The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 7, 2001 · Page 31
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 31

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, April 7, 2001
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Page 31
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'!!ME SALINA JOURNAL RELIGION SATURDAY. APRIL 7, 2001 D7 TON RELIGION Preachers must battle media Images help create ,pe idea that Easter As just another story Jin .iThe question was so simple ,. tl;at Haddon Robinson wasn't , • sijre he had heard it correctly. ' "What is Christmas?" asked the man in the next airplane seat, once he learned that he was chatting with a seminary professor. The businessman thought he knew, since he was an ordinary American who I had grown up surrounded by J, old movies and television spe- ..fiials. Then he asked, "What is ;;.Easter?" That led to, "What 40 you mean by 'resurrec- jii ^ion?' " Robinson describe(^ 'the biblical accounts of God raising Jesus from the dead. "This man said to me, 'Do all Christians believe that?' 1 said, 'All Christians should believe that,' " Robinson said. "Then he said, 'That's interesting. I think I knew about Christmas. But I didn't really know about Easter' " .1. This puzzled Robinson, but \,J,ater something clicked. Some i. Christmas hymns have made '; it into popular culture and al- 'most everyone hears snippets of the story year after year But where — via mall, multiplex and mini-satellite dish — would anyone soak up Easter images? For perhaps millions the resurrection is what happens at the end of "The Matrix." If missionaries came to America, they would immediately spot the dominant role played by mass media and, especially, visual entertainment media. They would study the moral and religious messages in mass media, seeking insights into the lives of potential converts. This is how missionaries think. But this is not how religious educators think and, thus, few clergy are taught to think like missionaries. Robinson has been studying these issues since the mid- ^ 1950s, during TERRY his doctoral MAHINGLY work m com- . „ municationsat '^^^ the University ^ of Illinois. Today, he is a distinguished professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological outside Boston and, in 1996, received national media attention when Baylor University named him one of the top 12 preachers in the English-speaking world. Effective speakers study the forces that shape the people to whom they speak, Robinson said. Today, that means taking visual media seriously. "Television is omnipresent," he said, in a sermon that swept from oral traditions and clay-tablet libraries to satellites and computer networks. "The way in which people get ideas, the way in which they shape their ideals, comes not because they read books, but because they see it, they visualize it. It's on television .... "That has shaped the way we think.... It affects the way that we preach. It affects the heart and core of communication." Robinson preached that sermon exactly 10 years ago while serving as president of Denver Seminary. Little has changed. Robinson said he knows of no seminary that requires future ministers to take a single course on how mass media affect American life. If anything, the situation has gotten worse, he said. While the ecclesiastical elites ignore the subject, mega- churches often uncritically embrace virtually every new technology Many churches are adding expensive digital equipment in their sanctuaries and leaping into multimedia music, drama, humor and sermons illustrated with movie and TV clips. Clergy quickly discover that they're expected to use this gear in every service. The audience demands it. "The pastor is thinking, 'Now that I have all of this stuff, where can I throw it in,' " Robinson said. "All of a sudden, rather than thinking of the most effective way to communicate a message, you're thinking about all that money you've spent. ... You're thinking about media, where before you were thinking about your message." Robinson's advice to preachers, young and old, is that they worry less about using mass media and more about learning what is shaping the souls'of their listeners. Today, every flock includes many listeners who understand little or nothing about the Bible or basic doctrines. In fact, he said, their heads and hearts are full of conflicting images and values, the result of years of spiritual channel surfing. This was already true a decade ago. Robinson said that preachers must realize that they work in a hostile technological environment, one that "communicates with images. It doesn't come out and argue. It just simply shows you pictures, day after day after day after day Before you realize it, in the basement of your mind, you discover that you have shifted your values, and many times you've lost your faith." Terry Mattignly can be emailed at www.tmatt.net. He leads leads the Institute of Journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. Jews show interest in social action NEW YORK — A poU of U.S. Jews suggests they're generally more interested in social action than religious matters. In the poU, released this week, 47 percent of respondents said "commitment to social equality" was the "most important" element in their Jewish identity, compared with 24 percent who chose "religious observance" and 13 percent "support for Israel." Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the sociologist who directed the survey, said it's no surprise that Jews are interested in social issues, "but that it is a leading — if not the leading — component of Jewish identity was not so certain." Group asl(s Court to keep Christmas CINCINNATI — A private group dedicated to religious freedom has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit that challenges the observance of Christmas by the federal government. In a brief filed March 30 on behalf of three federal employees, lawyers from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty claim that observing Christmas is constitutional because celebrating the holiday is not mandatory Humbug, responds Richard Ganulin. He filed the anti- Christmas suit in i998, claiming that Congress violated the separation of church and state when it made Christmas a national holiday more than a century ago. Since then the case has been rejected by a federal judge in Cincinnati and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Iranians celebrate ancient festival TEHRAN, Iran — Iranians flocked to parks and orchards this week for picnics to celebrate the ancient festival of Sizdeh Bedar, the last day of the Persian new year holiday. Families sipped small cups of tea, munched on nuts and ate a traditional lunch of rice, meat and potatoes on Monday to mark a holiday that predates Islam. Iranians believe it is bad luck to stay indoors on Sizdeh Bedar, the 13th day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year that began March 21. But because this year's festival coincided with mourning ceremonies for an important Shiite Muslim saint, some people stayed at home or attended ceremonies to mark the death anniversary of Hussein, the grandson of Islam's 7th century Prophet Muhammad. From Wire Service Reports T EASTER DEBATE Easter puts spotlight on Jesus Scholars debate the question: Did Jesus |:rise from the grave? ;r ,By RICHARD N. OSTLING ::'JI'iie Associated Press '•'The Gospels teach it. Paul's epistles say it's essential. And Christianity has proclaimed it eyer since. >The crucified Jesus Christ rose from the grave on the first Easter, offering hope for eternal life. For many intellectuals — including some who teach at cti'urch-related schools or write toy church publishers — the 2,000-year-old message is just too hard to believe. Consider tiie current book "Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?" w,hich centers on the transcript of a debate at Boston College. " 'Why did the devoutly conser- \'^.live InterVars'ity Press publish a book that gives nearly lialf its space to doubters? Well, the doubts are out there already so"the press obviously figured it should be addressed honestly Bjsides, the believer in the debate made a far stronger case than his opponent. •Reliever William Lane Craig of Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., debated skeptic Gerd Ludemann of Vander- bllt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn., and Germany's University of Gottingen. Ludemann's past writings against Jesus' resurrection were published by the book houses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbyterian Church (USA). For openers, the two debaters couldn't agree about whether "miracles can ever happen, tudemann: "If you say that Jesus rose from the dead biologically, you would have to presuppose that a decaying corpse could be made alive again. I think that is nonsense." "~ To Craig, that's a narrow- minded attitude; it's more sen- ChrisnnfheDassoDer Come see and hear Jews for Jesus unfold the story of redemption from Exodus to Calvary in Christ in the Passover. Sunday, April 8th 8:30 & 10:45 A.M. + GHURCH tCROSS at the corner of Broadway & Cloud Why did the devoutly conservative InterVarsity Press publish a hook that gives nearly half its space to doubters (of Jesus' resurrection)? Well, the doubts are out there already so the press obviously figured it should he addressed honestly. sible to weigh all the evidence and ask what's the best explanation. He contended a miraculous resurrection is the best explanation of these established facts: independent witnesses reported in the four Gospels that Jesus' tomb was found empty, the risen Jesus ap­ peared'bodily to various individuals and groups, and the first Christians boldly proclaimed this "despite their having every reason not to." Paui's roie Both debaters emphasized Paul's words from the early A.D. 50s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. It's the oldest surviving testimony, since the Gospels (at least in the versions we know) were written probably two to four decades later Paul wrote down "as of first importance what I also received," signaling he was reporting a well-established tradition. He could have learned it upon his own conversion several years after the first Easter, in the A.D. mid-30s. The tradition said Jesus was crucified and buried, "was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve," to "more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive," to James and "to all the apostles." "Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me," Paul added, referring to his Damascus Road experience. Ludemann argued that the Gospel writers were not eyewitnesses (ignoring the possibility that, if so, they could have acquired eyewitness material). He also said it's crucial that Paul didn't report, as all four Gospels did, that Jesus' tomb was discovered empty. Ludemann concluded that Paul didn't know about this. Craig contended that the empty tomb is implicit in 1 Corinthians 15 and wasn't specified because Paul didn't need to convince the Corinthians that the resurrection was physical (which the empty tomb would prove) but that it was also spiritual. If the tomb wasn't empty Craig asked, why didn't Jesus' enemies simply produce his corpse and stop the resurrection rumors? Ludemann's response to that has obvious holes. Ludemann further argued that the appearances of the risen Jesus weren't a physical reality but mere subjective visions in the mind. (He disliked Craig's label, "hallucinations.") Craig objected that visions can't explain the entrenched early tradition that Jesus appeared in various times and places, to groups as well as individuals, and to unbelievers as well as believers. Persons and groups of all ages are cordially invited to walk, pray and meditate on The Stations of the Cross, day or night, the year around but especially during Holy Week leading to Easter. To recall the events of Good Friday is to bring The Supreme Sacrifice in to the NOW of your life by personally experiencing the extreme excruciating pain of the Crucifixion, making one more aware of the price our Lord was willing to pay in order that we may have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The unique outdoor stations of the Cross created for use by . the entire community have i, been in place for 10 years and are located in The Park area south of Christ Episcopal Cathedral - 138 South 8th, Salma, KS. May you have a blessed Easter now and forever. •Explanatory booklets are available to help guide & bless you in your journey. "Mom and Dad, look at that big funny lookin' boat. It's even got cars on it! Won't they make it sink?" Eight-year-old Jeff's eyes were wide with wonder. "No, Jeff. It's not likely to sink," explained Dad. "It was built with the stre n g t h and 30wer to bear the oad. The passengers put their trust in the engineers and the workmen who designed and built it." Likewise, God has created us with the strength to bear life's burden if we trust in His workmanship. Ephesians 2:8-10 explains this... "For by grace you have been saved through faith...it is the gift of God....for we are His workmanship." As a ferry must refuel to maintain power, we must replenish our spirit with daily prayer and weekly worship as we learn more of God's power from His Holy Word. Visit your local church or synagogue this week. He who created you will sustain you. No burden is too heavy for God. Sunday Phiiippiaiis 1:1-30 Monday Philippians 2:1-11 Tuesday Philippians 2:12-30 " Wednesday Philippians 3:1-4:1 Tliursday Pliilippians 4:2-23 Friday Isaiah 52:1-12 Saturday Isiiiali 52:13 -03 :12 Scriptures Selected by the American Bible Society Copyright 2000, Keister-Williams Newspaper Services, P.O. 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