News Round-Up: May 22

News Round-Up: May 22

Will Risen be The Passion of the Christ 2?

Since Mel Gibson’s phenomenal The Passion of The Christ made $600 million dollars at global box offices in 2004, talk has been steady about who will be able to create a Biblical epic that matches such success. More than a decade on, and no-one has yet rivalled the profits or impact of The Passion.

Certainly looking to take a swing at The Passion‘s crown of thorns will be Risen. Set for release next year, the major production “takes an imaginative approach to the New Testament accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth”. While Gibson’s bloody focus upon Jesus’ trial, punishment and crucifixion was largely based upon Scripture, Risen is told from the perspective of a fictional Roman military official. Played by Shakespeare in Love star Joseph Fiennes, Clavius will be presented as having overseen Jesus’ gruesome death. Different to The Passion, Risen will focus upon what happened after those initial Easter events.

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More than 100 charged with killing Christian couple in Pakistan

Each day or week seems to deliver more sad, sobering stories about persecution and religious intolerance. In the Punjab province of Pakistan this week, 106 people were charged with the mob murder of Sajjad Mesih and his wife, Shama. Last November, the Christian couple was accused of burning the Koran. An enraged crowd locked them in a kiln, before battering them the following day with bricks and shovel. The Mesihs were in their 20s and Shama was pregnant.

Pakistan is a Muslim nation and blasphemy laws are strict. According to the BBC, Christians form a minority group and attacks upon them are common. Allegedly, the Mesihs were ordered to convert to Islam, or receive punishment for being blasphemers.

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Writers Festival announces ‘Original Sin’ still exists

A panel discussion called “The Evolution of Belief” drew a sell-out crowd at Sydney Writers’ Festival this week. During a wide-reaching and upfront discussion about many facets of religion in Australia, one author on the panel made a bold announcement. While Australia has shifted a long way from the Christian foundations it previously upheld, James Boyce believes that some aspects of traditional Christian teaching remains. Whether you choose to believe in it or not.

“Original sin has become so deeply embedded in our memory, even in secular culture,” said James Boyce, author of Born Bad: How Original Sin Made the West. “The idea of it is to explain why we all need to be saved. It’s hard to explain why you need salvation without original sin.”

Another author on the panel, Roy Williams, agreed with Boyce. But he went further to promote the idea of bringing Christian values, concepts and truths back into public discussions — for the good of all.

“Many young people have a sense of morality that war, racism and sexism are wrong,” said Williams, author of Post-God Nation and In God They Trust. “But we’ve lost the capacity to articulate those concepts in spiritual, religious, and Christian terminology. So we have extremely hollow debate in the pubic square where values have been pushed aside. We’d have a richer and more useful debate if we brought conscience and morality back into it rather than just the nuts and bolts.”

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Backstreet Boy is baptised in Jordan River

Recently in Australia on another reunion/comeback tour, one of the world’s most successful boy bands, the Backstreet Boys, visited Israel this week. One of its members, Brian Littrell, grabbed attention during their stay. With nothing to do with the state of politics or religious conflict in the contentious region that Israel exists within, Litrell decided to be baptised in the Jordan River.

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