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July 15, 2021

CU Lux Hosts Event with Popular Show’s Director

By kelly parks, Staff Writer

Over the past year, the internet has become an increasingly popular companion as COVID-19 restrictions kept people from socializing. According to one article by BBC, since lockdowns started in March of 2020, adults have spent nearly six and a half hours a day watching TV and online videos. This averages to watching about 45 hours of online content a week. Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime have made this number all the more feasible as they came out with new shows and movies to keep the public entertained.

The Chosen

While a majority of the shows created during COVID-19 were created purely for entertainment’s sake, production companies Loaves & Fishes Productions and Angel Studios worked in collaboration with director Dallas Jenkins to produce The Chosen, an online series that depicts the life of Jesus in the context of Ancient Near Eastern culture, enabling modern viewers to see Him through the eyes of those he interacted with during his time on earth.

Since COVID-19, the show has spread like wildfire amongst Christian and non-Christian audiences alike due to its high quality and accessibility. However, there are still many who are skeptical of the production quality of Christian cinematography. Marcos Barrios, Yale ’23, was one such individual. 

Barrios is currently studying Ethics, Politics, and Economics and has been serving on the CU Lux leadership team since 2020. Ever since his freshman year, Barrios has appreciated the values the CU Lux community upholds: “Yale is a place where the vast majority of our peers are living for themselves. To be surrounded by a group of people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and interests that pour themselves into serving and worshipping Jesus by their own accord is a gift and an inspiration and a reminder that the church is still alive!"

Barrios had heard of The Chosen from his friend and ministry team co-leader, Luke Bell, Yale ’22. Initially, Barrios was disinterested in the show. After about a month, however, he finally watched the first season in a day and a half. “I fell in love with it,” said Barrios. “And I ended up watching the whole season three times in a week. It was so beautiful and different and it really caught me.”

A few days later, Barrios was about to go to sleep when he felt prompted to email The Chosen. “I didn’t know who to contact, it was probably 1 a.m in the morning, but I found a generic email on The Chosen’s website and just layed out my interest in potentially collaborating with The Chosen in some way. The next day, I was contacted by Dallas Jenkin’s partner, Brad Pelo, and we had an excellent discussion about the show, Yale, and some potential opportunities for collaborative events. Once I settled into my outreach co-lead role, Pelo and I worked on bringing The Chosen to campus throughout the semester.”

In April, all the pieces fell into place and CU Lux hosted a campus-wide virtual panel discussion on The Chosen. The featured panelists included director Dallas Jenkins, Brad Pelo from Angel Studios, and actress Elizabeth Tabish, who plays Mary Magdalene. Over 600 individuals registered for the event, many of whom were from other universities in the surrounding area, including all eight Ivy League institutions. According to Barrios, the reactions to the event were phenomenal. 

“The show itself always receives glowing reviews,” said Barrios. “People are deeply stricken by the humanity of Jesus and his incredible compassion as portrayed in The Chosen, as well as the quality of the acting, production, cinematography, and music. By providing a collaboration with the Ivy League, our interview event not only exposed many people to the show, but answered questions and concerns, gave insight into the vision behind the show, and dove into what is coming up next… Lots of people felt inspired to watch the show and get involved in the Christian community at Yale. Several individuals at different campuses were inspired to start putting on screenings themselves as new episodes were released in the following weeks.”

Since then, CU Lux hosted a second event in which they showed season one, episode three of The Chosen with a discussion time afterwards. Further, the team at CU Lux hopes to develop a course curriculum to accompany the TV series. Through this curriculum, Christian Union hopes to draw others to Christ through studying His life and Word.

“We really believe that The Chosen has the potential to be one of the best outreach tools for Yale and college campuses in general,” said Barrios. “It is in a medium already familiar to our peers, it’s quality and content is superb, and it’s entire mission is pointing back to the scriptures and to the gospel. Through screenings, discussions, study materials, and just general buzz, we want to reintroduce our campuses to Jesus, without the stigma of traditional cheesy christian media. The goal is to draw people in through the show initially, but introduce them to a community through Christian Union that can provide fellowship, answer questions, and continue their faith journeys.”

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