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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Moving to a new neighborhood - Issue #3

A good point is raised by Dirty Harry concerning reviews of Sincity as compared to those for The Passion when reviewers talk of extreme violence. The comparison is quite interesting.

H/T The Anchoress a daily read and one I highly recommend.

This reminded me of an editorial that I wrote once I had seen The Passion in the theater and hence the opportunity for another issue of Moving to a new neighborhood.

April 15, 2004
Mel Gibson Failed

Failed to impress the New York Times that is. Their review of his movie, ''The Passion of The Christ'', begins and ends with Homer Simpson. An odd choice considering that this is a very dramatic portrayal of something as important to Christians as the life and death of Jesus Christ. Is this how they normally write about serious religious movies? One has to wonder how the review would have been written if the film had been about Buddha, the Dalai Lama or Mohammed.

Unfortunately, offending Christians or denigrating them is a noble sport in some circles these days. Better yet if one can throw in some twenty-dollar words, pop psychology and pop cultural references. This makes sure the reader understands how primitive and beneath the reviewer those Christians really are.

It can’t be that religious imagery is now verboten in movies or other media. I am willing to bet that there are various films and works of art that the reviewer or his fellow travelers would praise even though they contain religious images. One has to wonder if the same disdain has been shown for artwork that contained a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine or a painting of the Virgin Mary adorned with feces. Is it really difficult to hear them praise such works as edgy and bold and pushing the boundaries and that these are important statements that expand our cultural landscape?

The faux outrage at the brutality of the scourging scenes in the film is brutally disingenuous. Consider the general amount of violence in movies, music and other art forms that often receive praise from the cultural elites. Having seen the film I cannot understand how showing a realistic scourging scene is bad while showing the real horrors of combat in Private Ryan is good.

I could continue to point out more problems with this particular review but I think enough is shown by the following quote:

"On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, "The Passion of the Christ" never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure. The Gospels, at least in some interpretations, suggest that the story ends in forgiveness. But such an ending seems beyond Mr. Gibson's imaginative capacities. Perhaps he suspects that his public prefers terror, fury and gore. Maybe Homer Simpson was right after all." - New York Times, Feb. 25, 2004

This conclusion makes me wonder if the reviewer actually watched the entire movie. Perhaps he was just to busy looking for words in a thesaurus so as to more creatively denigrate the film as well as the faithful. The fact is that the movie begins with this passage from the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah:

"But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."

Christ’s ministry and purpose are spoken of in flashbacks and the movie ends with Christ’s resurrection. How much clearer must one be in this context to avoid the chastisement of "artistic failure"?

Fortunately, Mr. Gibson was primarily motivated by his faith rather than by trying to please the New York Times, otherwise he probably would have had to superimpose a jar of urine over the crucifixion scenes. Oh the praise that would have then issued forth from the prestigious "paper of record". But then why would anyone care to impress those that, until recently, knowingly employed someone like Jayson Blair?

The very nature of these reviews tempts one to speculate about motives and bias in an effort to understand what is behind such drivel masquerading as critical thought. There is a time and place for that. But I would rather be inspired by the act of making this movie. It is clearly a labor of love and devotion concerning the central event in the history of mankind. For me, this movie should be an opportunity to examine and improve my walk with God. I hope it will have the same affect on you.
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