society is at.

“The problem with the modern world, in my view, is that people no longer dwell on the earth. They move as nomads around it. In search of something they know not what, and never finding it. Moving from person to person, place to place.”

The pandemics of “panic”, meaninglessness and emptiness which now plague the world are largely driven by anxiety avoidance and a “lack of awareness about its own state of unhappiness – it is the panic of the isolated individual“.

“People are totally [lost] at sea without the religious sense/awareness of that which exists beyond ourselves;that God feeling. With the loss of moral equilibrium that is provided by the Divine, and their detachment from where this is made real, people become prey to superstition of the most appalling kind.”

The interview is centered on the human concepts of experience, beauty and consolation. The conversation which follows is casually worked out from there. Ending with a return to Scruton’s comments about meeting his wife during a hunting trip.

The topic of consolation is the centerpiece of most responses. One stand out part is the distinction he makes between fake consolation and authentic consolation.

“False consolation, like finding refuge in wine or alcohol, does not involve over-coming. Consolation comes from having confronted trouble and elicited  from the heart of trouble the resolution of it.”

This lengthy interview caught me by surprise. I was not expecting to hear anything about Scruton’s battle with anxiety, his troubled home life as a child or his views on modern politics. Another surprise was learning that Scruton was a musician.

As was pointed out to me, Scruton’s theology is ‘not as refined’ as some might like. His theology does slide away at some points. Scruton struggles to find the right words. To his credit, when this happens he moves to assert that he is not a theologian, and even though he is discussing theology, “he [therefore] can’t answer those questions with the same acuity”.

I wasn’t a fan of the tone given out by the interviewer, but given the differences between Europe and Australia. Perhaps this can be graciously put down to being a kind of cultural tone I’m not used to hearing. Nevertheless, I sat through the entire interview and devoured it.


(RL2017)

H/T: Kevin Davis, Of Beauty and Consolation  sourced 12th May 2017 from After Existentialism, Light.