Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Description from Amazon:
Journey to Christmas is a fascinating new reality DVD series that invites you to explore Jesus’ birth through five modern-day explorers. Shot on ultra-high-definition film and packaged as a four-part DVD church curriculum, this unique study series chronicles the experiences of five very different people—a messianic Jew, a First Nations woman, a poet, a Christian radio personality, and an agnostic lawyer—as they journey through the Holy Land to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Guided by a local historian (Nizar Shaheen) with on-camera commentary from a team of Bible experts (astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, ancient history expert Dr. Paul Maier, archeologist and New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans, Biblical times culture expert Claire Pfann, and others), viewers will see the Christmas story unfold though the eyes of each member on this unique pilgrimage. Journey to Christmas lets you immerse yourself in the culture, places, and people surrounding the Nativity. Stunning photography, a reality show format, exotic locations, and fascinating commentary from a team of Bible experts make this an unforgettable Bible learning experience!
I should probably mention that I don't celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. I know! You're thinking I'm horrible. Let me explain, though. I'm just uncomfortable with the fact that it's a completely man-made holiday. I don't like that some random person(or people)-not God, not Jesus, just some random person- decided that December 25th was the most convenient day to celebrate Christ's birth, and that it was the day I need to celebrate the birth of Christ, too. I just feel like I would be adding to the Bible by celebrating Christ's birthday on December 25th, or any other singled out day or season of the year (I feel the same way about Easter)(Rev.22: 18-19). I don't judge anyone who does, though. Not at all!!!! I do celebrate Christmas as a time of family, and giving, and simply spoiling children a little, and it's my favorite holiday! ;) If you've been around my blog very long, I hope you can tell just how important Jesus is in my life! While I'm guessing there's nobody out there reading this post that has the same opinion as me, I do think that most of you would agree, in this case, if I'm uncomfortable with it, I shouldn't do it.
Now that I've got that out of the way, I'll continue with my review. Overall, I really enjoyed watching Journey to Christmas! I would be thrilled to walk where Jesus walked and sit where He taught. That would be an amazing experience! I don't have any plans to travel to Israel, though. I'm not saying I won't, but it's not in the works anytime soon. That's why I'm so glad I was able to experience a tiny bit of the Nativity Story through my TV screen.
In Journey to Christmas we meet 5 people with various backgrounds and faiths who take the trip to Israel to learn more about the Nativity Story for different reasons. I hate to say, even though I did like the series, I could have did without the "reality show" part of it. Sometimes the people just annoyed me, and I felt too much time was spent on watching them play and talk. Most of the "5" were traveling to Israel to decide if they believed in Jesus or not. One was going for artistic inspiration. It just annoyed me! And, I hate that they were constantly referred to as "modern-day wise men". I would have loved to have seen more educational type content. I LOVED watching the history part of the video. If you already know a great deal of background information about the Nativity Story, then I have a feeling you'll be a bit disappointed. It is just basic information about the customs of the times, but parts were still fascinating to me. I don't really get how it's being advertised as a church curriculum type of video, though. I think most people will want to watch this video to have a better connection to Jesus and His birth. While that does happen, I just don't think the spiritual content will be what most are hoping for.
There was one particular part that I really liked. The girls were learning how to season olives. They were with a few women from Israel, and you could tell how peaceful they were. One of the girls(part of the 5) mentioned how overloaded we are. We've constantly got cell phones ringing and computers in front of us. The women in Israel kept their hands busy, but they're hearts and minds were at peace. It just really made me think. There were times when I completely disagreed with what one of the "5" were saying, and there were times when I absolutely agreed with what they were saying.
Just in case this would bother you, I want to mention some of the paintings that are shown. There's a couple of nude-ish paintings, but one is shown over and over. Each episode is 45 minutes long. This apparently aired on television first, because there's obvious "commercial" breaks(without the commercials, though). Due to those breaks and the fact that there are 4 separate episodes, there's a good bit of repetition. One picture shows up several times due to all that, though. I didn't study the paintings or anything(I actually tried to ignore them for the most part), but I think a woman's top is the only actual nudity shown. I think the rest is pretty well covered up.
I'm thrilled to have Journey to Christmas as part of our DVD library. I just wish it wasn't set up as a reality show type of thing. While I do think that you'll have plenty of issues with the video while watching it, I definitely think it IS worth watching, though!
*Thanks to Tyndale for providing me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.