This week hundreds of millions of Christians around the globe mark the arrival of “Holy Week,” a time to remember and to celebrate the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In layman’s terms, “Holy Week” is a big deal. So it’s a little peculiar that Time magazine chose as this week’s cover “What If There’s No Hell?” essentially an argument against the historical interpretation of Christianity and what, to Christians, is necessary for salvation. [See a gallery of religious photos.]
While Time is certainly within its rights to publish such a story and, indeed, the points made by it are certainly worthy of discussion, the appearance of such a piece just before Easter could be considered something of an affront to those who believe Jesus Christ was whom the Bible presents him as being.
Consider how Jews might be offended if a national news program chose Yom Kippur--the Jewish Day of Atonement--to run an extended story on the idea that the Holocaust never happened. Or if a news magazine featured on its cover a story question whether the Muslim prophet Mohammed was “just a con man” on the eve of Ramadan. People from all faiths, including Christians, would probably denounce such acts as insensitive, particularly because of the timing. [Read about the religious demography of the 112th Congress.]
It is easy to imagine how in an editorial meeting a managing editor could suggest that, with Easter or some other religious holiday coming up, a cover story was needed--and a provocative story at that--about religion in order to push sales and create a buzz. Why is it, though, that such stories always seem to be an effort to debunk traditional interpretations of a religion when they focus on what Christians believe. Why not make the case instead for the historical evidence that exists in support of the Bible’s accuracy or what it would mean if “There WAS a Hell.” Such a piece would certainly be provocative and sell magazines--without giving offense to those who believe. [Read about the women of the Bible.]
It is often said that you can say anything nasty you want about a religion as long as you’re talking about Christianity. Indeed the other world religions seem to be treated with much more respect by the American media even though the United States is still essentially a Christian country as far as the dominant faith is concerned.
No one, least of all me, wants to see Christians join the ranks of the “easily offended” who see slights and insults all over the place--more because of what they read into to them than what was actually said or written. Nevertheless it is true that there is very little exploration of faith, the Christian faith, in the popular culture unless it is somehow done in a negative light. It’s hard to see how that edifies anyone or adds to the national discourse on issues that matter.