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Passion of the Christ

I watched Passion of the Christ a few days ago, and frankly, I'm not sure what all the fuss was about.

Do religious groups not realize that they come off as flaky when they condemn things like a movie as being a filthy piece of trash? How is it not saner for them to say "we disagree with the portrayal of Christ's crucifixion, and if you want to know why, just ask us."

"The Church" and most organized religions have always harbored a tremendous amount of contempt for curiosity. What's wrong with questioning things? What's wrong with playing, no pun intended, devil's advocate?

I enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed seeing Mary Magdalene and looking for clues as to whether Mel Gibson thought that she was Jesus' wedded wife. I enjoyed seeing various things I've read about brought to life, whether they're true or not. Most religions can't be certain that they've got the whole story right, and as my college religion professor said, "I can't be certain, either, but I've got to act on what I believe, and this is what I believe."

Anyway, it wasn't much of a big deal. A movie that played up the (possibly) factual side of what I read in The Da Vinci Code would be more interesting, overall, than The Passion. I think that Jesus may have married, I think that Mary (his mom, not his wife) probably had other kids (as Chris Rock's character suggested in Dogma, another movie about which the church drastically over-reacted), and I think that there's a lot of interesting things in the Knights Templar, the Merovingians, the "holy grail" and so forth.

I've long said that, while I don't consider myself to be religious per se, I do consider myself to be spiritual, and looking for the answers. I've also said that I don't believe that a god that would punish me for seeking the truth is worth believing in to begin with.

13 Responses to "Passion of the Christ"

  1. "The Church" and most organized religions have always harbored a tremendous amount of contempt for curiosity. What's wrong with questioning things? What's wrong with playing, no pun intended, devil's advocate?

    That's a big part of the (non-doctrinal) difference between The Church and most Protestant faiths. You can break "opinion" down into two categories -- received opinion, which is where you believe what you believe because it's what you were told, and revealed opinion, where you believe what you believe because you've studied and argued and believe you've come to the truth. For the laity and most of the priesthood, received opinion is handed down and expected to be taken as gospel, with no questions. As a priest becomes a bishop becomes a cardinal etc or as a Jesuit goes further into his studies, he is allowed to study matters of doctrine which are open to discussion and thus he may hold a revealed opinion. This paradigm (received opinion for everyone unless they are of a certain intellectual or political position) is an effective way of preventing heresy and keeping order in a hierarchical Church -- do not forget that Church and State were once the same in the Holy Roman Empire.

    In my experience, the Protestant faith desires for you to question, contemplate, and argue. Your faith is your own -- you hold it because you know it to be true, not because it's what you've been told by Someone Who Knows. For that reason, members of the Protestant faith have a more solid and well-grounded basis for their faith and can back up what they believe with honest, well-considered answers. Their willingness to listen to arguments and counterclaims and debate issues that matter makes it a much more intellectually sound faith, for me, than The Church.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Here is what I deeply beleive:

    1) Christ never married. Marriage is seen as "two becoming one". Christ was God in human form, so marriage is out of the question.

    2) Mary, his mother, most likely had other children and probably enjoyed sexual relations with her husband as a good Jewish woman. The Roman Catholic idea of a "Virgin Mary" AFTER Christ's birth is so out line from the Jewish idea of marriage, it's almost funny.

    3) The Da Vinci Code was a hugely successful work of fiction and will be a hugely successful movie. I haven't read it yet (no time), but when I do, I won't be incorporating it in part of my view of Christianity.

  3. Heinrich, I never stated that The Da Vinci Code was not a work of fiction. However, like all fictional works, it does base things on non-fiction. Many believe Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Many believe they had at least one kid. Many believe a lot of the things presented in that book, and they do have some facts to back up their claims.

    The largest "non-fiction" aspect of that book, in fact, is that Christianity adopted itself to fit into and to absorb some of the slightly more pagan ideals. It made it an "easier sell" to the unwashed masses when some empire conquered them.

    I've not incorporated that book into my view of Christianity. However, much of what it presents - in the minimal form allowable for its form (it's not a research book, but as you state, a work of fiction) - is interesting, possibly true, and worthy of research and study.

  4. I think the church(mine included) overreacts to everything because it is full of people. And damn, it sure seems like people overreact to almost everything.

  5. Well, no, Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic, so he's taking the traditional approach to the story. (In point of fact, I believe he drew on a German mystery play, as well as using the gospel accounts.) So no marriages to Mary Magdalene, no gay romps, no space aliens. And he probably even made sure no one was wearing a watch.

    I'm surprised to hear that any Christians have been offended by the film. Over here, many churches hired coaches to go. But if anyone has been offended for "religious' reasons I can't say I mind their saying so. In my country - the UK - the general idea among "progressive" people seems to be that it is OK to insult Christians but that one should be sycophantic to other religions and even jokes about them may be out. Hmmm. Hence the "religious hate" bill, which seems to be aimed at the government's trying to recapture a Muslim vote disenchanted by the Iraq war.

    But I digress. I can certainly imagine that some people would be distressed by the film, because it is nothing if not graphic. I suppose it depends on what one's stomach for watching intense human suffering (albeit simulated) is like. I don't know I'd care to watch it twice. I've no "religious" reason for saying that, since I am agnostic. I'd certainly say it's unsuitable for children.

  6. Jesus indeed did have siblings, at least one that we know of. The book of James in the New Testament was written by Jesus' half-brother. I say half-brother since Jesus was divinely conceived, while James was the result of physical union between Mary and her husband, Joseph. I'd have to go back and tap some research sources to verify, but I believe there was another brother and a sister or two as well.

    At the time of His ministry, James renounced Jesus, but came to accept the One he had known as his brother as Lord when Christ appeared to him after the Resurrection. James became a prominent leader, especially in Israel, of the early Christian Church.

    As to the early Church adopting or absorbing any "pagan ideals," reading up on histories of the first-century Church would tell you that it had more to do with survival than with being an "easier sell."

  7. Strange that you "think that Jesus may have married, [and you] think that Mary (his mom, not his wife) probably had other kids" based on (1) a novel (Da Vinci Code) and (2) a popular movie (Dogma). What about all of the recorded history that suggests otherwise? Have an open mind, yes, but for crying out loud. Now I understand why people could believe L. Ron Hubbard's aliens.

  8. Charles, get a grip. I never said that I believed those things may be possible because I saw them in a movie or read them in The Da Vinci Code.

    There are a number of good books out there - well-researched books - that talk about all sorts of things, from Mary Magdalene to Jesus' siblings to the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and more. I suggest you read some, as I've done. "All of the recorded history that suggests otherwise" leaves plenty of room for books that do suggest so, and making such a claim paints you in a rather foolish light, Charles. Likening these topics to L. Ron Hubbard's assertions is simply small minded and a cheap attempt to score some points in a game with only one participant (uhm, you).

  9. Name the books, if you can. And by the way, "all of the recorded history that suggests otherwise" is not equal to "all recorded history." Please read carefully if you wish to play my game.

  10. Please read carefully if you wish to play my game.

    I don't wish to play. Dilemma solved.

    You've been nothing but negative since you started commenting here a few days ago. Look the books up yourself - I've borrowed some. One happens to be on my nightstand, but I really don't wish to trouble myself for you. Again, dilemma solved.

  11. The more important question may be is "all the recorded history" is divinely inspired Truth?

  12. I watched Passion of the Christ a few days ago, and frankly, I'm not sure what all the fuss was about.

    Do religious groups not realize that they come off as flaky when they condemn things like a movie as being a filthy piece of trash? How is it not saner for them to say "we disagree with the portrayal of Christ's crucifixion, and if you want to know why, just ask us."

    Um, I hate to break it to you, but religious groups specifically did not condemn The Passion of the Christ. In fact, it was almost universally praised by religious groups, but panned by - well, I'll just say "anti-religious groups."

    You may be thinking of The Last Temptation of Christ, which is an entirely different movie altogether.

  13. Over here, many churches hired coaches to go. But if anyone has been offended for "religious' reasons I can't say I mind their saying so. In my country - the UK - the general idea among "progressive" people seems to be that it is OK to insult Christians but that one should be sycophantic to other religions and even jokes about them may be out. flag Hmmm. Hence the "religious hate" bill, which seems to be aimed at the government's trying to recapture a Muslim vote disenchanted by the Iraq war.


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