The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


April 17, 2006

Easter and Christmas sales

It’s not often that a secular journalist writes about personal beliefs in the pages of his/her publication. This past Sunday in his column, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune did just that.

But that really wasn’t the news in his column. Kass readily acknowledges his Greek ethnic roots, and his Orthodox faith. His column, headlined “No Doubt about Easter’s true meaning,” salutes the millions of western Christians who celebrated Easter on April 16, and the eastern Christians who will do so on April 23.

The news was his very accurate assessment of the secular media and its seasonal stories on Christianity. Like clockwork, around Christmas and Easter the secular media loose the latest theory, cause or alleged scandal that’s sure to create a dust up or at least give believers pause. Kass points out two of this year’s offerings.

First, there’s the upcoming movie, The Da Vinci Code. He notes that a headline in the Good Friday edition of USA Today touted, “Hollywood turns to divine inspiration.”

“I hope the headline about divine inspiration was a pun, since the [Tom] Hanks film appears to be a response to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ. But Hollywood wants inspiration to produce movies that make almost $400 million, as Gibson’s did, especially since Hollywood refused to help Gibson with his movie,” Kass wrote.

The more typical seasonal assault on the faithful comes in articles and books, such as the heralded discovery of the so-called Judas gospel, Kass said. News magazines are notorious for rehashing old ideas as new (historical criticism of the Bible, for example) just as Christians prepare for the major events of the church year—Easter and Christmas.

Not to be outdone, a book provocatively titled The Pagan Christ was released just in time for Easter. Its promotional material contends that “long before the advent of Jesus Christ, the Egyptians and other peoples believed in the coming of a messiah, a madonna and her child, a virgin birth, and the incarnation of the spirit in the flesh.”

“I usually skip such news,” Kass wrote. “The incredible lengths to which the anti-[Roman] Catholic Da Vinci Code has been marketed and the coverage of the Judas gospel as if it were a missing companion to the other four prove me right. It’s always so relentless and familiar. It always revolves around the same basic premise:


“And doubt sells.”


Beware, however, that you must register with the on-line version of the newspaper in order to access his material.

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Embracing diversity