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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Phew! ‘Da Vinci Code’ Movie Can Proceed as Planned

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At least one “Da Vinci Code” mystery has been solved… as far as the High Court in London is concerned. According to Reuters, the British court decided that “while Brown may have copied bits of the 1982 book ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,’ that [it] did not amount to a breach of copyright.”

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, well-known conspiracy theorists and authors of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” (as the book was titled here in the States), had claimed that Brown stole their idea of a massive church cover-up of the true nature of the bloodline of Christ for his megaselling novel. The suit threatened–or seemed to threaten–to delay the May release of the “Da Vinci Code” movie starring Tom Hanks. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist, however, to determine that the timing of the lawsuit was just a little too perfect, seeing as how well the trial coincided with the release of Baignent’s new book “The Jesus Papers,” which claims that Christ didn’t die on the cross–not to mention the buzz over the upcoming “Da Vinci Code” movie release.

(Watch Beliefnet’s video interview with Baigent here.)

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Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jay and Paul!

posted by doug howe

All of the wires, websites, and blogs that are talking about Paul Newman’s appearance on last night’s “Tonight Show” are missing what I thought was the most powerful part of the evening.

Paul Newman ate dog food, discussed his charitable work around the world, and engaged in the Second Annual Race With Jay in a concocted two-lap go-cart trip around an indoor track in the studio. The Newman stunts and Jay’s suck-up-easy questions were bordering on the kind of semi-pathetic things that other stars need to make an interview interesting while not looking so old. But when the little race started, the real Paul Newman emerged.

There were live cameras at all four turns on the course, which meant eight close-up views of the drivers, the cars and, most importantly, Mr. Newman’s eyes. Yes, those eyes—the window into the soul that used to jump through the screen and speak into our lives and the ones that presently notice injustice around the world and bring new life to the impoverished and under-resourced kids there. He looked 30 years younger during that race: competitive, sharp, focused, and intense. He managed to bring a poise and a pride to the fabricated event the way he brought distinction and even decorum to so many seemly characters through the years. This was the man who made a hustler redeemable, a bandit likeable, a con man credible, a mob family member sympathetic, and an ambulance-chaser correctable.

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One of the true signs of spiritual depth is an honest look from—or into—the eyes of a human being. In the midst of the perception management and brand development that is our media culture, authenticity and candor are qualities that are rarely visible. That’s why I was surprised and inspired during last night’s “Tonight Show,” and remembered to reflect on what my own eyes reveal about the spiritual trajectory of my life, and my impact in the world around me.

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For God, for Scripture, and for Sushi

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Aviad Cohen–you may know him as 50 Shekel, though then again, you probably don’t know of him at all–has found a new way to get the word out about his latest passions. He’s started a blog called Scripture & Sushi, in which he rhapsodizes about–you guessed it–the Bible and raw fish.

Cohen had a brief moment of fame, at least in the Jewish world, when, performing under the name 50 Shekel, he produced Jewish hip-hop music that both parodied Jewish culture and expressed pride in his heritage. His second, even briefer, moment in the spotlight was last year, when he announced he’d become a Messianic Jew (or, as we sticklers for accuracy like to call it, a Christian), who continues identifying with Jews and Judaism, with the added belief in Jesus as the messiah. You can guess which Scripture he’s writing about in his blog; let’s just say it includes the books we don’t read in shul.

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In the spirit of spreading his new messianic zeal, Cohen sparked a bit of a brouhaha in the Jewish blogosphere last month with comments about the latest Jewish musician to grab the pop-culture spotlight, Matisyahu, the Hasidic reggae artist. First, some background: Matisyahu’s brand of Hasidic Judaism is called Chabad (also known as Lubavitcher), and some very-vocal members of this group believe that the group’s now-deceased leader will return from the dead as the mashiach, or messiah.

If that last part sounds a bit–or more than a bit–Christian, you’re not alone; many Jews have said the same thing. The artist formerly known as 50 Shekel has grabbed onto that bit of belief to argue, in an interview with The Canonist blog, that he, the Messianic Jew, and Matisyahu, the Chabad Jew, are not all that different (though Matisyahu has never, as far as I know, stated publicly his personal thoughts on the messianism issue). “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, ‘Long live the King Messiah,’ it’s just the Chabad messiah or the Lubavitch messiah that’s the problem,” Cohen said. “I just hope he [Matisyahu] opens his eyes and ears to truth… I didn’t find it in rabbinic Judaism, I found it in the scriptures.” And, of course, in Jesus.

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Cohen added that, since Matisyahu performed together with the Christian band P.O.D., the Hasidic reggae star has been adequately witnessed to–and now, presumably, just needs to think it through and come to the decision that seems obvious to Cohen. If not, maybe Cohen can take Matisyahu out for some kosher sushi and discuss the matter.

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“The Colbert Report” Tries to Save Easter

posted by kris rasmussen

Steven Colbert has spent as much time skewering Easter kitsch as he has politics lately on his talk show “The Colbert Report”–and I love him for it. Hypocritical as it may seem, Santa Clauses and elves don’t seem to bother my Midwest evangelical sensibilities much at Christmastime, while duckies, bunnies, and chocolate-covered eggs really get on my last nerve at Easter. I have never found that either pretty bonnets or hunting for eggs has helped me reflect with fresh insight on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So I have been laughing at Colbert’s commentary even more than usual, because his ongoing series “Easter Under Attack” has given a hilarious voice to all of my frustration with the crass commercialization of a holy holiday.

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In past episodes, Colbert has focused on everything from what dying eggs might have to do with Jesus dying on cross to a business in St. Paul that required one of their secretaries to remove Easter decorations from her desk. In last night’s episode, Walgreens was the target of Colbert’s satirical scrutiny because of a special they were running on their latest stuffed toy–“praying bears.” According to Colbert, unlike bunnies, “bears have nothing to do with our Lord Jesus Christ. Bears don’t pray because they are godless killing machines. Walgreens is using Easter to make bears seem adorable and devout so we lower our defenses so when we see bears in the woods we’ll kneel dow to pray with them…”

Yes, with absurd insights like that, my faith in the possibility that the meaning of Easter won’t be lost after all has definitely been renewed.

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