Whenever the media depicts God, we Christians are quick to offer our assessment, often based on the physical features of the portrayal. Too white. Too dark. Too hippy. Too sexy.

The recent blockbuster Son of God, which brought in $26 million its opening weekend, joins a long line of these on-screen Jesuses and off-screen analyses.

If we're older, we may have laughed at 1977 Oh God star George Burns. We considered charges of anti-Semitism against Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. Many evangelicals, including Billy Graham, have lent endorsement to Prince of Egypt's God. Some of us have encountered a daring black God in Bruce Almighty or the female one, played by Alanis Morissette, in Dogma.

Rarely, though, do we focus on the good, the spiritual and emotional dimension, that can come from Hollywood's efforts to give God a face and voice. At this point, it's inevitable. Whether we mean to or not, we discern the contours and expressions of God's face, the tone of kindness or judgment in God's voice, and the media's portrayals can shape our imagination.

Think back to the classic 1956 film The Ten Commandments. Charlton Heston, who played Moses, pitched himself to director Cecil B. DeMille to play God's voice in the burning bush.

"You know, Mr. DeMille," Heston ventured, "it seems to me that any man hears the voice of God from inside himself. And I would like to be the voice of God." In the modern vernacular of the Hebrew Bible people, we call that chutzpah.

DeMille hedged, "Well, you know, Chuck, you've got a pretty good part as it is."

But the chutzpah got him the gig. Though not listed in the film's credits, Heston's deep bass voice ...

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