Reviving the X-Files

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A six-episode revival of the sci-fi hit The X-Files was recently announced that would reunite actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson after 13 years as FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Coming from drastically differing vantage points, the pair attempt to solve bizarre occurrences often dealing with extraterrestrial and paranormal phenomena out of their basement office at the FBI. Mulder was the agent with the “I Want to Believe” UFO poster on his office wall. Scully, on the other hand, placed her faith solely in science and provable data.

There is no telling what the new series will explore, but the conclusion of the TV show in 2002 was one of the more provocative and intriquing endings for a nine year television show. Alien-chasing Fox Mulder is asked by his colleague, Dana Scully, “You’ve always said that you want to believe, but believe in what, Mulder?”

“I want to believe that the dead are not lost to us,” he responds, “that they speak to us as part of something greater than us – greater than any alien force….”

The camera then focuses in on Agent Scully’s cross necklace as Mulder holds it on his fingertip. As the scene and series draws to a close, Mulder makes this fascinating observation, “Maybe there is hope.”


A Mighty Little Luther

martin-luther-FIGURINEBy Steve Beard

An astounding 34,000 mini Martin Luther action figures were sold out within the first 72 hours of availability. The smiling Reformer toy made by Playmobil was created as a kitchy keepsake for German tourist boards and Bavarian Lutherans to mark the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.

“I’m used to Luther the first modern man, Luther the rebel against overbearing church authority, Luther the anti-Semite, Luther the destroyer of the unity of Western Christendom — but Luther the action figure is a new one,” the Rev. Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, told Good News.

“However distorted the image of Luther remains in Euro-American consciousness, the fact is that 500 years later he hasn’t been forgotten and still looms large in the cultural imagination,” said Wilson, editor of Lutheran Forum. “I’m grateful that the Playmobil people made him holding the Bible instead of the 95 Theses.”

Of course, United Methodists have a warm hearted connection to the leader of the Reformation since John Wesley’s own new birth experience occurred at Aldersgate in 1738 while listening to a reading of Martin Luther’s preface of the Epistle to the Romans.

Professor Wilson and her colleagues launched the Luther Reading Challenge ( as a way of encouraging a wider exploration of Luther’s thoughts than simply the history-making and polemical 95 Theses. Writing in First Things, Wilson explains that that the program highlights a fuller portrait of Luther: “the pastor concerned with the care of souls, the exegete, the friend and prolific letter-writer, the husband and father, the hymnist….”

“It was a natural step to merge the desire to improve knowledge of Luther with the desire to give Christian people permission not only to feed others but to nourish their own souls as well,” concludes Professor Wilson. “And that is our invitation: read Luther — not to take sides, and certainly not to justify yourself or your church or the compromised history that all Christians share — but to meet a sinner of ages past who knew and loved and constantly wrote about the good news of Jesus Christ.”

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Denzel Washington: “Put God first”

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.44.42 AMBy Steve Beard

Denzel Washington’s rousing commencement address to graduates of Dillard University was met with amens and applause. The Academy award winning actor’s May 9 speech went over well at the historically black university in New Orleans. Washington’s advice to the graduates dealt with God, failure, materialism, and gratitude.

1. Put God first: “Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that. It’s a gift. … I didn’t always stick with Him, but He stuck with me.”

2. Fail big: “Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment. … I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes it’s just not to curse somebody out.”

3. You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse: “I don’t care how much money you make, you can’t take it with you. … It’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with it.”

4. While you’re on your knees in the morning, say thank you: “While you’re [on your knees], say thank you. Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity. Say thank you in advance for what is already yours … True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours … When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up.”

Washington admitted to the graduates that 40 years ago he was flunking out of college with a 1.7 GPA. “I remember sitting in my mother’s beauty parlor [in New York] and I’m looking in the mirror and I kept seeing this woman looking at me,” recalled Washington who was a 20-year-old student at Fordam University at the time.

“‘Somebody give me a pen!,” said the woman. “I’m having a prophecy!” It was March 27, 1975. “Boy, you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people,” the woman told Washington.

“Now mind you,” recalls Washington, “I’m flunking out of college and thinking about joining the Army. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“Well, I have travelled the world and I have spoken to millions of people. But that is not the most important success that I’ve had….I’ve been protected. I’ve been directed. I’ve been corrected. I’ve kept God in my life and it has kept me humble. So stick with Him.”

Washington was raised in church. His father was a preacher who simultaneously worked for the water company during the day and as a security guard at night. The woman in the beauty parlor was Ruth Green, one of the elders in the church with the gift of prophecy.

As a young man, Washington found himself exploring Eastern philosophies and reading the Qur’an in his search for personal meaning and inner peace. In 1979, director Robert Townsend took Washington to West Angeles Church of God in Christ—a Pentecostal megachurch in South Central Los Angeles. He has been a faithful member ever since that Sunday.

Like many other artists with a spiritual yearning, Washington was tempted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a minister. He even asked his pastor, Bishop Charles Blake, if he should become a preacher. Blake and Washington agreed that he was right where God wanted him. “So my work is my ministry,” he told BeliefNet. “I’ve always understood why I’ve been blessed to be put in this situation. And I’m more than happy to take advantage of it and to preach, if you will, about what God has done in my life.”

Steve Beard is the editor of Good News.