Last night, Janet and I saw "The Passion of the Christ." Responses:
1) Yes, it is violent in a way that is painful to watch. I think it will be a long, long time before anyone attempts a more graphic portrayal of Jesus' suffering and death - if ever.
But I found myself thinking, "The real thing was probably worse."
Actually, from what I've read about crucifixions, the real thing *was* worse, in at least one way - people being crucified were stripped naked. So it is likely that besides enduring excruciating physical agony, Jesus endured the humiliation and shame of being exposed to the world.
2) As hard as it was to watch, the numerous flashbacks did at least provide the viewer with some relief. I had not heard about those, and was glad for them - first because of the relief, and second, because they added emotional (dare I say even cognitive?) weight to the film.
3) Janet pointed out that some scenes, such as the flashback about the adulterous woman, would not make sense to someone who didn't already know the story. I agreed, and said that the question of why Mel Gibson did things that way leads to the question of who he made the movie for, and that I see two possible answers to *that* question:
a) he made it for people who know the story
b) he made it for everyone, but intentionally crafted it so that people who don't know the story would have to read the book to understand the movie. (That would be the Bible, folks.)
Having heard that he originally intended to release it without subtitles, and that when asked how people would know what was going on, he answered, "Let 'em read the book," I'm inclined to believe "b".
4) If anyone should complain how the movie portrays them, it's Roman soldiers. Yikes.
5) I did experience some anger toward *some* of the Jewish leaders *as portrayed in the movie* - "Yeah, y'all didn't think it would be this bad, huh?" But an emotional response to characters in a movie is hardly enough to make me think differently about Jewish people in general. Or to make me think of Jewish people at all. I didn't leave the theatre thinking about Jews. I left the theatre thinking about Jesus. And about myself.
6) Some 1st-Century Jewish people were guilty for the death of Jesus. Some 1st-Century Romans were guilty. I am guilty.
I have heard that when we see a hammer driving the nail into Jesus' hand, the hand holding the hammer is Mel Gibson's, that he did that to say, "I, Mel Gibson, am guilty."
I, Elwin Green, am guilty.
I, Elwin Green, owe Jesus everything.
7) Jesus suffered and died for me, but more than that, He suffered and died for His wife, the ecclesia. He did not die for buildings or for hierarchies or for state-chartered nonprofit organizations. He died for HER.
8) She was worth everything to Him. What is she worth to me?
9) I must celebrate Communion/The Lord's Supper every Sunday for the rest of my life; preferably with other believers, but if not, then without; preferably with Janet, but if not, then without. I must *remember*.
10) Can anything be more repulsive to me now than a decorative cross? I might as well have a tinsmith carve a tiny electric chair to hang around my neck.
11) I admire Mel Gibson for doing all the hard work needed to bring this movie into being. I admire him for funding it out of his own pocket when no one else would touch it. And now that it's the highest-grossing "R"-rated film in history, now that it's made $330 million in its first month of release, and may ultimately push Mel Gibson from multi-millionaire to billionaire, I say, "More power to him." He took the risk, he deserves the reward.
12) Lord save us from the religious films which will now be made by men seeking to avoid risk...