United Brethren has retired.

The Passion of the Christ

[Originally posted at Headlife]

I just came back from watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and before the immediacy of the experience is gone, I wanted to write down some of my thoughts. For the believer, the Passion presents perhaps the most compelling dramatic representation of the atonement of Christ that you can imagine. For the interested agnostic, it will express, better than most of us can, the central belief of Christianity: why it is that Jesus died, and why it is that this is so important to Christians. Of course, you could just read the Bible, but as most of us don't do this as often as we might, allow this movie to ignite that desire. You've heard it's brutal, and it certainly is. As for the film's alleged anti-Semitism, well, it is true that the Jewish priests are depicted very negatively (an understatement), but so are the Roman soldiers, and the excellent casting and use of Aramaic will leave no doubt that Jesus, and those who loved him, were Jewish.

I liked some of the dramatic flourishes, particularly the depiction of Satan and the relationship between Jesus (Yeshua!) and his mother (Miryam!). I hope it makes tonnes of money, not least to prove to Hollywood that the silent majority is not embarrassed of religion. May this mark the beginning of further biblical movies that aren't encumbered by bad hair and blue-eyed Jesus's! I commend this film to anyone. One caveat however: as I said, it's violent. Perhaps overly so. I would have toned down one or two scenes.

For me, it has reminded me that whatever I do in life, it is simply moth and dust if it does not reflect those two truths which this film so beautifully expresses: that there is redemption in Jesus from all that is bad and horrible within us, and that if we are to follow him we should remember his "new commandment" - that we love each other as he loved us.

Of course, this film poses two challenges to Mormons: R-rated movies, and the physical nature of the atonement (Gethsemane vs. Calvary). Expect further posts on this subject.

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