Sunday night the History Channel presented the first two-hour segment of a five-show, 10-hour series called “The Bible.”
The leaky Ark may not be accurate, but most Noah's Ark pictures are far too pretty. The animals apparently have incredible body control, Noah's family had to have all modern appliances on board, and all this is in the middle of the world's incomparably ferocious storm. How could they not have been scared to death and miserable?
It is somewhat shocking to first see the young Moses. He doesn't look enough like Charlton Heston. Way too Pharaonic. But this series captures the intensity of the challenges. In two hours you also find yourself saying, wait, how many times do first-born get killed in the Bible?
They sure slit a lot of lambs' throats. How could people just whip slaves like that? In two hours, I saw nothing making me wish to live in the past. The richest of old couldn't get what a food stamp family gets today, material or spiritual.
When the Pharaoh finally lets the Israelites go, they are happy for a bit. Anybody who has read the Bible knows what is coming: God's chosen people don't act very much like “chosen people.” They build false gods while Moses is on the mountain; they complain about diet and everything else. They romanticize their past in Egypt. It is hard for most readers of the Bible not to think of them as whiners who forgot about their blessings. You'd think just the frogs would have been memorable enough.
Today's talk radio would have fit right in. Woe are we. America is going down the tubes. They rage, complain, blame and whine. Conservative commentators grumble that President Obama will destroy America for our children.
The good old days weren't so great for racial minorities. Those with handicaps were abandoned to the streets. Women didn't have it so well either, nor did non-property-holding men.
Even the rich had no air conditioning, electric appliances, cars, cellphones or video.
Cities were dark with coal, once they got heat. They didn't have windows in their homes. The East finally had churches catch up with saloons and whorehouses, but it was a long time until the rest of America did. This is as good as it gets on Earth.
The new Bible series on the History Channel, airing the next four Sunday nights, is powerful biblical history. But the messages are for us, now. When we don't listen, we get locust plagues and, in a milder version, perhaps liberal presidents.
But we still need to be saying, “Thank you, Lord, for all you have done, for your blessings and your grace.”
I have worked for conservative candidates and causes since1964. We are commanded to do and work for what is right, but also not to grumble. Sometimes it is hard, but we must remember: God is in charge not us. The History Channel series is clearly delivering that fundamental biblical message.