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"Not peace but a sword" (Safire slams The Passion)
New York Times ^ | Mar 1 04 | William Safire

Posted on 02/29/2004 9:12:37 PM PST by churchillbuff

By WILLIAM SAFIRE

Published: March 1, 2004

Columnist Page: William Safire

WASHINGTON — ...Mel Gibson's movie about the torture and agony of the final hours of Jesus is the bloodiest, most brutal example of sustained sadism ever presented on the screen.

...[snip] — the bar against film violence has been radically lowered. Movie mayhem, long resisted by parents, has found its loophole; others in Hollywood will now find ways to top Gibson's blockbuster, to cater to voyeurs of violence and thereby to make bloodshed banal.

What are the dramatic purposes of this depiction of cruelty and pain? First, shock; the audience I sat in gasped at the first tearing of flesh. Next, pity at the sight of prolonged suffering. And finally, outrage: who was responsible for this cruel humiliation? What villain deserves to be punished?

Not Pontius Pilate, the Roman in charge; he and his kindly wife are sympathetic characters. Nor is King Herod shown to be at fault.

The villains at whom the audience's outrage is directed are the actors playing bloodthirsty rabbis and their rabid Jewish followers. This is the essence of the medieval "passion play," preserved in pre-Hitler Germany at Oberammergau, a source of the hatred of all Jews as "Christ killers."

Much of the hatred is based on a line in the Gospel of St. Matthew, after the Roman governor washes his hands of responsibility for ordering the death of Jesus, when the crowd cries, "His blood be on us, and on our children."

Though unreported in the Gospels of Mark, Luke or John, that line in Matthew — embraced with furious glee by anti-Semites through the ages — is right there in the New Testament. Gibson and his screenwriter didn't make it up, nor did they misrepresent the apostle's account of the Roman governor's queasiness at the injustice.

But biblical times are not these times. This inflammatory line in Matthew — and the millenniums of persecution, scapegoating and ultimately mass murder that flowed partly from its malign repetition — was finally addressed by the Catholic Church in the decades after the defeat of Naziism.

In 1965's historic Second Vatican Council, during the papacy of Paul VI, the church decided that while some Jewish leaders and their followers had pressed for the death of Jesus, "still, what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."

That was a sea change in the doctrinal interpretation of the Gospels, and the beginning of major interfaith progress.

However, a group of Catholics rejects that and other holdings of Vatican II. Mr. Gibson is reportedly aligned with that reactionary clique. (So is his father, an outspoken Holocaust-denier, but the son warns interviewers not to go there. I agree; the latest generation should not be held responsible for the sins of the fathers.)

In the skillful publicity run-up to the release of the movie, Gibson's agents said he agreed to remove that ancient self-curse from the screenplay. It's not in the subtitles I saw the other night, though it may still be in the Aramaic audio, in which case it will surely be translated in the versions overseas.

And there's the rub. At a moment when a wave of anti-Semitic violence is sweeping Europe and the Middle East, is religion well served by updating the Jew-baiting passion plays of Oberammergau on DVD? Is art served by presenting the ancient divisiveness in blood-streaming media to the widest audiences in the history of drama?

Matthew in 10:34 quotes Jesus uncharacteristically telling his apostles: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." You don't see that on Christmas cards and it's not in this film, but those words can be reinterpreted — read today to mean that inner peace comes only after moral struggle.

The richness of Scripture is in its openness to interpretation answering humanity's current spiritual needs. That's where Gibson's medieval version of the suffering of Jesus, reveling in savagery to provoke outrage and cast blame, fails Christian and Jew today.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: blindleadingtheblind; christianity; gibson; gospels; moviereview; passion; safire
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Another commentator who is really attacking the Gospels (in the guise of attacking Gibson) and putting christians on notice that they are not supposed to take their beliefs to the public square --- or they'll be ridiculed, denounced and, if the bigots can pull it off, financially ruined. (Didn't work with the courageous Mel Gibson, but the message -- like a horse's head - - may intidimate other christians in hollywood into keeping their heads down. As in the past, they may take the course of least resistance and let the anti-christian bigots who run the place (many of them, like Safire, jewish, alas) continue to put out their soul-destroying crap without interference or protest.
1 posted on 02/29/2004 9:12:38 PM PST by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff
Mel Gibson's movie about the torture and agony of the final hours of Jesus is the bloodiest, most brutal example of sustained sadism ever presented on the screen.

Has Safire ever before devoted a column to denouncing violence in Hollywood films?

2 posted on 02/29/2004 9:14:34 PM PST by churchillbuff (?)
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To: churchillbuff
Is art served by presenting the ancient divisiveness in blood-streaming media to the widest audiences in the history of drama?

First, the film isn't antisemitic. Second, I don't remember a Safire column denouncing the REAL anti-christian ridicule found in so many Hollywood movies. Maybe he's written such a column, help me out if you know of one.

3 posted on 02/29/2004 9:16:59 PM PST by churchillbuff (?)
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To: churchillbuff
This is one of those cases when you'd want to start a conversation with Safire by saying, "Bill, you're a smart guy. But..."
4 posted on 02/29/2004 9:17:24 PM PST by okie01 (www.ArmorforCongress.com...because Congress isn't for the morally halt and the mentally lame.)
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To: churchillbuff
Not Pontius Pilate, the Roman in charge; he and his kindly wife are sympathetic characters

I could not continue past here. Pilate is not a sympathetic character, he is a despicable coward who suspects the truth but is concerned that Caesar will kill him if he doesn't control the populace. So, what the hell, he was scheduled to crucify two other Jews, why not make it three?

If Safire doesn't see this, then there is little use in reading further. He has seen what he wanted to see, not what was before his eyes like so many others. Such is life.

5 posted on 02/29/2004 9:18:05 PM PST by jwalsh07
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To: churchillbuff
Saffire and Rooney, blood brothers? (Misfire & Looney?)
6 posted on 02/29/2004 9:22:48 PM PST by Waco
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To: churchillbuff
Not Pontius Pilate, the Roman in charge; he and his kindly wife are sympathetic characters.

Sympathetic?

Perhaps from the standpoint that Gibson showed him as a man, a military governor and not a savage, as portrayed in many stories.

It is un deniable that even knowing that Jesus was innocent, he had him flogged and crucified.

as to the rabid Jewish crowds, they were interspersed with well meaning Jews, some of who risked their very lives to stop the madness.

Sapphire did not see the same film that I did, or refuses to acknowledge the role that some few Jews played in the killing of one of their own. Also he misses the point that they were but few.

7 posted on 02/29/2004 9:22:53 PM PST by Cold Heat (In politics stupidity is not a handicap. --Napoleon Bonapart)
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To: churchillbuff
Here's another, more interesting, take on the film by a Jewish writer from the Daily News:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/col/story/168820p-147462c.html
8 posted on 02/29/2004 9:23:37 PM PST by sfwarrior (Never Forget The Fallen Heroes)
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To: okie01
Safire is a McCain supporter. Nuff said.
9 posted on 02/29/2004 9:24:28 PM PST by gipper81
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To: churchillbuff
In 1965's historic Second Vatican Council, during the papacy of Paul VI, the church decided that while some Jewish leaders and their followers had pressed for the death of Jesus, "still, what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."

Planet Earth to dumass columnist!

This is precisely what i saw in the film!

10 posted on 02/29/2004 9:26:37 PM PST by Cold Heat (In politics stupidity is not a handicap. --Napoleon Bonapart)
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To: churchillbuff
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." You don't see that on Christmas cards and it's not in this film, but those words can be reinterpreted — read today to mean that inner peace comes only after moral struggle.

Interpret those lines that way and you interpret them incorrectly. When you read these lines from Matthew there's nothing in there about inner peace and moral struggle. It's about giving up everything to follow Christ.

Matthew 10:34-39

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Sorry, Safire, we know you would like the words of Christ to mean something else, but taken in context they have nothing to do with moral struggle.

11 posted on 02/29/2004 9:27:58 PM PST by freebilly
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To: churchillbuff
"The villains at whom the audience's outrage is directed are the actors playing bloodthirsty rabbis and their rabid Jewish followers."

'Fraid not, Bill. You must have dozed off before those sadistic Roman brutes showed up and slept 'til the end of the movie.

12 posted on 02/29/2004 9:31:21 PM PST by Savage Beast (Whom will the terrorists vote for? Not George W. Bush--that's for sure! ~Happy2BMe)
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To: churchillbuff
most brutal example of sustained sadism ever presented on the screen

Sadism requires a sadist. Who is Safire calling a sadist? Safire is famous for being a wordsmith be he has inexcusably erred on this one. Nobody can say that anybody got sexual pleasure from this movie or the events depicted. Safire needs to stop torturing our language and put away the flagellum that is his tongue.

13 posted on 02/29/2004 9:32:00 PM PST by Theophilus (Save little liberals - Stop Abortion!!!)
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To: churchillbuff
Since Saffire raises the issue of Vatican II; in a survey conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, they found most of the sexual abuse cases in the Church occurred after Vatican II. In the 1950’s there were very few.
14 posted on 02/29/2004 9:33:08 PM PST by loudmouths
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To: freebilly
Amen freebilly, You put the scripture in context.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

If the 3 most important things in real estate are "location, location, location," then the 3 most important aspect of scriptures is "context, context, context." God's words are plain and easy to understand. He meant it to be so.

Safire may interpret that as "moral struggle"--but he knows he is a phoney. Christ made it clear you could choose Him or reject him.

Safire chose the latter and now wants to justify it.

15 posted on 02/29/2004 9:34:39 PM PST by SkyPilot
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To: churchillbuff
Jesus says we have to care about non believers.

Does this mean we have to care what they say?

Pray for Safire!

Pray for Osoma Bin Laden for that matter.

Gods love is way beyond our understanding.

16 posted on 02/29/2004 9:35:34 PM PST by right way right
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To: churchillbuff
Much of the hatred is based on a line in the Gospel of St. Matthew, after the Roman governor washes his hands of responsibility for ordering the death of Jesus, when the crowd cries, "His blood be on us, and on our children." Though unreported in the Gospels of Mark, Luke or John, that line in Matthew — embraced with furious glee by anti-Semites through the ages — is right there in the New Testament. Gibson and his screenwriter didn't make it up, nor did they misrepresent the apostle's account of the Roman governor's queasiness at the injustice. But biblical times are not these times. This inflammatory line in Matthew — and the millenniums of persecution, scapegoating and ultimately mass murder that flowed partly from its malign repetition — was finally addressed by the Catholic Church in the decades after the defeat of Naziism.

I'm sick and tired of this 'blood libel' business based on this line from Matthew. They SAID it. Period. That doesn't mean it's true. The said lots of things that aren't true.

17 posted on 02/29/2004 9:36:45 PM PST by Sloth (We cannot defeat foreign enemies of the Constitution if we yield to the domestic ones.)
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To: freebilly
Thank you and Amen.
18 posted on 02/29/2004 9:37:56 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: churchillbuff
It's not in the subtitles I saw the other night, though it may still be in the Aramaic audio, in which case it will surely be translated in the versions overseas.

Why would Safire think that further subtitling would be out of Gibson's control?

That line was removed some time ago, why would he think it still remained in the audio? It's not like that part is set in stone either.

Anyway, if he's so concerned he can just go call James Cavaziel, who speaks Aramaic, and ask him if it's in the final print or not. Yeesh.

19 posted on 02/29/2004 9:38:44 PM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: churchillbuff
The richness of Scripture is in its openness to interpretation answering humanity's current spiritual needs

The reality of interpreting Scripture for the believer is just a little different than what Safire might think.

Matthew 7:13-14 - "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

The answer to humanity's current spiritual needs is found explicitly in the Gospels. The Message hasn't changed for 2000 years.

20 posted on 02/29/2004 9:40:22 PM PST by freebilly
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To: churchillbuff
sympathetic?

Knowingly allowing an innocent man to be sadistically tortured and beaten just because one washes ones hands is what passes for sympathetic in the age of klinton.

Really, Mr Safire, most of us know that that is evil.

21 posted on 02/29/2004 9:42:56 PM PST by Homer1
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To: churchillbuff
Much of the hatred is based on a line in the Gospel of St. Matthew, after the Roman governor washes his hands of responsibility for ordering the death of Jesus, when the crowd cries, "His blood be on us, and on our children."

I, personally, believe that quote is fabricated - simply because it is out of context for someone in a bloodthirsty mob to call down curses on their own descendents. I think whoever wrote (or edited) the gospel of Matthew added that at some point, out of hatred for the Jews - and not because they killed Christ, but because at the time the Gospel was written, the friction between Christianity and Judaism over doctrinal matters was very intense. Christianity at that time was not quite its own religion, but still a schismatic sect of Judaism, and the Jews were attacking it as heresy, and the Christians were retaliating in whatever manner available to them (such as adding the preceding to their canonical texts).

Just a theory... but as I said, the quote is completely out of context in the circumsatances in which it is claimed to have been uttered. To reiterate, "His blood be on us", while screaming for Jesus' death, makes sense in that context - but to invoke a curse on one's descendents? I don't think so...

But it's too much to hope for a reflexive scribbler like Safire to even have pondered the Gospels enough to analyze them to that extent... it's easier to just come unglued and shoot the messenger.

22 posted on 02/29/2004 9:48:05 PM PST by fire_eye (All leftists look the same through an ACOG.)
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To: Homer1
Knowingly allowing an innocent man to be sadistically tortured and beaten just because one washes ones hands is what passes for sympathetic in the age of klinton.

Faced with a clearcut choice of doing what was right or what was wrong, Pilate chose to do a very quick visual poll of the populace....

23 posted on 02/29/2004 9:48:30 PM PST by freebilly
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To: churchillbuff
It has become obvious that many otherwise wonderful Jews, like many otherwise wonderful blacks, carry within them the legacy of the historic persecution of their people. Their justifiable paranoia, which in former times served as an effective means of self-preservation, lingers on, despite its obsolescence, and, in present times, only serves as an impediment to clarity of thought and sensibility of reason.

(I figured that a discussion of William Safire deserved a higher level of discourse.)
24 posted on 02/29/2004 9:50:48 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Why the long face, John?)
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To: churchillbuff
Shame on Safire. SHAME on him. I'll never have another ounce of respect for him.
25 posted on 02/29/2004 9:52:14 PM PST by Map Kernow ("I hold that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing" ---Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Jeff Chandler
(I figured that a discussion of William Safire deserved a higher level of discourse.)

OK. Is there a conspiracy of Jewish writers trying to create a wave of anti-semitism in America?

26 posted on 02/29/2004 9:53:21 PM PST by per loin
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To: churchillbuff
The richness of Scripture is in its openness to interpretation answering humanity's current spiritual needs. That's where Gibson's medieval version of the suffering of Jesus, reveling in savagery to provoke outrage and cast blame, fails Christian and Jew today.

Unitarians come to mind as the most open to theological change. I see their meeting houses draped in homosexual agenda. They despise Christian prayer, hymns, and the like. I guess Safire would fit right in with them. Unitarians have drifted from lukewarm attachment to theology in the early Republic to spiritual humanism of today. Gaia is OK with them. I soon expect to see witch doctors dancing in their meeting houses.

27 posted on 02/29/2004 9:54:25 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts
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To: per loin
OK. Is there a conspiracy of Jewish writers trying to create a wave of anti-semitism in America?

No conspiracy. Just paranoia.

28 posted on 02/29/2004 9:57:10 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Why the long face, John?)
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To: churchillbuff
"Not peace but a sword"

There is no peace without a sword! Stupid but true.

29 posted on 02/29/2004 9:58:39 PM PST by blackbart.223
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To: Jeff Chandler
"It has become obvious that many otherwise wonderful Jews, like many otherwise wonderful blacks, carry within them the legacy of the historic persecution of their people. Their justifiable paranoia, which in former times served as an effective means of self-preservation, lingers on, despite its obsolescence, and, in present times, only serves as an impediment to clarity of thought and sensibility of reason."

As long as people view themselves as victims they can never be victorious.

30 posted on 02/29/2004 10:05:43 PM PST by blackbart.223
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To: SkyPilot
the 3 most important aspect of scriptures is "context, context, context." God's words are plain and easy to understand. He meant it to be so.
Safire may interpret that as "moral struggle"--but he knows he is a phoney. Christ made it clear you could choose Him or reject him.
Safire chose the latter and now wants to justify it.

Any port in a storm. Before becoming a Christian I used any excuse to justify why I wasn't one. Christ kept knocking, however, until one day I opened the door. I pray that it happens for Safire....

31 posted on 02/29/2004 10:07:39 PM PST by freebilly
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To: churchillbuff
That was a sea change in the doctrinal interpretation of the Gospels...

The Catholic Church never taught anything other than what Vatican II taught. I am sick of THIS particular libel--that the Catholic Church taught anti-Semitism UNTIL 1965.

32 posted on 02/29/2004 10:08:30 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: churchillbuff
>>all Jews as "Christ killers."
 
"All Jews Killed Christ"
 
This is a lie. 
 
The fact that this lie is coming from and being repeated,
over and over again, by the "critics" of the movie is very interesting.
 
Neither the Gospels or Gibson say "all" Jews.
 
But Jesus Christ does have this to say:
 
        Rev 2:9
             I know the slander of those who say they
are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
 
What  is this "synagogue of Satan" Jesus talking about? 
 
Who did Jesus drive off of the temple steps for selling goats and chickens?
 
    Mark 11:15-18
 
        15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area
            and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.
            He overturned the tables of the money changers
            and the benches of those selling doves,
        16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
        17 And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
 
                "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'?
                  But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" 
 
        18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began
             looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him,
            because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
 
 

33 posted on 02/29/2004 10:09:28 PM PST by VxH (This species has amused itself to death.)
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To: churchillbuff
Wow, it seem that the anti-Christ forces are coming out in great numbers and showing us all who they are.
34 posted on 02/29/2004 10:10:29 PM PST by Orlando (The Passion of the Christ movie will pass $200 Million by next Sunday !)
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To: churchillbuff
Not Pontius Pilate, the Roman in charge; he and his kindly wife are sympathetic characters. Nor is King Herod shown to be at fault.

The villains at whom the audience's outrage is directed are the actors playing bloodthirsty rabbis and their rabid Jewish followers. This is the essence of the medieval "passion play," preserved in pre-Hitler Germany at Oberammergau, a source of the hatred of all Jews as "Christ killers."

OK. I have been hearing a lot of screaming that Gibson is blaming the Jews and he really should have set the record straight that it was the Romans. Funny thing though. No one has put forward a compelling reason why the Romans would kill a man preaching peace to a conquered people. It would seem to me he was doing work they wanted. On the other scapegoat that Safire posits, Herod; wasn't he a Jew?

I would think that Jews would be better off not panicking and tone down the hysteria. The difference between Jew and Christian is not that much. Both adhere to the Old Testament. The rituals in a Synagogue parallel a Protestant church. Both hold the same moral beliefs. The differences between Judaism and Christianity are far less than that between other religions. If the Jews keep up the paranoia, they will begin to wear on those who who be their friends.

35 posted on 02/29/2004 10:14:00 PM PST by LoneRangerMassachusetts
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To: churchillbuff
The bloodiest, most brutal example of sustained sadism ever presented on screen


"To the natural man (unbeliever) the cross is foolishness"
36 posted on 02/29/2004 10:16:06 PM PST by dagoofyfoot
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To: BartMan1; Nailbiter
The link in #8
37 posted on 02/29/2004 10:19:06 PM PST by IncPen
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To: churchillbuff
seeds fell on the rocks in safire's head.
38 posted on 02/29/2004 10:21:35 PM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: churchillbuff
was finally addressed by the Catholic Church in the decades after the defeat of Naziism.
***
He skillfully implies NAZI's used the gospel to justify their crimes. Total BS.

The gospel isn't why the holocaust took place. It took place because of indifference,ambivelence.

The secular people are the true danger.IMO
39 posted on 02/29/2004 10:25:13 PM PST by Finalapproach29er (" Permitting homosexuality didn't work out very well for the Roman Empire")
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To: gipper81
Safire admitted voting for Clinton in 1992. 'Nuff said.
40 posted on 02/29/2004 10:26:17 PM PST by Finalapproach29er (" Permitting homosexuality didn't work out very well for the Roman Empire")
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To: Finalapproach29er
The gospel isn't why the holocaust took place

Thank you. NEVER FORGET: THE GOSPEL WAS WHY THE HOLOCAUST WAS DEFEATED. The graves at Normandy are mostly marked by CROSSES. The allied armies were mostly made up of Christians - - - and Churchill said, rightly, that they were fighting for "Christian civilization" against a "barbaric" enemy.

41 posted on 02/29/2004 10:27:53 PM PST by churchillbuff (?)
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To: churchillbuff
How erudite of Mr. Safire...as he often does, in his dotage, once again he misses the mark by a mile.

I bet he was quite impressed by "The Man From Hope" 12 years ago.

Whatta maroon.
42 posted on 02/29/2004 10:40:04 PM PST by jwfiv
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To: churchillbuff
For 2000 years scripture as written has been suffcient to convey the passion of the Christ. Now all of a sudden scripture is not enough and everybody has to flock to a sensational movie. Makes no sense.
43 posted on 02/29/2004 10:50:13 PM PST by DestroytheDemocrats
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To: churchillbuff

Lest we forget. The American cemetery at Arromanches-les-Bains, Omaha Beach.

44 posted on 02/29/2004 10:59:46 PM PST by John Locke
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To: churchillbuff
We knew these people were empty, but it's almost embarrassing to witness just how empty they are. Don't they know how they are exposing themselves?
45 posted on 02/29/2004 11:13:23 PM PST by McGavin999 (Evil thrives when good men do nothing!)
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To: churchillbuff
ABSOLUTELY!!! Well said!

I have seen those Crosses... I have walked among those Crosses... Looking for a cousin's grave.... he was a fine upstanding Christian man.

Safire is serving an evil master. He has done it before, no doubt.

46 posted on 02/29/2004 11:20:02 PM PST by Lion in Winter
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To: LoneRangerMassachusetts
Herod; wasn't he a Jew?

Although he held the title of King of the Jews, he was in fact an Edomite from the town of Idumea. He married into a Jewish family, but himself had no Jewish ancestry.

Herod - Friend to Israel

47 posted on 03/01/2004 12:24:15 AM PST by TheMole
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To: churchillbuff
Safire needs to get himself educated.
48 posted on 03/01/2004 12:29:33 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: churchillbuff
for Safire's education:

Wounds of Christ -- 5,480

49 posted on 03/01/2004 12:33:12 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
I don't think the count of His wounds is the issue with Mr. Safire. It's his utter cluelessness as to why His wounds.
50 posted on 03/01/2004 12:39:41 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck
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