This Week In Jesus is a weekly (or bi-weekly or not-so-weekly) look at where Jesus popped up in pop media over the past seven or so days.

What shall it profit a man if he gain the corner office and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36, New International Eli Stone Edition)

Ben Stein's EXPELLEDIf ABC’s Eli Stone isn’t the best examination of faith ever on television, then I will sell my Tivo. The season finale was this week, and it played like a modern Hebrews 11. Over the last few months on my new favorite show: by faith, former cutthroat, high-powered lawyer Eli Stone found a reason to live, and a meaning for life. He wrestled with the dirty side of faith— the side that you don’t learn about in Sunday School but if you’re lucky, you learn about in life. The side whereby God occasionally knocks you on your ass. The side where even the strongest faith struggles to break free from doubt, where questions often outnumber answers and you never feel that far from straight crazy. The faith that changes you in a way that no story or parable or preaching ever could. So, TWIJers, if you’ve ever felt the gentle tug of His voice, or wondered if that strange peace you have came from Someone Else, do yourself a favor and catch Eli Stone in reruns. It will likely entertain, it’ll probably make you think, and it will definitely make you feel.

The other big story on the TWIJ docket this week is Ben Stein’s controversial new documentary Expelled. Stein’s PR folks have been popping out the Big Religion endorsements for the film from people like Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Rush Limbaugh like their figurative lives depend on them. And they probably do. The film opens today in an estimated 1,000 theaters nationwide, which according to the Expelled site makes it one of the widest documentary releases in US film history, but clearly, without the support of the church the film isn’t going to have legs. A good friend of mine saw an advance screening of the film and said this,

“Do I think people should see this film? Yes, without question, since it is a great launching pad for discussion about the topics of evolution and creationism. Still, it felt very much like a Michael Moore doc (or truthfully, any documentary) where the intentions are to stir up emotion and present facts that lead to a certain, predisposed conclusion (full review here).

Don’t be fooled— just like any good shock doc, the purpose is not to tell two equal sides to a story. Leave that to the newsies. This is clearly a propagandized exposition on the supposed evils of certain elements of the scientific establishment. Stein paints himself as the intellectual rebel here, and we’re supposed to buy into the idea that some scientists somewhere are being persecuted. I honestly don’t know first-hand if that’s true or not. What I do know first-hand is that the idea of evolution has been given too much credence, and My Friend Jesus thinks so too. The Darwinist wackos (not generalizing all Darwinists as wackos here, I’m just referring to the fact that there ARE some of them out there) have attacked the film with a religious fervor most often reserved for!well, religion. So go see the movie with eyes wide open, and if nothing else, you’ll be able to see what all the fuss is about.

Bonus TWIJ Notes:

  • Popetastic! The Pope is in country this week. While he’s here, he and his crazy hat are holding small, intimate gatherings with a few of his followers ! >like in baseball stadiums.

  • Google is god: Despite broad economic declines across nearly all financial sectors, Google posted a first quarter profit increase of 30%, proving without a doubt that it is indeed Jesus’ favorite search engine. What other possible explanation is there?
  • From the “OH SNAP!” department: a video popped up on YouTube this week with Actor Jason Beghe (you might not recognize his name, but his IMDB resume reads like a decade-long Emmy ballot) saying, “My experience personally, and what I’ve observed for myself, is that Scientology is destructive and a rip-off.”

That’s it for this week. Until next time, may all your Idols be American, all your Stars be Dancing, and all your Shows be Daily.

Marc Acton is the editor of The Sub.Standard, a weekly pop culture news and commentary blog.

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