President Bush has gotten in trouble with some of his fellow evangelicals. They don't think he's a real evangelical because of his comments about other religions. He says Islam is a good religion, that Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same God, and that the beliefs of other good religions like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. will help contribute to a better society. Meanwhile, Christianity (at least any Christianity that takes the scriptures as authoritative) states quite clearly that there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus. It says that God is three persons in one being, a Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), while Islam and contemporary Judaism insist that God is one in every way possible and that Jesus, a mere creation of God, is not to be identified or confused with God. Islam does believe he's a prophet and will return. They don't believe he died, never mind that he was resurrected. Judaism (except for Messianic Jews, if you count them) don't even believe that much about him.
What do we make of this? I want to explain what I think President Bush means when he says these things and why I think it's not just consistent with evangelicalism but it's what evangelicals should say. What the evangelicals who resist saying these things want to avoid is the kind of pluralism that attributes one reality to the multiple beliefs systems in world religions. They're all getting at the same reality but in different ways. I don't think that's at all what Bush has in mind, and I think a careful look at the nature of the language will show that the many repeated claims against Bush's statements are assuming an implausible view of how names function in natural languages like English.
Thoughts on LOTR movies
Now that I've had a couple weeks to think since having seen the third episode in Peter Jackson's visualization of the best novel in history (Tolkien saw it as one novel), I've finally put together my thoughts on the overall project. I haven't seen every extended scene in The Two Towers extended edition yet (but have seen all the completely new scenes), and the final version of The Return of the King isn't done yet, but here's what I've come up with.
I should say that almost all of what I say in this is a critical evaluation of what I didn't like, focusing on the more deep and meaningful things Jackson left out or ruined. I haven't focused as much on things I did like (which I should probably do at some point just for balance, though that sort of thing is much harder for an ISTJ inspector/troubleshooter), so it might be easy to get the impression that I didn't like these movies. That would be a mistake. I enjoyed them thoroughly. The Two Towers was the most disappointing of them all, and I still look forward to going through the special features of the extended edition with a fine-toothed comb when I get it, as I did with The Fellowship of the Ring.
I also haven't bothered as much with things I was just disappointed not to see. The important stuff that really should have been there is my focus in these reflections, including significant character-twisting, huge Tolkien themes that were ignored or contradicted, and major plot points that were dismissed as unimportant but were in fact crucial to the storyline. As always, feedback and evaluation are welcome.
I have to say that I very much enjoyed Peter Jackson's take on The Lord of the Rings, and I think he did an excellent job capturing the feel of most of the books. The casting was largely excellent, the look of Middle-Earth was far better than I could have imagined, and the visual effects, of course, were stunning.
What I've been wanting to write up for a while are the things that disappointed me. These fall along a few different axes, with some of them more important than others, and I wanted to compare how Jackson did with the different films in terms of how devastating his changes were to the story and the world of Tolkien. Some of them were downright awful, and others were just annoying. I should say before I start that I am a Tolkien purist in the sense that Tolkien created an entire world, with the relations between the races, the character of each character, and the events throughout the story all contributing to grander themes and what might be called the over-story to the whole epic. Any change that sacrifices on that gets my condemnation. Any change irrelevant to that is merely an annoyance at missing a fun component of the story, sometimes a particularly endearing piece.
Jeremy Pierce is a philosophy professor, Uber/Lyft driver, and father of five.