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Make Your Movie, Mel

Thanks prester_scott for pointing out a great opinion piece about Mel Gibson's new movie.

I'm really looking forward to this movie! I watch the trailer for it at least once a week.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 15th, 2003 07:16 am (UTC)
Okay, now, you know I've been chewing over the whole repent/behave/accept Jesus concept on my LJ (until the ear infection hit) and that I still owe arcticturtle a response. I like to think that the respect I hold for your beliefs (even if it isn't shared by some of my readers and even when I don't understand them) comes through in my words. So I hope you know that I'm coming from a place of respect.

The last line of what I quote from the page you linked to bothers the heck outta me, though. (I quote the whole two paragraphs for context.)

Now the Christian might quickly respond, "Wait a minute, I'm the greatest of sinners. I need salvation too, and I am only so powerfully grateful to Jesus because my sins are so great. I am no better than you. I am worse, a craven sinner who deserves only an eternity in the deepest pit of Hell. God loves you just as He loves me. Repent. Love Him back."

To the ears of our properly secular fellow, all these words would be no more comforting than Christ's words were to Pontius Pilate. Like him, you'd probably want to wash your hands of the whole thing, after sending him off to his just reward.

Lemme tell you something. I am that properly secular fellow and while I may not want to hear your message, I certainly have no interest in sending Jesus, you or even this divisive fellow off to any "just reward."

It scares me that he may believe that because that paints us as your enemy and, by extension, you as ours and does not reflect any secular humanism/pantheism that I've ever believed, practiced or experienced. Nor, happily, does it reflect the attitudes I get from you and the other believers on my list.

Issues of god aside (I know they are significant, but still), I think we share a fundamental (pun intended) outlook on how best to treat other human beings.
Aug. 15th, 2003 12:23 pm (UTC)
What he said.

This paragraph leaped out at me:

This is the insult, the in-your-metaphysical-reality-face challenge that Christianity poses to every man, woman, and child in history. Either the Lord of History offers you salvation, and you celebrate, eternally and gratefully. Or some guy who might or might not have existed has some religiously-crazed followers who just drive you up the wall, and you wish they’d shut up.

There are millions of people who are quite respectful of Christians and Christianity in general, but who don't buy into the notion that the above are the only two choices, or that there is one easily-identifiable "correct" source. There are lots of conflicting translations and interpretations of the Bible itself, various denominations of Christianity with differing doctrines and standards. There are other religions. And then there are those who simply haven't made their mind up as to which one to follow, have decided to pull what good and understanding they can from more than one religion, or choose not to devoutly follow any at all. There are more than two teams to play for, and not everyone's playing the same game, using the same rules or even chosen a team yet.

There are also many who do believe in this binary, as Manion appears to believe -- that the world can be split into the Saved and Unsaved, or Believers and Non-Believers, or Christians and Non-Christians (with varying definitions of "Christian," of course), or (getting more confrontational) simply Right and Wrong, perhaps even With Us or Against Us.

Who's REALLY right? Well, we'll all find out soon enough.

But the "wish they'd shut up" crowd is not always what I'd call legitimately _hostile_ to the literal-word believers, nor necessarily critical of the beliefs they've chosen. Many (myself included) look at them with a laissez-faire attitude; if their path works for them, more power to them. It's when the literal-word evangelist seeks to confront and convert that conflict tends to occur, even when the listener knows that the evangelist has the best intentions in mind. It's one thing to learn that another has different beliefs; it's another to be told that your own beliefs are wrong, particularly if you don't find the evidence to be compelling.

It's like a color-blind person arguing with a normal-sighted person about whether red and green signs are identical or not. (Whether the religious person is color-blind or true-sighted is left as an exercise for the reader.) One viewer can look at the signs and be utterly convinced that his interpretation is correct, but the harder he tries to persuade the other, the more the other will think that the first viewer is nuts. From the viewers' perspectives, neither one IS necessarily wrong; one really does see identical signs, the other really sees a difference, but unless something happens to change one of their perspectives, the conflict will continue if either party continues the argument.

Or there's always a tacit agreement to disagree, which is what most people choose.

Of course, there are many flavors of evangelism, using varying degrees of carrot and/or stick. Even the infamous Fred Phelps claims to do what he does not out of raw hatred, but out of love; he claims to castigate his targets (in his own unique style) to convert them to his point of view, not just for the sake of slinging abuse...
Aug. 15th, 2003 12:50 pm (UTC)
With my above rant said, I'll also add that Manion does have a point; if Gibson & Co. really do believe what's in Draft One of their movie, they have every right and reason to release it as-is. If it offends, it offends.

Of course, they must also contend with the consequences of offending, but that's true for everything in life, isn't it? If they believe that what they're filming is the truth, they can handle the backlash from those who believe that it isn't, and they believe that the positives outweight the negatives, then let the cameras roll. I'm just glad that they haven't had the nerve to look surprised. ;)
Sep. 4th, 2003 07:18 am (UTC)
So I hope you know that I'm coming from a place of respect.


It scares me that he may believe that because that paints us as your enemy...

Yeah, I kinda got that impression from his essay, as well. I've read it a couple of times now and I think that the author was intentionally painting an extreme picture. Like you mentioned, the extreme picture that he paints is not the picture that I get from most believers that I know. Having said that, the picture that the author provides in this essay does an excellent job of pointing out the fundamental rift between Christians and non-Christians. When you look at Christ's message, it can be boiled down to something akin to "You're flawed and there's nothing that YOU can do about it. You need something external to compensate for your flaws. I, and only I, can do that for you."

A message like that is bound to be offensive to a lot of people. The challenge Christians have, as I see it, is to present that message (which I do believe to be accurate) in a way that doesn't antagonize others, without diluting the truth of the message. Sure, I can make the message sound less offensive by leaving out the bit about exclusivity, but then it's no longer the message that Christ gave us. I think that when Christians try to make the message more appealing in ways like that, they end up doing more harm than good -- sure, they may increase their congregations and/or income stream, but are they really practicing the message they set out to practice? I think not, and I think that eventually the "new converts" will realize this and see their exercise of religion to be more akin to a social club than a fundamental building block in their lives.

Issues of god aside (I know they are significant, but still), I think we share a fundamental (pun intended) outlook on how best to treat other human beings.

Yup. If I get my outlook from my Christian faith, and you get it from somewhere else, is that bad? No, I don't think so. But it's nice that we don't have to argue about the basic outlook, and can instead concentrate on the significant issues of God if we like.
Aug. 15th, 2003 07:42 am (UTC)
Interesting piece, thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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