The series Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery is currently airing on Sunday nights at 9:00 on CNN. Perhaps in conjunction with Lent, or just as a ratings grab, the series’ first two installments ran back-to-back last evening. The first episode was broadcast a week ago. The series features a veritable plethora of scientists and people of faith discussing legend and then testing things with modern technology.
With a title that includes the couplet Finding Jesus I keep imagining a cartoon with a Disney character along the lines of Finding Nemo. Or maybe a book with several full-color pages of huge, packed group gatherings in which one must actually find Jesus. Find Jesus at the marketplace; find Jesus in the synagogue, find Jesus … well, you get the idea. This would not be your typical search of course, this one is much tougher. Bear in mind that in Jesus’ time most men looked pretty much the same – long hair, beards, robes and sandals – and don’t think there will be any goofy striped shirt and nerdy eyeglasses a la Where’s Waldo.
The program is made up of reenactments of Jesus’ life, at least I think they are dramatic portrayals and not actual file-footage, interspersed with expert analysis by professors of theology and science. Whenever one of these often stern but learned folks pops up on my screen I keep thinking what we really need is to interject a little jocularity into the whole thing. Just once, instead of Professor Emeritus So-and-so, I would like love to see Mel Brooks doing his 2000 Year Old Man schtick. Forget about theologians hypothesizing and scientists speculating, what we need is a guy who will say ‘Jesus? I knew Jesus da boy’!
Not surprisingly this is never going to happen. CNN is not in the business of chuckles, yet it would be worth it just to see what Fox News made of it!