Television Reviews

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Fox's The Passion Live: My Review and Takeaway

Fox's <i>The Passion Live</i>: My Review and Takeaway

The struggle is real. For various reasons, there are a lot of Christians who seem to have trouble sharing their faith. We are often concerned that we will sound too preachy, that we will be accused of trying to bring religion into a non-religious conversation, or that there will be questions asked we cannot answer. Talking about our faith can feel this way especially when we separate ‘faith life’ from our ‘everyday life.' The solution to this, of course, is for our faith to truly be an integral real element of our everyday life.

In The Passion Live, I saw this ideal in action. In what could have been lost in the pool of yet-another-modern-take-on-a-classic-tale movies, there was something inherently special and unique about this live special. The crazy thing is that it was pointedly Gospel oriented without coming across as preachy or contrived, in part because of the unique format.

Narration: This was not so much a musical as it was a series of musical vignettes interwoven with scripted-but-sincere narration by Tyler Perry. His work as narrator/host achieved the balance of one who is actively and equally engaged with both the story and the audience. He may have presented one of the best Resurrection messages we will hear on television, and interacted seamlessly with the crowd while telling the story.

Setting: New Orleans is a city of music, and the choice to set the event in various locales around the city of New Orleans was terrific. It allowed for a contrast: a city that still suffers from the aftermath of Katrina presented with the ultimate story of hope, featuring on-the-street interviews with people who found true hope in Jesus. These interviews quickly became moving testimonies. The Passion successfully did what believers have been trying to do for as long as I can remember: hold a conversation about Jesus in real life contexts without that awkward feeling of over-spiritualizing the everyday. These conversations were generally prompted by the fact that there was a massive glowing cross being carried down the street. Which brings us to…

The Cross: I admit that at first glance the concept of carrying a big cross around seemed a bit sensationalistic.  What was the purpose of it? However, it soon became clear that the people carrying this cross, the people following it, and the people drawn to it all had stories to tell, and this cross drew those stories out. They had stories of pain and stories of healing through hope in Christ, and this cross represented something much bigger to them than just a cool TV prop. It symbolized the love of Christ actively moving in this city. Throughout the show we saw this cross passing through places most often associated with depravity. We saw the cross on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and it reminded us that Jesus spent time in disreputable places Himself, and whether or not He changed those places, He certainly changed the people in them. I was reminded that Jesus said that He would be lifted up and draw all unto Himself, and watching the crowds of people following this cross had that kind of a feel to it.

Music: The concept of using familiar, secular music to tell the story of the Passion is certainly a unique slant. It was strangely effective to see Jesus sing Calling All Angels and Judas sing Demons. The song choices throughout fit the story, and accomplished the goal of bringing music we know and can sing along with into a new context, and giving enhanced meaning and unexpected emotion to both the songs and the story. The songs also drew from a wide swath of genres and decades, and those in attendance were visibly engaged and moved by it.

Overall this was an important moment for television in 2016. This was a very Gospel-focused presentation of live television that spoke freely and openly about faith in Christ without sounding preachy. Here we found a real and meaningful event, and the fact that it was done in the newly popular live TV musical genre that has been so successful in recent years speaks to the fact that faith based television doesn't have to be limited to televangelists on cable channels.

The biggest takeaway is that more than ever there is an audience longing for that which is real and meaningful. In these days of heated politics and ever-polarized communities of people, we saw the story of Jesus told faithfully in the context of today, using the elements of today, sharing a faith that is as real and true as it ever has been, and is sorely needed to bring healing in our homes and communities. Our world needs Jesus, and only Jesus, and this TV event brought that message home. My hope is that we can learn from it, and that we will see more like it in the future.

As a writer and musician, Jason Soroski strives to communicate in a way that is insightful, meaningful, relevant, and mindful of the small things that we may otherwise overlook in our everyday lives. He effectively taps into his experiences as a worship pastor, classroom teacher, husband, and homeschooling father of five to relate poignant stories from real-life experiences. Jason holds an M.Ed. from Missouri Baptist University, has been featured in various print and web publications, and currently resides in Houston, TX. Read more from Jason at his blog The Way I See It.

Publication date: March 22, 2016