The Story of God, a six-part miniseries starring Morgan Freeman, in collaboration with Revelations Entertainment and the National Geographic Channel premiered its first episode on Sunday, April 3rd with its episode entitled, "Afterlife." The series will continue this Sunday on the National Geographic Channel with the 2nd episode, "End of Days."
This episode's description states, "Violent upheaval and fiery judgment fill popular imagination, but was the lore of apocalypse born out of the strife that plagued the Middle East two millennia ago? The true religious meaning of the apocalypse may not be a global war, but an inner revelation."
Morgan Freeman begins this 2nd episode commenting on the things we see in the news today. "Everyday things seem to get worse- religious conflict, climate change...It all seems so apocalyptic. None of this is new, however. We've been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years, from Nostradamus, all the way back to the book of Revelation. Something about the drama of annihilation seems to grip us. Is it just human nature to worry and wonder about the end of days? Or is it really coming?"
Freeman sets off "on a journey to find out why so many religions predict an apocalypse, to discover the roots of Judgement Day, how ancient prophecies reverberate today, and to ask whether the end is really what we imagined, or if it's all just in our minds."
He travels to Jerusalem, the flashpoint for religious tension between Christians, Muslims and Jews. He speaks with an archeologist who takes him to the shores of the Dead Sea where a particular Jewish sect, the Essenes, had left their apocalyptic writings over 2,000 years ago. He delves into the Mark of the Beast with an expert in early Christianity at the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome near the Vatican, and the possible relationship to Nero. Freeman even talks to a psychologist who is studying how the idea of the apocalypse may be hard-wired into the human brain.
This writer has the opportunity to preview the episodes before airing on television. We'll recap the episode after it airs on Sunday night, so be on the lookout for the full review after watching.
During the Winter TCA tour, Entertainment Tonight reported that Morgan Freeman spoke about how people of faith would open up to him about their own religious beliefs and ceremonies.
"Generally people want to explain - and it's not like proselytizing, it's just explaining," Freeman said. "I found that particularly so in India and in Egypt. They are not trying to convince me that I should belong to this, merely explain what and why it is."
Some Christians are giving the show poor reviews because it does not show favoritism to any one religion, and though Morgan Freeman does a wonderful job at remaining neutral and respectful of all religions, there are some who say that he is a self-professed atheist, and as MovieGuide puts it, has "very strong pagan and syncretistic or mixed worldview looking at all religions equally" and "the filmmakers are more concerned about the sociological impact of religion than actually discovering who God is."
Christians may take note that the National Geographic Channel is not a Christian channel. This isn't a show meant to promote any one religion. The Story of God is solely an educational documentary about the history of religious beliefs and the impact on how we all see the world.
This upcoming episode, the 2nd in the series, will be shown on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, April 10th at 9/8 central. If you missed last week's episode, you can watch it here on the National Geographic Channel site.