"Revelations," a new NBC mini-series, was launched last week to much fanfare. The jury is out about the ratings for the first episode but the themes developed were entirely predictable; e.g., sacred vs. secular, believer against skeptic, and good vs. evil (Satan).
Seeking to capture the interest in religion demonstrated by the success of the "Left Behind" books, and the woefully misleading novel The Da Vinci Code, NBC is gambling that religion is so hot that this series will draw viewers and sell advertising. Time will tell. Chicago Tribune critic Sid Smith noted that "were timing everything ‘Revelations’ would ascend right to the top, its biblical lore in modern dress arriving when God and moral values are pre-eminent." The target audience for the series is clearly conservative Christians. The producers tell us that the name of Christ comes up three times, suggesting that if they say the name of Jesus often enough we should really like it. Having seen part of the first episode I fear that many Christians of my generation will actaully like this stuff since the number of socioreligious hot buttons passionately pushed is considerable. What is offered is, in the end, a mish-mash of silly and incredulous script with no real redemptive value at all. Personally, I see nothing positive in this kind of material, and a whole lot that one could properly call objectionable.
The increased interest of the wider media in evangelical beliefs about the end times is not something that I think will offer the remotest benefit to the cause of Christ’s "upside down" (John Kraybill) kingdom. I have watched this interest in the pop-prophetic grow for over five decades. The end results have brought about no increase in spiritual vitality or renewal in the church. One can wish that programs like this might actually prompt a newer and younger generation of thoughtful Christians to realize just how tacky this sensationalistic pulp fiction really is. One can at least hope!