Skip to comments.My Passion About 'The Passion' (Mel Gibson)
Posted on 08/21/2003 2:00:13 PM PDT by Korth
As someone who writes commentary for a living, I have learned to not get too emotional about most political issues, to take stinging criticism in stride, to not let disputes get personal. If I didnt keep a little distance, Id probably already have dropped over from a stroke. Yet once in a while an issue angers me so much that, try as I might, my eyes pop out of my head, my blood pressure rises, my hands start trembling.
The debate if thats what you want to call it over Mel Gibsons forthcoming movie "The Passion" is such an issue. Ive even lost my cool at a local representative of the Anti-Defamation League. But I cannot help myself for a simple reason.
Organized Jewish groups are demanding that Christians change their religion to suit their sensibility. Its as simple as that. Gibson is presenting a straightforward account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the Gospels. Jewish organizations cant dispute that the movie is striving to be an accurate presentation of the Gospel account, but argue that such an account will lead to anti-Semitism.
The ADL and other groups demanded an early screening of the movie. Even Fox News Bill OReilly, who lobbed puff questions at Rabbi Marc Gellman, who was critici zing the film, questioned the demand that the films critics should have a right to an advance screening. As OReilly pointed out, he doesnt let his enemies view the draft of his books, so that they can spend months trashing and distorting its content.
That seems simple enough. But totalitarians such as ADL National Director Abraham Foxman dont grasp simple concepts of property rights (it's Gibsons movie, not Foxmans) or artistic freedom. "The film unambiguously portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob as the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus," he said in a statement, as reported on WorldNetDaily. "We are deeply concerned that the film, if released in its present form, will fuel the hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism that many responsible churches have worked hard to repudiate."
Thankfully, the Christian community has Foxman to tell them which churches are responsible, and which ones are not. Surely, Foxman would consider an Orange County evangelical congregation to be irresponsible for its recent airing of a segment of the film. Whats next? Previews of sermons?
Two key factual points the ignoramuses ought to consider before continuing their campaign of censorship and harassment:
First, the Gospels do suggest that Jewish authorities were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. Its not that hard to find. Lets see, choose any of the Gospels, then turn toward the end of them, in the depictions of Jesus being turned over to the authorities. Most Bibles even have simple subheadings to ease the process.
From John 18:28: "Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. ... So Pilate came out to them and asked, What charges are you bringing against this man? If he were not a criminal, they replied, we would not have handed him over to you."
Now, Im not saying Foxman and company have to believe the Gospel account. I am simply saying they ought to read it and understand what it says. If they insist that others deny the words of Scripture, then they are insisting that others change their religion to suit them. That is an outrage that demands a firm rebuke.
Second, the Gospels are not suggesting that Jews are, as a group, responsible for Jesus death. They are suggesting something far more radical and disturbing. They are suggesting that every man and woman living then and now is responsible, through each individuals sin, for the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It is not about blaming Jews. It is about blaming individual sinners. Couldnt Foxman at least try to understand the theology behind the Scripture before condemning the work of others? Other points are relevant:
Jesus was a Jew, his followers were Jews, everyone was a gentile or a Jew. So, of course, Jews were among the heroes and villains in the story of Christs life, death and resurrection.
Its true that some people have distorted the Christian story to persecute Jews. Im not unaware of that point. Although I am a practicing eastern Orthodox Christian, I come from a Jewish background. My dad was a Nazi concentration camp survivor. My mother still displays on her wall a piece of wood from the familys synagogue in Germany that was torched on Kristalnacht.
The ADL should deal with those who distort the Christian message, not insist that the message be changed just in case some idiot might interpret it in the wrong way.
Its frustrating also, that some Christians and even a group associated with the Catholic bishops, have been critical rather than supportive of Gibsons act of faith. They are far too busy promoting "tolerance" to spend any time advancing their faith.
Another point made by that rabbi on OReillys show: Perhaps Gibsons disturbing movie is too harsh in its tone. But despite what OReilly stupidly said, Jesus did not die for equality and so we love one another.
Those are side benefits of the crucifixion and resurrection, but they are not the main purpose. Jesus died for our sins, to save our souls. Harsh stories need to be told in harsh ways.
Perhaps I should calm down and take solace in this fact: All these years later, the Gospel still sparks debate and causes offense. It still matters, despite the efforts of those who want to transform real Christianity into some Disney-fied version.
How could a person of Jewish background possibly be Eastern Orthodox? Has this guy ever heard of St. John Chrysostom? He ought to read some of the stuff Chrysostom wrote. He would hate himself.
Maybe one of his parents was Eastern Orthodox, and his belief in Christ led him to embrace that particular expression of the Christian faith.
By the way,Chrysostom was pretty critical of Christians. One of his most famous quotes is "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests". I've never read his anti-Jewish rhetoric in context; I've read one quote of his about the Jews, and it looked horrific.
Yes, I am sure that is probably it.
Gibson takes 'Passion' play to Newmarket
Icon considers release timed to Ash Wednesday
By GABRIEL SNYDER
Jim Caviezel stars in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of Jesus Christ,' which Newmarket will distribute domestically.
Mel Gibson has pacted with Newmarket to handle U.S. distribution for his controversial (and recently re-christened) "The Passion of Christ."
The rent-a-system deal means that Gibson's Icon Prods. will retain all rights to "Passion" while relying on Newmarket's distribution apparatus in exchange for a cut of the gross.
A source close to Gibson said that Icon is mulling a release timed to Ash Wednesday, which next year falls on Feb. 25 . Previously, Gibson had been eyeing a release tied to Easter, which falls on April 11.
Icon is distributing "Passion" itself in the U.K. and Australia, where it already has its own distrib operations.
Because Newmarket will hold no rights on "Passion," Gibson remains on the hook for the $25 million he has already personally spent making the film, which depicts the last hours in the life of Jesus Christ.
With dialogue in Latin and Aramaic -- though the pic will now be subtitled -- even Gibson has conceded that the film would be a tough commercial sell.
Months before its planned release, "Passion" has attracted the kind of publicity that few commercial filmmakers would welcome.
Some Jewish scholars and orgs have said "Passion" will provoke anti-Semitism because they think it revives the ancient slur that Jews are responsible for the death of Christ. Meanwhile, some conservative Christians and Catholics, including Vatican officials, endorsed "Passion" as a teaching tool after Gibson screened the film for them.
"bad publicity is good publicity"
~Marilyn Monroe, In March 1952,
One would have to know Orthodoxy to realize that there is nothing in this faith that can be construed as based on hate. No one quotes Chrysostom's homilies against the Jews. St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and other prominent Christians have used language that today would be considered highly antisemitic. But there is a difference between opinion and theology. Quite a number of Roman popes were less than deserving of their throne, yet do one dozen or so corrupt individuals corrupt the entire church and undo all the good deeds and honorable people in it? Does one Menachim Begin, a terrorist, invalidate the State of Israel? Does one Wagner invalidate all of German music?
Chrysostom was equally harsh, primarily on his own clergy, monks, and imperial courtesans. His homilies against the Jews were written before his ordination as a priest and certainly way before he was ever elevated to the Bishop of Constantinople.
Chrysostom considered priests and bishops who gave in to sin as doubly guilty -- because they should know better -- and maintained that there are so many corrupt priests and bishops that they will line the path to hell.
One ofm the first things he did as the Imperial Bishop was to prohibit female servants in clergy's homes. He was especially harsh on vanity of elderly women, including Imperial family and even the heretic Empress indirectly. That didn't win him friends or favors and in fact lead to his sudden demise after a brief period of great influence in the Imperial City. One can say that he was harsh and didn't tolerate the "wobbly" and the corrupt no matter who they were. He is mostly remembered as the father of the modern Liturgy, a divine service in content and melody. He is remembered and revered for his Christianity.