The controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ender Sai, Feb 25, 2004.

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  1. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Since this forum deals with social and political issues, and this film deals with an event moderately (!) important to modern Western society, it's worth discussing it. And there's probably discussion in the JCC; but it'll be mainly one or two word answers, flames and the like. The Ampitheatre will talk about the "artistic" side, and we Senators will talk about the film intellectually... [face_plain] ;)

    I saw the film today, and was very deeply impressed by it. As a former Catholic, I noticed only minor Catholic imagery in the film; i.e. making Mary the second-most important character after Christ, but it's very minor. However, the film is creating controversy world wide.

    Firstly, the accusation of anti-Jewish sentiment. I thought this was unfounded, and like the outcries over Episode II being anti-Hispanic (I mean, it's racism to suggest that anyone of olive complexion is racist, but the people who claim that weren't only offending Maoris, they were offending intelligent people worldwide) - when it's clear that the offended parties haven't seen the film.

    Did anyone who actually saw the film find it anti-Semtitic or just powerful, intense and culturally relevant filmmaking?

    E_S
  2. Darth Mischievous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 1999
    star 6
    Gibson made a film which accurately portrays what Christ went through during His Passion according to the Gospels.

    The only liberties Gibson took was with the role of Satan and expanding the role of Simon of Cyrene.

    The intense scorn and criticism coming from the media and intellectual elite (including The New York Times calling Gibson a 'Jew Baiter' and an Anti-Semite, and Andy Rooney calling Gibson nuts, et cetera) is telling. These claims are baseless.

    The cross offends.
  3. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    We don't know if it's accurate, DM, 'cause we weren't there... ;)

    However, he's tried to be as faithful to the various sources as possible, which IMO worked well. And it's his vision of what happened, the same as Peter Jackson's films are his vision of Tolkein's works.

    I'd also submit that most who are offended missed the entire point of the film; the death of Christ to redeem sins. Otherwise, why did Christ say, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they do?".

    Controversy over movies really annoys me, it's like people are these bleeting ovine fools whom we need to protect by denying them their inherent ability of critical thinking; instead, we're thought for. Like when there was talk of renaming the second LOTR film to remove any reference to two towers in response to 9/11. Or the claims of racism against Attack of the Clones. It's the same with this film. Do we need to be told what we shouldn't or should see, or agree with the message thereof? I'd love to see films rated "O" for Offensive to the Feeble Minded and "N.O", Not Offensive to Anyone of Mature Intellect. Then you could get your protestors to hang out outside Mann's Chinese theater as they played "The Life Of Brian", "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones", "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "The Passion of the Christ".

    We'd at least be able to show children what an arsehead looks like.

    "Daddy, what are those people doing?"
    "They're protesting films, son."
    "Why are they doing that?"
    "Well, they're not smart, not like you and I. And their lives are horribly empty without some cause to fight. But they're not good causes, like feeding the hungry or downloading porn. They're annoying causes, the causes noone took up because they suck so very, very hard. They're also insecure and desperately afraid of using their minds to their full potential, and would rather live in fear."
    "Daddy, are you generalising?"
    "Yes, son, I am, but I'm smart enough to browbeat anyone who falls into those categories, so it doesn't matter."
    "Can I browbeat the protestors Daddy?"
    "When you're older son. When you're older."

    (OK, this never took place, but I hate morons who protest films because of the content. You have a choice not to spend your money, my simian friends, so don't see the ******* film but quit living my life for me!)

    E_S
  4. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    What offends me most is the "reporters" who drag Gibsons father into this.

    Not that his views aren't offensive, but they are not relevant.

    Even recognizing that this is an interpretation, and that a few liberties were taken, this take splace in Juresalam 32 AD and pretty much everyone there is goign to be Jewish. Yes the people crying for Jesus detah are Jewish, yes the high priest is Jewish, yes almost everyone who is portrayed as a bad guy is Jewish...

    But so are the good guys! If you want to argue over it's accuracy don't start by complaining that almost all the main people are Jews!
  5. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    I am glad that this thread has been created. I have read a lot about this film and will post more later.

    Anyone want to give a synopsis of the film? Also, why was Jesus crucified in the first place? What was Judas' role?

    What offends me most is the "reporters" who drag Gibsons father into this.

    Not that his views aren't offensive, but they are not relevant


    I concur. Gibson should not be held responsible for what his father or any other person says.

    EDIT:

    I also think it would be productive to list all of the controversies as well as 'both sides' positions.
  6. Not George Lucas Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 1998
    star 3
    I have yet to see the film, but I'd really like to. From what I understand, it's brutally graphic and shockingly realistic. There's not much I can't stomach, so I think this could be interesting. I'm still debating whether I should dress as my favorite character for it, though.
  7. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Hey, farrie, we're agreeing on something. Habit's trying to wrestle the keyboard away to somehow take the view that Gibson's father matters, but logic's fighting back. :p

    What the people what cry "anti-Semitism" fail to realise is that the only people who "appear Jewish" (in a negative, stereotyped way) are Temple Priests, only because they look like ornately dressed Rabbis. Every Jew in the film, be they for the death of the Christ or His disciples, looks the same.

    The violence is something else. It's not wanton violence; nor is the kind of realism designed to overwhelm the senses. Black Hawk Down, which is an anti-war film loved by people who find military history and tactics their chief hobby, takes war and throws you in the middle of it, making the violence so passé that you're forgiven if you're desensitised to it. That film makes war accessible to you, and Scott's motive was twofold; show just what hell war modern war is like, and to illustrate some brave SoBs who were stuck in the middle of it, with Jerry Schmuckheimer ruining the grittiness with a gung-ho, "We're Americans and we're going back there to wipe 'em all out 'cause noone does this to us!" ending. I guess the violence of Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers is also like this, because it uses violence to illustrate realism.

    The Passion is not like that, because it's not making a statement about modern life that we, the people, support depending on our political moods. It's about the needless, relentless torture of a man. SPOILERS: Except for about 10 minutes in the Garden of Olives, Christ spends the entire film drenched in blood, beaten and tortured. His "punishment" by the Romans, including being flayed with a scourge, made me wince and I'm usually not affected by sights like that. Oh, and whilst we're got spoilers, here's a big one - Jesus dies in the end.. People in my cinema were crying, and I was pretty damn close. In a sense, the message of the film was clear; Christ died for human sins, so his death and his torture are extreme because they represent every person every persecuted unjustly. Christ even says, in a flashback (forgive me, my Bible, despite being an apparently significant heirloom, hasn't been read for some time, so I'm certain there's chapter-and-verse quotes for this but I am a simple heathen ;). Heirloom, because a great grandfather bought a copy bound with wood from the Garden of Olives, or so I'm told...), that if people are going to be persecuted, He'll have been persecuted first. So, to be, the death of the Christ was particularly powerful because it also symbolised the suffering and redemption of men.

    Watching the film, and knowing a little bit about Christianity, as well as being as objectively distant as possible, I'm reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw; "Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it." With the exception of Quakers, I'm hard pressed to think of any group which embodies the principles of egalitarian love and tolerance spoken by Christ fully. I'll happily submit to whatever Christians here, (I'm looking at you Bubba ;)) have to say on this matter, because I don't think I'm off when I say I can't think of any major Church without blood on it's hands or persecution in it's history books..?

    E_S
  8. Master_Fwiffo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2001
    star 3
    Hey, E_S. Great post.

    But are the spoiler tags really nesscary since everybody knows what happens anyway? I mean, its in the trailer....

    And also that old book everybody keeps talking about ;)
  9. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I was being moderately cheeky with some of it; i.e. the spoiler that Christ dies in the end, but the other part is directly related to content and isn't featured in any other cinematic account of the crucifixion.

    E_S
  10. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    That WAS a good post, E_S.

    About tolerance, you're right, we should be loving towards everyone. However, even Jesus opposed sin (heck, He died to free us FROM it). He did it in a peaceful way, granted. And a loving way. As should we.

    Having said that the Church (or should I say, the body that has CLAIMED to be the Church) has messed up in the past and disregarded the teachings of Christ for the sake of converting people. But, that's not to say all Christians are to blame, and again, we can't be faulted for opposing peacefully what we believe is sin.
  11. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Maybe not the cinematic, but this film is trying to be much more faithful to the biblical Christ.

    Which is the whole point really.


    Taking a slightly broader look there is something else here. There is a pro-Jewish, and therefore pro-Israeli, streak amoung many sects of Christian fundamentalism. As I see it this comes from a literal interpretation of much, if not all, of the Bible which many jews do not agree with.
  12. Ulkesh2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 4
    After watching this movie I'm so happy I'm an atheist! HOO-YAAAHHH !!!
  13. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    farrie, I actually read an article in which a prominent New York Rabbi urged Jewish people not to see it, lest they forget the tenets of their faith for the message of Christ...

    E_S
  14. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    What a productive and thought-provoking post, Ulkesh.

    Care to explain why the movie makes you so ecstatic over being an atheist?

    Interesting, Ender_Sai. One has to wonder how something so false would need to be hidden. I wonder what that Rabbi had to do to convince himself the message of Christ wasn't everything it appeared to be.
  15. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Ender:

    Watching the film, and knowing a little bit about Christianity, as well as being as objectively distant as possible, I'm reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw; "Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it." With the exception of Quakers, I'm hard pressed to think of any group which embodies the principles of egalitarian love and tolerance spoken by Christ fully. I'll happily submit to whatever Christians here, (I'm looking at you Bubba ;) ) have to say on this matter, because I don't think I'm off when I say I can't think of any major Church without blood on it's hands or persecution in it's history books..?

    The question is, is there any reason to think that any denomination could perfectly follow in Jesus' footsteps?

    Let us quickly consider the actions of God's most faithful followers, both before and after Christ's ministry.

    (I do not think it out-of-bounds to consider Moses and David to be Christians, since it appears that they did anticipate the fulfillment of the covenant made to Abraham, that through "Abraham's seed" all nations would be blessed. Moses was present in the Transfiguration, and David seemed to live under God's grace.)

    Moses had blood on his hands: an Egyptian he murdered before God's calling.

    David had blood on his hands: Bathsheba's husband, who he had sent on a suicide mission to get rid of him.

    Peter had at least some blood on his hands: Malchus, the Roman soldier who lost an ear when they were arresting Jesus.

    Paul had blood on his hands: Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

    Now, if Moses and David and Peter and Paul were incapable of living lives utterly free from violence, what would make you think that an entire denomination would be capable of decades (or even centuries) of living fully within God's will?

    (And while the Quakers may be living peaceful lives, I'm not entirely sure how seriously they are taking the command to "go and tell," at least in terms of recent history. Going into seclusion may be as contrary to God's will as persecution: after all, how can one minister to one's neighbor if you have nothing to do with him?)

    The fact is, the Church is a spiritual hospital, where the "poor in spirit" go to get healed by the Good Doctor, saved by His blood and renewed by His Spirit. Salvation may be immediate, but renewal not an immediate and complete transformation, and each further step requires the conscious denial of self and turning further to God.

    You shouldn't be surprised that there's a lot of illness and disease in a physical hospital. But you should also not be surprised that there's a lot of spiritual disease in the church; being healed is why people go to hospital and churches, and it is not (and should not be) a prerequisite for entry.

    That doesn't excuse those church leaders who have led their parishioners astray. (Mark 9:42 and other verses indicate that Jesus will hold such people accountable.) But it does mean that one shouldn't be surprised.

    Seems to me you're complaining that Jesus attracts the wrong kind of people. That's a very, very old complaint.

    And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

    But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
    - Matthew 9:10-13
    And, I admit, my hospital metaphor isn't original. But at least I copy from the best.
  16. JediANGELA Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 28, 2002
    star 6
    I can say that I am not going to see this movie. The main problem in this world is that people are ignorant of other peoples religions. If we all just sat down and learned about one religion per day there wouldnt be these controversy's because everyone would know what other people believe in and would respect other peoples beliefs.
  17. LordJedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2001
    star 4
    We don't know if it's accurate, DM, 'cause we weren't there...

    according to the Gospels. :)

    And it's his vision of what happened, the same as Peter Jackson's films are his vision of Tolkein's works.

    I'm sorry but I take offense to that. Gibson's portrayal is biblically and historically accurate. Crucifictions (sp?) were a common practice in Jesus' time and Pontius Pilate was recalled to Rome for being so brutal. Everything in the movie was taken from biblical as well as historical descriptions (I'm referring to the crucifiction again), with the possible exception of the nails going into the palms. The wrist was considered part of the hand at that time and is a more likely spot to be used since the nail would otherwise slice right through the palm. Since the palm is the most wide depiction though, I figure that's why he left it there.

    What my point originally was going to be was that Jackson changed things to suit himself. Tolkien spent a long time working out the intracicies of LOTR. Jackson felt it was ok to change aspects because otherwise "they wouldn't make sense". Blah blah blah. The difference between the two, as I said above, is that Gibson followed the scriptures to the letter with a few minor exceptions. Even the line about the Jews being eternally cursed (I don't remember the exact line) was actually left in. The subtitle for the line was taken out, but it's still there in Aramaic.

    The question is, is there any reason to think that any denomination could perfectly follow in Jesus' footsteps?

    No, absolutely not. None of us ever could. The best we could do is try our best.

    If we all just sat down and learned about one religion per day there wouldnt be these controversy's because everyone would know what other people believe in and would respect other peoples beliefs.

    [face_laugh] What makes you think even understanding other peoples beliefs would cause someone to respect them? Myself and several of my friends have taken the time to learn some other beliefs besides our own and find some of the things they believe to be laughable.
  18. Dani1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2002
    star 3
    "Daddy, what are those people doing?"
    "They're protesting films, son."
    "Why are they doing that?"
    "Well, they're not smart, not like you and I. And their lives are horribly empty without some cause to fight. But they're not good causes, like feeding the hungry or downloading porn. They're annoying causes, the causes noone took up because they suck so very, very hard. They're also insecure and desperately afraid of using their minds to their full potential, and would rather live in fear."
    "Daddy, are you generalising?"
    "Yes, son, I am, but I'm smart enough to browbeat anyone who falls into those categories, so it doesn't matter."
    "Can I browbeat the protestors Daddy?"
    "When you're older son. When you're older."


    [face_laugh]

    I just had to post that again. Thanks Ender, you just made my day. I haven't laughed that hard in ages.

    I don't have any strong feelings about this film one way or the other, but this contraversy is surely just as pathetic as the one that preceded Monty Python's Life of Brian, a film that, in the end, had NOTHING to do with Christianity or Jesus at all (aside from featuring the sermon on the mount). Of course, once the film actually came out and got an audience, it was revealed that the people who were most vocally against it clearly hadn't even seen it, since their complaints had no bearing on the content of the film at all.

  19. Dani1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2002
    star 3
    Could someone explain the whole anti-semitism thing to me? Not being a Christian, here is my understanding of the event: The Pharisees are responsible for Jesus's fate, the Romans carry it out; however, Jesus chose to die, in order to be the last sacrificial lamb - to forgive mankind's sins once and for all. This event had to happen, or mankind would not have been forgiven. If I've got all of the above correct, then why would any Christians be angry at Jews? Without the crucifixion, humanity never would have been saved, therefore everything happened as it was supposed to. ?[face_plain] Wouldn't blaming the Jews for Christ's death be like saying "You total and utter *******, you're responsible for Jesus forgiving us!" I don't understand this at all.
  20. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    We don't know if it's accurate, DM, 'cause we weren't there...

    according to the Gospels.


    Well, you're right there, it was accurate to the Gospels. However, it's not necessarily 100% given that's what happened at Golgotha, though we accept the Gospels accounts as true.

    Lucky you noted the nails in the wrist thing, for your sake! ;)

    Seems to me you're complaining that Jesus attracts the wrong kind of people. That's a very, very old complaint.


    Well, I can see where that might come from, my old friend, but I'm not actually saying that. In fact, I doubt much of what attracts people has anything to do with Christ at all. Would it be accurate or fair to say it's the fear of damnation and the reward of eternal paradise that motivates the selfish to follow the ideology and committ atrocities in His name?

    See, when I've had people like you or the Christian socialists I know talk about the message, I think two things. 1) It's a great message common to all religious text, and 2) How so many get it so wrong.


    The question is, is there any reason to think that any denomination could perfectly follow in Jesus' footsteps?


    Ah, so what's the point in denominations outside of the political realm?

    And, I admit, my hospital metaphor isn't original.

    It works perfectly well, so it's all good.

    I honestly want to learn, so don't think I'm building this discussion up to tear it down.

    But my question is; if one is strong enough in one's convictions, does one need a "Hospital" to have a relationship with God through Christ?

    E_S
  21. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Without the crucifixion, humanity never would have been saved, therefore everything happened as it was supposed to. Wouldn't blaming the Jews for Christ's death be like saying "You total and utter *******, you're responsible for Jesus forgiving us!" I don't understand this at all.

    Probably because people have a lack of imagination. You feel for Christ on the cross, but a lot of people don't see the metaphor of how it's supposed to represent the general unjust torture of general people. Or at least how the church would have us read it.

    I'm willing to believe that Gibson was truthful to the majority of the Bible. Some say he chose the passages that could be interpreted as anti-semetic, but no doubt these are the most widely read, and today at least, the most widely cautioned against.

    The problem of course is that while the Bible is not anti-semetic, the New Testament is definately written with the politics of the time in mind. It puts a lot of the blame on the Jews and very little on Rome, which is very unlikely. Ponchus Pilate concerned about justice for non-Romans? Excuse me? Not terribly consistent with history's accounts of Pilate, and not terribly consistent with Rome at the time. But the New Testament was written with Romans in mind, and Romans are known for rewriting thier own history (the Aeneid, etc).

    So though I haven't seen the film, if Jewish groups came away with attitudes of it being anti-semetic, I could be inclined to listen to what they had to say.
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Early Christians weren't ex Jews, they were ex Pagans, not counting Jesus, who may or may not have existed. But there was anti-Semitism in ancient Rome, and that's how it found its way into the Gospels, which simply coopted prexisting latent anti-Semitism from pagan Rome. The main reason Christianity has anti-Semitism incorporated into its belief structure is that the religion was not founded by Jews.

    Christians like to think they invented anti-Semitism, but they didn't. They merely institutionalized it.

    So I don't blame Gibson for that. I blame Christianity. He is simply expressing an anti-Semitic tradition that preceeds the birth of Christianity.
  23. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    The main reason Christianity has anti-Semitism incorporated into its belief structure is that the religion was not founded by Jews.


    Whatever.

    Jesus was a Jew.

    Peter was a Jew.

    Paul was a Jew.

  24. Guinastasia Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2002
    star 6
    I don't want to spoil the story but I heard that Jesus rises from the dead!!!

    ;)

    I for one am tired of hearing about the controversy. People, it's a movie. See it or don't see it, but don't start squawking that it's racist unless you HAVE seen it!
  25. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Jabba:

    On what basis do you assert that John, Peter, and Paul were fictional?


    Ender, I know the observation wasn't directed to me, but I too noticed the nails through the hands and not the writs. But, I've always thought the complaint was that such placement of the nails could not support the body. In the film, Jesus was tied by the wrists to the cross. So, even if that part was inaccurate, at least it presented a reasonably realistic scenario in terms of the physics.

    Minor quibble, regardless.


    "Seems to me you're complaining that Jesus attracts the wrong kind of people. That's a very, very old complaint."

    Well, I can see where that might come from, my old friend, but I'm not actually saying that. In fact, I doubt much of what attracts people has anything to do with Christ at all. Would it be accurate or fair to say it's the fear of damnation and the reward of eternal paradise that motivates the selfish to follow the ideology and committ atrocities in His name?


    No, it would not be fair, because I don't believe fear of Hell and the desire of Heaven is an artifact of immature Christians. It's just that, the more I personally grow in Christ, the more I understand that Hell is separation from God and it should be feared, and that Heaven is communion with God and it should be desired.

    Most of the mature Christians I know and have read about do desire Heaven as communion with God. (That in itself is an amazing sign of growth, to want to approach the purifying fire of the eye of God.) And Christ Himself spoke very plainly about paradise and separation.


    See, when I've had people like you or the Christian socialists I know talk about the message, I think two things. 1) It's a great message common to all religious text, and 2) How so many get it so wrong.

    I believe the message of Christianity is unique: it is grace. While every other religion teaches that either salvation is unnecessary or salvation can be earned, Christianity very clearly teaches that we are lost and can only rely on God's love to find us while we are unlovable.


    Ah, so what's the point in denominations outside of the political realm?

    The point is that, while I believe the basic principles of the Bible are fairly straight-forward, there are some genuine differences of opinion on serious matters of belief.

    For instance, there's the question of whether baptism is necessary for salvation. I believe it's merely an symbolic of salvation, a command of Christ to embrace Him as Savior and Lord in public if at all possible. I could not in good conscience worship in a church that taught otherwise.

    There are people on the other side of this debate in a similar position. They believe that baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, and they could not in good conscience worship in a church that taught otherwise.

    (I will turn back to the Gospels: the thief on the cross could not have been baptized before his death, and yet Jesus promised, "Today you'll be with me in paradise.")

    I cannot ask others to subordinate their beliefs and attend a church that preaches what they cannot bring themselves to believe. So, for the sake of peace, we worship in different buildings.

    We serve the same Master. When He returns, I have no doubt He'll straighten out the disagreements and even point which disagreements were trivial. The growing pains of the Body of Christ will be over. The internal squabbles of the God's adopted family will be ended.

    Until then, we can find what common ground we have -- like solidarity in the command to feed and clothe the poor.


    I honestly want to learn, so don't think I'm building this discussion up to tear it down.

    But my question is; if one is strong enough in one's convictions, does one need a "Hospital" to have a relationship with God through Christ?


    No need to explain yourself. :)

    I think the content of one's convictions matters. I think that all philosophies of behavior pretty much fall into three categories:

    1. Diabo
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