May 7, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

It's a good time to be on a golf course, instead of being in the mainstream. (That's my clever allusion to the fact that - today, Monday - I'm with 25 friends-of-the-ministry, playing mega-golf to raise money for this movement. Thanks to our friends who have pledged in support of the effort!). No cellphones or radios on the links; whatever is happening among the distraught isn't affecting our putts...

We're less than 10 days away from the unveiling of Mona Lisa, circa 2006. She's been famous for art, for half-a-millennium. Now, she's a supporting actor - cast behind Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou - in the made-from-the-book film, The DaVinci Code.

In case you've been in a coma for the last year, DaVinci is a fictional thriller that has become the crisis du jour for the faith community. After 50 million copies - and who-knows-how-many readers, the story has morphed into murmuring about the bogus premise upon which the story is built.

Much of the controversy stems from the disconnect between Dan Brown's opening statement that most of the underlying foundation for the book is documentable, and the presence of the novel in the fiction section at Barnes & Noble. In an educationally-challenged generation (evidence: Jay Leno's occasional Jaywalking feature, wherein modern, upscale adults are challenged - gameshow fashion- with questions that would appear on an eighth-grade history or geography pop-quiz. The responses? Appalling, at best!), more people get their worldview from the movies than from the library. With the buzz about the book and the marketing about the movie, under-informed trendies are suckers for the distractions from orthodoxy.

What better time for The Judas Gospel to be unveiled by the National Geographic Society? While people are questioning the authenticity of the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ to be the incarnate Son of God who died - all-the-way, on the Cross, as the substitutionary sacrifice to atone for sin - and was supernaturally resurrected, a prime opportunity is seized to inject another alternative message to feed the doubt already swirling!

So, voices as prominent as the pope in Rome are denouncing the DaVinci story (premise: Jesus survived the cross, married Magdalene and birthed a child whose bloodline survived the centuries; the real Holy Grail). Folks are really worked up. Talk about an understatement: movie director Ron Howard is quoted as saying that, "It's very controversial." You ain't just kiddin', Opie; what would Aunt Bee say, now?

Brings to mind the Muslim reaction to the editorial cartoons published in Europe depicting their founder, Mohammed, in an unflattering way. People died; buildings burned; embassies were abandoned... because of "cartoons unbecoming a prophet." When a movie unbecoming the King of Kings premiers, do we dust off the sheet music for Onward, Christian Soldiers? Is the mission of the Kingdom... to revolt against Sony Pictures and give 'em hell about making the movie?

Seems to be easier being reactive than proactive. Is our energy put to better use in defensive strategies - boycotts, editorials - or, is a reasoned offense the superior approach?

George Barna caused a stir a couple years ago when he reported that kids are far more reachable with the Gospel than adults. Share the Good News before adolescence, and you've got a convert. Wait until they graduate from college, and you've got a skeptic. Most ministry money is spent chasing adults, and bypassing kids. Let 'em grow up... and read The DaVinci Code for their religious perspectives? What then?

Here's a wild thought: how about mobilizing the Christian community to find - or, create - effective outreach movements that target kids - from the at-risk urban core to the privileged suburbs - with viable strategies for introducing them to Jesus? What if we emphasized salvation instead of sanctimony?

As usual, my Point of View is simple: look for the majority opinion, and head the other way. Don't go with the flow. Don't find the normal way; find the best way (clue: it's never normal!) and pursue it.

The mission isn't to beat people up; it's to beam people up. The enemy is the Evil One, not Dan Brown or Tom Hanks. Let's keep our eye on the ball...

Bob Shank

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