FROM MSN ENTERTAINMENT
THE PASSION OF CHRIST
(And the Mystery of the Cross)
"The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film," Gibson has said of his work on The Passion. "I was just directing traffic"
For Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Exort one another daily, WHILE IT IS CALLED TO DAY; lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end...(Hebrews 3:13,14).
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered...(Hebrews 5:10-14...KJV).
Please adopt an epic perspective of the Christ Mystery, as we place the last two thousand years of Western history in the context of both Mel Gibson's timely The Passion of the Christ and those things that are have been, and which are about to unfold in the world:
"Don't look now, but here comes a Catholic Jesus. In February 1804, Thomas Jefferson sat in the White House, cutting verses out of two Bibles and pasting them together into an abridged New Testament that cast Jesus as an rational ethicist. Two hundred years later to the month, Mel Gibson was furiously cutting and pasting a cinematic testament to his own ultra-Catholic version of Christ. Jesus may be the same, yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), but at least in the United States anyone can write his own gospel.
Since the evangelical century of the 1800s, America's Protestant majority has gravitated toward a Mister Rogers Jesus, a neighborly fellow they could know and love and imitate. The country's megachurches got that way in part because they stopped preaching fire and brimstone and the Blood of the Lamb. Their parishoners are sinners in the hands of an amiable God. Their Jesus is a loving friend.
Gibson's Christ by all accounts is a very different character. If the mind is the seat of Jefferson's Jesus and the heart the seat of the evangelical Friend, GIBSON'S CHRIST IS THE BODY...
Psalms 48 to 51...(KJV).
... He came here neither to deliver moral maxims nor to exude empathy, but to spew blood. This is not a therapeutic, ''I'm O.K., you're O.K.'' Christianity. IN FACT, ''THE PASSION OF CHRIST'' SEEMS HELL-BENT ON CRASHING HEAD-ON INTO A PARKING LOT FULL OF AMERICAN PROTESTANT ASSUMPTIONS. Its leading man is the Christ of devotional Catholics who for centuries have approached their redeemer bodily, through the Eucharist, gratefully imbibing his battered body. And in scene after gory scene, Gibson is thrusting that Christ in our faces, shoving the ''Man of Sorrows'' of medieval passion plays into the national conversation about Jesus (and in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic no less).
That national conversation began in earnest after the Revolutionary War, when evangelical Protestants pledged their allegiance to God the Son rather than God the Father. After liberating themselves from the tyranny of George III, these patriots were in no mood to bow down before another distant King, especially since, according to the reigning Puritan theology, he had capriciously predestined each of us to either heaven or hell. So they reinvented Christianity as a Jesus-loving rather than a God-fearing faith, transfiguring Jesus from an abstract theological sign into a living, breathing human being.
Over the American centuries, Protestants have resurrected Jesus as a socialist and a capitalist, a pacifist and a warrior, a civil rights activist and a Ku Klux Klansman. During the Victorian period, Jesus became a sentimental savior beloved by women and adored by children. During the Progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, he flexed his muscles and carried a big stick.
Non-Christians eventually joined the discussion. Between the Civil War and the 1930's, virtually every major Reform rabbi in the United States wrote a book or pamphlet reclaiming Jesus as a Jew. Echoing Jefferson, these rabbis drew a sharp distinction between the true religion of Jesus and the false religion about him. Then they praised the man from Nazareth as a faithful son of the synagogue who scrupulously observed the law and died with the Shema (''Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord'') on his lips.
Buddhists and Hindus have also made Jesus in their own image. In ''The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,'' the Dalai Lama recognized him as ''either a fully enlightened being or a bodhisattva of a very high spiritual realization.'' Swami Yogananda, author of ''Autobiography of a Yogi'' and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, flattered the Galilean (and himself) when he called Jesus a ''spiritual giant'' and a secret practitioner of yoga.
But Catholic contributions to this messy midrash on Jesus have been sporadic and muted. FEW CATHOLICS PARTICIPATED IN THE QUESTS FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS THAT HAVE BEDEVILED AMERICAN PROTESTANTS. Few wrote lives of Christ or Christological novels. When the National Catholic Reporter held a turn-of-the-millennium art contest for the best depiction of ''Jesus 2000,'' the winner was not Catholic.
Catholics inhabit a cosmos overflowing with sacred power, charged with the spiritual possibilities of saints and sacraments, angels and demons, popes and priests. By contrast, Protestants have since the 16th century sought to strip away those accretions of popery, banishing the saints and slashing the sacraments FROM SEVEN TO TWO (marriage and the Eucharist). Whereas Catholics based their faith on Scripture and tradition, Protestants relied on the Bible alone. But as textual criticism and Darwinism chipped away at the Bible's authority, sola scriptura gave way among many Protestants to solus Jesus: Jesus alone. To be a Christian was no longer to celebrate the Mass or to read the Bible but to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
American Catholics have never quite gotten what this fuss is all about. They access God through the saints, Scriptures and sacraments of the church; their spiritual drama is not a one-man show. Still, they have not entirely neglected the Jesus wars. During the Roaring Twenties, an era as besotted with Jesus (and celebrity) as our own, ''Life of Christ,'' by the Italian Catholic convert Giovanni Papini, spent three years near the top of the U.S. best-seller list, entertaining readers with purple prose and perfervid faith.
Gibson and Papini have much in common. Both are outlanders who found their largest audiences in the United States. Both are traditionalist Catholics who came to intense faith late in life (Papini as a convert from skepticism, Gibson as a prodigal son). Each presents his Jesus with the glee, and at times the bigotry, of a man of fresh faith. Unlike Gibson's ''Passion of the Christ,'' which confines itself to the last 12 hours of Jesus' life, Papini's volume covers the whole story. But the book tends inexorably toward the trial and the cross, where Jews mutate into serpents (''Pharisaical vipers'') and uncontrollable violence rains down. Papini's Jesus is indisputably divine, but he is also trapped in the tomb of the body. This is Gibson's Jesus too: a suffering servant who takes the lash with us, exhales his last breath for us and comes to us in the ''real presence'' of the Eucharist.
There is one crucial difference, however, between Papini and Gibson. Papini hated Protestants, while Gibson courts them the way he wooed Helen Hunt in ''What Women Want.'' ''America is the land . . . of the insupportable Washington, the boresome Emerson, the degenerate Walt Whitman, the sickening Longfellow, the angelic Wilson, the philanthropic Morgan, the undesirable Edison and other men of like quality,'' Papini once fumed. And for those sins, God in his wisdom visited on the nation the curse of Protestantism. Who knows what Gibson is thinking, but he has said nothing to rile America's evangelicals, who have embraced him as a brother even as Catholic bishops have raised concerns.
One puzzle of the reception of the film thus far is why born-again Christians have given such a big thumbs up to what is so unapologetically a Catholic movie. Why are they putting their grass-roots organizations at the beck and call of the producer formerly known as Mad Max, buying tickets by the thousands for an R-rated film? Why are they lauding an image of Jesus that owes as much to medieval passion plays and Hollywood action movies as it does to the Gospels, that runs so hard against the Protestant grain?
The culture wars no doubt have something to do with the evangelicals' decision to close ranks with Gibson, who must be commended for so adroitly spinning the debate over his depiction of Jews into a battle between secular humanists and true believers. The evangelicals' ''amen'' to the movie may demonstrate that conservative Protestants have bought more into Hollywood's culture of violence than they would like to admit. Or that, while anti-Semitism is still alive in the United States, anti-Catholicism is finished.
When it comes to the back story of the American Jesus, however, the decision by conservative Protestants to break bread with Gibson may be telling us that the friendly Jesus is on the way out. CALLING ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE APOSTLE PAUL (At last)! who once boasted that he gloried only in the cross, a group known as the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has taken American Protestants (evangelicals included) to the woodshed for preaching a ''self-esteem gospel'' RATHER THAN THE TOUGH TRUTHS OF THE CREEDS. And Gerald McDermott, a professor of religion at Roanoke College, complains that American Protestants are reducing Jesus ''to no more than the Dalai Lama without the aura, an admirable sort of guy.''
Mel Gibson wants to undo all that, and his film just may. Cecil B. DeMille,
who directed the 1927 Jesus movie ''The King of Kings,'' once bragged that only
the Bible had introduced Jesus to more people than had his film. Soon Mel Gibson
may be telling us the same." The
Personal Jesus By STEPHEN PROTHERO (New York Times Magazine, Feb.29, 2004).
(Stephen Prothero is the chairman of the department of religion at Boston University and the author of ''American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon.'').
WHO KILLED JESUS?
An Internet Article
Mel Gibson's powerful but troubling new movie, 'The Passion of the Christ,' is reviving one of the most explosive questions ever. What history tells us about Jesus' last hours, the world in which he lived, anti-Semitism, Scripture and the nature of faith itself...IT IS NIGHT, in a quiet, nearly deserted garden in Jerusalem.
...A figure is praying; his friends sleep a short distance away. WE ARE IN THE LAST HOURS OF THE LIFE OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, in the spring OF ROUGHLY THE YEAR 30, AT THE TIME OF THE JEWISH FEAST OF PASSOVER...
The Mystery of Jerusalem and the Mystery of Christ are inextricably linked.
These things were not done in a corner...
"To write concerning the antiquity of the Jews, who they were originally, and how they revolted against the Egyptians, and what country they traveled over, and what countries they seized upon afterward, and how they were removed out of them, I think this not a fit opportunity, and on other accounts, also superfluous; and this because many Jews before me have composed the history of our ancestors very exactly, as have some of the Greeks done it also, and have translated our histories into their own tongue, and have not much mistaken the truth with their histories. But then where the writers of the affairs, and our own prophets leave off, thence will I take my rise, and begin my history." Preface to The Wars of the Jews.
"This was the course of events at that time in Palestine, for this is the name that has been given of old to the whole country extending from Phonicia to Egypt along the inner sea. They also have another name that they have acquired. The country has been named Judaea, and the people themselves Jews.
I DO NOT KNOW HOW THIS TITLE CAME TO BE GIVEN THEM, BUT IT APPLIES ALSO TO THE REST OF MANKIND, ALTHOUGH OF 'ALIEN' RACE, WHO AFFECT THEIR CUSTOMS. THIS CLASS EXISTS EVEN AMONG THE ROMANS." Dio's Roman History XXXVIII.
...THE COUNTRY--FIRST CENTURY JUDEA--IS PART OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The prefect, Pontius Pilate, is Caesar's ranking representative in the province, a place riven with fierce religious disputes. Jesus comes from Galilee (of the Nations), a kind of backwater; as a Jewish healer and teacher, HE HAS ATTRACTED GREAT NOTICE IN THE YEARS, MONTHS AND DAYS (Centuries) LEADING UP TO THIS HOUR...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an ineritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation READY TO BE REVEALED IN THE LAST TIME...(1 Peter 1:3-5).
...His popularity seemed to be surging among at least some of THE THOUSANDS OF PILGRIMS GATHERED IN THE CITY FOR PASSOVER. Crowds cheered him, proclaiming him the Messiah, which to first-century Jewish ears meant he was the "king of the Jews" who heralded the coming of the Kingdom of God, a time in which the yoke of Roman rule would be thrown off, ushering in an age of light for Israel. Hungry for liberation and deliverance, some of those in the teeming city were apparently flocking to Jesus, THREATENING TO UPSET THE BALANCE OF POWER IN JERUSALEM...
...THE PRIESTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TEMPLE had an understanding with the Romans:
the Jewish establishment would do what it could to keep the peace, or else Pilate
would strike. And so the high priest, Caiaphas, dispatches a party to arrest
Jesus. Guided by Judas, they find him in Gethsemane. In the language of the
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, there is this exchange: "Whom do
you seek?" Jesus asks. "Jesus of Nazareth." The answer comes
quickly. "I AM HE."
Thus begins the final chapter of THE MOST INFLUENTIAL STORY IN WESTERN HISTORY. For Christians, the Passionfrom the Latin passus, the word means "having suffered" or "having undergone"is the very heart of their faith. Down the ages, however, when read WITHOUT CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE AND A PROPER SENSE OF HISTORY, the Christian narratives have sometimes been contorted to lay the responsibility for Jesus' execution AT THE FEET of the Jewish people, a contortion that has long fueled the fires of anti-Semitism.
Into this perennially explosive debate comes a controversial new movie directed by Mel Gibson, "The Passion of the Christ," a powerful and troubling work about Jesus' last hours. "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film," Gibson has said. The movie, which is to be released on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday, is already provoking a pitched battle between those who think the film unfairly blames the Jewish people for Jesus' death and those who are instead focused on Gibson's emotional depiction of Jesus' torment. "It is as it was," the aged Pope John Paul II is said to have remarked after seeing the film, and Billy Graham was so moved by a screening that he wept. One can see why these supremely gifted pastors were impressed, for Gibson obviously reveres the Christ of faith, and much of his movie is a literal-minded rendering of the most dramatic passages scattered through the four Gospels.
But the Bible can be a problematic source. Though countless believers take it as the immutable word of God, Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events; the Bible is the product of human authors who were writing in particular times and places WITH PARTICULAR POINTS TO MAKE AND VISIONS TO ADVANCE. And the roots of Christian anti-Semitism lie in overly literal readingswhich are, IN FACT, misreadingsof many New Testament texts. When the Gospel authors implicated "the Jews" in Jesus' passion, they did not mean all Jewish people then alive, much less those then unborn. THE WRITERS HAD A VERY SPECIFIC GROUP IN MIND: THE TEMPLE ELITE that believed Jesus might provoke Pilate.
Newsweek's Jon Meacham joined us to talk about Mel Gibson's controversial new
movie 'The Passion of the Christ.'
Gibson is AN ULTRACONSERVATIVE ROMAN CATHOLIC, a traditionalist who does not acknowledge many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). He favors the Latin mass, does not eat meat on Fridays and adheres to an unusually strict interpretation of Scripture and doctrinea hard-line creed he grew up with and rediscovered about a dozen years ago. "He began meditating on the passion and the death of Jesus," James Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus in "The Passion," told NEWSWEEK. "In doing so, he said the wounds of Christ healed his wounds. And I think the film expresses that." GIBSON SET OUT TO STICK TO THE GOSPELS AND HAS MADE VIRTUALLY NO NOD TO CRITICAL ANALYSIS OR CONTEXT. As an artist, of course, he has the right to make any movie he wants, and many audiences will find the story vivid and familiar. (CONTINUED)...
"It is not very likely that anyone who went to the grave on the first Easter Sunday met an angel who announced that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Modern exegetes are unanimous in interpreting the angel as a legendary figure, drawn from apocalyptic literature and used as a mouthpiece for the faith of the early church…
But mythical though he is, the angel is the centerpiece of the story, and if we interpret his role properly we will have answered many of the questions that cluster around Jesus' tomb. In contrast to the stone at the tomb, which functions in the Easter drama like a silent Greek choragus who warns us how not to interpret the scene, the angel has a speaking part and he directs us positively to what the Jerusalem church thought was the significance of Jesus' grave. The angel was invented to act as a role model for the listener, and he speaks forth what the community thought was the proper response to the empty tomb, namely the affirmation 'Jesus has been raised.'
WHO, THEN, IS THIS ANGEL? I PROPOSE THAT WE TAKE HIM FOR WHAT HE REALLY IS: NOT A SUPERNATURAL BEING WHO ACTUALLY APPEARED IN A TOMB ONE SUNDAY MORNING, BUT A DRAMATIC PERSONA WHO WAS INVENTED TO PLAY A ROLE IN THE CHRISTIAN LEGEND. Later readers of the legend who mistake him for a real angel…misunderstood the literary form, and therefore the point of Mark's Gospel. The Easter narrative, both in its pre-Marcan oral form and in the gospel version, is a legend, not a historical account. IT IS STRUCTURED IN THE FORM OF A DRAMA, A RELIGIOUS PLAY, AND THEREFORE COULD BE MISTAKEN FOR A PIECE OF HISTORY. However, in order to grasp the story according to its proper literary form--and therefore the way in which it was originally meant to be understood--I propose to treat the text at Mark 16:1-8 explicitly as a drama, which I call Easter at the Tomb. If we look at the Easter legend as a religious play, the 'angel' who appears at the tomb is, in fact, an actor who recites dramatic lines that were created for him, first by the early Jerusalem community…and then by the evangelist Mark.This approach may be strained at points, but it does help clarify how the Easter legend developed from the early oral version to Mark's written account and beyond." The First Coming, by Thomas Sheehan, pp.156,57.
As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable for whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered (2 Corinthians 12:4), nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers INTO THE INNERMOST SANCTUARY OF THE TRUTH HIDDEN BY SEVEN VAILS. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it is even yet most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries. Saint Clement on the Secret Gospel of Mark.
"What are we make of this? The feeding of the Five Thousand and the story of the 153 fishes clearly show that certain New Testament stories WERE COMPOSED AS INITIATORY SPIRITUAL ALLEGORIES. We may call them 'initiatory' for the simple reason that they presuppose a movement from the outer world of manifest form to the inner perspective of genuine insight. They were intended both to entertain and to edify at an outer level, designed to bring enjoyment even to children, yet they were also designed to possess within a deeper, hidden dimension, reflecting the harmonic nature of the cosmic pattern. However, since the unknown scholars who composed these tales, based upon the ancient models, were intentionally crafting vehicles for the transmission of spiritual insight, it is unlikely that they desired their teaching stories ultimately to be read in literal or historical terms. This was recognized by the initiated church father Origen (who was also branded a heretic by the emerging orthodoxy) who complains that 'very many mistakes have been made, because the right method of examining the holy texts has not been discovered by the greater number of readers.'...
'It is important to realize,' Origen wrote, 'that: Wherever the Word found historical events capable of adaptation to these mystic truthes, He made use of them, BUT CONCEALED THE DEEPER SENSE FROM THE MANY; but where in setting forth the sequences of things spiritual there was no actual event related for the sake of the more mystic meaning. SCRIPTURE INTERWEAVES THE IMAGINATIVE WITH THE HISTORICAL, sometimes introducing what is utterly impossible, sometimes what is possible but never occurred…
And not only did the Spirit thus deal with the scriptures before the coming of Christ, but, inasmuch as He is the same Spirit, and proceedeth from the One God, He (She) has done the same with the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles; for not even they are purely historical, incidents which never occurred being interwoven in the corporeal sense (with those events that had occurred)...'" Allegory, Initiation, and the Movement Toward Insight, A Study in the New Testament.
We must employ the same means of interpretation if we are to understand the epic meaning of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ in our own time:
"The career of any remarkable person is remembered in oral tradition precisely by being mythicised, connected with almost universally known patterns. Mercia Eliade Gives us an example of Dieudonne de Gozen, a medieval Grand Master of the Knights of St. John at Rhodes who, according to legend, slew the dragon of Malpasso. 'It makes no difference,' writes Eliade, 'that the genuine historical record concerning him is innocent of dragons; the mere fact that the man was, in popular imagination, a hero, necessarily identified him with a category, an archetype, which entirely disregarded his real exploits, equipped him with a mythical biography from which it was impossible to omit combat with a reptilian monster.'
We may say much the same of Jesus of Nazareth…Moreover, I shall use the word 'fiction' rather than the word 'myth' to refer to the study contained in this book, of the fictional aspects of the Four Canonical Gospels. BY FICTION I MEAN--TO PUT THE MATTER IN THE SIMPLEST TERMS AT THE OUTSET--A NARRATIVE WHOSE PURPOSE IS LESS TO DESCRIBE THE PAST THAN AFFECT THE PRESENT.
Of course, all works of fiction have an element of history, all works of history have an element of fiction…And it is not my purpose here to articulate a quarrel with Christian faith, or to call evangelists liars, or to assert that the Gospels have no historical content. I write as a literary critic, not as a debunker. THE GOSPELS ARE, IT MUST BE SAID WITH GRATITUDE, WORKS OF ART, THE SUPREME FICTION IN OUR CULTURE…
The canonical gospels exist as a sequence of narrative and dramatic scenes. This is not surprising; how else would one tell the story of Jesus? What is surprising is the great differences among the stories…For example, according to Matthew and Mark, the dying words of Jesus were, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' According to Luke, Jesus' dying words were, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' But according to John, they were, 'It is accomplished.' To put it another way, we cannot know what the dying words of Jesus were, or even whether he uttered any; it is not that we have too little information, but that we have too much. Each narrative implicitly argues that the others are fictional…
The matter becomes even more complex when we add to it the virtual certainty that Luke knew perfectly what Mark had written…and the liklihood that John also knew what Mark and perhaps Luke wrote, but both Luke and John chose to tell the story differently. AS IT HAPPENS, ALL THE DEATH SCENES WERE CONSTRUCTED TO SHOW JESUS DYING THE MODEL DEATH AND DOING SO IN FULFILLMENT OF THE SCRIPTURES…
What this means I shall discuss later, but for now suffice it that the scenes have a religious and moral purpose disguised as a historical one; we are, with these scenes, in a literary realm known as fiction, in which narratives exist less to describe the past than to affect the present. In De Quincy's phrase, THE GOSPELS ARE NOT SO MUCH LITERATURE OF KNOWLEDGE AS LITERATURE OF POWER.
As in the case mentioned above, the content of the Gospels is frequently not 'Jesus' but what certain persons in the first century wanted us to think about 'Jesus.' In the language of the Fourth Gospel, 'Those (narratives) here written have been recorded in order that you may hold the faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.' (John 20:31). In the language of literary criticism, the Gospels are self-reflexive; they are not about Jesus so much as they are about their own attitudes concerning Jesus.
That reflexive aspect of the Gospels is one of the main themes of this book. I deal with the effort of the evangelists to present their works to us as self-conscious literary documents, deliberately composed as the culmination of a literary and oral tradition, echoing and recasting that tradition, both appealing to it and transcending it, while using it in multiple ways.
The Gospels are Hellenistic religious narratives in the tradition of the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which constitutes the 'Scriptures' to those Greek-speaking Christians who wrote the Four Canonical Gospels and who appealed to it, explicitly or implicitly, in nearly every paragraph they wrote." Gospel Fictions, The Art of the Gospels, Theology as Fictional Narrative, by Randel Helms.
"THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS ACCORDING TO THE CANONICAL GOSPELS…
A symbol of the final anguish of the incarnate soul as it reaches perfection, and the lower nature drops away from it.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.? (Matthew 27:46). The 'ninth hour' refers to the period of attainment of perfection on the three lower planes…(Kether-Hokhmah-Binah refer to the Third hour; Kether-Hesed-Din refer to the Sixth hour; and Kether-Netsah-Hod refer to the Ninth hour)…The crucifixion not being yet completed, the cry of mental distress signifies that the soul is temporarily agonised by this transition state, for it is not yet entirely alive to the nature of the highest conditions of being.
In the apocryphal Gospel of Peter, the dying Christ cries, My Power, My Power, Thou hast forsaken me, the Power being the Heavenly Christ, who for a time has been associated with the earthly person(s) of the Redeemer. The 'heavenly Christ,' or Higher Self, is to be understood as always associated with the struggling Lower Self symbolized by Jesus. This cry of the lower to the Higher indicates the lower consciousness on the verge of union with the Higher, but still perceiving its separateness from it…
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit... (Matthew 27:50). This signifies the consumation--the ultimate suffering, and then the triumph over the ultimate ills of the lower planes--the soul's liberation and final withdrawal from the lower manifestation.
Although redemption as a whole is one, the process is manifold and consists in a series of acts, spiritual and mental. Of this series, the part wherein the individual finally surrenders his own exterior will, with all its exclusively material desires and affections, is designated the Passion. And the particular act whereby this surrender is consummated and demonstrated is called the Crucifixion. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; Galatians 2:20; 6:14-17). This Crucifixion means a complete, unreserving surrender--to the death if need be--on the part of the natural man. Without these steps there is no atonement. The man cannot become one with the Spirit within him, until by his passion and crucifixion, he has utterly vanquished the 'old Adam' of his former self. Through the atonement made by these means of self-sacrifice he becomes as one without sin…and is qualified to enter as his/her own high priest into the holy of holies of his own innermost." The Dictionary of Scriptures and Myths, by G. A. Gaskell.
"If to die as a human sacrifice for human beings deserves the highest reverence, the Christs of the world are to be numbered by the millions. Almost every land on the globe has drunk their annually (daily) shed blood…Nameless men and women have done millions of times what is credited to the fabulous Jesus of the Christian Gospels. They have laid down their lives for the sins of many." J. M. Robertson, Pagan Christs, p.54.
The scriptures speak of two deaths, and two resurrections. (Revelation 20:6). The first death is the death of the old nature, the old intellect, the old logic, and the old way of interpreting the scriptures and the designs of Nature. It is as Paul wrote: Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (Rom. 6:3). And then, If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above. (Colossians 3:1). The Scriptures also say: The kingdom of God is spread out upon the earth and men do not see it. (Gospel of Thomas, 113).
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee...(Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 3:13-15...KJV).
What, then, is the full import of Mel Gibson's graphically and horrendously violent Passion of Christ? How should we interpret it? Not as a depiction of the final twelve hours of the life of any one single individual who ever walked the earth at any one period in time (at least not in that period of time), but rather as a depiction of all the anguish and despair, injustice and oppression, suffering and death, that humanity has experienced everywhere throughout the earth over the last two thousand years of recorded history. The Story of Christ is the Story of God's Presence in every living being. And as such, the mystery of the Crucifixion of Christ is not complete yet. There are those in our time who must still offer the Evening Sacrifice.
THE MYSTICISM OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING
An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West
By Jay Kinney
"In exploring the inner teachings of a religion such as Christianity, it is necessary to go beyond the standard dogmas that are passed on through catechism, Sunday School classes, and theological seminaries. From the very beginning there was an inner understanding of the teachings that had to be uncovered. Jesus said to his disciples: 'To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything is in parables.' (Mark 4:11).
Christianity is not the worship of a cult figure. IT IS THE VERY PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION THAT MAKES A HUMAN BEING ANOTHER CHRISTOS, AN AWAKENED CHILD OF THE CREATOR. Perhaps few of us will achieve Christ's level of oneness with the cosmic forces that brought all things into being, but that may be because few of us are willing to sacrifice and love as fully as he did. We can each be temples of the spirit, new creations liberated from our pettiness and blindness and empowered to bless the world. But how badly do we want this compared to all other distractions, conveniences, and enticements offered to us at every instant?
Christian teaching describes both crucifixion and resurrection. These words are not only metaphors, nor are they simply events that happened in antiquity. Rather they are concepts that apply to the human ego--the one thing that stands in the way of our (spiritual) development...
The alchemy of human transformation, Christ the Philosopher's Stone
The Soul descends, from the higher, invisible world (from the presence of God--the World Soul) through the absolute miracle of Life into human form. (There are Four descending worlds called Emanation, Creation, Formation and Action. The lower world, the world of Action, is the one apparent to our physical senses). Once born into this world the individual soul then begins its own upward (inner) journey (back up the ladder so to say)--from the physical, through the emotional, and intellectual domains until, at last, it is called upon by the Higher World to make the leap from the natural realm to the spiritual again. It has been an evolutionary, spiral process--downwards to the words at Genesis 1:26, and then upwards--through all the regions and psychic levels of the Platonic spheres. (Please click on Images). It is the universal Christ-conscious mind that makes the leap, that becomes one with the whole. (Every living soul will eventually accomplish it, if not in its own lifetime then in a next). The world being the great schoolhouse as it is, newer or younger souls are naturally confined for a time in the physical realm. Almost every thought is centered on their own earthly and material existence. (There is much to work out at this level. Such souls, of course, are always facilitating, and energizing so to say, the overall spiritual development, not only of the planet but of those on the ladder above them). Just as human history itself began at this level, so every individual soul begins at this basic level of human awareness. Each, however, soon after it is born, begins to cultivate emotional attachments to their natural surroundings and to others in their life who provide them with love (or not love) and nourishment (or lack of nourishment). Look into the world, many many souls, for lack of true love and intellectual and spiritual nourishment, are presently stuck at this level of consciousness (at the physical and emotional levels). Large spaces in the neural network of the mind have been left untouched and undeveloped--and thus left vulnerable to dark, negative and erroneous images (to the Divine vicissitudes of the Creation process as it is). On the other hand, every smile, every hug, every kiss, every encouraging word, every fruitful experience, MIXED WITH SOUND INSTRUCTION, creates a positive neural connection in the mind, and builds a defense against the Dark impulse. (Of course, it is not always parents who provide these stimuli. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind, and the Spirit always listeth where She will). Thus when such relationships are conducive to sound intellectual development (when the Inner and Outer worlds--the mind and matter--of the individual soul begin to come into balance), the middle areas of the mind begin to open. The power of discernment, of compassionate understanding, and the potential for higher, complex reasoning begin to form. (Please follow the course of the Higher Sun and understand the general Westward development of this transformation process). Nevertheless, there are millions of souls in our time stuck at this level (at this higher level so to say), at the purely intellectual domain. It is here where the ultimate transformation takes place, but it is also here where man's ego stages its ultimate resistance and its ultimate rebellion. The Christ-conscious mind experiences the resistance, suffers the conflict, overcomes, and passes through.
...The ego is grounded in unresolved natural forces (the survival instinct, infantile self-centeredness), in unconscious behavior (parental imitation, environmental influence), and in imagination (fantasy of self-importance). It is an impostor that is the source of our misery and distorted relationships to others.
The Christ says: Cut it loose, jump off the cliff of your false identity; don't turn back, or, in the language of the Bible, 'Sell all you have and follow me." This is a radical, unadulterated, all-consuming teaching. At the same time it is centered on active compassion, irrepressible hope, and ecstatic joy. It encompasses the ying and yang, the death and rebirth recognized by all visionaries as being at the core of reality itself.
Severe ascetics and fanatic followers have often violated the purity of this old teaching. But it is easy to find the authentic reflection of a life in Christ among Christianity's best representatives...The great saints and mystics were lovers of God and therefore lovers of all beings...' The measure of love is to love beyond measure.' ...
...Many people have not realized that this intangible power of attention is critical to spiritual awakening. If we let it dissipate into the countless distractions of life, we will find that our life force is drained, unavailable for our ultimate task of conscious existence.
Most of us lack the self-awareness that is required to realize the dignity of being human. From the character driving down the highway more focused on his daydreams than on the lives of those around him to the thoughtless parent who humiliates his child, this lack of inner attention is the cause of our continual stumbling.
Self-awareness and the subsequent discovery of the Divine are rare in human behavior because they require energy. We squander most of the psychic "gold" of our attention on things from fidgeting to outbursts of anger. Such wastage can wipe out a whole day's ration of energy, as can constant talking, daydreaming and worrying. Watchfulness requires us to pay attention to the thoughts, impulses, and desires that vie for expression and satisfaction. This very attention may prevent them from taking control. Through this effort we acquire self-mastery and establish A STABLE FOUNDATION FOR INNER TRANSFORMATION.
Nothing can be accomplished if we are not dependable or mindful of our commitment...We gain a "clear sight" when we lift ourselves above the thoughts and feelings that struggle within us. This is not merely a psychological trick, but makes room for the inflow of a higher power (the Higher Power).
Christ understood not as a man from the Judean hill country but as the incarnation of the conscious core of all creation, AND TELLS US IN CLEAR TERMS HOW ESSENTIAL IT IS THAT WE FIND OUR CENTER: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit." (John 15:5).
To abide in Christ is not a matter of religious belief BUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH THE VERY NATURE OF REALITY. As the Belgian priest and theologian Louis Evely has said, "Jesus' greatest liberation is to have liberated us from religion! He wanted us all to have free, direct, and joyful access to God."
This access is free, but it does require specific efforts on our part, the first one being the watch of the heart, so central to the inner teaching of early...Christianity." The Inner West, An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West, by Jay Kinney, pp. 68-71.
(Who Killed Jesus continued)...The film Gibson has made, however, is reviving an ancient and divisive argument: WHO REALLY KILLED JESUS? As a matter of history, the Roman Empire did; as a matter of theology, the sins of the world drove Jesus to the cross, AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HOLDS THAT CHRISTIANS THEMSELVES BEAR "THE GRAVEST RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE TORMENTS INFLICTED UPON JESUS."...
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentence, SEEING THEY CRUCIFY TO THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD AFRESH, AND PUT HIM TO AN OPEN SHAME...(Hebrews 6:1-6).
...Yet for nearly 2,000 years, some Christians have persecuted the Jewish people on the ground that they were responsible for the death of the first-century prophet who has come to be seen as the Christ. Now, four decades after the Second Vatican Council repudiated the idea that the Jewish people were guilty of "deicide," many Jewish leaders and theologians fear the movie, with its portraits of the Jewish high priest Caiaphas leading an angry mob and of Pilate as a reluctant, sympathetic executioner, may slow or even reverse 40 years of work explaining the common bonds between Judaism and Christianity. Gibson has vehemently defended the film against charges of anti-Semitism, saying he does not believe in blood guilt and citing the church teaching that the transgressions and failings of all mankind led to the Passionnot just the sins of the Jewish people. "So it's not singling them out and saying, 'They did it.' That's not so," Gibson told the Global Catholic Network in January. "We're all culpable. I don't want to lynch any Jews... I love them. I pray for them."
The fight about God, meanwhile, has been good for Mammon: Gibson has made WHAT IS LIKELY TO BE THE MOST WATCHED PASSION PLAY IN HISTORY. Prerelease sales are roaring along. Evangelical congregations are buying out showings, and religious leaders are urging believers to come out in the film's opening days because of the commercial and marketing significance of initial box-office numbers. The surprising alliance between Gibson, as a traditionalist Catholic, and evangelical Protestants seems born out of a common belief that the larger secular worldincluding the mainstream mediais essentially hostile to Christianity. Finding a global celebrity like the Oscar-winning Gibson in their camp was an unexpected gift. "THE PASSION OF CHRIST," BILLY GRAHAM SAID, IS "A LIFETIME OF SERMONS IN ONE MOVIE."
...Shot in italy, financed by Gibson, the $25 million film IS TIGHTLY FOCUSED ON JESUS' FINAL 12 HOURS. In the movie there are some flashbacks giving a hintbut only a hintof context, with episodes touching on Jesus' childhood, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper. The characters speak Aramaic and Latin, AND THE MOVIE IS SUB-TITLED IN ENGLISH, which turns it into a kind of artifact, as though the action is unfolding at a slight remove. To tell his story, Gibson has amalgamated the four Gospel accounts and was reportedly inspired by the visions of two nuns: Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) of Spain and Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) of France; Emmerich experienced THE STIGMATA on her head, hands, feet and chestwounds imitating Jesus'. The two nuns were creatures of their time, offering mystical testimony that included allusions to the alleged blood guilt of the Jewish people.
...The arrest, the scourging and the Crucifixion are depicted in harsh, explicit detail in the R-rated movie. One of Jesus' eyes is swollen shut from his first beating as he is dragged from Gethsemane; the Roman torture, the long path to Golgotha bearing the wooden cross, and the nailing of Jesus' hands and feet to the beams are filmed unsparingly. The effect of the violence is at first shocking, then numbing, and finally reaches a point where many viewers may spend as much time clinically wondering how any man could have survived such beatings as they do sympathizing with his plight. There are tender scenes with Mary, Jesus' mother, and Mary Magdalene. "It is accomplished," Jesus says from the cross. His mother, watching her brutally tortured son die, murmurs, "Amen."
In fact, in the age of Roman domination, only Rome crucified. THE CRIME WAS SEDITION, not blasphemyA CIVIL CRIME, not a religious one. The two men who were killed along with Jesus are identified in some translations as "thieves," but the word can also mean "insurgents," supporting the idea that crucifixion was a political weapon used to send a message to those still living: beware of revolution or riot, or Rome will do this to you, too. The two earliest and most reliable extra-Biblical references to Jesusthose of the historians Josephus and Tacitussay Jesus was executed by Pilate. The Roman prefect was Caiaphas' political superior and even controlled when the Jewish priests could wear their vestments and thus conduct Jewish rites in the Temple. Pilate was not the humane figure Gibson depicts. According to Philo of Alexandria, the prefect was of "inflexible, stubborn, and cruel disposition," and known to execute troublemakers without trial.
So why was the Gospel storythe story Gibson has drawn ontold in a way that makes "the Jews" look worse than the Romans? The Bible did not descend from heaven fully formed and edged in gilt. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John shaped their narratives several decades after Jesus' death to attract converts and make their young religionunderstood by many Christians to be a faction of Judaismattractive TO AS BROAD AN AUDIENCE AS POSSIBLE.
FROM THE MIDDLE EAST...(1 Corinthians 1; Revelation 11:8; Rev. 17:9-15...KJV)...TO AMERICA
...The historical problem of dealing with the various players in the Passion narratives is complicated by the exact meaning of the Greek words usually translated "the Jews." The phrase does not include the entire Jewish population of Jesus' dayto the writers, Jesus and his followers were certainly not includedand seems to refer mostly to the Temple elite. The Jewish people were divided into numerous sects and parties, each believing itself to be the true or authentic representative of the ancestral faith and each generally hostile to the others...
...Given these rivalries, we can begin to understand the origins of the unflattering Gospel image OF THE TEMPLE ESTABLISHMENT: the elite looked down on Jesus' followers, so the New Testament authors portrayed the priests in a negative light. We can also see why the writers downplayed the role OF THE RULING ROMANS in Jesus' death. THE ADVOCATES OF CHRISTIANITYthen a new, struggling faithunderstandably CHOSE TO PLACATE, NOT ANTAGONIZE, THE POWERS THAT WERE (ARE). Why remind the world that the earthly empire which still ran the Mediterranean had executed your hero as a revolutionary?
The film opens with a haunting image of Jesus praying in Gethsemane (the Garden). A satanic figureGibson's most innovative dramatic devicetempts him: no one man, the devil says, can carry the whole burden of sin. As in the New Testament, the implication is that the world is in the grip of evil, and Jesus has come TO DELIVER US FROM THE POWERS OF DARKNESS THROUGH HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTIONAN UPHEAVAL OF THE VERY ORDER OF THINGS. Though in such anguish that his sweat turns to blood, JESUS ACCEPTS HIS FATE.
In an ensuing scene, Mary Magdalene calls for help from Roman soldiers as Jesus is taken indoors to be interrogated by the priests. "THEY'VE ARRESTED HIM," she cries. A Temple policeman intervenes, tells the Romans "she's crazy" AND ASSURES THEM THAT JESUS "BROKE THE TEMPLE LAWS, THAT'S ALL." When word of the trouble reaches Pilate, he is told, "There is trouble within the walls. Caiaphas had some prophet arrested." It is true that the Temple leaders had no use for Jesus, but these lines of dialoguewhich, taken together, suggest Jewish control over the situationare not found in the Gospels.
The idea of a nighttime trial as depicted in Gibson's movie is also problematic. The Gospels do not agree on what happened between Jesus' arrest and his appearance before Pilate save for one detail: Jesus was brought before the high priest in some setting. In the movie, Jesus is interrogated before a great gathering of Jewish officials, possibly the Sanhedrin, and witnesses come forth to accuse him of working magic with the Devil, OF CLAIMING TO BE ABLE TO DESTROY THE TEMPLE AND RAISE IT UP AGAIN IN THREE DAYS, AND OF CALLING HIMSELF "THE SON OF GOD." Another cries: "He's said if we don't eat his flesh and drink his blood, we won't inherit eternal life." Gibson does indicate that Jesus has supporters; one man calls the proceeding "a travesty," and another asks, "Where are the other members of the council?"a suggestion that Caiaphas and his own circle are taking action that not everyone would agree with. The climax comes when Caiaphas asks Jesus: "Are you the Messiah?" and Jesus says, "I am..." AND ALLUDES TO HIMSELF AS "THE SON OF MAN." There is a gasp; the high priest rends his garments and declares Jesus a blasphemer.
WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN?...(John 12:23,24).
...There is much here to give the thinking believer pause. "Son of God" and "Son of Man" were fairly common appellations for religious figures in the first century. The accusation about eating Jesus' flesh and bloodobviously a Christian image of the eucharistdoes not appear in any Gospel trial scene. And it was not "blasphemy" to think of yourself as the "Messiah," which more than a few Jewish figures had claimed to be without meeting Jesus' fate, except possibly at the hands of the Romans. The definition of blasphemy was a source of fierce Jewish argument, but it turned on taking God's name in vainand nothing in the Gospel trial scenes supports the idea that Jesus crossed that line.
THE BEST HISTORICAL RECONSTRUCTION OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED is that Jesus had a fairly large or at least vocal following at a time of anxiety in the capital, and the Jewish authorities wanted to get rid of him before overexcited pilgrims rallied around him, drawing down Pilate's wrath. "It is expedient for you," Caiaphas says to his fellow priests in John, "THAT ONE MAN SHOULD DIE FOR THE PEOPLE" SO THAT"THE WHOLE NATION SHOULD NOT PERISH."
Israel and the Nations of the Earth
...AS THE DAY DAWNS, Jesus is taken to Pilate, and it is here that Gibson slips farthest from history. Pilate is presented as a sensible and sensitive if not particularly strong ruler. "Isn't [Jesus] the prophet you welcomed into the city?" Pilate asks. "Can any of you explain this madness to me?" There is, however, no placating Caiaphas.
The scene of a crowd of Jews crying out "Crucify him! Crucify him!" before Pilate has been a staple of Passion plays for centuries, but it is very difficult to imagine Caesar's man being bullied by the people he usually handled roughly. When Pilate had first come to Judea, he had ordered imperial troops to carry images of Caesar into the city; he appropriated sacred Temple funds to build an aqueduct, prompting a protest he put down with violence; about five years after Jesus' execution, Pilate broke up a gathering around a prophet in Samaria with cavalry, killing so many people that he was called to Rome to explain himself.
Jesus seems very much alone before Pilate, AND THIS RAISES A HISTORICAL RIDDLE. If Jesus is a severe enough threat to merit such attention and drastic action, WHERE ARE HIS SUPPORTERS? In Gibson's telling, they are silent or scared. Some probably were, and some may not have known of the arrest, which happened in secret, but it seems unlikely that a movement which threatened the whole capital would so quickly and so completely dwindle to a few disciples, sympathetic onlookers, Mary and Mary Magdalene.
In the memorable if manufactured crowd scene in the version of the movie screened by NEWSWEEK, Gibson included a line that has had dire consequences for the Jewish people through the ages. The prefect is again improbably resisting the crowd, the picture of a just ruler. Frustrated, desperate, bloodthirsty, the mob says: "HIS BLOOD BE UPON US AND ON OUR CHILDREN!" (Hebrews 12:24-29...KJV). Gibson ultimately cut the cry from the film, and he was right to do so. Again, consider the source of the dialogue: a partisan Gospel writer. The Gospels were composed to present Jesus in the best possible light to potential converts in the Roman Empireand to put the Temple leadership in the worst possible light. And many scholars believe that the author of Matthew, which is the only Gospel to include the "His blood be on us" line, was writing after the destruction of the Temple in 70 and inserted the words to help explain why such misery had come upon the people of Jerusalem. According to this argument, blood had already fallen on them and on their children.
A moment later in Gibson's movie, Pilate is questioning Jesus and, facing a silent prisoner, says, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus then replies: "... he who delivered me to you has the greater sin." (Mark 14:21). The "he" in this case is Caiaphas. John's point in putting this line in Jesus' mouth is almost certainly to take a gibe at the Temple elite. But in the dramatic milieu of the movie, it can be taken to mean that the Jews, through Caiaphas, are more responsible for Jesus' death than the Romans arean implication unsupported by history.
THE TEMPLE ELITE undoubtedly played a key role in the death of Jesus; Josephus noted that the Nazarene had been "accused BY THOSE OF THE HIGHEST STANDING AMONG US," meaning among the Jerusalem Jews. But Pilate's own culpability and ultimate authority are indisputable as well. If Jesus had not been a political threat, why bother with the trouble of crucifixion? THERE IS ALSO EVIDENCE THAT JESUS' ARREST WAS PART OF A BROADER PATTERN OF VIOLENCE OR FEARED VIOLENCE THIS PASSOVER. Barabbas, the man who was released instead of Jesus, was, according to Mark, "among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection"suggesting that Pilate was concerned with "rebels" and had already confronted an "insurrection" some time before he interrogated Jesus.
Except for the release of Barabbas, there is no hint of this context in Gibson's movie. "The Passion of the Christ" includes an invented scene in which Pilate laments his supposed dilemma. "If I don't condemn him," he tells his wife, "Caiaphas will start a rebellion; if I do, his followers will." Caiaphas was in no position to start a rebellion over Jesus; he and Pilate were in a way allies, and when serious revolt did come, in 66, it would be over grievances about heavy-handed Roman rule, not over a particular religious figure, and even then the priests would plead with the people not to rebel. In the movie, far from urging calm, the priests lead the crowd, and Pilate, far from using his power to control the mob, gives in. AND SO JESUS IS SENTENCED TO DEATH.
Clear evidence of the political nature of the executionthat Pilate and the high priest were ridding themselves of a "messiah" who might disrupt society, not offer salvationis the sign Pilate ordered affixed to Jesus' cross. The message is not from the knowing Romans to the evil Jews. It is, rather, a scornful signal to the crowds that this death awaits any man the pilgrims proclaim "THE KING OF THE JEWS."
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under HIS FEET...
So also is the Resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption (on the Lefthand side of the Tree); it is raised in incorruption (on the Righthand side of the Tree).
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power...(1 Corinthians 15:24-26; 42-45).
...The Roman soldiers who torture Jesus and bully him toward Golgotha are portrayed as evil, taunting and vicious, and they almost certainly were. Without authority from the New Testament, Caiaphas, meanwhile, is depicted as a grim witness to the scourging and Crucifixion as Gibson cuts back to the Last Supper and to moments of Jesus' teaching. After Jesus, carrying his cross, sees the faces of the priests, he is shown saying: "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." Is this intended to absolve the priests? Perhaps. From the cross, Jesus says: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
As clouds gather and Jesus dies, a single raindropa tear from God the Father?falls from the sky. A storm has come; the gates of hell are broken; back in the Temple, Caiaphas, buffeted by the earthquake, cries out in anguish amid the gloom. Then there is light, and a discarded shroud, AND A RISEN CHRIST BEARING THE STIGMATA LEAVES THE TOMB. It is Easter.
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the Land of Israel (a State of Mind, not a piece of geography or any other occupied land on earth).
And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
And shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land (your own State of Mind): then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord...(Ezekiel, chapter 37...KJV).
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD...(Romans 11...KJV).
...Are the gospels themselves anti-Semitic? Not in the sense the term has come
to mean in the early 21st century, but they are polemics, written by followers
of a certain sect who disdained other factions in the way the Old Testament
was dismissive of, say, Israelite religious practices not sanctioned by Jerusalem.
WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE MILIEU IN WHICH THE TEXTS WERE COMPOSED, WE CAN EASILY
MISINTERPRET THEM. The tragic history of the persecution of the Jewish people
since the Passion clearly shows WHAT CAN GO WRONG WHEN THE GOSPELS ARE NOT READ
Most of the early Christians were Jewish and saw themselves as such. Only later, beginning roughly at the end of the first century, did some Christians start to view and present themselves as a people entirely separate from other Jewish groups. And for centuries stilleven after Constantine's conversion ( TO WHAT ?) in the fourth centurysome Jewish people considered themselves Christians. It was as the church's theology took shape, culminating in the Council of Nicaea in 325, that Jesus became the doctrinal Christ, the Son of God "who for us men and our salvation," the council's original creed declared, "descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead."
As the keeper of the apostolic faith, the Roman Catholic Church has long struggled with the issue of Jewish complicity in Jesus' death. Always in the atmosphere, anti-Semitism took center stage with the coming of the First Crusade in the 11th century, when Christian soldiers on their way to expel Muslims from the Holy Land massacred European Jews. (AND NOW THEY ARE CAUGHT) By the early Middle Ages, Christian anti-Semitism lent a religious veneer to political decisions by the secular authorities of the day, decisions that often penalized or curtailed the rights of the Jewish people. The justification for anti-Semitism was articulated by Pope Innocent III, who reigned in the early years of the 13th century: "the blasphemers of the Christian name," he said, should be "forced into the servitude of which they made themselves deserving when they raised their sacrilegious hands against Him who had come to confer true liberty upon them, thus calling down His blood upon themselves and their children."
After the horror of Hitler's Final Solution (Open the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel on the morning of the 20th century--in Eastern and central Europe), the Roman Church began to reassess its relationship with the Jewish people. The result from Vatican II was a thoughtful and compelling statement on deicide. "True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today... in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved... by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." (Understand Chapter 9 and 10 in the Commentary on the Tree of Life. The Roman Catholic church is not the Church, nor is the Zionist state of Israel, God's Israel).
The council went on to make another crucial point undercutting the use of Passion to fuel anti-Semitism, either in fact or in drama. "Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now," Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) says, "Christ underwent his passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation." And his mercy is not limited to those who confess the Christian faith. "The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion."
If pointing to a 40-year-old church teaching is not enough, we can also look back more than 400 years to find the seeds of reconciliation and grace. At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Roman Church stated as a theological principle that all men share the responsibility for the Passionand that Christians bear a particular burden. "In this guilt [for the death of Jesus] are involved all those who fall frequently into sin..." read the catechism of the council. "This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the Jews since, if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him." (Understand Isaiah 4:1,2).
In the battle over his project, Gibson has veered between defiance and conciliation. "This film collectively blames humanity [for] the death of Jesus," he said in his Global Catholic Network interview. "Now there are no exemptions there. All right? I'm the first on the line for culpability. I DID IT. CHRIST DIED FOR ALL MEN FOR ALL TIMES." Of critics who think his film could perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, he said: "They've kind of, you know, come out with this mantra again and again and again. You know, 'He's an anti-Semite.' 'He's an anti-Semite.' 'He's an anti-Semite.' 'He's an anti-Semite.' I'm not." In a letter to Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman last week, Gibson wrote: "It is my deepest belief, as I am sure it is yours, that all who ever breathe life on this Earth are children of God and my most binding obligation to them, as a brother IN THIS WAKING WORLD, is to love them." The news of the letter broke on Tuesday; late last week David Elcott, the U.S. director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, reported that he had been present at a screening when someone asked Gibson, "Who opposes Jesus?" Gibson's Manichaean reply: "They are either satanic or the dupes of Satan." (NOW UNDERSTAND REVELATION, CHAPTER 12...KJV).
Was there any way for him to have made a movie about the Passion and avoided
this firestorm? There was. There are a number of existing CATHOLIC PASTORAL
INSTRUCTIONS detailing the ways in which the faithful should dramatize or discuss
the Passion. (Had we obeyed them we
would still be in the grips of the great anti-Christs of the earth--the Roman
church in Europe, and now the merchant Protestant empire of the West).
"To attempt to utilize the four passion narratives literally by picking
one passage from one gospel and the next from another gospel, and so forth,"
reads one such instruction, "is to risk violating the integrity of the
texts themselves... it is not sufficient for the producers of passion dramatizations
to respond to responsible criticism simply by appealing to the notion that 'it's
in the Bible'." The church also urges "the greatest caution"
when "it is a question of passages that seem to show the Jewish people
as such in an unfavorable light." The teachings suggest dropping scenes
of large, chanting Jewish crowds and avoiding the device of a Sanhedrin trial.
They also note that there is evidence Pilate was not a "vacillating administrator"
who "himself found 'no fault' with Jesus and sought, though in a weak way,
to free him." A reference in Luke, instructions point out, and historical
sources indicate that he was, rather, a "ruthless tyrant," and "there
is, then, room for more than one dramatic style of portraying the character
of Pilate and still being faithful to the biblical record." The United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops, NEWSWEEK has learned, is publishing these
teachings in book form to coincide with the release of Gibson's movie (They
should first read Matthew 23...KJV)..
In the best of all possible worlds, "The Passion of the Christ" will prompt constructive conversations about the origins of the religion that claims 2 billion followers around the globe, conversations that ought to lead believers to see that Christian anti-Semitism should be seen as an impossibilitya contradiction in terms. To hate Jews because they are Jewsto hate anyone, in factis a sin in the Christian cosmos, for Jesus commands his followers to love their neighbor as themselves. On another level, anti-Semitism is a form of illogical and self-defeating self-loathing. Bluntly put, Jesus had to die for the Christian story to unfold, and the proper Christian posture toward the Jewish people should be one of respect, for the man Christians choose to see as their savior came from the ancient tribe of Judah, the very name from which "Jew" is derived. As children of Abraham, CHRISTIANS AND JEWS ARE BRANCHES OF THE SAME TREE, LINKED TOGETHER IN THE MYSTERY OF GOD.
And there shall be upon every hihj mountain, (great nation) and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters IN THE DAY OF THE GREAT SLAUGHTER, WHEN THE TOWERS FALL.
MOREOVER THE LIGHT OF THE MOON (Judaism) SHALL BE AS THE LIGHT OF THE SUN (Christianity), and the Light of the Sun shall be Sevenfold, AS THE LIGHT OF SEVEN DAYS, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound...(Isaiah 30:25,26).
...Let us end where we, and Gibson's movie, beganIN THE GARDEN, IN DARKNESS. The guards have come to arrest Jesus. He watches as his disciples come to blows with the troops. Punches are thrown, and one of Jesus' men lashes out with a weapon, slashing off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Watching, removed from the fray, Jesus intervenes, commanding: "PUT UP THY SWORD," making real the New Testament commandment to love one another as he loved us, even unto deatha commandment whose roots stretch back to the 19th chapter of Leviticus: "... you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord." Amid the clash over Gibson's film and the debates about the nature of God, whether you believe Jesus to be the savior of mankind or to have been an interesting first-century figure who left behind an inspiring moral philosophy, perhaps we can at least agree on this image of Jesus of Nazareth: CONFRONTED BY VIOLENCE (and in the presence of the God of War), HE CHOSE PEACE; BY HATE. LOVE; BY SIN, FORGIVENESSa powerful example for us all, whoever our gods may be.
STAR TOOK RISKS FOR HIS BELIEFS
By Marco R. della Cava
BEVERLY HILLS__One thing is clear about the unfolding drama that is Mel Gibson..."THERE WAS NO WAY THIS MOVIE WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN, EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT SURE I HAVE THE WHOLE ANSWER AS TO WHY," Gibson told USA TODAY. "I JUST KNOW I WAS COMPELLED TO MAKE IT."...
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The director's timing couldn't be better. Christian organizations have grown increasingly vocal in national debates on everything from marriage to entertainment. Though John F. Kennedy's Catholic roots were considered a presidential liability in 1960, President Bush today refers frequently to being a born-again Christian and how that plays into his decision-making.
"The religious right has been very effective in moving religion into public debate, but I wonder if we have gone too far in that direction," says University of Houston law professor Leslie Griffin, co-editor of The Catholic Church, Morality and Politics. "If you're using movies to convert people, I'm not sure that helps elevate the level of debate in the public square." (A typically intellectual thing to say).
Is Gibson trying to convert people? His reply provides no answer: "Nobody makes art that you don't want anyone to see," he says...So, yeah, there's gratification in the fact that people do want to see Passion...
GIBSON DRAWS FROM HIS ROOTS
Bart says the industry players he has spoken with "admire the way Gibson has put his money where his mouth is." His reputation is as "decent guy, as a family man. Sure he was wild as a younger guy, but he's built up a certain respect." If you're looking for a reason for the Passion's existence, LOOK TO THOSE WILD DAYS. The turning point came 12 years ago when Gibson took stock of a life spent literally drinking in the Hollywood high life. "I'd gotten to a place where I was really involved in the secular utopia. And I went for it," he says. "This was supposed to be good, so why was it all so miserable? I had an emptiness, a void. WE ALL HAVE THIS DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. I just felt it was time to start looking at things that I'd been raised with."...
Gibson say it was easy to put up his millions for this vision: "Materialism isn't one of my things. I was just as happy with $5 as I am with more. It was just something I needed to do. Christ's sacrifice just grabbed me, I had no choice."
'THE PASSION OF CHRIST', MORE THAN A MOVIE
By George Henson
Staff Writer The Baptist Standard
DENTON--"The Passion of the Christ" will spark a stampede from theater seats to church pews, and Christians need to be ready to answer the questions the movie raises, Steve Pate believes. Pate, associate director of missions for Denton Baptist Association, predicts a pilgrimage to America's churches not unlike what happened after terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. "People came to our churches in droves after 9/11, and they didn't get the answers to their questions, and they're not there now," Pate pointed out. "If we don't get them this time, we may not get another chance, because they are going to stop thinking of the church as a place where answers to life's hard questions can be found."
Pate urged pastors in his association to prepare for the film's Feb. 25 Ash Wednesday opening: "Whatever you've got planned for preaching, you'd better jettison that and answer the questions that people are going to be coming with." Pate suggested pastors cover subjects such as the accuracy of the Bible, the humanity of Jesus, the necessity of Christ's painful death by crucifixion and evidence of the resurrection.
"This film brings up a lot more questions than it answers, but I don't see how anyone can see it and not think of it as a tool for evangelism. True, this is not the altar call, but it can be the start of a spiritual journey whereby people turn their lives to faith in Jesus Christ," Pate said.
"It really does raise more questions than it answers, but they will know the death that Jesus went through was really brutal. It's up to the church to tell them the beatings and the death on the cross were for them," Pate said. "The film shows what Jesus suffered, but there's no transference that this was for me. There's nothing in the film like that. The church has to do that."
Denton Association has contracted with the United Artists theater at Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville for two early showings of the movie. While the movie will not be shown there during its release on Feb. 25, the movie will be shown one time on both Feb. 23 and 24 in a 300-seat theater. Pate is certain that churches within the association will buy those 600 seats well before those dates arrive. "As soon as the e-mail goes out to the churches, those seats are gone," he said. This is simply an opportunity that can't be missed, Pate said. Outreach Inc. has called the film "perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years."
In addition to changing sermon topics, Pate also has suggested churches in his association prepare special seeker Sunday school classes so visitors can ask questions rather than just sit through a standard lesson. In short, he believes churches should depart from their regular routine in order to accommodate people who are drawn by the film. "I'm a huge planning person, but to quote (Henry) Blackaby, 'Our job is to see what God is doing in the world and to get on board.' It's obvious looking at newspapers, the Internet and television that this is something God is active in," Pate said. "If churches deal with the questions these people who come are asking, there could be a huge harvest. If they don't, there will not be any."
Pate, who has seen the film, warns Christians not to see the film alone. Instead, he urges Christians to take non-Christian friends or family members with them. "This movie is so hard to sit through that if someone says, 'I'll go and check it out, and then I'll take someone,' they won't go back," he said.
Pate said he would see the movie again, but he would do it only with a non-Christian and only because "evangelism is what makes my heart beat fast." Pate also is cautioning youth ministers who take their youth groups to make sure all have signed permission slips in hand, because the film is rated R for the violence of the crucifixion. He also advised youth ministers to provide time for discussion after young people view the film. "They are going to need to talk about what they have seen," he said.
The film has affected him greatly, he acknowledged. "To see this film is a life-changing event. I will never approach the cross the same way. See this film, and you will never approach the Lord's Supper the same way. You can't. It's impossible," he said. "But if you want it to be a life-transforming event, take a lost person to see it with you. Don't go without taking a lost person with you."
While he believes the movie is a great opportunity for the church to show itself relevant to society, Pate is concerned about what will happen if churches fail to take advantage of the opportunity. "If we don't have answers to society's questions, there is a real danger that the culture will reinvent itself and leave the church right out of it. "We can't blow this. This is the greatest chance for the churches to show their relevance since 9/11. My worry is that 9/11 was easy, and we blew it. This is hard."
News of religion, faith, missions, Bible study and Christian ministry among Texas Baptist churches, in the BGCT, the Southern Baptist Convention ( SBC ) and around the world. The Newsmagazine of Texas Baptists
POPE LOVES MEL GIBSON FILM
"It is as it was."
This, Peggy Noonan reports in the Opinion Journal, was the Pope's comment to his good friend Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz after watching "The Passion of Christ," Mel Gibson's much-maligned film. In other words, the Holy Father feels that Mel Gibson's film accurately shows how events unfolded in the last days of Christ on Earth.
The Vatican has had no official comment on the movie, but Noonan in her latest column tells us that "John Paul II, who even with the challenges of his current illness has more good sense than many of his cardinals, knew of the controversy surrounding Mr. Gibson's film, and wanted to see it." When he did, he approved wholeheartedly of Gibson's rendering.
Producer Steve McEveety laughingly told Noonan that the pontiff saw the film "At the pope's pad," i.e., the papal apartments. "He had to watch it late in the evening," Mr. McEveety said of John Paul. "He's pretty well booked. But he really wanted to see it." Noonan writes that the Msgr. told McEveety that John Paul II "found ["The Passion"] very powerful, and approved of it."
"I was kind of relieved it's a scary thing," Mr. McEveety told Noonan. "But Billy Graham saw it and was very supportive, and now JPII. The amazing thing is they're in agreement on the film." Noonan writes that the pope, in supporting the film and affirming its merits, repudiates those who feel the film, and Gibson, are anti-Semitic. John Paul II, she writes, has done more for Judeo-Christian relations than any other pope.
This pope would know anti-Semitic, and this film isn't. Noonan concludes: If the pontiff's feelings end the controversy over the film, it would be a "beautiful gift to everyone this holiday season."
BILLY GRAHAM SCREENS "THE PASSION OF CHRIST"
Nov. 26, 2003 - After watching Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ,"
Billy Graham endorsed it as faithful to the Bible's teaching. He said: ...we
are all responsible for Jesus' death, because we have all sinned... It is our
sins that caused His death, not any particular group. No one who views this
film's compelling imagery will ever be the same.
Jesus actor struck by lightning Oct. 24, 2003 - Actor Jim Caviezel, who plays
Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ, was struck by lightning twice (!)
while they were filming in a remote location a few hours from Rome. The the
film's assistant director Jan Michelini was also struck. Neither man was hurt
'I Saw the Passion'
June 26, 2003 - Barbara Nicolosi was present at a private screening of Mel
Gibson's unfinished film "The Passion." She says the film is faithful
to the Gospel and is not anti-Semetic. The Passion is a stunning work of art.
It is a devout, act of worship from Mel and his collaborators - in the way that
Handel's Messiah and Notre Dame were artistic acts of worship in previous times.
In the film, Satan is super creepy, and is a woman.
A very violent 'passion'
Feb. 1, 2003 - Mel Gibson, the third most powerful person in Hollywood, is
working on such a realistic film about the death of Christ that it will only
contain conversation in the actual language spoken by Christ, Aramaic. Critics
laugh at the project, but Gibson is totally committed to the project. Hopefully
it will be released by Easter of 2004.
Source:NY Daily News
Mel Gibson under attack for Jesus film?
Jan. 15, 2003 - Mel Gibson's latest film is about the suffering and death of
Christ. He believes that is the reason a reputable reporter from an unnamed
publication has been dispatched to "dig up dirt" on him. He says the
investigation has obtained information from his friends, family, and business
associates. He doesn't like it, but says he has already forgiven them, presumably
like Jesus would do. He said: "He died for all mankind. He (Jesus) suffered
for all of us. It's time to get back to that basic message. The world has gone
nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness."
The Passion of the Christ
This letter was written by the daughter of James Dobson (Focus on the Family). It was written after a private screening she and her father had of "The Passion," Mel Gibson's upcoming movie about Christ's final hours.
A couple months ago, I had the unique privilege of accompanying my family to Mel Gibson's studio to see a private screening of his film, The Passion. Many of you have probably heard about this portrayal of the last 12 hours in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. I can say that The Passion is the most beautiful, profound, accurate, disturbing, realistic, and bloody depiction of this story that I have ever seen. It is truly amazing, and it left all of us speechless for a few minutes when it was over.
Mr. Gibson entered the room during the last ten minutes of the screening, and stayed for an hour to discuss the content and to answer questions. He's hoping that my dad and Focus on the Family will help promote it, and my dad has (without question) agreed to do so. Mr. Gibson expressed a concern about his position in the entertainment industry, and said that this film will affect his status from here on. When asked why he made the movie, he said that he had no choice in the matter--he felt called to the assignment, and he was determined to carry it out. Questions had been raised as to whether he can find a distributor. Asked about it at the screening, Mr. Gibson said confidently, "Oh, I'll find a distributor!"
The Passion should not be labeled a religious film, or something to be shown only in churches. Compared with examples of recent Christian films, like Left Behind, The Passion is a work of high art and great storytelling. The rough cut I saw contained graphic scenes, including the seemingly endless scourging of Jesus. The crucifixion scene is long, bloody and painful to watch. It's very disturbing, but it's also moving at the same time. While I was taking all of this in, I was thinking, "Christ did this for ME, and he would have gone through it if I was the only one in all the world, and the same goes for each person who has ever lived!"
To those in the Jewish community who worry that the film, which is scheduled
for release next Easter season ('04), might contain anti-Semitic elements, or
encourage people to persecute Jews, fear not. The film does not indict Jews
for the death of Jesus. It is faithful to the New Testament account. Also, Mr.
Gibson, a devout Roman Catholic, does not elevate Mary beyond what Scripture
says of her, which will broaden the film's appeal to Protestants.
The dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin. English subtitles are provided, and they are very helpful in following the story line. A decision about using them in the final version has not been made. My family and I tried to persuade Mr. Gibson to leave the subtitles in, and my dad pointed out that those who are unbelievers (or those who are weak in their understanding) will haveno idea of what's going on in the flashback scenes of Jesus' life without subtitles.
In The Passion, few liberties are taken with the Gospel account, and the extra dialogue added helps round out the characters without damaging historical or Biblical accuracy. Satan is cleverly played as an asexual being who at first seems to be an observer in the Garden of Gethsemane (and other scenes), but then becomes a snake slithering between the character's feet and attempting to wrap itself around the arm of the prostrate and praying Jesus.
The film is an intense two hours. It uses unknown actors, which keeps the focus
on the message. By the end of the film (a unique portrayal of the Resurrection),
the viewer is exhausted!
Thirteen years ago, actor Mickey Rooney wrote an editorial for Variety in which he said, "The onscreen depiction of religion is less than flattering, and, as a Christian, I pray the era of denigrating religion on screen comes to a screeching halt. And soon." His prayer has been answered in The Passion. It is a soul-stirring film that deserves wide distribution and viewing. Its message is not just for Christians, but for everyone. I hope you all will support Mel Gibson's bold and courageous effort to portray the sacrifice that our Lord made for us. Pass this email on, if you feel led, and be sure to see The Passion when it comes out. Yes, it is a disturbing film, but every person should see this realistic depiction of what Christ did for them!
Blessings to you, Danae Dobson
ADVANCE TICKETS NOW FOR "THE PASSION OF CHRIST"
(No Charge For the Real Show)
IT'S OFFICIAL! You can now buy ADVANCE TICKETS to see Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ". Icon Productions has set up a toll-free ticket hotline for your ordering requests (see below for telephone number). The best way to show your support for the film now is to purchase advance tickets. This sends a clear message to theaters across the world that people really are interested in seeing this film. The more people that buy advance tickets, the more theaters will carry the movie. The more theaters that carry the movie, the more people will get a chance to see it.
Advance tickets are currently only available for the UNITED STATES and CANADA.
Many of you have already told us that advance tickets would make great Christmas gifts! Well now you can get them after all. There also may be discounts for qualifying large group sales. Please be patient when calling as there will hopefully be an overwhelming response to purchase tickets! You may have to hold for a short time when calling before getting an operator. If you get a busy signal, please try again at a later time.
It's great news -- there are now distributors for the United States and Canada and many theaters have agreed to carry the film! The film will be launched on February 25, 2004 in both the United States and Canada. (Details for other countries hopefully coming soon). Icon Productions has now made available the toll-free telephone hotline open 24 hours/day for advance tickets. Although some theaters have agreed to carry the film, some still have not. If people buy advance tickets and show their support of this movie, it increases the likelihood that more theaters will get on board and carry the film.
Individual tickets and groups tickets can be purchased. In fact, large groups have already been known to order all tickets for an entire theater! If you have a group or congregation that wants to see this film, there may be discounts for qualifying groups. So, tell everyone about this great opportunity to get this important film into even more theaters!
If you live in the United States or Canada and would like to order advance
tickets please call: (888) 227 - 1152
or visit our website for more details: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/tickets.html
We can achieve an amazing impact on the acceptance of this film if we can reach our website goals. We believe that if each qualifying person that receives this email can get a group of at least 5 people to see this film and order advance tickets, it will have a tremendous impact. So, if you were planning to see this film and know others who were too, please consider the purchase of advance tickets. And please pass this email on to everyone you think might be interested. (The film still may not be available in all areas - please visit our website or call the toll-free number for more information).
The toll-free phone number is ONLY for pre-sale questions and advance ticket sales, so please use it responsibly. Also, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website for more information regarding the film: http://www.passion-movie.com/english/faq.html Sincerely, The Team at Passion-Movie.com
THE MYSTERY OF THE CROSS
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet...(Psalm 22).
For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto those who are saved it is the Power of God.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after (purely human) wisdom:
BUT WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are saved, both Jews and Greeks, Christ he power of God, and the wisdom of God...(1 Corinthians 1:18-24).
For I through (the sublime meaning, and the transformative power of) the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
For I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me...(Galatians 2:19,20).
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, BY WHOM THE WORLD IS CRUCIFIED UNTO ME, AND I UNTO THE WORLD...(Galatains 6:14).
WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN?
God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?...(Numbers 23:19; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31...KJV).
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visiteth him?...(Psalm 8:4; Hebrews 2:1-6...KJV).
And Jesus answered them, saying, THE HOUR IS COME, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal...
NOW is the judgment of this world: NOW SHALL THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD BE CAST OUT...(John 12:23-25; 31).
Principalities and Powers, Thrones and Dominions
And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon; and the Dragon fought and his angels.
And prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven.
And THE GREAT DRAGON was cast out, that old Serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: HE WAS CAST OUT INTO THE EARTH, AND HIS ANGELS WERE CAST OUT WITH HIM...(Revelation 12:1-10).
The Number Six Hundred, Sixty and Six
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the Thief would come (understand John, chapter 10...KJV), he would have WATCHED, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not...(Luke 12:39-59).
Son of man, Stand upon thy Feet...(Eekiel, chapter 2...KJV)
I say unto you, The Son can do nothing in himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
For the Father loveth the Son (see Matthew 17:1-12), and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: AND HE WILL SHOW HIM GREATER WORKS THAN THESE, THAT YE MAY MARVEL.
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which sent him...(John 5:19-47).
WHAT NEW DOCTRINE IS THIS?...(Mark 1:27).
The doctrine is not mine, but Him that Sent me. If any do God's will, they shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory. But he that seeketh the glory of him that Sent him, the same is true and there is no unrighteousness in him...(John 7:15-18).
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old...Behold, I do a new thing: now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it?...(Isaiah 43:18,19).
We speak wisdom among them that are perfect...(1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
These word are Spirit...the words that I speak the same shall judge you in the last day...(John 12:48; Psalm 74:5-14).
And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the Twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Behold, we go up to Jerusalem: and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death.
And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him, and the Third Day he shall rise again...
...(Then) Jesus called unto them, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.
And whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many...(Matthew 20:18.19, 25-28).
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo, here; or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you...
For as the lightning that lighteneth out of one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven: so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
And as it was in the days of No'e...
They did eat, and drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that No'e entered into the ark, and the flood (the wars) came, and destroyed them all...thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed...(Luke 17:20-30).
Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things, and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things and be set at naught...(Mark 9:12,13).
The Son of man indeed goeth as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man goeth...(Mark 14:21).
Behold, he calleth Elias...(Mark 15:34-38).
Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come, to restore all things? I say unto you that Elias has already come, and they knew him not. But they have done to him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall the Son of man suffer of them...(Matthew 17:1-13, 22,23).
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets...(Luke 6:22.23).
The Evening Sacrifice
The Commentary of Israel Shamir
CRITICS OF GIBSON'S FILM REVEAL PASSIONS
By Dr. James Hitchcock
Arlington Catholic Herald
The controversy over Mel Gibsonís film "The Passion of the Christ" involves significant religious conflicts and the dispute over whether the film is anti-Semitic may not be the most important of those. The claim of anti-Semitism has been repeated by gentiles who regard any strong manifestation of religion as dangerous. Little noticed by many religious believers, there are now influential people in our society (journalists, for example) who simply think that traditional religion should be discouraged. Gibsonís film is by far the most effective popular expression of Christianity in many years and it is largely for that reason that it is attacked. For some of its critics there is an unrecognized pun here of linking the word "passion" with religion immediately sets off their alarm bells. One negative critic assures his readers that "Jesus was a pretty cool dude" and goes on to say that "most scholars" think he was a political revolutionary, a claim which would surprise most of the scholars I know.
In typical fashion, these secularists cannot decide which of two contradictory charges should be used to discredit Gibson of that he is a dangerous fanatic or that he is cynically out to make money. He has been accused of orchestrating a campaign of publicity for the film, as though he is the one who started the controversy. If Gibson is dismissed as cynical, then he ceases to be dangerous and those who admire his film are gullible yokels. Hollywood, as we all know, only makes films for serious moral reasons. The accusation that Gibson is actually sadistic in his portrayal of the passion is itself a prime example of cynical hypocrisy, coming as it does from people who celebrate every shocking new violation of peoples sensibilities as an "artistic breakthrough." (The effort to force Gibson to modify his film, if not to withdraw it completely, is the most blatant attempt at "prior censorship" of the media in years.)
When all is said and done, some of the critics are less bothered by the film itself than by the Gospel accounts on which it is based, GIBSON IS NOT ACCUSED OF SERIOUSLY DISTORTING THOSE ACCOUNTS BUT OF TAKING THEM TOO SERIOUSLY. This leads directly into the other controversy which lies barely beneath the surface ó the continuing tension between orthodox and liberal Christians. Thus the president of a Catholic college is quite explicit about his own agenda that the Gospels themselves contain "regrettable" passages which should be expunged, and " ... which many interpreters of the Gospel mistook the story for history." (Yes, indeed, we plead guilty.) A minister discounts the importance of Jesus' crucifixion and urges people to concentrate instead on those who have suffered for political causes. ("Jesus did not die for the sins of humankind.")
A woman who is "studying to be a spiritual advisor" regrets that the film concentrates on "the aspect of Christís life most questioned by modern theologians and religious scholars." (Even the most skeptical scholars think that Jesusí crucifixion, alluded to in ancient texts other than the Bible, did occur.) Another woman, who is a candidate for ordination, thinks there can be no satisfactory film about Jesus BECAUSE IT IS NOT CLEAR WHO HE EVEN WAS.
The film could have been less violent. But those who condemn it for that reason miss the point. Christianity teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the human race and that sin is a terrible thing, the ultimate horror. Jesus need not have suffered so brutally in order to redeem us, but He chose to do so, and the Evangelists thought it necessary to record that suffering. Our culture is prone to seeing sin as merely a question of "mistakes," which makes the passion incomprehensible.
The minister quoted above no doubt thinks of himself as a very tolerant person, but he demands that everyone share his theology and those who do not are bigots. For such people the stakes are indeed high. If the Gospel accounts are not credible, if Jesus did not die for our sins, then historic Christianity is simply a terrible error and people today are free to reshape it in any way they see fit. "The Passion" is, finally, a reminder of the impossibility of that task.
- Dr. Hitchcock is a professor of history at St. Louis University.
Copyright ©2004 Arlington Catholic Herald. All rights reserved.
THE STUMBLING BLOCK
By Israel Shamir
In the Return of the King, the Oscar-studded film based on the Tolkien's fantasy, there is a touching and inspiring moment: at the lowest ebb of struggle, when the Sauron hordes pour in through the breached gates of Gondor, horns announce the arrival of the relieving force. Rohan is coming, and the looting Orks retreat from the City in disarray.
Such a rescue force came to the embattled people of the Middle East in the unexpected form of a film. This inspired creation of Mel Gibson broke THE DANGEROUS AND IMMORAL ALLIANCE BETWEEN DEVOUT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS AND THEIR JEWISH (ZIONIST) SHEPHERDS. Mel Gibson and his Passion of Christ may well have advanced the cause of justice and peace in Palestine more than we could possibly dream of. Incidentally, he succeeded in undermining THE MOST DANGEROUS HERESY IN THE LONG HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY: THE RIGHT-WING EVANGELICAL'S INFATUATION WITH JEWS AND ZIONISM. Now it is the time to recognise this victory and enjoy its fruits.
...The Jewish establishment and its willing subjects carried out a perilous policy of encouraging the Clash of Civilisations, embodied in ideological and US military warfare against the Third World. For this reason, they promoted the concept of a Judaeo-Christian, Civilisation at war with the Muslims, with the Red-Brown, Russians, with the French and with traditional societies and forces. Mel Gibson and his powerful film opened the Second Front of this great struggle within the powerbase of the enemy -- in the US -- by exposing the lie at the very foundation of the Judaeo-Christian myth. (Not the Crucifixion story but the lie of Zionism).
AS ST. PAUL PROPHESIED, CHRIST TURNED OUT TO BE THE "STUMBLING BLOCK" FOR THE JEWISH ADVANCE. The Jewish leaders thought they secured the US, and that they could safely proceed with this war elsewhere. Their second target was Islam, THE MIDDLE EAST THEIR BATTLEGROUND, and the trophy was to be the holiest shrine of Islam in Jerusalem: the Dome of the Rock, with the blazing golden letters inscribed by the Umayyad Caliphs that proclaim "Blessed is Jesus Christ, Blessed is the Day of His Nativity, and Blessed is the Day of His Resurrection.
(Where is the place of My rest...Isaiah 66:1).
...Zionists formed an alliance with the misled Christian Conservatives, and the US troops took over Iraq and Afghanistan, while supporting the Israeli offensive against the native Palestinians IN THE HOLY LAND. Then came Mel Gibson, and their alliance fell apart. THUS, CHRIST INDEED WAS OUR SECRET WEAPON AGAINST THE ZIONIST TAKEOVER. I felt it for long time; ever since on Easter 2001 I referred to His Passion in context of Palestinian suffering, just to be immediately frozen out by mainstream Jewish pro-peace groups. LET US RAISE THE BANNER OF CHRIST, FOR IT CAUSES SPLIT AMONG OUR ADVERSARIES.
Professor Patrick McNally wrote that the Judeo-Nazis repeated the error of German Nazis; they became over-extended by opening the Second Front. They could not help: they attacked Gibson and the American Christians, though their support was necessary for the Middle East takeover.
Sidney Blumenthal, an American Zionist Jew and a former senior adviser to President Clinton, wrote in the Guardian: THE NEOCONS AND THE THEOCONS (conservative Christians) were bound together for different reasons: the neocons by foreign policy (read: support of Israel), the theocons by their continuing fundamentalist revolt against modernity (for modernity read: neo-liberalism). Enter Mel Gibson, sprinkling holy gasoline on the fires and blowing up the cultural contradictions of American conservatism., It frightened Jews, concludes Blumenthal, and therefore Bush must go.
In Israel, this understanding came first. Gershom Gorenberg wrote in the Jerusalem Report: "Post-9/11, the "conflict of civilizations" is often taken for granted; it supposedly pits the "Judeo-Christian" world against Muslims. That mood, along with the Intifada, has fertilized an alliance twinning Israeli right-wingers and some U.S. Jewish leaders with conservative Christians. THE PASSION SHOULD SOBER PEOPLE UP. "By attacking The Passion, Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League helped to publicize it. I don,t think they had a better option. To ignore a film in which Pilate is a softy and the Jews cry for Jesus, blood would be equivalent to pleading "no contest" to the West's oldest calumny. But the Passion affair underlines the absurdity of the romance between Jewish groups (including the ADL) and the Christian Right.
Gershom Gorenberg is right. THIS ALLIANCE OF CHRIST-LOVING AMERICAN CONSERVATIVES AND CHRIST-HATING JEWISH LEADERSHIP WAS ABSURD FROM THE BEGINNING. The Christians in the US, as elsewhere, belong to the traditional all-embracing faith of love to the poor and downtrodden. The Jewish establishment subscribes to the faith which is good for the rich and powerful Chosen People, whether Jews or godless Mammon worshippers. Their alliance was a peculiar quirk of history that brought mankind to the edge of the abyss.
As a last, bizarre stroke of this alliance, on March 5th, 2004, the Arab-bashing Pat Robertson appealed on his blasphemously-named Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), to the American Christians to join with Jews this year to celebrate the Festival of Purim. Those who answer his call will celebrate together with hundreds of followers and admirers of a fundamentalist American Jew, Baruch Goldstein, who slaughtered dozens of worshippers in the city of Abraham, Hebron on Purim in 1994. His burial place in Kiriyat Arba is the location for Purim celebrations for many Israeli Jews, reported a Jerusalem weekly Kol HaIr on March 5, 2004. It is probably the least-likely festival for a Christian to celebrate together with Jews. By his call, Robertson plainly presented his anti-Christian credentials. His enmity is not reserved for the Muslims only: Robertson also attacked Russia and accused this Christian nation of plotting the "gassing of Jews and Jewish children" which is a horrible blood libel against a country that has a Jewish Prime Minister. But his support for Zionist atrocities in Palestine would suffice for the viewers of Gibson's film to reject Robertson and his preaching of hate.
God knows, there are other Christian forces, and the enthusiastic welcome received by Gibson's film proves that they are the real majority. The Reverend Charles Carlson of www.whtt.org runs Project Straight Gate, which speaks against the war in Iraq and Palestine. On a recent pro-life demonstration they called upon their fellow-Americans to care about lives of Iraqi and Palestinian children as much as for the unborn children of America. Their signs read "Innocent Blood on Our Hands, Iraq - Gaza, and "Choose Peace, not War. They called upon "fellow Christ-followers to oppose successive slaughter in the Middle East. Americans are now among the victims of the war almost every day. But even when none of 'ours' are killed, they are being fashioned into assassins and brutal occupiers, which is not what most Christ-followers should desire for their children.
GIBSON'S FILM EXPRESSES FOREBODINGS OF THE SECOND COMING. It brings greater awakening into Christian hearts in the Lent; IT RESTORES THE ALMOST-FORGOTTEN TRADITION OF PASSION PLAYES; IT SEPARATES LAMBS FROM THE GOATS. Not only have Abe Foxman of ADL and Mervin Hier of Wiesenthal Centre exposed their hostility to Christ, but crypto-Zionist Michael Lerner of Tikkun sent his disciples to give away anti-Christian leaflets at the movie theatres. Lerner began as a peace-seeker, but soon turned out to be a Zionist Trojan horse in the peace camp.
On the other side, Mark Bruzonsky of MER, a longtime friend of Palestine, condemned the Jewish establishment's attempt "to relentlessly crucify Gibson for trying to tell the story as he knows it, or rather as he believes it, [as] in itself a kind of intellectual and political blasphemy. Rather Gibson should be thanked for standing his ground, making his movie, telling his story, AND MAKING ALL OF US PONDER AND THINK AND FEEL...WHETHER JEW, CHRISTIAN, MUSLIM, BUDDHIST, ATHEIST...OR JUST PLAIN HUMAN. Our friend Gilad Atzmon published a strong essay supporting Gibson, while brave Jeff Blankfort of California wrote that it confirms the reality of Jewish control over Hollywood.
Indeed, this film unveiled the anti-Christian intentions of American Jewry. The New York Times reported that the chairmen of major studios said they would avoid working with Mr. Gibson because of The Passion of the Christ. One of them explained: "It doesn't matter what I say. It'll matter what I do. I will do something. I won't hire him. I won't support anything he's part of. Because they run Hollywood it is not strange that America produces anti-Christian films seeping with hatred for the poor, downtrodden, un-Chosen people, be it American rednecks or Arabs, Russians or Latin Americans. The US newspapers, too, gave vast coverage to the hostile positions of Jews on the subject of Passion, showing an incredible bias well known to us friends of Palestine.
Their fear and loathing shows that this film can change America; and therefore it can change the world. American Christians can recognise the urgent need to free their media from the deadly grip of Christ's enemies. They can attune their policies towards Christ, share their worldly goods with the needy, return their sons from overseas wars, turn their mighty arms industry into ploughshare makers to feed the hungry; reject Mammon; promote spirituality and be a good neighbour to all nations of the Earth.
Let them remember: the Passion of Christ is not a millennia-old event: even today, as I write, IT IS THE FUNDS AND WEAPONS SENT BY THE US THAT ARE HELPING THE JEWS TO CRUCIFY PALESTINE. They besiege the Nativity town of Bethlehem and plot to destroy the Dome of the Rock with its benedictions of Christ. The horrors of the Passion presented by Mel Gibson are inflicted daily on the captive Palestinians. THEY ARE KILLED BY THE HUNDREDS, TORTURED BY THE THOUSANDS AND STARVED BY THE MILLIONS. PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT OR IGNORE THIS PERSECUTION WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WASH THEIR HANDS OF THEIR BLOOD.
THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WILL SHOW WHETHER THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS CARE FOR CHRIST; whether they are an independent political power at all, or just an alibi-providing Gentile front for the Jewish policies; whether the only political swing possible in the US is that between pro-Likud Bush and pro-Labour Kerry. It is the time for Americans to regain their lost independence. BUT FOR THAT, THEY WILL NEED A MIRACLE
Guardian, March 4, 2004
Jesus Tortured! News at Eleven!
Following 'American Idol' on Fox TV
by Douglas Herman
"Forgive them father, for they know not what they do."
A coalition of the willing tortured Jesus Christ, it was reported yesterday.
A loose coalition of civilian contractors, powerful Judeocons and jackbooted Christian thugs followed a weekend of torture with the murder of an alleged, innocent political prisoner. Denied a fair trial and falsely imprisoned--according to a few of his followers--the Accused wore a cloak and crown of thorns and suffered severe humiliation. Stripped naked, He was allegedly beaten with the lash and forced to mount a wooden cross before uttering the last words quoted above. Those involved in the accidental death denied any blame and instead pointed to the obvious guilt of the Accused.
We make controversial, blockbuster movies of tortured prophets--does anyone remember "The Passion of The Christ"?--while blithely installing bloodthirsty torturers in power to do our dirty work. Now that we've finally gotten caught doing the dirty work ourselves, the whole world recognizes us for the despicable villians we've been for at least the last full century. Terror and torture is what we do so well. Torture is our stock in trade since we've become a global superpower.
Does anyone see the ghostly image of the KKK in this photograph (alongside the lynched American) or recognize the similarity to El Greco's painting of the Crucifixion? Maybe the Ayatollah Khomeini was correct when he called America "The Great Satan." Perhaps this was only a bit of pagan, Halloween pageantry "fun," but to a billion Muslims, Khomeini now stands correct in his assessment of Americans unless actual punishment is handed down to the culprits and damn quickly.
Or was this despicable mockery really intended to insult not only an individual but a nation, a culture and a religion? As a veteran and a Christian, I feel the "civilian" torturers (CIA-Mossad?) should be given the same medicine they prescribed to their victims. Let the punishment fit the crime, as Solomon would have said. Not that something like that will ever happen in the USA.
For we Americans are lesser men than Solomon, lesser than our Founding Fathers, lesser even than the British Redcoats we rebelled against in 1776. Indeed, soon after the Boston Massacre, the British soldiers who shot and killed five Bostonians were tried and imprisoned, and two soldiers were branded for their crime. No such punishment--if any punishment at all--awaits our "civilian contractor"/torturers. Possibly a harsh slap on the wrist and demotion awaits the low-ranking enlisted guards, but nothing for their superiors in the Pentagon and White House who encouraged this war, for--as Jesus was well aware--justice is twisted to favor the torturers in a nation that condones and encourages torture as state policy.
Leave it to the Brits to hand down some severe and swift punishment in the next few weeks--which they will--while our Judeocons and jackbooted Christians make excuses, spin, deny and point fingers--which they will. Our black and Latin enlisted soldiers, however, should consider who, or what, they are serving, whether an ideal of equality or the brutality of a new master race. The crucifix they wear around their necks shouldn't represent an occupation or insignia of thuggery, but serve as a reminder and remembrance of One who was tortured and killed while defending the downtrodden, the destitute and the imprisoned. Let the criminals in high office deny any responsibility; after all, that's what they did two thousand years ago and are still doing today.
May 3, 2004
Douglas Herman, essayist and U.S. veteran, writes regularly for STR.