Friday, September 19, 2003

Passion Play

The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize.
Mel Gibson

There has been much discussion of late about Mel Gibson's yet to be released film, The Passion, a depiction of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus. After a draft script was leaked to the media, Gibson was accused of reiterating the centuries old charge that Jews are to blame for the death of Christ. Unfortunately, it is all too common for sensational and inflammatory headlines to obscure deeper issues. The debate surrounding this film is no exception.

A rough cut version of The Passion is being shown to various audiences around the country before its scheduled release date of Easter 2004. Mel Gibson added fuel to the fire when he invited a group including evangelicals and conservative pundits Linda Chavez, Kate O'Beirne, Peggy Noonan and Matt Drudge to a Washington D.C. screening. Their like minded colleague Laura Ingraham lamented missing the screening. "I wanted to see any movie that drives the anti-Christian entertainment elite crazy." Ms. Ingraham’s gushing reaction is far more telling than has been noted. The problem with The Passion is not just that it may be anti-Semitic, but that it symbolizes the way in which the right wing have used Christianity as a tool to promote their larger political agenda.

Mel Gibson tipped his hand when he invited conservative opinion makers but not liberals to his Washington screening. Gibson can see the writing on the wall and it says that with conservative Christians in power only the right wing carry weight in religious debates.

I have no idea if The Passion is anti-Semitic or not. We should remember that because Jesus chose death to pardon human sins, the issue of whether Romans or Jews should be held responsible is immaterial. If there were no crucifixion there would be no Christianity. But Gibson seems to agree that Jesus Christ is the personal property of conservatives. It is also clear that unless liberal Christians speak up he will have been proven correct. There is no better way to stave off criticism of The Passion than with the "real" Christian seal of approval.

Archbishop John P. Foley of the Vatican social-communications office made the case even more bluntly after seeing a trailer for the film. He said that The Passion was "excellent" and dismissed completely the validity of any and all criticism. "I don't think they would be well-founded criticisms because all the material in the film comes directly from the Gospel accounts. There's nothing in the film that doesn't come from the Gospel accounts. So, if they're critical of the film, they would be critical of the Gospel."

Unfortunately Laura Ingraham may have correctly predicted the tone for discussion surrounding The Passion. Any criticism of the film will be dismissed as elite, anti-Christian bias or even more divisively as Jewish, anti-Christian bias.

In the near future I will write about conservative attempts to do more than steal elections, but to steal Christianity and make it their personal property.

Your Government at Work

Are there any X-Files fans out there? It is one of my all time favorite television shows. The X-Files was appealing because it validated our fear that the government was full of crazy people planning creepy things for the rest of us. Every now and again the government does something that makes the paranoid among us look prescient.

One of my favorite episodes told the story of a government experiment on soldiers fighting in Vietnam. They performed surgery that made them unable to sleep. No sleeping, more fighting. Of course years later they still hadn't slept a wink and one had developed an ability to invade the others' dreams and kill them.

Well, Hollywood has nothing on the U.S. government. You have probably never head of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or its latest bright idea, the Brain Interface Program. Let's call it BIP.

BIP would " . . .'integrate' soldiers into machines -literally-by wiring them (remotely or directly) to their planes, tanks, or computers." Click here for the scary details.

On that light hearted note I bid you all a fun and safe weekend. Keep checking in with Freedom Rider.