Saturday, March 06, 2004

Against the Grain pointed to a funny post from a good blog called Protocols. Protocols in turn pointed to Jewsweek and their obsessive coverage of TPOTC. The author of this article from Jewsweek seems to understand some things many people do not:

"Foxman's actions were also ill-advised because they have managed to alienate many Christian friends of the Jewish people along the way. In repeatedly characterizing a film that is based on the literal Gospels as anti-Semitic, Foxman has unavoidably also implied that the Gospels are anti-Semitic. Whether or not this is fair or true, it was bound to be hurtful to many Christians. And what useful purpose at this point in history is served by characterizing the Gospels as anti-Semitic? In addition, many find it jarring to hear Foxman presuming to tell them how Christian doctrine requires them to act in respect of the movie. Imagine the Jewish reaction if Christians started telling the Foxman that his organization's positions were not consistent with Jewish doctrine, for example on abortion rights (liberal) and gay marriage rights (pro)."

This is good stuff. The author of this article, Daniel Barenholtz seems most focused on the free publicity that Foxman gave the film. The title of the article is "How not to choose your battles". My hope is that Bill Donohue and the Catholic League will read and learn from this article. They tend to do the same as Foxman whever an anti-Catholic movie comes out.
A. O. Scott in the New York Times:

"The convergence of ancient religious traditions and postmodern pop culture challenges some of the most basic assumptions that many of us who write about popular culture bring to our work. ."

I wonder what those assumptions would be and whether having them would be the same thing as being prejudiced.

You can take what the critics have been doing and turn it around as well:

Was Jami Bernard's 1 star review in the NY Daily News an honest criticism or was it the result of some prejudice? I am not claiming she is anti-Christian, just that her review might be. All the attacks on Gibson, his film, and its fans could feed into the very anti-Christian culture we live in. If any violence breaks out against Christians by anti-Christians, as it did during the French Revolution, World War II, or in the Soviet Union, then the blood will be on Jami Bernard's hands. See how easy it is to do this? Also, note the examples I give of anti-Christian violence are much more recent, by centuries, than the ones given by Foxman, Hikand, Cork, Friedman, Boys, etc... The truth is that now that I have seen the movie I can understand how people might not enjoy the film. I can understand some of the negative reviews, the ones that talk of character development, violence, etc.. But most reviews have not been like that- most talk about the Bible, the controversy, etc.. I really do believe this is the result of anti-Christian bias on the part of many people.
You can read the Dolorous Passion of Christ online. If you want to read the book get it from Tan Books and Publishers. Also, Ignatius Press is offering The Ultimate Passion Book Set. The set includes On the Passion of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, A guide to the Passion: 100 questions about Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ, and The Passion: Photography from the movie.
Another bigot can see into the future and claims people will be killed as a direct result of Mel Gibson's movie:

"Sometime later this year, perhaps next, we will hear news reports of Jews being killed by angry young men. It may be in France, Germany, perhaps in the former WARSAW countries. The killers will have recently seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. And their defense will be vengeance, because after all, Jesus himself blamed it on the Jews. They just heard it with their own ears."

The stupidity is overwhelming in the post. One thing that is mentioned, and incorrectly, is the scene where Jesus is building a table "for a rich man". Before I saw the movie I read about many scenes on the internet including this one. People commented that it reminded them of an altar. Therefore, when I saw this scene I thought of that. The scene is shown from inside the house and table is arranged as an altar would be in a Church. Jesus shows Mary how people might eat at the table with chairs but since he has not made them yet, he crouches a little and puts his arms on the table. This gesture is familiar to anyone who attends the traditional Mass, or even if priests are traditionally minded. Right at the words of consecration, the priest leans on the altar in a similiar way to Jesus. Mary does this too, but at the side of the table, Jesus is in the middle as a priest would be. She also brings him water so he can wash his hands. It is a little foreshadowing that is done well.
The Passion of The Christ

Well tonight I got to see it- my first impression is that I think I expected too much. With all the stuff I read about people being very moved and "experiencing" the movie, I just did not come out of the theater feeling especially moved. This might be due to the fact that I turned away at many violent parts and may have missed some things. (I pretty much fast forwarded through Braveheart and Gladiator). Also, I have never been especially emotional in regards the Passion or spiritual things. The movie was well done and Jim Cavaziel was excellent as Jesus. The violence was a bit much at times, but not as wild as some critics made it seem. I could have done with less slow-motion and less subtitles. The ending seemed tacked on and I did not think it was done to the best effect. Overall though, the movie was very well done and I think I will see it again to see if I can get "into it" more the second time. Thank you Mel Gibson!

Random Thoughts:

The thing that annoyed me the most about the hype of the movie was that it really brought out the fact that many people are very anti-Christian. The letters to the editor in the major papers, some movie critics, the "professional" scholars, and some activists all seemed angry that a devout Catholic would dare to make a film. I have seen angry letters and columns bashing Christianity, Mel Gibson personally, the Gospels, etc.. At times it is amazing how far people would go to try to try to justify their own hatred and bigotry. One person wrote "Go away Mel Gibson and take your piety with you". I am glad The Passion of The Christ is doing so well because Gibson deserves a success after all that he has been through. The one thing that people agreed after seeing the film tonight is that people who claim the movie is anti-semitic or that it will lead to violence are just way off base. No one could think of why it would be seen as anti-semitic at all, but all agreed it was very anti-Roman in a way. Even there, it is not truly anti-Roman because it showed sadistic Roman soldiers, as everyone knows those guys were brutes and it does not follow that all Romans were brutes. I think some people who made accusations about the film are living on a different planet or in a different century or something. Now that I have seen the film it will be even more interesting to see the columns and the letters to the editor, etc..

I thought my occasional (recently more frequent) attendance at the traditional latin Mass would help me to understand a few phrases from the movie. Of course, the parts of the film that would have been in the Mass were in aramaic not latin. Oh well. I did notice that the subtitle translated the line as "for many" not "for all", which is a big argument in some places.

Contrary to Roger Friedman's claim that it would be hard for me to find the movie, since I live on the south shore of Nassau County, it only took me about 11.0 minutes to get to the theater. And this one was not the closest theater showing the movie! And this was in incredibly thick fog as well!!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

By the time I post again I will have seen The Passion of The Christ. I am very glad the film has provoked discussion and that it is doing well. I hope that it will help in my Lenten journey but am not sure I will be able to get past the blood and violence. I hope it is as good as people say it is.
New Blog!

I never seem to find a Catholic blog before anyone else so this may be a first? Nicole, a recent "revert" started Reversion 2.0 and in the first post she asked for guidance. If you can offer any please stop by her site. Reverting Rocks!! Ugh I can't believe I just wrote that.
Chris is asking me to name the top 3 lies told by the critics of Mel Gibson's movie that have me acting like a pit bull on crack. (Those are my words not his/her) As requested here are the top three:

1) That the movie will cause violence- if you want examples of anti-semitism and violence check out the middle east. Devout Catholics ain't blowing up people and such. Some quotes of people claiming the movie WILL cause violence (I skipped the many, many quotes of people who slyly questioned IF the movie could cause violence):

"When violence breaks out, Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority than professors and bishops to answer to." [emphasis added] The New Republic, July 28, 2003 - August 4, 2003, "Mad Mel," by Paula Fredriksen

"More people will see this film in three months than ever saw the passion plays in Europe through all the centuries. We know those plays rationalized anti-Semitic behavior. We fear this will, too." Detroit Free Press, February 7, 2004; Abraham Foxman

"Of great concern to the Anti-Defamation League [with regard to the film] is the possibility that individuals are more likely to be targets of attack, simply because they are 'different." Seattle Times, February 6, 2004; ADL Fundraising Mailer, quoted by David Klinghoffer

"In an interview about the film, Foxman added, '[Gibson is] hawking it on a commercial crusade to the churches of this country. That's what makes it dangerous." Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2004; Abraham Foxman

"We have good reason to be seriously concerned about Gibson's plans to retell the Passion. Historically, the Passion—the story of the killing of Jesus—has resulted in the death of Jews." New York Post, June 21, 2003; Letter, Ken Jacobson

All of the above quotes came from the Catholic League website. Unfortunately letters to the editors of the major New York papers that I read are not available online and I don't have to time to look for them anyway. However, I remember reading one letter that said "I am SURE this movie will cause bloodshed" and many others have been just as bad. The smarter critics have backtracked from what they originally have said also. Now many are saying the film may not cause bloodshed but may contribute to anti-semitism.

2) That the movie is anti-semitic. This is of course open to interpretation but that is not what many have said. They have flat out called it anti-semitic. Check the same Catholic League website for plenty of quotes on this also.

3) That the movie was not distributed in Jewish or upscale neighborhoods, and would be hard to find in Nassau County. Once again the Catholic League proves this false, but I also pointed out the lies involving Long Island here and here. Since I live here and know what I am talking about, this is the easiest lie to refute. You have to wonder how people can print stuff that is simply not true and never even print a correction.

The above does not mention the attacks on Mel Gibson personally, including the recent rant that he liked to tell jokes, that he "rejects Vatican II teachings" whatever the heck that means, that he dares to kill cattle on his ranch, that he won't discuss his father's big mouth and nuttiness so he must agree with him, that he has the nerve to want to make money on his film, etc.. People have also written extensively how this movie is setting back Jewish-Christian relations, whatever that means, even though it is the actions and words of the movie's critics themselves that is causing harm. Also, people keep claiming that the movie is not 100% scripturally accurate but I don't see where it was claimed to be. Gibson has said from the beginning that he based some of it on Emmerich's writings.

Some small lies:

"The Passion" is now the most expensive vanity production in history." -Roger Friedman again, Please see this article and this one to see how much garbage was packed into Friedman's articles.

"Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II."--Jami Bernard in the Daily News

As I have pointed out on my blog, the reactions of people indicate a lot of anti-Christian bias. Paul Vitello started interviewing people who watched the film but then stopped because their answers did not conform to any of the preconceived notions he had. People have come out of this film not hating, not doing violence, etc.. And it is very easy to find the film on the north and south shore of Nassau County contrary to Roger Friedman's lies, but it is not easy to get a ticket since it is so popular. I tried once and could not get in, but now I have tickets for tommorrow night. I will go and while I may not "enjoy" the movie, maybe even miss half of it because I can't stand seeing violence, I will be glad to support a Catholic who poured his heart into creating a work of art. I will also be glad to know I am pissing off so many anti-Christian bigots just by making this movie so successful.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I usually don't pay much attention to people that are too partisan. However, partisan politics aside, Ann Coulter wrote one of the best articles yet on The Passion Of The Christ. Her slash and burn style can be tiresome when she is bashing liberals or even anyone who might believe helping some people might just be a good thing, but here it is absolutely perfect!

Just some of the great lines:

"In fact, Jesus' distinctive message was: People are sinful and need to be redeemed, and this is your lucky day because I'm here to redeem you even though you don't deserve it, and I have to get the crap kicked out of me to do it. That is the reason He is called "Christ the Redeemer" rather than "Christ the Moron Driving Around in a Volvo With a 'Be Nice to People' Bumper Sticker on It."

"The other complaint from the know-nothing crowd is that "The Passion" will inspire anti-Semitic violence. If nothing else comes out of this movie, at least we finally have liberals on record opposing anti-Semitic violence. Perhaps they should broach that topic with their Muslim friends."
And now for something a little different: (humor-impaired Christians should not click this)

Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie

"I never should have given Mel Gibson so much license," said Christ, the Son of God. "I don't like to criticize a member of the flock, but that close-up of the nails being pounded into My wrists—that was just bad."

From The Onion of course

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Believe it or not there are some non-Mel Gibson related things going on in the Catholic world:

Firstly, KH, who lurks in the St. Blog's comments (in a good way) introduced me to The Children First Foundation. This group promotes adoption and is working to get Choose Life license plates approved in New York and New Jersey. These plates are already on the road in 10 states and they help raise money for pro-life causes such as crisis pregnancy centers. More info at Choose-Life. The establishment of thousands of prolife centers around the world is the best thing that could have happened to the prolife movement. This is a positive agenda that will not involve damaging lawsuits, arrests, etc... Of course, it should be controversy free, who doesn’t want to help pregnant women? A couple of years ago the NY attorney general Elliot Spitzer tried to attack prolife centers at the behest of pro-choice groups but backed down. Prolife centers should be professional, fully staffed and financially strong. Right now there is a need to get sonograms in as many as possible. Adoption should be a major priority of all Catholics. Deal Hudson of Crisis magazine wrote an article describing he and his wife’s experience. Unfortunately, they found the local Catholic Charities unhelpful and bureaucratic. A friend suggested a local Baptist agency and they were great. Catholics should take the pro-choicers at their word and make it an easy choice by providing enough services and support that no woman would ever feel pressured to “choose” abortion.

Secondly, there will be a Life Fest on Saturday, April 3rd at Fordham University. Click on the link and see the impressive list of speakers and events. This looks like it will be huge!

Thirdly, Dr. William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, will be speaking on "The Controversy Over Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ" for the Nassau Community College Center for Catholic Studies on Friday evening, April 16th, 2004 from 7 to about 9 P.M. in Building K, ballroom, at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York. Coffee and cake at 6:30 PM All are invited, free of any charge.
Oops that last one was Mel Gibson related but it should be great.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Passion of The Christ is the #1 movie today!

"Mel Gibson's (search) gamble on "The Passion of the Christ" (search) paid off enormously, riding a storm of religious debate to a $117.5 million haul in its first five days, according to studio estimates Sunday."

I have not seen it yet but everyone I heard from who has seen it can barely describe what an incredible experience it is.

So, in my lifetime I have seen the Chant album hit number one, and now a movie shot in Latin. What was that the Liturgists have been telling us for years..oh yeah, chant and latin is out because people need to have things brought down to their level.
Zev Chafets, in the NY Daily News writes a column on The Passion of The Christ that contains lots of common sense:

'Passion' is really pro-Israel

"But I'm a Jew, not a Christian. And despite what many Jewish critics seem to believe, "The Passion" wasn't made for us. Or about us.

Judging from the reactions I see on TV, a lot of Christians - Protestant and Catholic alike - come out of the theater deeply moved by Gibson's movie. This reaction infuriates some Jewish scholars and activists. Gibson's distorting history, they charge. He lets the Romans off too easily. He puts the blame on the Jews. By which, of course, they mean: on us.

These Jews need to relax.

Gibson is telling a 2,000-year-old story. Most Christians are smart enough and reasonable enough to understand the distinction between Caiaphas and Jerry Seinfeld. It is insulting to suggest otherwise."

I wonder if his Daily News colleague Jami Bernard read this column. She said the Passion movie "is the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II."
Jami Bernard, the movie reviewer in the NY Daily News:

"In 18 years as a professional movie critic, I've never gotten the response that I had this week to my one-star review of "The Passion of the Christ."

She writes about some of the hate mail she has received, which I am sure is nothing compared to what the Catholic League has received. She also writes this interesting line:

"What interests me as a movie critic is the profusion of people who do not understand or care how to evaluate a movie."

But read her original review and see how she evaluated the movie. Did she evaluate it as a movie or as a religious statement that she did not like? Many of the reviews I have read have not focused at all on the acting, lighting, music, story development, all of which are fair game. They have focused on the controversy of a devout Catholic making a filmed Passion. Her review was probably the most extreme example of this.
More terrorism in the Phillippines:

"The Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf (search) claimed responsibility Sunday for a ferry explosion and fire that killed at least two people, though 180 more were missing, according to a radio report."

Pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Phillipines, who have had to deal with this terrorism for years. And while you are at it, pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters in Haiti - President Aristide fled the country today.
Victims break their silence-

"Capturing the Friedmans" may win Oscar

"In 1987, Gregory was one of the 17 boys who told Nassau law enforcement officials that they had been abused at the Friedmans' home on Piccadilly Road. Of these, 13 would later testify before a grand jury to substantiate criminal charges against Jesse Friedman, his father, Arnold, and another teenager, Ross Goldstein, 17. As their separate trials approached in 1988, father and son both changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty. So did Goldstein.

Now, in a turn of events none of the young men who testified would have foreseen, "Capturing the Friedmans," a controversial documentary about the case that has already won critical and commercial acclaim, makes them feel as if they're portrayed as liars."

Zero Tolerance for child sex abuse does not apply in Hollywood you see...