LEFTWING LIBERAL POLITICS & "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST"
By Christopher G. Adamo
At this late date, it is hardly necessary to offer yet another review of the movie. Suffice to say that, among those who know and understand the events surrounding the crucifixion of the Savior, responses have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. However, within the ranks of countercultural Liberals, for whom the words “God” and “Jesus” are rarely used as anything but profanity, and never offered reverentially, the reaction has, of course, been quite the opposite.
This is not to say that Liberals have always held universal animosity towards their own reinvented versions of “Jesus.” Campus radicals and other leaders of the “hippie” movement were quick to assert their own presumed reflection of the Christ during the 1970’s, based mainly on the outward similarities between their shaggy-hair and sandaled attire and dress styles of the first century A.D. Of course any Biblical mention of “love beads,” “peace symbols,” or LSD has yet to be discovered.
Since that time, social activists have regularly invoked “Jesus” as a reason to advocate such things as government entitlement programs, as if the real Jesus fulfilled no other purpose on earth than to stand on Mt. Carmel and hand out food stamps.
Hollywood has on many occasions produced movies claiming to depict the life of Christ, with no comparable public clamor. In 1988, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” an abominable piece in which producer Martin Scorsese purposely distorted historical and Biblical accounts to the point of blasphemy, was released in American theaters. Yet among those now excoriating Mel Gibson, few ever offered even the slightest criticism of Scorsese or his deliberately perverse work.
On the contrary, many of the same individuals who now seek to destroy Gibson’s career were then lauding Scorsese, proclaiming his inarguable genius and artistry, and vehemently asserting his unalienable “right” to express them. So why should Mel Gibson’s production (and indeed, Gibson himself) be the focus of such an intense firestorm of contention and venomous attack, starting months before his film was released?
The answer can be found in the differing manner with which the two producers approached the events of Jesus’ life, and ultimately, their goals in dealing with this subject in the first place. Clearly, Scorsese intended to undermine and distort the Scriptural portrayal of Jesus. Relying instead on the fictional work of Nikos Kazantzakis, Scorsese mischaracterized the Christ by incorporating Hollywood’s all-too-typical elements of smut, while further demeaning Him by infusing in him the same spineless brand of “masculinity” considered fashionable in the post-feminist era of recent decades.
When on the cross, Scorsese’s character, rather than focusing on his appointed task of saving the world, was ostensibly contemplating a fling with one of his interns. Though typical of recent secular “messiahs,” such behavior is hardly indicative of the purity recognized by the followers of the true Jesus as inherent in Him.
In contrast, Gibson stated from the beginning that his goal was to chronicle the last hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry as accurately as possible. By all objective accounts, he achieved that goal. And it is this very element of truth, in an age when truth is increasingly reviled, that has resulted in astonishing levels of resentment against Gibson.
Some claim that Gibson’s rendering of angry mobs shouting, “Crucify him!” somehow constitutes anti-Semitism, as if such accounts of the event originated with Gibson (Perhaps Scorsese and Kazantzakis had a better approach?). Other broadsides against Gibson include accusations that he “only did it for the money” and threats that he is ruining his career -- completely contradictory statements, whose only thread of commonality is the notion that what Gibson did was utterly and inarguably wrong.
In the end, it was Gibson’s success at portraying the universally dark side of humanity, in stark contrast to the absolute virtue of the Christ, that forces honest viewers to face their own failings, and thus their own role in Jesus’ suffering. A society, whose members come to terms with the responsibility they should bear for their own condition, is one that doesn’t need government benefactors and moral relativists to make excuses on their behalf. Like the Christ of the Bible, this poses an enormous threat to the modern Pharisees who seek to accrue absolute power unto themselves.
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