November 26, 2011
Reality TV Meets the Holy Land
Five strangers take a spiritual trip in 'Journey to Christmas'
What happens when you take a group of complete strangers and throw them together in harsh conditions as something of a sociological experiment in the name of "reality TV"? Well, it's sort of like Survivor, but in the case of Journey to Christmas, it's more like a discovery of what the nativity story is all about.
A four-part documentary series, released this month by Tyndale House (and airing in early December on CTS), Journey to Christmas follows five North Americans from all walks of faith -- including an agnostic -- as they trek to and through the Holy Land for three weeks, visiting key spots in Christian history and culminating in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.
Local Christian historian Nizar Shaheen serves as their guide, giving the biblical and Christian context for each stop along the way, answering the pilgrims' questions. Interviews with Bible scholars are interwoven throughout the series, which is more like a blend between reality TV and a documentary.
Some of the best parts come when the five travelers -- all young adults -- gather at the end of the each day to discuss what they've seen, learned, and experienced. The lone Christian's faith is strengthened on the journey, but what about the other four, including one who says he's disappointed in God and seeking spiritual guidance? What will each of them find along the way?
The four 45-minute episodes are not only interesting and entertaining, but also serve as a good springboard for families or study groups to discuss the true meaning of Christmas in the context of history and geography -- of walking the trails where the magi, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus walked. The DVD includes a discussion guide.
The series can be purchased at ChristianBook.com, and here's the trailer: