Monday, April 23, 2012

“The Cross is not enough” book review – Chapter 4

As part of my post-resurrection Easter spiritual practice, I’m reading Cross Is Not Enough: Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection by Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson, Australian Baptist thinkers. I thought it would be a good discipline to blog as I read my way through the book. Chapter one is here, Chapter two is here, Chapter three is here

Chapter four

The idea of the resurrection fills us with profound, deep, and for me at least, non-specific and extremely complicated emotions. Thus I do not want it represented in images that are otherwise. Above all, though, I do want it represented. That is, I want it, to paraphrase Luther, “spoken” but also “sung, painted and played.” I also want it molded, sculpted, danced. Linda Marie Delloff

And so this chapter takes up the challenge by Dellof, and explores resurrection in culture. It begins with the resurrection in art history. It moves to church music. It moves to contemporary music. It moves to pop culture, specifically film, comic books like anime, TV series and fiction novels.

I’m not going to be specific, because you really should get the book. It’s worth the price of this chapter alone, as a reflection, preaching and communication resource.

Clifford and Johnson are practical, with a section on how to respond to these resurrection images. They note the importance of not assuming that because we see an image, all viewers will.

Even some lapsed churchgoers did not recognise that Aslan was a Christ-figure and that his death and resurrection mirrored the Easter Event.

They are cautious.

None of these characters’ resurrections are exact counterparts to Christ’s resurrection, as they remain mortal after they have arisen.

These resurrections are not once-for-all like Christ’s, and the stories have their veiled ambiguities about the source of the resurrection (does the character possess the power to rise again or is there an external source?).

Not only do they acknowledge the hopeful, the resurrection analogies. They also acknowledge the anti-Christ resurrections in pop culture, those moments when “dead, malovelent” characters return from the dead.

A weakness is that the world of pop culture is too narrow. Pop culture is so much more than film. What about resurrection in advertising, in fashion, in video gaming, in photography? I have not got it with me, but I’d want to place this chapter alongside Detweiler and Taylor’s, A Matrix of Meanings: finding God in pop culture (Engaging Culture), to leaf through their chapter headings, and then with a group of young adult theology students do a brainstorm around popular culture. Why?

Because, to quote Clifford and Johnson

Conversations with non-Christians can provide opportunities to draw these connections and help those who are seeking to begin to understand the power of Jesus’s resurrection.

Posted by steve at 09:53 AM


  1. Steve, I think I may have to read this book. One movie resurrection that springs to mind is Neo’s from The Matrix, in that his resurrection changes who he is, as well as changing the dynamics of both worlds. Admittedly the love that brings him back is both human and cliched, but still an external force.

    I am, of course, counting The Matrix by itself here, and completely ignoring the two sequels.

    Comment by Ivan — April 24, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  2. Thanks Ivan. I’ve deliberately not named any of the pop culture material the book explores. But it could well be that the Matrix is discussed in the book, thoughtfully and helpfully :), including the way images change through the trilogy


    Comment by steve — April 24, 2012 @ 10:54 am

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