the beach at Arbroath, Scotland

29 February 2004
jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine

went home to Lebanon on wednesday for various reasons. first stop, though, was dad's office, where he promptly accosted me with the news reports that morning regarding The Passion of the Christ. there was a 6 am showing at a local theatre, non-stop showings throughout the day, all sold out, of course. there's Lebanon County for ya.

we discussed it at length, and i had to laugh at how one critic described it: The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre. from the reviews i've read, it seems pretty accurate. and really, that's as far as it's going to go with me. i don't have any intention of seeing it. or rather, i don't feel like lining the pockets of a nutbag like Mel Gibson.

okay, so you know: i have a long and storied history with religion. catholism in particular and christianity in general. most of it not good. but, fortunately or not, my seething hatred of all things christian has been reduced to a low simmer in recent years. while there are some things i cannot and will never be able to get past (the treatment and status of women would be the big one), my relationship with christianity has become a case of "i won't bother you if you don't bother me". so here i am, wearing my agnostism/apatheism/humanism on my sleeve, as of age 23.

in regards to The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre, i have to ask one thing. it is something i have never understood. why must there be so much pain? why must there be blood and gore and guts and crap so that someone can supposedly die for us, because we are inherently bad to begin with? i'm not approaching this from a new-agey, Rodney King "why can't we all just get along" point of view. i understand that there must be sacrifices. i know life is not kittens and puppies running through green fields. i know that truly awful things must sometimes happen for good to come out of it. but to base an entire school of religious thought on that idea that: 1) humans were born sinful and unclean and can only be redeemed by the sacrifices of one person and not by their own actions, and 2) for the masses to be redeemed, that one person must go through horrific pain and suffering. the above criteria doesn't seem like a particular good thing to base a religion on. but what do i know.

having not seen the film, i am going on reviews only and am fully prepared to get shot down by those who have. but to me, the whole thing seems like a wasted opportunity. Mel Gibson is given a chance to make a film about one of the greatest people in history. instead of using his gifts to make a movie about Jesus' teachings and philosophy (which, in my mind, is what is really important), he chooses to make something thisclose to a snuff film, all the while grumbling under his breath that "maybe not that many Jews got killed in the Holocaust. or if they did, they just froze to death".

yeah, and then there's the whole "Holocaust is fiction" with Mel and his daddy. honestly, i wouldn't have minded this film so much (actually, i would've downright dismissed it) if these hateful comments hadn't accompanied it. i called up Lindsay on thursday and nearly the first thing out of her mouth was vitriol for Mel Gibson. later on, i went over to her house and she immediately pointed me to the Anti-Defamation League website. needless to say, The Passion of the Christ hasn't been too popular in my neighborhood.

so in the end, what does this film accomplish? one: Mel knew he would be preaching to the choir. like it or not, this film is an emissary of christian thought to the unwashed masses. and it makes people who were pissed off at christianity to begin with get even more pissed off and much less inclined to respect or listen to that point of view. in that sense, Mel is a divider, not a uniter. but that's probably what he was after to begin with. two, it really pissed off the Jewish community. three, it will make a very large contingent of people never want to see a Mel Gibson film again. myself included.

then again, Mel and his $117 million will be laughing all the way to the bank tomorrow morning. who's the fool now?

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