My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Movie Review

My wife and I went to see The Passion of The Christ tonight.

First, let me address the issue of anti-Semitism. If I were a Jew, and had 2000 years of the Blood Libel in my psyche, I would think this movie a troubling thing. I got the impression that the Sanhedrin was a powerful force jealously and violently defending their little territory. And there was a mob quality to the citizens of Jerusalem. However, I think it is abundantly clear that the most violent and hateful characters were the Romans, and the Jews outside of Jerusalem were generally portrayed as believers who were caught watching the execution of their Messiah.

And, in what I thought was the most telling symbolic moment of the film, Simon the Cyrene was seen defending Jesus from the mob, shouting down the Romans, and then bearing the cross arm-in-arm with Jesus. All this just after being mocked by a soldier as a "Jew." His is perhaps the most interesting tale, which I think Gibson did a great job with. How one man, a Jew, who did not want to get involved, ended up bearing the burden for all sins and helping the Lord complete his task was a moving and thoughtful episode.

There is also the small point that the telling of the tale of the Passion is studiously faithful to the teachings of the Gospel (at least in the 1987 version of the NIV).

So, on balance, I understand the difficulty the Jewish community has with this film, but find nothing in it deliberately anti-Semitic. At the very least, fifty years of being the most ardent supporters of the state of Israel ought to buy Christians a little trust from the Jewish community. And, as to Mel Gibson, the purpose of this film is clearly not to shine a light on the guilt of one segment, but on the massive sacrifice of one man to pay for all sins.

Of the bulk of the movie, I did find it very violent--but necessarily so. My wife commented after that she never thought of how horrible that must have been, and I agree. We've become so used to the TV movie version of the crucifixion that I don't know how many really understood the horrible way that our Savior died. I especially appreciated the way Gibson focused on the reactions of Mary and Mary Magdalene, to highlight their faith and thier love--and their pain. The care with which the two women mopped up the blood in the courtyard where Jesus was flogged was excruciatingly touching, and the respect that they commanded from the Romans in the end was made understandable.

As to how the film affected me personally, I have very few words to describe it. Moved, certainly. Humbled, most definitely. I believe that in the next few days I will have better words to express myself on this issue, and in the next several years I will look back on this night as being formative/reconstructive to my faith. To see so starkly the pain that Jesus bore for the sake of all men can have no other effect for a believer than to highlight the love God bears for all of us, and the lengths He has gone to to save us. It makes me want to be deserving of salvation.

This is an important movie--perhaps the most important movie ever made for the Christian community. I will not trivialize it by assigning it "stars" or "thumbs up."

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