Eric Metaxas’s take on the absence of faith in the film 42is curious. He is right that the film downplays the role of faith in Branch Rickey’s and Jackie Robinson’s lives. But faith is not absent, “a mysterious hole at the center of this otherwise worthy film.”
What does it mean to be mainline Protestant? For some it means being Christian, but not evangelical, or not Catholic, or not a member of some other group perceived to be inadequate. Others imagine the tall steeple on Main Street, or the majority of the electorate, or some other icon of Christendom’s passing power.
Viewers don’t look to James Bond movies for profundity. Mostly they go to see buxom babes (now brainier and badder) and gravity-defying vehicle chases. But the most recent Bond installment offers some pertinent comments on technology.
Fleming Rutledge is the most interesting preacher today working the fault line between the mainline churches and evangelicalism. Throughout this remarkable collection of Old Testament sermons she calls for mainliners and evangelicals to realize their common identity in Christ for the sake of our mutual mission in the world.
“I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen how great Downton Abbey is,” I said in a sermon that was technically about evangelism. I was illustrating St. Augustine’s point that when people love, say, a great actor they tell others about him—and so how much more should we tell others about the gospel. A week later I learned how (un)successful that point had been. “I’ve watched every episode,” a parishioner said. “Now what was it you were trying to say about that show?”
One of the most interesting shifts in Christian theology after the Shoah was in how the adjective Jewish was used. In the patristic era, to call someone’s work Jewish was to insult it: the work was too fleshly or legalistic. Since the Shoah, to call someone’s work Jewish is to praise it as appropriately this-worldly, concerned with the ordinary stuff of life, embodied.