Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Friday, January 06, 2006

Brokeback and the Book

The movie "Brokeback Mountain" and NBC's television show "The Book of Daniel" will both make their Colorado Springs debuts today -- a double-dip of culture-war worry for much of the city's evangelical population.

It's interesting, though, to see how conservative Christians are reacting to both.

"Brokeback," which chronicles a longterm homosexual love affair between two cowboys, has received overwhelming praise from secular critics and, at this point, has to be the odds-on favorite to take home loads of Academy Awards come this spring. Religious reviewers are more reserved in their praise, but most that I've seen admit that it's a skillful, powerful film. Christianity Today gave the movie three stars, while emphasizing to its readers that those stars shouldn't be taken as a stamp-of-approval for gay love. Perhaps a decade or two ago, this film would've been the target of Christian pickets: No more. Those who disapprove of the film's homosexual message seem willing to let the movie have its run. It's showing now at Kimball's Theater, by the way.

"The Book of Daniel" is another matter. Many Christians have blasted the NBC show (airing at 8 p.m. tonight), which follows the life of a drug-addicted Episcopalian priest and his dysfunctional family. The priest is sometimes visited by a laid-back Jesus, a character who has drawn the greatest ire.

Focus on the Family called the Jesus on "Daniel" as a "wimpy, white-robed visitor who cares little about evil, addictions and perversity. This Christ glosses over a teenager's sexual romps with a 'He's a kid, let him be a kid.'

"Jesus winks at the behaviors that the genuine Jesus was crucified to save us from," Focus continues.

Two NBC affiliates -- one in Little Rock, Ark., and the other in Terre Haute, Ind. -- aren't airing "Daniel." The American Family Association said the show is a sign of the network's "anti-Christian bigotry." But, according to the Associated Press, a California Episcopalian diocese is helping to guide the series.


Regardless, all that conservative attention has made "Daniel" the new year's most talked-about television show. It'll be interesting whether that attention will translate into high ratings or a quick dismissal from the airwaves.


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