My students at Creighton University are great—smart, well prepared, fully engaged! If they do have a collective “Achilles’ heel,” it is a lack of knowledge about classic popular culture; that is, what I grew up with in the ’60s and ’70s.
When I ask them about Paul Newman, they know about his salad dressing and other nonprofit endeavors. But Paul Newman the actor (not to mention racecar driver)—they’ve never heard of him. No Paul Newman, no Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That’s sad—but far sadder, no Cool Hand Luke, that late ’60s anthem to, well, the late ’60s.
Perhaps references to Luke (as in the Gospel of) in today’s popular culture could remedy this situation. Admittedly, not likely, but well worth a try!
One of the first articles on the Gospel I located (from London’s Sunday Times) bore this intentionally provocative headline: “St. Luke ‘a Fraud’ says historian.” The first sentence carries an arresting, if troubling, image: “Gospel truth may not be anything of the sort. St. Luke, one of the four evangelists, stands accused by an eminent Biblical scholar as a plagiarist and fraud.” Not much of a link here to Paul Newman’s Luke. Say what you will, he was nothing if not authentic.