Tags: The | 'Dark' | Passion

The 'Dark' Passion

Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM

Where was the supposed anti-Semitism? I never saw it, never felt it. What I did see and feel was a sense of how cynical, how demonic human beings can become when wrapped up in self, narrow prejudice, the emotion of the moment, and attachment to causes which aren’t as noble and infallible as they suppose. It was an example in the extreme; but true to life. A lesson worth learning.

On the other hand, where was this pivotal event leading to the dawn of a religious revival in America, as some zealots believe? That one movie might produce such a turnaround is a bit presumptuous. Maybe it has something to do with our culture's over-infatuation with Hollywood, or our lazy habit of turning to quick fixes, rather than enduring sacrifice and service for answers.

This movie will not convert the world.

Remember 9-11. That horrible event got our national attention. Millions became religious and patriotic overnight. But how quickly we forgot. How soon Sunday football was once again worshipped in preference to God. How soon the average American returned to clicking on media sound bites as a poor excuse for political participation, instead of persistent, in-the-trenches civic duty.

It takes more than a single event to produce genuine and lasting conversion, it takes character. One movie will not forever change our national soul.

Beyond this, I question whether this particular film will produce even a short burst of faith. It’s over-emphasis on the negative, the fantastic, and the physical suffering of Christ, rather than the positive, the simple, and the spiritual issues which tore at his and our souls, made the movie a disappointment.

It was excessively dark, and excessively violent. Just how many times do we need to see and hear the whip crack and tear at Christ’s flesh? I got the message after the first few. Meanwhile, there were only short glimpses of Christ's teachings, which though providing ‘some’ relief, were generally dark toned themselves. With few exceptions, his teachings were not the brilliant streaks of light and hope that they should have been.

Irritatingly, superstitious elements, from apocryphal writings and elsewhere, were added, which serve to taint the Christian message as fantastic and inconsistent, just as they once did. Do we really need a crow plucking the eye out of man who mocked Jesus on the cross to teach us to respect God? Jesus forgave his slayers—that was magnificent—but God then sends down a crow to pluck out the eye of the poor soul suffering on the cross next to him, just because he struggled with his faith on the cross? Even Christ asked, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me,” but this man must not?

Thus, we have the inaccurate portrayal of a God who moves from being merciful to vengeful, from a God who permits men to carry out their agency, even unto death, to a street bully who exercises arbitrary justice upon those who commit lesser crimes.

The majesty of Christ’s teachings, the spiraling heights of his suffering, his trueness to the end against all odds, the groaning of the earth at his death, and last of all, his glorious resurrection, are enough to produce faith. Why add such ridiculous nonsense as ‘attention getters’?

Similarly, there was the inventive use of children taunting and torturing Judas because he was ‘cursed.’ By contrast, the Biblical Jesus spoke of the innocence of little children, that of such were the kingdom of Heaven. So why this demeaning-to-children baloney?

I’m not sure whether I can recommend the watching of “The Passion.” When a rough and tumble male friend of mine told me he had to close his eyes because of the incessant and graphic violence, it added to my feeling that the film went too far.

On the other hand, if I were to endorse the film, I would do so, if for no other reason than its ability to produce an education on the physical suffering of the Christ, on the reality of evil in the world, and on Jesus’ fidelity to the truth, regardless of circumstance.

That’s the upside of this movie. Finally, a movie producer who had the courage to break the decades long silence about God, and put his faith into his art. Hopefully, others will follow, yet in a more positive, less fantastic fashion.

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Where was the supposed anti-Semitism? I never saw it, never felt it. What I did see and feel was a sense of how cynical, how demonic human beings can become when wrapped up in self, narrow prejudice, the emotion of the moment, and attachment to causes which aren't as noble...
The,'Dark',Passion
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2004-00-26
Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM
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