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Here's a little story where two happy threads converge and make me sad.

Thread One: I'm really looking forward to The Passion Of The Christ, a movie by Mel Gibson that portrays the last days of Christ -- the events surrounding his crucifixion. From what I've seen, the movie is to be released on Ash Wednesday. Gibson has spent a lot of time and energy making this move exactly like he wanted to make it -- largly outside of the traditional Hollywood movie-mill.

Thread Two: In LiveJournal, I monitor a handful of communities that are geared towards Jews. I first took an interest in Jewish communities in LiveJournal a few years ago, when I had a specific question about the Old Testament for which I was unable to find an answer in any of my notes or commentaries. I thought that I might have better luck finding an answer if I asked the question to people more familiar with the Jewish faith and history, so I did what any modern-day researcher would do and turned to the Internet. I never did find my answer, but I did find an interesting LiveJournal community. Additionally, someone if that community recognized my username from high school and contacted me. We renewed our friendship, which is an amazingly cool thing to have happened. I continue to watch that community and have since found a few other Jewish-related communities that I enjoy following, as well. It's been really good for me to have this exposure -- in my day-to-day "real world" life, I don't really encounter many Jews. It's especially helpful for me to get a bit of a Jewish perspective on things I'm teaching in Sunday School from time to time. So much of Christian study material focuses on how you can find Jesus all over the place in the Old Testament, if you just know where to look. Sometimes, I'm not looking for that and a Jewish perspective is most welcome.

Convergence: A few days ago, I found another Jewish community, which I started reading. Today, I discover a post where the author reprinted a newspaper story about The Passion Of The Christ and added some commentary:
Sadly it looks like we have to wait until Mardis Gras for the whole thing to come and go - although I'm planning on going with a couple of nails and cheering when they nail the [deleted] up.
Wow. I've never seen anti-Christian sentiment expressed so concisely.

I know the hatred demonstrated in that post should not be viewed as the typical attitude of Jews towards Christians or towards this film. But it still hurts to see that expressed in such an obviously hateful way. The suggestion to bring nails and cheer when the crucifixion is depicted would be similar for a Christian making the suggestion of going to Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC dressed up in a Nazi uniform and handing out copies of Mien Kampf. It's simply insensitive and mean. I'm somewhat surprised and disappointed that no one has responded to that post pointing out the blatent hatred contained therin.

As long as there is hatred on both sides of the Jewish-Christian relationship, any hope of realy understanding of each other's faith is a long way off. That's what made me sad.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2004 06:53 am (UTC)
I saw something last night that suggested that most, if not all ,of the outrage around the movie is from people who have never seen it. And of the people who have seen it, people are saying that when it goes into wide release, the controversy will die down because it isn't how it is being protrayed. Granted, mostly Christian clergy are viewing it in pre-release now, but a producer from Entertainment tonight agreed.

Jan. 23rd, 2004 07:02 am (UTC)
I'm aware that a lot of Jewish people are upset and feel the film is anti-Semitic because it supposedly depicts the Jews as being responsible for killing Jesus, so maybe that's where the hostility stems from. I don't understand it, myself--from what I understand, the people responsible for the crucifixion did happen to be Jewish, but portraying that reality doesn't seem to me to be the same thing as saying "Jews killed Jesus!" At any rate, that level of hostility and disrespect is totally uncalled for. I'm not Christian but it always annoys me when fellow non-Christians feel the need to constantly refer to Jesus by derogatory terms in order to show the world that they're not Christian. It's just silly and childish.

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, I hope one of the theatres in this area carries it.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 07:04 am (UTC)
That really really makes me sad. I cannot imagine how people could be so cold-hearted. I think that this is, unfortunately, a symptom of the cultural malaise that we are experiencing in this society nowadays.

And what really irks me is this: Those people who have been the most vocal against this film...have never seen it. And many won't. So, of course, they are bashing the Faith, through a film that has nothing to do with anti-semetism. Their total lack of respect, however, seems to show a deep-seated hatred of Christianity--and Christians.

I wonder if such people will be railing against the future release of the screen adaptation of The DaVinci Code. Probably not.

Jan. 23rd, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)
I wonder if such people will be railing against the future release of the screen adaptation of The DaVinci Code. Probably not.

If not, it's only because that novel is such an unmitigated piece of trash.

When The Last Temptation of Christ came out, there was a great hue and cry and massive amounts of protests from parts of the christian community. What Brown talks about is infinitely more controversial than what took place in Kazanstakis most amazing novel and in Scorcese's movie.

Contrast Jesus not being wholly spiritual and marrying Magdalene with Satan sending Jesus the temptation of an earthly existence while on the cross, and Jesus rejecting that and willfully accepting his crucifixion.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 07:44 am (UTC)
they are bashing the Faith, through a film that has nothing to do with anti-semetism. Their total lack of respect, however, seems to show a deep-seated hatred of Christianity--and Christians.

In this you are mistaken.

First off, let me state that I haven't seen the movie, don't intend to (not speaking Aramaic and all) and don't care about its content. Let me also state that even though I was raised as Jew and that I'm not now, never was, and never will be a Christian, the nails and cheering quote offends me to my core.

However, you remain mistaken in your conclusion that this has anything to do with a hatred of The Faith, Christianity or, indeed Christians. Throughout history, the idea that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus has been used as an excusen for anti-semitism. The idea was perverted into the thought that Jews drank the blood of Christian babies. It is a highly sensitive issue in the Jewish community and when the specter of it gets raised, so do hackles.

The core of the problem is not one of "Them Hating You" but rather one of heading off "You Hating Them." Is it reasonable? I don't know. Is nails and cheering the best way to express it? Absolutely not. That meets perceived or potential hate with hate. But assigning that poster's hatred to everyone who protests the content of the film is no better.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 08:20 am (UTC)
It is a highly sensitive issue in the Jewish community and when the specter of it gets raised, so do hackles.

However, this is assuming this is what the film is stating is this: That the Jews are the ones responsible for the Crucifixion and the blood is on their hands. And, this is assuming that Christians in this age and in this country believe this to be true.

From all the folks who have seen this movie--Jewish, Christian, Atheistic, or Otherwise--the message appears to be thus: We were all responsible. (And, from a cinematic viewpoint, Gibson stresses this by his cameo appearance: his hands crucifying Jesus.)

I don't think that this film will inspire hoards of Christians to roam the countryside, searching out victims for their hate. I find this notion to be totally offensive, and contradictory to the nature of Christians in this nation. Rather, I anticipate people falling to their knees, praying "Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner." I know that this will most likely be my response.

Jan. 23rd, 2004 01:28 pm (UTC)
It is a highly sensitive issue in the Jewish community and when the specter of it gets raised, so do hackles.

Yes and true, but it seems like there are people who interpret any telling of the Gospel story as "raising the specter" of the "deicide" myth (I'd call it a heresy). By that standard, serving sauerkraut is nostalgia for the Nazi era and playing Tchaikovsky is as good as republishing Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Still 'n' all... if anything, drmellow, you're guilty of very optimistic expectations if you hoped to find any online community, Jewish or not, that would contain nobody shooting their mouth off with stupid comments.

Jan. 23rd, 2004 02:23 pm (UTC)
it seems like there are people who interpret any telling of the Gospel story as "raising the specter" of the "deicide" myth

A film about the crucifixion by a man who belongs to a sect of Catholicism that explicitly rejects Vatican II, which included the abandoning of holding the Jews responsible for Jesus' death does not qualify as "any telling".
Jan. 23rd, 2004 03:08 pm (UTC)
OK, I don't know what you're talking about, so I'll Google around.

Gibson himself has funded a Catholic splinter group that rejects the reforms of Vatican II.

Disturbing, but still not clear. Vatican II made a lot of changes, most of which (like vernacular masses) are a lot more controversial than rejecting "deicide". I'd like more details on this splinter group (like its name?) and whether teachings on Judaism are one of the disputed points. And the nun-quotes are freaky, but is this a prominent part of their writings, or something dug out of a little-known corner?

But I concede - this looks more suspicious than "any telling".
Jan. 23rd, 2004 08:36 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear it. It's awful the way the events have been construed as an excuse to cause more suffering when the point behind it was to give everyone hope of something beyond the fighting, suffering and trading of blame.

I'm going to see the movie - it's directly in line with my interests (my mind) and, deeper (at times), my heart's involved. I tend to be hyper-critical of portrayals of this sort because I have such an interest (in either sense of the word) in it. The comment about the nails is offensive and hurtful. Historically, there is understandable emotion underlying - and it was probably a vent - but the action would be awful.

"The Jews" did not crucify Jesus if by that one means "all Jews (ethnically, religiously, whatever-ly) for all time are the sole recipients for the guilt of this act and therefore we (who are defined as 'not jews' in the same as the others are defined 'jews') are justified in reacting in any manner we see fit." The asinine quality of that statement shines like ...something very shiny.

This entire topic just makes me sad, though. The history of bad blood and propaganda (on both sides) between Judaism and Christianity (because I think it's unfair to say "Jews" and "Christians" when it's mostly the -isms and -ianities having issues) has been mutually black and awful and ... And I don't make a difference by repeating myself and I fail to have words to adequately effect change or to describe what it is that I feel. So ... I'm done now.

Jan. 23rd, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)
I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

If what I've read about the making of the movie is true, I'm sure Mel Gibson was very conscious of the controversy the undiluted depiction of events would ignite. I'd like to believe he was uninfluenced by this and remained true to his vision - that the Passion could be portrayed historically (without espousing the views of a particular side) and still have the power to be relevant and accessible to anyone today.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 11:07 am (UTC)
that the Passion could be portrayed historically (without espousing the views of a particular side)

Doesn't work that way. History always has a side.

If you think about it, George Washington, et al, were in fact traitors and Benedict Arnold a patriot. Because the colonies won their insurgency, the labels are reversed.

Gibson's portrayal of the passion is his interpretation of events. Nothing wrong with that, but let's please call it what it is.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 09:32 am (UTC)
I'm probably not going to see the film. Part of this stems from the fact that I generally don't like Mel Gibson films.

Part of this stems from my own emotional response to just the Passion =read=out=loud=. I'm always a mess after the Good Friday service. Watching what is supposed to be a rather visceral film -- I don't think I could stomach it. I could barely watch =Schindler's=List=. I don't think I could sit through any modern movie on the Passion.
Jan. 23rd, 2004 09:56 am (UTC)
I can relate; I had that thought, too.

Schindler's List is one of only two movies that have ever made me cry in the theater. Coupled with my tendency to experience a sort of emotional overwhelming during Holy Week readings, I fully expect The Passion to achieve that kind of cathartic effect.
Mar. 5th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC)
I am plain overwhelmed by everything anymore. I am not going to see Mel Gibson's film. It isn't an anti-Christian attitude, it is that so many steps were taken to try to make relations better, and this film seems to be worrying everyone.

And, in the process of me having to hear it all, I've already created more havoc myself. I've done things in communications in attempts to help, and then spiraled because these things have no resolution.

The Christian community is fragmented. I don't even know how to talk about "Judaism" without causing offense. In an effort to be helpful, I have offended, and in my frustration, I have gotten sarcastic. I'm not happy about this.

I have been finding that both Christians and Jewish people have been very sensitive because of this film. And, in the long run, it is a film, not faith. This is a movie, not reality. What one watches when one goes to see the movie is a carefully crafted fantasy. This is not a re-enactment of a Christian's faith. That is not Jesus. That is not real. Does it give at any point His message? Does it give His Sermon on the Mount? Does it show His compassion? Does it show the Resurrection? Does it show the subtleties in the gospels? Does it give the innuendos? I question not rhetorically, but honestly, as I have not seen the movie and will not.

That is a film. And, it has caused me harm, because it has not helped me live faithfully but has gotten me caught up in controversy.

That is not the sword that Jesus was talking about. The sword that He brought was to separate who would follow Him. Instead, everyone is defensive. Defensiveness is not what Jesus is about.

And, I have to admit, that i'm throughly confused. I have heard Christians say things since this movie, that make me shudder. They are not explicitely boldly anti-Semitite. But, they are either defensive or so black and white in interpretation of scripture, that it is frightening.

And, I do not know what to do about that. I have heard things from Christians such as, "The Jews did kill Christ."

How can that statement not scare me?
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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