Jesus Christ Rediscovery

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

Jesus is everywhere.

His crucified form is still flickering on 3,400 movie screens in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," six weeks after the film premiered. A sorrowful, cross-bearing Jesus looks out from the cover of this week's Time magazine. And he's been all over the network news shows in the past week.

In this season of Lent - the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter - many Christian pastors have seized on this resurgence of interest in Jesus in the popular culture to talk about who he was and what he means to humankind today.

"Every 10 or 15 years, there's a rediscovery and renewed popular interest" in Jesus, said Dan Bryant, pastor of First Christian Church in Eugene.

Christ's appearance on the cover of Time this week was the fifth time since 1996 he's graced the front of the newsmagazine. Bryant recalled a week about 10 years ago when Jesus was simultaneously on the cover of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News.

"The Passion of the Christ," Gibson's bloody depiction of Jesus' final hours and resurrection, is driving much of the renewed interest. Since opening on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, the movie has done $335.5 million at the box office, making it the 10th highest-grossing movie of all time, bumping "Forrest Gump" out of the top 10, according to the-numbers.com, a Web site that tracks box office numbers.

Even six weeks after its release, it's doing strong business. Last Wednesday, in the middle of Easter week, it was top box office draw in the country, beating out "Hellboy," a movie about the devil's spawn who turns into a superhero.

This weekend was expected to be big for "Passion": The-numbers.com was predicting a 40 percent rise at the box office.

"It's really awakened our society to Christ," said Todd Wagner, pastor of New Life Center in Springfield. "People are thinking more about Jesus."

Wagner said he has used interest in the movie extensively. His church took 400 people to a preview showing at Cinema World. …