Props to Matt Lauer and the Today show for the first of a multi-part series exploring religion and faith. Lauer teased the series this week, asking viewers to figure out what one thing has the power to save…the power to destroy…the power to unify…and the power to tear us apart.
“Faith stands alone in human history as the greatest force for good and evil,” he told viewers this morning, broadcasting live from Jerusalem.
I was only able to watch the first couple of segments this morning, including a tour of the city’s holiest Christian, Muslim and Jewish sites, plus an explanation of heaven from the Jewish perspective.
I’d note that, in a major departure from ABC’s broadcast yesterday in Lhasa, Lauer did not try to hide the conflict that exists in Jerusalem. As he was broadcasting, a scuffle broke out behind him, and it was quickly apparent that his security personnel were armed and ready for anything.
Lauer and NBC had the required permits to broadcast from a site adjacent to the Western Wall, but someone nearby didn’t like that fact, and Lauer literally had to get out of the way of a shoving/shouting match as his cameras rolled live. Later, after moving to a nearby rooftop, he explained what was happening while NBC showed footage from the mini-melee, including Lauer trying to find cover.
The first part of this series on faith is very nicely packaged, with evocative images, haunting music and what seems to be a very well-balanced look at the role religion has played throughout human history. Of course, I’m looking forward to what I’m guessing will be a live broadcast from somewhere in Asia to discuss Hinduism and Buddhism (they’ve already showed stock Buddhist footage that looked like either rural Thailand or Cambodia, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll broadcast from Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. My guess is Lhasa is a no-go since ABC was also there this week).
::UPDATE:: My co-worker just told me that Diane Sawyer from ABC also was in the Old City of Jerusalem this morning.