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'Passion' shakes North Jersey clergy to the core
The Record of Hackensack ^ | 02.29.04

Posted on 02/29/2004 5:59:33 PM PST by Coleus

'Passion' shakes North Jersey clergy to the core


Sunday, February 29, 2004

One Catholic priest in Morris County was so appalled by Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ'' that he described the film as "religious barbarism.''

But a Protestant minister in Harrington Park was so moved that afterward he drove to a park, where he prayed and sat silently for almost an hour.

Meanwhile, a rabbi from River Edge said the movie could bring Jews and Christians closer, despite the film's insistence that it was the Jews who pushed for the execution of Jesus.

Arriving in theaters last week on Ash Wednesday, "The Passion's'' harrowing vision of the final 12 hours of Jesus' life has struck a nerve in the landscape of American faith, inspiring countless believers, polarizing others, and giving fresh focus to interfaith activism.

The bloody, two-hour movie has outraged some Jews with its portrayal of the Jewish high priests as vicious, scheming power barons. And it has turned off some Christians who believe the film's sole focus on Jesus' violent death misses the essence of Christianity.

The film has also delighted millions of conservative Christians - who showed their growing clout by packing theaters coast to coast, helping make the movie a box-office bonanza.

Yet among clergy, the movie's supporters and critics can't be neatly divided along denominational lines.

The Rev. Jack Lohr, a pastor in Franklin Lakes who preaches a liberal brand of Christianity, said the movie startled him personally and raised fundamental questions for all Christians.

"For us who claim to have taken up the cross to follow Jesus, the film challenges any convenient or comfortable reading of the cost of discipleship,'' said Lohr, of the Presbyterian Church at Franklin Lakes. "I shall never again be able to sing the sweetly sentimental lines of 'The Old Rugged Cross' without a dreadful sense of irony.''

And the pastor at one of the most progressive parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson said the film woke him up to the realities of Jesus' death in a way that trumped years of Bible readings.

"It made me realize I've had a pretty sanitized view of what Christ did for me,'' said the Rev. Kevin Downey of St. Mary's in Pompton Lakes. "I've read the story so much, and felt I knew the story so well, that after a while, you take it for granted.''

One thing's for certain, "The Passion'' isn't going away. The movie took in $23.6 million on opening day, a box office showing that suggests the film could wind up in the same esteemed league as such screen classics as "Ben-Hur'' and "The Ten Commandments.''

But unlike those earlier religious blockbusters, "The Passion'' draws razor sharp theological lines that attract and repel.

The movie dwells almost entirely on Jesus' torture and execution, emphasizing that he chose death on the cross to bring salvation to mankind. The movie's violence is now notorious. Jewish leaders call for his death, mocking and spitting on him. Then Roman soldiers take over, whipping him over and over until the flesh is ripped from his back. Finally, his hands and feet are nailed into the cross.

The Rev. Kenneth Lasch, a veteran Catholic priest, said he was repelled.

"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

Lasch, who saw the movie Thursday, also said the film's uncompromising, in-your-face approach reflects a growing divisiveness and belligerence within the major religions.

"As I was sitting at the end of movie I thought, 'This is not bringing us together,''' he said. "This is increasing the separation.''

Others share his fears.

Rabbi Neil Borovitz said he couldn't help but think about "Fiddler on the Roof,'' the classic musical about life in an Eastern European shtetl. The show, which had a revival open on Broadway the same week "The Passion'' reached the theaters, ends tragically with pogroms against the Jews.

"It was the claim of the Jews killing Jesus that inspired people to slaughter thousands of innocent people,'' said Borovitz, of Temple Sholom in River Edge. "I think Mel Gibson has taken a similar approach in this movie, and it's very bothersome.''

But Borovitz also holds out hope. He attended the movie Wednesday with Catholic and Protestant clergymen that he has known for years. And he points to a fresh round of interfaith activism in Bergen County that will make "The Passion'' the main topic of conversation. On Thursday in Teaneck, for example, two scholars, one Catholic and one Jewish, will speak to religious educators and clergy on the complexities of the crucifixion story and how to explain them to students and other lay people.

Borovitz said he respects the story of the Resurrection as the central narrative of Christianity. But he said Gibson has told the story in a provocative, manipulative, and mean-spirited way.

"I feel much more comfortable with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or the National Council of Churches teaching this story than I do with Mel Gibson,'' Borovitz said. "But Mel Gibson is going to reach more people than they will, and that's what concerns me.''

Many pastors found the movie so compelling they're seeing it again.

The Rev. George Kaden, of Community Church in Harrington Park, saw the movie Wednesday and drove to Van Saun Park in Paramus for 45 minutes of reflection. He is seeing the movie again today with his family.

"It's a film that challenges us to look in our own hearts and ask ourselves about our relationship with God,'' Kaden said. "Each person has to come to grips with what they are seeing and what they are wrestling with in their personal life.''

Others said the movie is transforming the season of Lent, the period of introspection that began on Ash Wednesday and culminates on Easter Sunday.

The Rev. Steve Giordano will preach about the movie in his sermon today. Giordano, of Clinton Avenue Reformed Church in Bergenfield, cited the movie's opening scene in which Jesus decides to face the cross rather than run from it.

"That's the same question that we face at the beginning of the Lenten season,'' Giordano said. "Are we going to accept the challenge of making a significant spiritual season, or is it just going to be business as usual?''

This article contains material from The Associated Press.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; christianlist; crucifixion; gibson; kennethlasch; lasch; melgibson; mendham; movie; priest; thepassion; thepassionofchrist
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http://www.stjoesmendham.org
 
klasch@stjoesmendham.org

1 posted on 02/29/2004 5:59:33 PM PST by Coleus
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...
`
2 posted on 02/29/2004 6:00:00 PM PST by Coleus (Help Tyler Schicke http://tylerfund.org/ Burkitt's leukemia, http://www.birthhaven.org/needs.html)
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To: Coleus
that it was the Jews

It wasn't THE Jews, it was SOME Jews.

3 posted on 02/29/2004 6:02:31 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: Coleus
I guess this priest believes the crucifixion was really just primarily comprised of harsh words.
4 posted on 02/29/2004 6:06:21 PM PST by Terabitten (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten It)
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To: Paul Atreides
It was US!!!!

God/Jesus is TIMELESS!!!

What happened 2,000 years ago is the same that is happening today. It was me who persecuted Christ.
5 posted on 02/29/2004 6:07:32 PM PST by baltodog (So, can we assume that a job that an illegal alien won't do must be REALLY bad?....)
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To: Tragically Single
I guess this priest believes the crucifixion was really just primarily comprised of harsh words.

Much worse than that - the Romans gave Jesus a "time-out."

6 posted on 02/29/2004 6:09:14 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (Am Yisrael Chai!)
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To: Coleus
"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

Lasch, who saw the movie Thursday, also said the film's uncompromising, in-your-face approach reflects a growing divisiveness and belligerence within the major religions.

I say bully for the in-your-face approach. I'm so sick of listening to priests like Lasch that I have really have no words. As far as I'm concerned, they can GET OUT.

7 posted on 02/29/2004 6:09:44 PM PST by independentmind
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus
The Rev. Kenneth Lasch, a veteran Catholic priest, said he was repelled...."God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

The good Father better put down John Paul Sartre's books and read his catechism a bit more closely...Jesus willingly died to redeem the sins of humanity...not just because he was fated to do it. Sounds like the padre has been reading too must existentialism.

9 posted on 02/29/2004 6:10:47 PM PST by The Great RJ
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To: Coleus
NJ Catholic priest appalled by "The Passion'' he described the film as "religious barbarism."

One must wonder what this Catholic priest thought of the abuse that was visited upon Jesus Christ. Was it not "barbarism?"

10 posted on 02/29/2004 6:10:59 PM PST by davisfh
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To: Coleus
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3
11 posted on 02/29/2004 6:11:08 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Coleus
"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.'

God didn't send his son to die? This Catholic priest doesn't believe in the Bible. Odd no?
12 posted on 02/29/2004 6:11:51 PM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: Coleus
6 out of a possible 10. 'Glad I got to see it.
13 posted on 02/29/2004 6:12:16 PM PST by onedoug
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To: Coleus
Something tells me that this priest would be offended by Christ Himself.
14 posted on 02/29/2004 6:13:18 PM PST by William Martel
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To: Coleus
"As I was sitting at the end of movie I thought, 'This is not bringing us together,''' he said. "This is increasing the separation.''

Just like the good sheep and the bad sheep will be separated at the end of the world, eh Rev?

15 posted on 02/29/2004 6:14:59 PM PST by Reelect President Dubya (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: independentmind
"in my opinion, God did not send his son to die"

I think the problem with this statement starts in the first three words.

16 posted on 02/29/2004 6:18:41 PM PST by I still care
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To: Flying Circus
ping
17 posted on 02/29/2004 6:19:48 PM PST by nickcarraway (www.yadvashem.org)
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To: Coleus; LibreOuMort
Meanwhile, a rabbi from River Edge said the movie could bring Jews and Christians closer, despite the film's insistence that it was the Jews who pushed for the execution of Jesus.

I will somewhat echo the poster who said it is not THE Jews, it was at best SOME Jews! (There are plenty of other readings, including that Jesus' actions leading to the execution call us all to account -- if he died for our sins, are we not at fault? If he died because the Jews pushed for execution, then where in that is the salvation for the Gentiles?)

And look further at the movie itself: It was a Jew who protested the council's actions, it was a Jew who asserted Jesus' innocence before the council, they were Jews who called upon the soldiers to stop, it was a Jew(ish woman) who tried to bring Jesus the cup, it was a Jew who carried Jesus' cross and eventually, lovingly, Jesus himself as he "walked a mile in His shoes."

18 posted on 02/29/2004 6:20:12 PM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: Arkinsaw
Not really that odd. Just because one stands in a garage doesn't mean one is a car.
19 posted on 02/29/2004 6:20:28 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: Paul Atreides
Yea, they ignore that some of the jews were disgusted by the railroading and refused to take part.
20 posted on 02/29/2004 6:21:04 PM PST by Bogey78O (The Democrats promised jobs but all they gave you was gay marriage- AppyPappy)
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To: Coleus
Does Fr. Lasch think the people of Mendham are to wealthy the truth?
21 posted on 02/29/2004 6:21:49 PM PST by nickcarraway (www.yadvashem.org)
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Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

To: Eala; Coleus; LibreOuMort
And look further at the movie itself: It was a Jew who protested the council's actions, it was a Jew who asserted Jesus' innocence before the council, they were Jews who called upon the soldiers to stop, it was a Jew(ish woman) who tried to bring Jesus the cup, it was a Jew who carried Jesus' cross and eventually, lovingly, Jesus himself as he "walked a mile in His shoes."

And notice, also, it was the devil who was always circling around.....Satan was there.....like a vulture, imho, egging the ROMAN SOLDIERS....NOT JEWS....on to commit even greater torment and torture upon Jesus.

23 posted on 02/29/2004 6:22:47 PM PST by nicmarlo
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To: Coleus
" ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch...

Heretic.

24 posted on 02/29/2004 6:23:14 PM PST by BlessedBeGod
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To: Coleus
[ NJ Catholic priest appalled by "The Passion'' he described the film as "religious barbarism." ]

NO WONDER hes in New Jersy....

25 posted on 02/29/2004 6:23:18 PM PST by hosepipe
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To: The Great RJ
One of the reasons I am not a member of an organised religion, is I have not found one with a basic belief system I can fully embrace.
It would seem to me to be the rankest sort of hypocricy to fraudlently claim membership in a church, but not believe in the church's basic items of faith and its scriptures.
How can one be a priest of any faith, and disbelieve?
Sounds like this "priest" needs to step down from this church, and find a new vocation.
He should seek a position within the DNC.
26 posted on 02/29/2004 6:23:56 PM PST by sarasmom (Vote no on all judicial retentions. Dont vote for any new judges. Impeach the rest.)
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To: baltodog
What happened 2,000 years ago is the same that is happening today. It was me I who persecuted Christ.

That is what has so thoroughly gripped me since seeing this movie: My sins (albeit long after the fact) made this necessary. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

Don't know how I'm going to handle the Good Friday service...

27 posted on 02/29/2004 6:25:01 PM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: BlessedBeGod
" ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch...
Heretic.>>

yea, I couldn't believe he said that. very puzzling


28 posted on 02/29/2004 6:25:03 PM PST by Coleus (Help Tyler Schicke http://tylerfund.org/ Burkitt's leukemia, http://www.birthhaven.org/needs.html)
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To: Coleus
As I was sitting at the end of movie I thought, 'This is not bringing us together,'''

Jesus said, "I hav ecome to bring a sword.."

29 posted on 02/29/2004 6:26:38 PM PST by aimhigh
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To: Coleus
It is repulsive to me that one would call himself a preist and be so ignorant about the basic fact of redemption and how Jesus' was to accomplish his mission.

Secular Clery are ridiculously arrogant and evidently ignorant too.

The spiritual war is waged heavy...

30 posted on 02/29/2004 6:28:32 PM PST by sirchtruth
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To: Coleus
"It made me realize I've had a pretty sanitized view of what Christ did for me,''

As do most of us. Jesus died an horrific death, beyond what we can imagine.

All I can say is, Thank You, Lord.

31 posted on 02/29/2004 6:30:47 PM PST by mombonn
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To: independentmind
"...priests like Lasch..."

Heretical priests turn my stomach too.

32 posted on 02/29/2004 6:31:10 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: Coleus
"I feel much more comfortable with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or the National Council of Churches teaching this story than I do with Mel Gibson,"

I'm sure he feels more comfortable with two groups who, like him, barely acknowledge the divinity of Jesus teaching this story.

From what he has said I bet that he thinks this just a "story."

33 posted on 02/29/2004 6:31:17 PM PST by hometoroost
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To: William Martel
'Something tells me that this priest would be offended by Christ Himself.'

No doubt...and he'd have smashed the Ten Commandments out of fear, not anger, and come down with the Ten Suggestions.

These disaffected types should give up the act and form their own PC Religion...Our Church of Perpetual Petulance.
34 posted on 02/29/2004 6:31:21 PM PST by WestTexasWend
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus
This priest might be having a problem with his own faith..........He should remember that the Bible says that Christ suffered for our sins.........bump
36 posted on 02/29/2004 6:35:53 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Coleus
And this Rev Lohr.....What IS a liberal brand of Christianity? And the priest that doesn't think God sent his son to die? Why are these people leading other people? I'm afraid of where they are leading these trusting souls. To hell possibly? They need to go back for more training and reread their bibles, because they don't have a clue what they're talking about.
37 posted on 02/29/2004 6:36:57 PM PST by codyjacksmom
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To: Eala
My sins (albeit long after the fact) made this necessary.

I came out of the theatre feeling very guilty.

38 posted on 02/29/2004 6:38:01 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Why the long face, John?)
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To: Tragically Single
BION, I'm in the parish. His opinion was predictable. When we sing "Amazing Grace", he gives us a lecture that we shouldn't sing "Saved a wretch like me" but "saved a person like me".
39 posted on 02/29/2004 6:38:12 PM PST by sobieski
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To: Coleus
Dear Father Lasch,

You are not allowed to dislike this entertainment vehicle! We sentence you to 100 lashes!

Sincerely

FR

40 posted on 02/29/2004 6:38:29 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: Coleus
"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

Isn't it basic Christian theology that Jesus was sent to die for mankind's sins? I'm not Christian so correct me if I'm wrong. Correct me on the theological point that is, not on my beliefs. 8>)

What bothers me isn't that this priest has this belief -- I mean, it doesn't matter to me. What bothers me is that he would be -- or at least act -- so shocked that people would actually believe what (I think) is the traditional Christian belief.

41 posted on 02/29/2004 6:39:16 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: sobieski
"Saved a very special and unique individual like me."
42 posted on 02/29/2004 6:39:35 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Why the long face, John?)
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To: Coleus
"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church
of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

has this guy read the Bible?
43 posted on 02/29/2004 6:39:43 PM PST by votelife (Elect a Filibuster Proof Majority)
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To: Coleus
"I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,'' said Lasch, of St. Joseph's Church of Mendham. "God sent his son to live, to be faithful. And in being faithful, it cost him his life.''

I'm wondering what others of the same faith feel about the above statement?

44 posted on 02/29/2004 6:40:07 PM PST by VOYAGER (!)
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To: Coleus
GO TO OPRAH !!

45 posted on 02/29/2004 6:40:17 PM PST by traumer (Even paranoids have enemies)
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To: sobieski
When we sing "Amazing Grace", he gives us a lecture that we shouldn't sing "Saved a wretch like me" but "saved a person like me".

Go ahead and wreck a great song. Y'know, I have more traditional Christian belief that this guy does, and I'm not even Christian.

46 posted on 02/29/2004 6:40:42 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: davisfh
I think this priest is having some internal conflicts. I don't believe he has ever had a true religious experience with God yet.

If you understand that Jesus's blood was shed for our sins, then you should understand this film.
47 posted on 02/29/2004 6:41:39 PM PST by I got the rope
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To: Celtjew Libertarian
That priest is a heretic.
48 posted on 02/29/2004 6:41:55 PM PST by mgstarr
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To: mgstarr
More specific please. How is he a heretic?
49 posted on 02/29/2004 6:42:26 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: Revolting cat!
You are not allowed to dislike this entertainment vehicle! We sentence you to 100 lashes!

I love sarcasm, except for the ignorant kind.

The reason he disliked it is because it accurately depicts the core of the faith he supposedly has given his life over to. That's as screwy as your post.

50 posted on 02/29/2004 6:42:47 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Why the long face, John?)
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