...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
      ( 8:28 AM )
Jesus' True Passion

I don't often resort to Bible lessons on my blog. Well, actually, I never resort to Bible lessons on my blog. But today's your lucky day, and just in time for Lent. Because I spent the first 24 years of my life immersed in the Bible, being raised in a fairly fundamental, evangelical environment, I feel I have some (well-memorized) qualifications for speaking out on the latest Issue of Import: Jesus. And His Passion.

I listened with some amount of horrified awe the other day to an NPR story about Mel Gibson's new hot hot HOT movie, The Passion of the Christ. A devout Christian mother was talking about how this movie moved her so spiritually that she planned to take her junior-high-aged children to see it. Christians across the land are declaring this film a powerful message which will profoundly change people. They're also really glad that there is a movie out that they can go to that isn't filled with all that nasty Hollywood corruption:

Go and see this film. It might change your life.
It could change Hollywood if it is willing to receive
the message that if you make good movies with
good messages, those who now feel excluded
and despised will pay money to see the films. The
debate is about to end. As the angel said to the
incredulous followers of Jesus at the empty tomb
in Jerusalem: "Come and see.." It's showtime!

That was from conservative columnist Cal Thomas, who preceeded this final paragraph with a diatribe about how ungodly hollywood actors are. I've seen promotion after promotion by the Christian community about this film. Yet, this movie isn't even about the life of Jesus or even what he taught. It's about the last 12 hours of his life, shown in horrific, glorified and graphic violence. As one blogger puts it, it's basically a snuff film about Jesus.

I'm not arguing that Jesus' last day was horribly violent and terribly cruel and evil. I'm not arguing that He suffered. But what I don't understand is all this glorification of the suffering itself and no attention paid to WHY He suffered - or more specifically, why these folks believe He suffered.

Two issues rile me about this. ONE: the double standard of decency. The conservative pundits, leaders and spokespeople are all urging us to go and see this film, despite its "R" rating and the already explained graphic violent content. These very same people go on and on about Janet Jackson's nipple flashing for 3 seconds on tv during the most holy of holies, the Super Bowl, and rant endlessly about the sex and bad language that comes out of Hollywood. Yet they are perfectly willing to allow their children to see violent scenes over and over again (let's not even get into the violence and sex, drugs and crime that goes along with the holy sport of football). I just don't get this. So I'm supposed to sheild my child from exposure to body parts, but go with him to a 3 hour long flaying of Jesus?

TWO: These very same people that are urging us to sit witness to this incredibly violent depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life seem to conveniently forget the very things this same Jesus taught and what he stood for. Let's just review a few of his words:

Blessed are those acquainted with sorrow, for they will be appointed great comfort and courage.

Blessed are those who are merciful. They will receive mercy in return.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

There is no generosity in giving to those who can easily repay. Even misers lend money when they are certain of being repaid in full. Give to those who appear before you in need, to the destitute with no hope of repaying your gift. Practice forgiveness, even if such persons take advantage of your kind acts.

The poor, when they give, contribute more than the wealthy, who give from their abundance. The poor contribute from their need, and with great love often give what they cannot spare.

Make peace, even with you enemies. Constant striving will lead only to greater trouble: lawsuits, courtrooms, even prison, with no way of undoing the penalty except by completing your sentence.

Do you remember the saying: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? I tell you the opposite. If somebody strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left; or if someone sues you and takes your coat, offer the shirt off your back as well. If someone compels you to walk one mile, be willing to walk two. Give freely to those who ask of you, and never turn a deaf ear to those in need.

You have seen how the earthly rulers exercise their authority, inconsiderate of the poor. This is not how it is to those in the kingdom of God. Whoever would be great among you, must first become your servant. And whoever of you would be the greatest, must first be servant of all. Even so, I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.

You call me master and teacher. If I, then, am willing to be your most humble servant, should not you be willing to serve one another as well? I have lived my life as an example before you. Imitate me, and do the same to others as I have done for you.

It seems to me that so many people who are complaining that this country is not focused enough on Jesus or that christians are discriminated against, or that there is simply no decency anymore are the very same who are trying to amass political power, influence presidents and kings and store up wealth for themselves on this earth. I don't doubt the true faith of believers in Christ. That is not what I'm saying. What I'm questioning is the loud wailing and nashing of teeth that comes from the mouths of those who have yet to demonstrate one principal of human kindness that Jesus taught and acted out with his life. Jesus' true passion was the souls of humanity. His teaching was humility and servanthood. He demonstrated mercy and kindness. Where are these qualities in all these so-called representatives of Christ in this country? Where are these qualities when they call for the end to abortions yet provide no prominent alternatives for women, or care for the health, welfare or education of those children that DO get born? Where are these qualities when they call for the outright discrimination against people and defend those who would force their beliefs on others? Where are these qualities when they insist on a leader that would divide this country over ideological grounds instead of unite us for our very economic survival?

But then again, nothin' like a gory movie to bring the country together.

(I credit my Krazy Kamikaze Kumquat pal for inspiring this post)

| -- permanent link