“I see that happening a lot both in high academic culture and the wider culture too—and that is turning Jesus into one more guru,” along with “sufi mystics, Hindu wisemen, Jewish rabbis or Deepak Chopra.”
“People look around to the spiritual world and then Jesus becomes one more of those figures,” he explained. “And I just think that's the way to miss him.”
“The Gospel presents him as this deeply challenging figure,” Fr. Barron noted. “Jesus is distinctive. He stands out in a sharp profile vis a vis other religious founders and I think Christians have to make that difference clear.”
The Chicago priest, who also holds the Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, said the project has taken close to four years to complete since its inception.
After getting permission to begin filming the series from the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, the team began the unenviable task of fundraising.
“We had to raise about 3 million dollars to make this possible,” Fr. Barron said, “so we started in Chicago where we're based, but we ended up going all over the country.”
Fr. Barron said the project was done on a “shoe-string” budget compared to most productions of this size and that the team traveled in spurts for nearly two years – from 2008 to 2010 – whenever enough money was raised to journey to each location.
“The experience was immeasurable and I'm still unpacking it,” he added.
Noting the quality of the series, he said that top film and production experts from NBC worked with high-definition equipment to capture the lush colors and intricate details of every location. The episodes also feature an original musical score by Chicago composer Steven Mullen.
“That was from the the beginning a strong emphasis of mine. I said, 'if we're going to show off this beautiful tradition that we have, I don't want to do it in some second-rate way,'” Fr. Barron recalled.
He added that a “wonderful study program” has also been created to go along with the episodes and that it is intended for parish use such as RCIA classes.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The priest expressed his desire that people who are “not religious at all – maybe they're atheists, agnostics, fallen away Catholics – would see the series and maybe be drawn in by the beauty of it, drawn in by culture, drawn in by history.”
“That's my hope – that it would be used inside the Catholic world but also as an evangelical tool outside the Catholic world.”
For more information, visit: www.catholicismproject.org