Just kidding. But Time‘s blogger Tim McGirk thinks I am, or should be.
Ever the showman, (Why does this remind me of the impresario in another movie,”King Kong”, whose hubris blinds him to the dangers of an angry and very large ape?) Cameron is holding a New York press conference on Monday at which he will reveal three coffins, supposedly those of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. News about the film, which will be shown soon on Discovery Channel, Britain’s Channel 4, Canada’s Vision, and Israel’s Channel 8, has been a hot blog topic in the Middle East (check out a personal favorite: Israelity Bites) Here in the Holy Land, Biblical Archeology is a dangerous profession. This 90-minute documentary is bound to outrage Christians and stir up a titanic debate between believers and skeptics. Stay tuned.
I’m beginning to think these colossal fights happen only in the airspace of television, radio, and newspapers. Is anyone out there really mad about this? It’s all so darn coincidental: hey you guys, it’s the middle of Lent (which the newspeople insist on calling a “holiday”), the DaVinci Code furor is beginning to die down, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have best-sellers, and more whiny atheist screeds are coming down the pipes–what better time could there be for this documentary? Sorry, it just doesn’t get me that worked up.
On the other hand–and this I am upset about–some people seem to think Christians shouldn’t be mad because “aren’t all religions just based on faith, anyway?” We don’t actually believe in stuff that “really happened.” That’s for the pathetic backwoods fundamentalists! That’s for some Flannery O’Connor character who thinks it will actually do some good to baptize someone with water. That’s for those who haven’t yet figured out that it’s the spirit that matters, not the flesh. I’m a spiritual being having an in-body experience, and all that.
Well, you can have your object-less faith. You can have your body-less spirits. You can have your sacrament-less churches. I want a resurrection of my body. I want my soul and body reunited, like God intended them. I want a flesh-and-bone savior who made things out of wood with his hands. I want a savior who works with pieces of bread and drops of wine; who calls them–get this, you Gnostics–his body and his blood, and means it.
So it shouldn’t make you angry when claims such as these are advanced–at least with some physical evidence, contra Dan Brown. But it should make you nervous, and rightfully so. It should make you reexamine your faith to see if it bleeds real blood. It should make you reexamine your savior to see if he really has flesh and bones, to see if he really was pierced by nails, to see if he really did rise from the dead with a real body, and one unlike any this earth has ever seen. It should make you reexamine your hope to see if you have a hope that includes your body rising, to see if it includes a real earth, as well as a real heavens.
This will turn out to be false, or trumped up, or fabricated–just like the Gospel of Judas and every other straw at which modern rationalism so hopefully grasps–but not because faith sustains us in spite of the evidence. It will turn out to be false because faith hopes in an objective Man whom we believe has not lied to us, and about whom we believe the testimony of men like Paul, who testified to His multiple appearances and an empty tomb (whether under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or not). But make no mistake: Christians believe in a God made flesh, not a God made spirit, and the critics are right to suspect that Christianity really does hang on an empty tomb.