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Muhammad Meets the Matrix: What Could Go Wrong?

It’s called “Groupthink”.

It works like this.

A powerful person comes up with a “can’t miss” idea.

The people who surround this personality have made being on the boss’s good side their number one goal in life.

No one wants to be the “wet blanket” at the meeting by raising even a reasonable note of caution about the idea.

All in favor say “Aye”.

And a really bad decision gets made.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this phenomenon when I read the following headline that ran in yesterday’s on line newspaper.

Matrix producer plans Muhammad biopic

Barrie Osborne, part of the Oscar-winning team behind the Lord of the Rings films, says the new production ‘will educate people about the true meaning of Islam’

Producer Barrie Osborne cast Keanu Reeves as the messiah in The Matrix and helped defeat the dark lord Sauron in his record-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now the Oscar-winning American film-maker is set to embark on his most perilous quest to date: making a big-screen biopic of the prophet Muhammad.

Budgeted at around $150m (£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad’s life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as “an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam“.

Osborne’s production will reportedly feature English-speaking Muslim actors. It is backed by the Qatar-based production company Alnoor Holdings, who have installed the Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to oversee all aspects of the shoot. In accordance with Islamic law, the prophet will not actually be depicted on screen.

“The film will shed light on the Prophet’s life since before his birth to his death,” Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mustafa, Alnoor’s chairman, told al-Jazeera. “It will highlight the humanity of Prophet Muhammad.”

The as-yet-untitled picture is due to go before the cameras in 2011. It remains to be seen, however, whether it will be beaten to cinemas by another Muhammad-themed drama. Late last year, producer Oscar Zoghbi announced plans to remake The Message, his controversial 1976 drama that sparked a fatal siege by protesters in Washington DC. The new version, entitled The Messenger of Peace, is currently still in development.

I wonder if anyone at the meeting that gave the OK to a movie version of the life of Muhammad raised their hand and said, “Uh, when they tried this the last time, didn’t that movie “The Message” end up creating a riot where two people were killed –

..In the US..

Back in 1977..

Before the Iranian Revolution?

And before the war on terror broke out?”

Nowadays Muslim extremists go ballistic over a newspaper cartoon of Muhammad, and someone thinks a full feature film won’t stir up some problems?

And whose version of Islam is going to be presented as “the true meaning”? Shi’a or Sunni?

And what will be the reaction from the side who feels slighted?

And in light of the fact that the goal of the picture is to “highlight the humanity..of Muhammad” does that mean his controversial marital life will be accurately represented?

Jihad declared in 5..4…3….2..1..

Yes, if you want to cause a ruckus, simply try to bring the object of a religion’s faith to the big screen.

Unless of course, the object of faith is Jesus.

While the world winces in anticipation of the reaction to Barrie Osborne’s project, just last week we had the opportunity to see a study in contrast.

Larry David, the star of HBO’s  “Curb Your Enthusiasm” used a portrait of Jesus as the basis of humor too crude and offensive for me to describe in this space.

The reaction from Christians?

No riots.

No death threats.

No casualty counts.

A few people canceled their cable subscriptions.

And a few people made the point that if David had used a portrait of Muhammad as the butt of his joke he would have to hire someone to start his car in the morning.

Why the difference?

I think it comes down to confidence in the One you choose to follow.

Whether it was Martin Scorsese remaking Jesus into a dithering, sin ridden hypocrite in “The Last Temptation of Christ”, or Dan Brown trying to make him into the figment of Constantine’s imagination in “The DaVinci Code”, believers in Christ know that He is far above such lame attacks.

In fact, when the Christ rejecting world does its best to trash Jesus, it only serves to cause the truth of Who He is, as revealed in His Word, all the more compelling.

Don’t get me wrong.

When Hollywood or HBO tries to drag Jesus into the mud it does offend me.

I love Jesus, and like anyone else I love, seeing them slandered doesn’t sit well with me.

But I have found the best response is to simply say, “Yes, and isn’t it amazing how different Jesus is than all of that?”

And what usually follows is the opportunity to share His love with one more person who really needs to know the true Jesus Christ.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:3-5)




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