The Passion of Christ: One Final Comment
Posted: 04 March 2008 02:34 AM     [ Ignore ]  
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The dust of reviews has settled on this film and so: the time has come, perhaps, for a more dispassionate, a more considered, a more reflective, little review. Perhaps review is not quite the right word; perhaps what I have written here is just a comment, but it is no less provocative than the most provocative youve read thusfar and I hope you will find here some refreshing and intelligent insight into the way the film was made and perceived.
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This film is not intended to be a masterful historical documentary as, say, Ken Burns’ work on the Civil War or one of many others done in the first century of the existence of the cinema. Gibson’s work is far from possessing what some might call an intellectual poverty in its pretensions at historical documentary. Shawn Rosenheim says all TV documentaries possess an intellectual poverty. If Rosenheim is right the visual media are simply incapable of producing historical documentary.1 And if Rosenheim is wrong, as I tend to think he is, historical documentary of an event 2000 years ago is not impossible. It is, rather, a recreation. We simply do not know enough about the event Gibson is recreating to claim that what we are seeing is a documentary.

We all know that Gibson did not take his camera crew to downtown Jerusalem or into the little hamlet of Nazereth in some kind of time-warp to produce an anti-Jewish, anti Roman clip for the evening news. Even if he had and he then produced for us all an evening two hour special, spectacle, called “the crucifixion,” there would still be questions about visual manipulation and the program’s service in the name of directing popular thought toward a new religious movement. New religious movements have always had trouble getting popular exposure unless they can be associated with conflict and violence, eccentricity and the bizarre, indeed, anything visually stimulating and distracting.

No one would claim that Gibson’s is a neutral recording of objective events. It is a construct operating from a certain point of view. It is a rhetorical argument achieved through the selection and combination of elements that both reflect and project a world, a world view, a cosmology if you like. It is achieved by certain cinematic conventions that try to erase any signs of cinematic artificiality. An ideology is promoted by linking the effect of reality to social values and institutions in such a way that these values seem natural and self-evident. In the case of Mel Gibson’s work, a work that I found quite stimulating in its own way, the ideology is simply and strongly: fundamentalist Christianity.

I’ve never been attracted to Christianity in any of its fundamentalist forms. But I liked this film. Film can often get to people in ways that words, ideas and simple beliefs cannot. It was not because of its historical accuracy that I liked it. I liked All the Presidents Men and a number of other films based on and rooted in some historical theme. Rarely are historical films accurate; the main reason they seem so is that the people watching them know so little about the theme, the event, that it seems plausible to them. Sadly, but truly, we know so little about the events of the life of Jesus of Nazereth that a good script writer, a good cinematographer and a big band of men and women can bring something to life that may never have happened at all.

Bertrand Russell wrote in his Why I’m Not a Christian that, in a court of law, there is little evidence for even the existence of Jesus let alone his manner of death. Historicity simply does not exist when it comes to the events in the life of a man who has had a profound affect, I believe, on history. Of course, Russell says he does believe Jesus existed; he just wanted to make a point about the paucity of historical evidence. What we believe in life and what we know usually exist in two separate worlds, although hopefully their assumptions are not totally blind. What people who are believers and what they are as knowers, so to speak, about Jesus are radically separate. The distance between the pulpit and the academic chair of religion has been widening for at least two centuries. In fact for millions of men and women these days historicity is irrelevant to their beliefs. History has become, for those millions, what it was for Henry Ford: bunk or was it bunkum? My optimistic muse gives you 4/5, Mel and my pessimistic muse a 2/5.

As a sort of epilogue to this brief comment on the film: one of the main reasons many people are turning to Movements like the Baha’i Faith is that historicity is important to them. Religions that have grown up in the modern age face different problems of historicity, often too much rather than too little information and distortion by opponents and critics whose prime aim is to create dissention.

The Baha’i Faith, to stay with this example, confined as it is to only 6 million adherents, has grown slowly since the mid-nineteenth century. The originating impulse for each of the major religions of history, an impulse that led to the phenomenon of revelation or some defining religious experience has receded so far into history as to be accessible to us in only a very limited and unsatisfactory degree. Far otherwise with the work of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. The details of His life are massively documented. And one could choose other claimants in modern history as well but that would lead to prolixity here.

History has a thousand faces, a thousand forms, and Mel Gibson has given us some very stimulating ones, perhaps a little too visually acute, in his film, The Passion of the Christ. They will serve for some of the millions who watched it to bring them closer to One whom Baha’u'llah, the Baha’i Faith’s founder, said “when Christ was crucified the world wept with a great weaping.” Bill Graham wept; many stayed home; millions viewed the film as it went into the top ten money spinners in cinema history.

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Posted: 15 May 2008 04:07 PM   [ # 1 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Doesn’t the Bahai Faith Accept all world views as equal? That may sound nice but realistically it is impossible for Jesus Christ to be both divine AKA God, and just an awesome guy who is not God. It is Also impossible for Catholic and Adventist doctrines to be cohesive. Contrary to Bahai ways. Catholics have an appeasement world view (The more good stuff you do, the better person you are etc. The more likely it is that God will let you into Heaven.) While Adventists have a Warfare world view (God is loving [benevolent] and because of his love invites us to ask for forgiveness because he WANTS us to go to Heaven and we aren’t good enough in the justice of the universe to make it ourselves. Satan pulls people far enough from God [this is the warfare part] that they don’t believe that they need to be forgiven)

Yes I am an Adventist just so you guys don’t think I’m trying to sneak a point past you.

I loved Passion of the Christ. It does a good job of showing the hidden half of the gospel. Not only that Jesus endured the punishment that the most horrible human deserves. But that he also showed us that WHO GOD IS is… one that wont even get bitter, or manipulative, or anything close to sin, even during the most horrible times. If WE were sexually abused by a priest, Jesus knows what it is like to be stripped naked and abused by religious authorities (the Pharasies) were we ever verbally abused? Jesus was to the last degree. Have we ever been rejected (Peter), betrayed (Judas), accused wrongly (his trials), insulted, unappreciated, beaten…what about tempted. And still God had the character through it all to restrain himself from escaping the torment, so that he could experience the worst humans have to go through. And still he blessed and loved the men who were crucifying him “Father forgive them”. Jesus is amazing. We should all take opportunities to get to know him. But I will caution you. No one is a perfect teacher. Your cousin who tried to convert you, or your grandma who is praying for your soul. They will exhibit very un-Godly behaviors often. And so will I, its called hypocracy. Don’t let other humans who claim to know Jesus destroy your perception of who he was by their actions. Just know that if you got to know the real him (by reading about him in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) that only then will you really get to know God. Oh and Pray that he will help you to get to know him. He promises that those who TRULY SEEK HIM will find him.

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Posted: 15 May 2008 08:28 PM   [ # 2 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, whose teachings guide and educate us and provide the basis for the advancement of human society. These Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Their religions come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion. Bahá‘u’lláh said, “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens,” and that, as foretold in all the sacred scriptures of the past, now is the time for humanity to live in unity.

Founded more than a century and a half ago, the Bahá’í Faith has spread around the globe. Members of the Bahá’í Faith live in more than 100,000 localities and come from nearly every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession, and social or economic background. Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the nature and purpose of life and of the future of society. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá‘u’lláh. 

The principles and laws, the firmly-established systems, of the world’s religions have proceeded from one Source and are the rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated. Thus the principle of the unity of religion means that all of the great religious Founders—the Manifestations—have come from God, and that all of the religious systems established by Them are part of a single divine plan directed by God.

In reality, there is only one religion, the religion of God. This one religion is continually evolving, and each particular religious system represents a stage in the evolution of the whole. The Bahá’í Faith represents the current stage in the evolution of religion. To emphasize the idea that all of the teachings and actions of the Manifestation are directed by God and do not originate from natural, human sources, Bahá‘u’lláh used the term “revelation” to describe the phenomenon that occurs each time a Manifestation appears. In particular, the writings of the Manifestation represent the infallible Word of God. Because these writings remain long after the earthly life of the Manifestation is finished, they constitute an especially important part of the phenomenon of revelation. So much is this so, that the term “revelation” is sometimes used in a restricted sense to refer to the writings and words of the Manifestation.

Religious history is seen as a succession of revelations from God and the term “progressive revelation” is used to describe this process. Thus, according to Bahá’ís, progressive revelation is the motive force of human progress, and the Manifestation Bahá‘u’lláh is the most recent instance of revelation.

To put the Bahá’í concept of religion more clearly in focus, let us compare it with some other ways in which religion has been regarded. On one hand is the view that the various religious systems result from human striving after truth. In this conception, the Founders of the great religions do not reveal God to us, but are rather philosophers or thinkers, human beings who may have progressed farther than others in the discovery of truth. This notion excludes the idea of a basic unity of religion since the various religious systems are seen as representing different opinions and beliefs arrived at by fallible human beings rather than infallible revelations of truth from a single source.

Many orthodox adherents of various religious traditions, on the other hand, argue that the Prophet or Founder of their particular tradition represents a true revelation of God to humanity, but that the other religious Founders are false prophets, or at least essentially inferior to the Founder of the tradition in question. For example, many Jews believe that Moses was a true Messenger of God, but that Jesus was not. Similarly, many Christians believe in Jesus’ revelation, but consider that Muhammad was a false prophet, and hold that Moses was inferior in status to Christ.

The Bahá’í principle of the oneness of religion differs fundamentally from both of these traditional concepts. Bahá‘u’lláh attributed the differences in some teachings of the great religions not to any human fallibility of the Founders, but rather to the different requirements of the ages in which the revelations occurred. In addition, He maintained that there has been a great deal of human error introduced into religion through the corruption of texts and the addition of extraneous ideas. Moreover, Bahá’ís consider that no one of the Founders is superior to another. Shoghi Effendi has summarized this view in the following words:

The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá‘u’lláh, the followers of His Faith firmly believe, is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines.

I trust the above provides some clarification. Write again, if you are inclined.-Ron Price, Tasmania

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Posted: 23 December 2009 02:44 PM   [ # 3 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Great review. I love this movie as well.


Regards,
Caldrin
Pret voiture

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Posted: 29 April 2010 12:58 AM   [ # 4 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Love this film so much! I felt I am totally close to God.

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Posted: 29 April 2010 01:01 AM   [ # 5 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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twilightlady - 29 April 2010 12:58 AM

Love this film so much! I felt I am totally close to God.

It’ like I felt all the pains and sufferings of God by saving the mankind from sins.

Twilight Zone show

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Posted: 29 April 2010 03:37 AM   [ # 6 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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yes, twilightlady, millions felt the way you did. Here are some further reflections-Ron
——————————————————————————-
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: REVISITED

Since its opening, The Passion of the Christ has grossed in excess of $363 million and is now the eighth-highest grossing film of all time. The Passion of the Christ is expected to finish its domestic run with ticket sales in excess of $375 million in box-office receipts. Those numbers will continue to swell when the film is released internationally, beginning in Europe and later in Latin America.  Industry analyst Anne Thompson reported in the Washington Post that “when all receipts are tallied from Passion’s worldwide theatrical run, its DVD and video sales, pay and network TV syndication, and books and merchandising, Gibson’s personal account may be enriched by more than half a billion dollars.”(1)  According to an ABC News/Beliefnet poll, a quarter of Americans identify themselves as evangelical Christians.”(2) The film was the biggest opportunity for evangelism this century.(3) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Jack Matthews,  “Passion Payoff.” New York Daily News, April 6,  2004; (2) Pamela Parker, 2004: “How The Passion played on-line.”  Click2Network; and (3) Peter A. Maresco, “Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ: Market Segmentation, Mass Marketing and Promotion, and the Internet,” Journal of religion and Popular Culture, Volume 8, Fall, 2004.

This was a marketing exercise par excellence
Biblical epics had always been big deals, but
nothing like this one with the incorporation of
the Internet as a marketing medium in addition
to ancillary markets and targeting demographic
groups such as the denominations, sects, branches
of Christendom, incorporating the latest forms of
mass media. The Passion of the Christ became
a huge financial success but an example of how
biblically themed films may be marketed in the
future and there will always be a very big future.

Ron Price
15 April 2010

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Posted: 12 May 2010 02:45 PM   [ # 7 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I still don’t understand why those people were rude about this movie.
They just can’t help showing off their EGO.

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Posted: 12 May 2010 08:07 PM   [ # 8 ]     [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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In life, as I’m sure you know, darren1, not everyone believes the same thing, enjoys the same movies and has the same level of courtesy. Rudeness abounds both on and off the internet—-as does courtesy one should add. Such is life.-Ron

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