Skip to comments."Passion" fails to nail key point
Posted on 03/05/2004 10:39:09 AM PST by walden
'Passion' fails to nail key point
March 5, 2004
BY ANDREW GREELEY
'The Passion of the Christ'' is a celebration of the bloody suffering of Jesus, a fundamentalist interpretation by a man who rejects the Vatican Council. It is not, contrary to claims, a literal interpretation of St. John's Gospel but is based on the ''revelations'' of a 19th century mystic. It is a film about torture, legitimated because it is the torture of Jesus. ''Passion'' is a glorification of sado-masochism.
For most of the first millennium of Christian history, the church spread a veil of modest discretion over the physical suffering of Jesus. It respected the privacy of his final hours and celebrated the empty crucifix as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus (an event that is noted only weakly and vaguely in Mel Gibson's conclusion). The Greek churches even to this day resist sensationalist presentations of the suffering of Jesus. However, in the Middle Ages, the Western church gradually put the corpus back on the cross, though it did not present Jesus as naked, as he in fact would have been. The cult of the physical suffering of Jesus became especially strong during the Renaissance. It was not always a completely healthy devotion as the cult of the flagellants demonstrated.
Crucifixion was a cruel form of execution. After the slave revolution of Sparticus, 30,000 slaves were crucified along the Apian Way. The death of Jesus was not unique in its cruelty, however horrible it may have been. Whether our modern methods of execution are any more humane might be an open question. It was typical of everything in the life of Jesus that he chose to be united in his death with the poor and the oppressed, a point Gibson seems to have missed.
Those religious conservatives who seem to delight in how much Jesus suffered are certainly correct that his sufferings were terrible. Those who say the sufferings were absolutely unique to him simply display their own ignorance of history.
Gibson showed his hand in his interview with Diane Sawyer when he said that because the gates of heaven were closed by the sin of our first parents, Jesus had to suffer to open them again. This metaphor, which my generation heard often in grammar school, is a poor adaptation of the teaching of St. Anselm, who proposed that the suffering of Jesus paid the blood price to satisfy God and free us from our sins. Anselm's theology is not Catholic faith. It has caused a lot of misunderstanding among Catholics who absorbed it in their youth.
One may wonder what kind of God it would be who would demand such a price from his beloved son. Is this the same kind of implacably forgiving God whom Jesus preached about in his life?
We all must suffer; we all must die. Death, no matter how brief or how protracted, is horrible. Do those who die after a prolonged battle with cancer die any less horribly than Jesus? What does his death say to all of us who must die? One will watch ''The Passion of the Christ'' in vain for any hint of an answer to that question.
The lesson of Good Friday, properly understood, is that God suffers with us. Like every good parent, he suffers when his children suffer. When Jesus hung on the cross, God (the person was the Second Person of the Trinity) made common cause with the Iraqi peasant shot in the back and tossed into the pit to be consumed by fire. God cannot prevent our sufferings, but he suffers with us.
Isn't God above all suffering? One can only reply that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures presents himself as suffering with his people. Good Friday is good precisely because on that day God identified himself with his people. ''Christ,'' as Annie Dillard writes, ''hangs on the cross, as it were, forever, always incarnate and always nailed.''
That fundamental flaw that St. Paul describes as the struggle between what we want to do and what we actually do (and which St. Augustine dubbed ''original sin'') is our fear of our own mortality. We do those things that we know we shouldn't do because we are afraid of death. On Good Friday, God did not take away death, but he did absorb our God-forsakenness and promise that when it is time to die, he will die once again with us.
You'd know all about displaying your own ignorance, wouldn't you Andrew.
As a Catholic, I point out the word conservative in his rant to you walden. While neither Gibson, nor the many people who love this movie have gone around making the controversy ideological, but the detractors on the left like this guy do. There is a major battle within the Catholic Church between liberals and conservatives, with the liberals winning big time.
Also notice the use of the word history which is one of their favorites. The pretention of the Catholic left KNOWS NO BOUNDS. They talk down, they impune, the speak knowingly of this mysterious "history" which coincendentally appears by all accounts to agree with whatever they happen to be saying at that time.
The dirty little secret about the Catholic left is that I do not believe that most of them actually have any faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. They are a 5th Column that has risen to positions of power in theological departments everywhere, as well as in the priesthood itself, my advice, just look out for those keywords; conservative, and history.
Then make fun of them ;-) They HATE that.
So, Genius, tell me...How many sinless people were beaten and crucified while at the same time bearing our sin?! Hmmmm? I dunno...Seems pretty unique to me.
There's your clue. It's not God's Gospel Greeley's interested in, it's the socialist gospel of man. Greeley's obfuscating the truth to replace it with rubbish.
Does anybody else find that title offensive? The key point was Jesus and, yes, He did get nailed. Bad, offensive title...
My first thought was the author should try to sober up before writing his articles.
the church spread a veil of modest discretion over the physical suffering of Jesus. It respected the privacy of his final hours
Privacy? dragging a cross through a crowded major city for a long, slow public execution is private?
The death of Jesus was not unique in its cruelty, however horrible it may have been. Whether our modern methods of execution are any more humane might be an open question.
Crucifixion and lethal injection, yeah those are equal in treatment of the executed.
Catholic Ping - let me know if you want on/off this list
I always wonder about people who dont capitalizes in published documents when referring to God in second person form.
BTW-Notice the comment about the Iraqi child shot in the back. This not so subtle message should give you a clue as to his stance on the war in Iraq.
[I]n the Middle Ages, the Western church gradually put the corpus back on the cross, though it did not present Jesus as naked, as he in fact would have been.The corpus was put on the cross centuries before the middle ages, and it's appearance is coincident with the practice of placing the tabernacle in the center of the Church.
For the first two centuries of the Church, there were jewels on the cross, not a crucified Christ. Crucifixion was a contemporary practice at the time of the early Church, and it was a gory, horrific thing. The Church, which was trying to win acceptance, quite reasonably figured that a corpus would alienate people. The jeweled cross represented the dead and resurrected Christ, whereas people would not have come to worship Christ if they saw a gory corpus.
Enter the gnostics. By the time of Irenaeus and afterwards, the gnostics are eating away at the apostolic belief that the eternal Son of God took on flesh, as well as belief in the Eucharist. By the middle of the third century, in addition to the appearance of crucifixes, tabernacles now appear in the center of the Church. Why? Because the Gnostics denied the reality of the flesh. God simply couldn't have taken on flesh because flesh is CRAP. Therefore, if the eternal Son couldn't have taken on flesh, he couldn't have died; and if he couldn't have died, the Eucharist wasn't really the body and blood of Christ.
To convey to the faithful the reality of Christ's body, the corpus is put on the crucifix, and to convey the message that Christ's body is real food and his blood is real drink, the tabernacle moves to the center.
It respected the privacy of his final hours...
What kind of nonsense is this???
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