Saturday, February 21, 2004

A Passionate Entry

I'm intentionally avoiding posting about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ because the opinions flying around the Internet are so polarized and bordering on insipid that any real discourse on the subject seems to be lost. posted a story about Mel's father being a Holocaust denier, and while in New York I watched a woman lay into a preacher of all people for taking his 16-year-old daughter to watch the film - because it was too violent for someone of that age.

Some Christians see The Passion as a tool for converting people. They hope that someone who sees this movie will suddenly convert, based on Jesus' being tortured. Their rationale isn't terrible - the film, they say, demonstrates the suffering Jesus endured for the sins of mankind. Except, crucifixion was a routine form of execution for seditionists in the Roman empire, and others suffered far worse than Jesus. If a movie like Gladiator were to feature 45 minutes of torture as a part of the larger story, somehow I doubt those people would see it as a means to anything except Hollywood gore.

I seriously doubt that any rational, thinking person, with access to the Bible (the most published and translated book of all time), thousands of churches across the US and the world, access to at least one 24-hour religion channel, and Christians on streetcorners more than willing to share their religion, will suddenly make a decision to become a Christian after watching this movie.

I'm not a Christian, but I want to see it because it's going to tell a good story, with a great director and great actors. I'll be very surprised if I come out of the theater converted, because the 25+ years of personal experience, hundreds of books I've read, and countless conversations I've held aren't going to be overruled by a two-hour film.

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