Few people know his name, but people all over the world have seen him at some point in their life. Arthur Blessitt has walked more than 38,000 miles carrying a cross over his shoulder and spreading the gospel of Jesus for over 30 years. This Friday, The Cross, a documentary about his life and work will open in 220 theaters across the country. It had its world premier earlier this week at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Once again, I am less interested in this evangelical-produced film in and of itself than I am in the dialogue surrounding the film.
Evangelical cable television giant, Trinity Broadcasting Network, covered the premier form head to toe. This is not surprising given that the film is directed by Matthew Crouch (who also produced The Omega Code, Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, and One Night with the King), son of Trinity founders, Jan and Paul Crouch (son and father seen here). Matthew and his colleagues have marketed the film, albeit on a much smaller scale, like Gibson marketed The Passion. They have already conducted pastor screenings to spread the word among the faithful. One of these took place at The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, alongside the Grauman’s premier. All the televangelists are enthusiastic about this film’s potential to spread the gospel and create converts.
Most interesting, however, is how Matthew links his film’s premier to the premier of Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings (1927), which opened the Grauman’s Theater. He cites DeMille’s desire to spread the story of Jesus, but he fails to mention that DeMille butchers the gospels in the process, even inserting a scintillating love story at the beginning to attract an audience. One wonders if Matthew et al have even seen one of the most-watched films in history. Nevertheless, the televangelists are all shocked to find that Hollywood had such strong “Christian origins.” Ignoring the previous 32 years of cinema or so that preceded DeMille’s film and the wealth of religious opinions of the young art form being the devil’s handmaiden, they seem to paint a picture of Hollywood as a Christian industry that has simply lost its way, thus necessitating more films like theirs to help take it back.
At the premiers in Hollywood and Orlando, the hosts had two giant crosses on stage. Each cross had been covered in photographs of “unsaved” people that TBN viewers and soon-to-be-fans of The Cross had sent in. While the hosts claimed that they would be praying for these lost souls, I get the feeling that these photo-covered crosses serve something of a 21st century medieval stockade function that ultimately humiliates the people stuck there.
You can watch a replay of all the TBN ballyhoo on their video portal by clicking on the March 24, 2009 video.
While you’re at TBN’s website, browse a little bit. I want to hit the lottery so I can purchase the Sky Angel satellite system, where the only cable news channel offered is FOX!