Luke Burgis on Why We Love ‘The Chosen’ So Much

Image: Angel Studios
Image: Angel Studios

The Chosena multiseason look at the life of Christ through the eyes of his disciples, has garnered more than 50 million fans in 180 countries with its engaging and affecting storytelling, according to producers. Even viewers initially skeptical that anything good could come out of the Nazareth of Christian entertainment have found themselves hooked by The Chosen’s imaginative scripts and high production value.

Director Dallas Jenkins has raised the bar for the quality of religious-themed entertainment. The show has broken crowdfunding records, raking in $10 million for the first season and attracting $12 million from 125,000 people for the second season, which wrapped up with the season finale on July 11.

But it’s not merely higher-quality filming techniques or the relatability of actor Jonathan Roumie’s portrayal of Jesus that accounts for The Chosen’s power. It comes from its convincing portrayal of each disciple’s transformation of desire. Characters who have small hopes at the beginning of the show evolve into people who want great things. As we watch the disciples change, we are drawn into the mystery of their transformation in Christ.

The French historian and philosopher René Girard experienced a profound Christian conversion when he realized that the greatest novels in history—like Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, or Cervantes’s Don Quixote—emerged out of a conversion experience that pierced the author’s vanity and pride. This experience allowed them to create deeply complex characters truer to life.

From his deep study of history, human behavior, and great literature, Girard observed that we learn to desire by imitation, through a process he called mimesis (which comes from the Greek, meaning “to imitate”). We come to want the things that are modeled to us as desirable and valuable. Girard was not referring primarily to our basic needs—food, shelter, safety—but to the kind of metaphysical desires that people develop to be a certain kind of person.

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Source: Christianity Today