February 25, 2004

The Passion of the Christ

The Knox Newman Club organised a group to go to the 6:45 showing tonight of The Passion of the Christ. A lot of people have been saying it's a major faith-building experience. It didn't affect my faith much either way; mostly it just made me angry.

Angry because I know that humanity is still just like that. There are a lot of people in power who will do anything at all to maintain the existing power structures, and destroy anyone or anything that threatens their influence. There are always people that enjoy participating in the suffering of others. It remains easy to incite a mob of otherwise indifferent people to do all sorts of bad stuff.

If Jesus existed today, he wouldn't be treated any different. And you can be damn sure it wouldn't be the Jews, or the pagans, or the atheists that would do it---it'd be the Christians. A certain sort of Christian, the sort that persecutes and spreads a message of hatred and exclusion, all in the name of Jesus Christ. Cheers, folks.

The real heroes of the movie are not who you might expect. Jesus is the centrepiece, but we know his story. No, the real heroes are people like Simon, and Veronica, and Claudia---not disciples, not even particularly believers, but people who are just decent human beings that see suffering and do something to alleviate it, even just a little. They may be pressed into it or do it of their own accord, but in the end, these are the blessed ones.

Mary is also a major player here, as you might expect. No Protestant could have made this movie. Throughout, Mary is presented as a source of constant strength and support to Jesus, and at times almost seems a co-redemptrix. The real emotional moments of this movie are not the blood and gore (of which there is plenty, as billed), but the personal moments---again with Veronica, and Claudia, and with Mary Magdalene, and with Mary the Mother of God.

One of the things that hit me over and over again, though, was the reminder that Jesus' message focussed so little on dogma and fine-grained theology. How stupid is it that we get into this perpetual debate over trans- vs. con-substantiation? I'm not saying I don't believe in the transsubstantiation, but the actual debate is incredibly subtle---more subtle than you probably realise---and yet we split churches based on it. Some Protestant churches are pretty far off from the Roman Catholic Church, but a lot of them are so close it's not even clear what they're "protesting" anymore. I don't think it's unreasonable to mark a few things as "theologically debatable", and work on the ecumenism. Is Christ actually comprising the host, or is he merely in, on, and around every particle of the host? That's an issue for the theologians to debate in comfy chairs by the fire over a good bottle of wine, not something to maintain division among people over.

Anyway, the movie's good. Go see it. (But don't bring your kids, seriously.)

"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Twenty, if they're doing a foxtrot. Goes down considerably for polkas." --Michael Feltes

Posted by blahedo at 11:06pm on 25 Feb 2004
haven't seen it yet, but i have yet to hear that reaction about getting angry. your comments are sad but true (i get sad rather than angry at things like that). i'll certainly keep all that in mind when i get around to seeing it. peace, mary Posted by mary at 10:42am on 4 Mar 2004
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