Director Dallas Jenkins says The Chosen "is the first ever multi-season drama about the life of Christ. There have been movies and mini-series about Christ's life, but never a binge-watchable show where you can really invest in the characters." These episodes do not mean to take the place of the Word, but to supplement the Word and serve as another tool for the vehicle of the Word. But maybe you've been disappointed by Christian media in the past. Why would you choose to give The Chosen a try? First off, they're making it as easy as they can for you to enjoy them, and for FREE! What, do you need a personalized invitation and moistened towelette?!
Christian Media... As You See It
What do you personally think of so-called "biblical entertainment?" I've seen some that's made me feel like brushing my teeth to get the taste out of my mouth! I've been approached as a pastor to support Christian movies I found cringe-worthy and been chastised by directors for being "unsupportive" of their Christian media "baby." I've got big thoughts on this (not the point of this post), so I can understand you having multiple, and varied, thoughts on The Chosen. Whether it's a movie that's a biblical epic or just based on Christian principles; it could be a book or audio recording of a Christian novel or Bible translation on YouVersion; whatever the case, there are going to be those times where you think, "I would have done it differently." That's the nice way to put it. Sometimes you may think, "That should've never been made!"
Facts: You could start watching these episodes and think those same things.
I get it. I still think it's worth that risk to check them out.
The Chosen covers the life of Jesus with particular focus on the people themselves. They take plenty of creative license to paint a picture of what life might have looked like for those the gospels introduce us to in the Bible. We know little about Jewish customs and ways of life, or about some of the apostles, or people like Salome, or Zebedee, or even Mary Magdalene. We know what the Bible says about them or these things, but we need to go to sources or people outside the Bible to learn what a Passover celebration looked like, how a family learned the Torah, or what having to pay taxes to occupying Rome looked and felt like. Those things can add to our understanding of the streets Jesus walked.
You may think that's blasphemous. Okay; you're free to your opinion. (I'd encourage you, then, to avoid giving your own thoughts on any text of scripture unless you're just reading the Word, because then you'd be doing the same thing. Something to think about.) The Chosen episodes posit possibilities on character (people, places) background, and what the people we know and love in scripture might've been going through that led them to do what they did, and led Jesus to do what He did. "Jesus wept" is the shortest verse in scripture, but who among us would divorce those two small words from the entire life, experience, relationships, and compassion of Jesus? Every pastor brings the Word to life by preaching, not just by reading the Word but by attempting to faithfully share what it means in the original context; these shows seek to do the same through the medium of performance.
Let me give you an example from the show without giving anything away. The Bible tells us Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out from her by Jesus, and she became His follower; The Chosen supposes a backstory of what that might've looked like, and how she potentially could've come to be possessed.1 It imagines these conversations that surround the text in scripture we can read; but it in NO WAY 1) presumes these events and words are exactly what happened or what was said OR 2) hopes you will then believe we now know what the Bible doesn't tell us. The Bible didn't tell us these things, likely for a reason, and is our sole authority and all that is needed for life and faith in the Son of God, our Messiah. Let that be clear.
That being said, these episodes are not like The Gospel of John, which is a "word-for-word dramatization" of John's gospel. Some may see that as a disadvantage, but I don't. Even in watching The Gospel of John, you will note that the translation used, actors chosen, accents used, cinematography, actor's performance choices (from mannerisms to facial expressions and vocal tone), direction, and a host of other visuals in the film are all – ALL – a matter of personal interpretations. The same applies to the way we react to those things.
We like what we like and don't like what we don't like.
I know. Look out, Einstein, I'm comin' for ya! As a friend once told me, "You could be the best chocolate cake in the whole world, but some people still aren't going to like chocolate cake." That's profound.
Who the heck doesn't like chocolate cake?!
But seriously, living in Romania has brought this to life in a fresh way. As we do ministry here, I like only select sweets here, and others I stay away from. The work we do with youth is great for us, but some aren't drawn to it. Some give financially, sacrificially even, so we can stay the course and proclaim Christ in ever-advancing ways, while others don't. Some want to, and do, stay in contact with us, but others don't.
It should be clear by now: I'm enthusiastic about these shows. They're important. I'm leading (forcing, depending on who you talk to) my family to watch them together. My kids moan about it before and after we watch them, but they're also generally engaged and even laughing and asking questions throughout. I'm generally more emotionally interested in story and storytelling than my wife, but she just got emotional today watching Episode 4.
These shows can sneak up on you. I'm trying to find different ways to motivate different kinds of people with different personalities and preferences to watch these episodes, so take your pick from these. Whatever prompts you to watch them, listen to it:
Viewing the Episodes
The Chosen app can be downloaded to your phone. And since our phones can be (for better or worse) extensions of our own hands, you can not only watch the episodes from an internet connection, but you can also download them to the app and watch them when off-line. Though I haven't personally tried this, you can check out this link on the web.
But I also want to share with you (a little late) the option of watching them on YouTube. If you go to these links, for now at least, you can view each episode from The Chosen and an interview with someone connected to the project. Since I want you to be able to stream/binge as you see fit, PLEASE know that these may not remain on YouTube indefinitely, but each episode is only about 30-55 minutes in length. If they're taken down later, you can go to your app store, download the free "The Chosen" app (pictured at right) and watch them at your leisure. Here is the information about the YouTube streamings (links, info, and times):
PILOT: The Shepherd* — Run-time: 18:55
If you miss accessing these through YouTube, I hope you will make use of the viewing option on the app. You can also buy the DVD(s) and other "merch" to support this effort. They want to go through the life and ministry of Jesus, but there have also been discussions about going through the Book of Acts – if that happens, we will surely have access to some monumentally significant backstory being built up for the authoring of the letters that mean so much to us!
There are some of you like me who enjoy diving deeper when you're interested in something. For you, they have a YouTube account where many extras are shared for you to consume as you see fit. Here are a couple suggestions for where I started (after watching the episodes and they blew me away, of course). You can watch this Biblical Roundtable to get an idea of how the shows were developed conceptually, and framed theologically. And this video was made to address those who wonder if these episodes can be trusted.
*NOTE: Run-times are approximate and do not include the credits. I had to change the first link, as it appeared to have changed. Others may have also, but you can access ALL of the new links (which appear to be active) in the notes on the YouTube video link for the first episode (and possibly the others).
Why write this post at all?
So, why would I choose to write this blog at all? Obviously, it's because I want as many people as possible to watch these shows. But that breaks down into two main reasons:
1. They are powerful – We all intuitively know the kinds of entertainment we enjoy, because it is moving to us. Now we have the time to enjoy more entertainment with greater flexibility. We are all quarantined, many only going out when absolutely necessary, and that amounts to people spending a lot of time inside. Here in Romania, the use of media to support pornography (and therefore the exploitation/abuse/objectification of women) exploded during this time. China has reported record numbers of divorce. This is heartbreaking to me.
I'm biased, unapologetically, that there are better ways to spend our time. As an actor myself, this is the kind of project I dreamed of doing. The things I experienced in Hollywood, and the call of God to full time ministry, led me away from that path. Now, I have the chance to be a part of sharing something I know for a fact can have a huge impact on this world of people just like me: broken, hurting, empty, searching, and longing for change. Instead of being part of the destruction of hearts, homes, and hope, we can introduce people to the One who brings healing and life right in the midst of our brokenness. The Chosen is one way – an excellent way – to do it.
2. They need support – As a crowdfunding project, these episodes get made when people give. If you've seen any of them already, you know the quality speaks for itself. They aren't going to do the episode if they only have $800 of the funds they need. They're not going to churn out junk just to say they got it done! That means something to this artist, and it means more people need to know about them. More need to see them. More people need the chance to give. Those things you love must be supported or they go away. If it applies to your apartment, cell phone, gas, and even your food, why would you think this would be any different, right? They're selling you access to these wonderful shows, but they're also wanting you to look at The Chosen Merchandise so you can wear your conversation starters around the town and tell more people about this show. The more who share, the more who watch them, and the more people get involved.
Missionaries understand this in their daily life. I hope you do too. More than this, I hope you give based on your means to support this project.
The things you care about NEED to be supported, or they go away.
Let's make more episodes... together!
1 After watching the episodes, and seeing the hypothetical wondering about how Mary's demon possession happened, our response should not be to say we now know what happened. We do not. We've merely dreamed about what could be, like when we think of heaven.
2 Be aware, at the end of the credits for Episode 8 (on the app, or the very end of the Livestream above) there is an "Easter Egg" I personally found humorous. If you want to hear the backstory for it, go here.
3 Jonathan Roumie has played Jesus before and, for a short time, he is sharing a performance of The Last Days: The Passion & Death of Jesus the Christ. If you'd like to watch it, find it here.
Clinkscales family updates: YFCI Work–Youth For Christ International
* Please note: Links from older posts may not have been updated to coincide with domain changes.