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Featured Article: Our Black Shepherds - Given the traditional European/American profile of the Church in the United States, there has always been urgings from the smaller ethnic groupings, Hispanic, African American, Italian, Polish, Asian, etc to have episcopal representation. And each group has its own story to tell with getting bishops appointed. Read Full Story

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The Passion of Mel Gibson's "Passion"
by Rev. John J. Raphael, SSJ
(Page 1 of 8)

 

The "Passion" of Mel Gibson's PassionAbsolute silence. It was the first time I had ever experienced this at the end of a movie. There was no applause and for at least five minutes no one moved. Gradually, as the credits rolled, a few people began to silently depart the theater. By the time the credits were done, a full two-thirds of the people were still in their seats, and still no one spoke. That was the experience I had on the night of Ash Wednesday when, along with thirty-one students from Howard University, I watched Mel Gibson's long anticipated movie, The Passion of the Christ.

I must confess that it was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. For me this movie ranks in a class all by itself. In truth, I don't even think other "Jesus" movies can be reasonably compared to it. Gibson has brought us to a new level of conceptualizing the suffering and death of Jesus with his dramatization of Our Lord's final hours. I do not intend to review the movie-that is not my forte-however, I would like to offer a few reflections that may be helpful to those who have seen the movie, have heard or read about it, or are still deliberating whether or not to see it.

Because of the publicity and controversy surrounding the movie, it is difficult not to frame these reflections in terms of much that had been said about the movie both before and after its public release. Nearly everyone is familiar with the fact that at least two principal charges have been leveled against Gibson and the movie. The movie was touted to be excessively violent, and anti-Semitic. Thus it has been judged by some to be a distortion of the true teaching of the Gospels. Like most viewers, I was prepared to look for evidence either supporting or refuting these claims.

My reflections will engage a few publicly expressed opinions. The first question that must be asked is, "Is the movie too violent?" The answer one gives to that question depends on the barometer one uses to measure acceptable and unacceptable levels of violence. Obviously the movie received an "R" rating because of the violence. As a result of that alone many "anti-violence" advocates are quite negative about the movie, and accuse of hypocrisy those values-advocates who traditionally decry Hollywood violence, but overlook it in this case.

In a February 25 article in the "Style" Section of The Washington Post entitled "Less Than The Gospel Truth," Ann Hornaday writes, "It [The Passion of the Christ] traffics in lurid, almost pornographic imagery of blood, brutality and mortified flesh, rivaling Martin Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' in its ghastly, stylized violence." Also appealing to the imagery evoked by the concept pornography was a February 27 column in The Washington Times by Andrew Sullivan who, after defining "pornography" as the "reduction of all human thought, feeling and personality to mere flesh," states, "The centerpiece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the Gospels." Not satisfied with this, Sullivan continues, "And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood. It is an absolutely disgusting scene."

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Become a Friend of the National Black Catholic Congress

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The Experience of God's Presence

The Basics of Being Married in the Catholic Church

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Appreciative Inquiry: Become a Positive Force for Change

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Fundamentals of Appreciative Inquiry (Part I)

Fundamentals of Appreciative Inquiry (Part II)

His Greatest Gift

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Lent to Easter: Preparation for Celebration

Mary - Mother, Woman, Disciple

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The Best Kept Secret

The Food Crisis in Niger

The Passion of Mel Gibson's "Passion"

To Marry or Not To Marry - That is the question!

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