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Re: [XTalk] passions about the passion

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  • Zeba Crook
    ... Oh please!! That s as specious as the argument that making the dissemintation of hate literature illegal is a curbing of freedom of speech. It is, but we
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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      Jim West wrote:

      >At 10:52 AM 2/4/04 -0500, Zeb wrote:
      >
      >
      >>In other words, given the damage that has resulted from Christian
      >>anger at Jews over this, what is even the point of doing a movie
      >>treatment of something so hurtful?
      >>
      >>
      >Same thing applies here, I think. It is at heart unjust to accuse a person
      >of "potential" anti-semitism merely because anti-semitism has occured in the
      >past. What the ADL decries in Gibson (fostering hatred?) is what they
      >themselves are doing, is it not?
      >
      Oh please!! That's as specious as the argument that making the
      dissemintation of hate literature illegal is a curbing of freedom of
      speech. It is, but we agree as a culture (at least we do so in Canada)
      that freedom of speech has limits; when freedom of speech has hateful
      ends, one cannot claim innocently, "But I don't actually think those
      things, I'm just speaking freely." When our actions might result in
      harm, it is incumbent upon us to ask whether those actions are really in
      the best interest of someone other than us. It's about a sense of
      corporate responsibility. How easy it is for those whose have held the
      position of power (in this case Christians as they have held it for the
      last 2000 years over Jews) to say, "Hey, it's just a movie, don't take
      it so personally." It's an argument that fails to take notice of the
      world past the end of one's nose.

      Zeb
      --

      Zeba A. Crook

      Assistant Professor, Religion and Classics

      Carleton University

      1125 Colonel By Drive

      Ottawa, Ontario

      Canada K1S 5B6



      613-520-2600, ext. 2276

      http://www.carleton.ca/~zcrook/



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Steve Black
      ... But is it really as it was ? The Romans, after all, might have been far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels suggest! The
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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        On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:

        > If you make a movie that tells things
        > as they were you are bad-

        But is it really "as it was"? The Romans, after all, might have been
        far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels
        suggest! The passion narratives are all the products of ideologically
        committed Christians who wanted to undermine their ideological
        opponents and the stories they tell reflect this battle - including the
        passion. So really what we have in the passion narratives is not "what
        was" as much as a representation of what was believed to have been -
        put in such a way as to maximize the ideological punch - hardly the
        stuff of accurate history. This ideology entered into the western mind
        historically with disastrous effects. This doesn't mean that either Mel
        or Mk, Mt, Lk or Jn where anti-Semitic - but it does mean that we must
        exercise caution.

        Steve Black
        Vancouver School of Theology
        Vancouver, BC
        Canada
      • Bob Schacht
        ... This is really at the crux. I don t know how West can claim that the movie tells things as they were when the movie is based so many clearly
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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          At 08:29 AM 2/4/2004 -0800, Steve Black wrote:

          >On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:
          >
          > > If you make a movie that tells things as they were you are bad-
          >
          >But is it really "as it was"?

          This is really at the crux. I don't know how West can claim that the movie
          "tells things as they were" when the movie is based so many clearly
          non-historical elements. To name a few,
          * Having government officials, etc. speak in Latin rather than Greek;
          * The influence of a medieval passion play on certain portions of the
          script;
          * Gibson's artistic license (which he freely admits in places)
          Those are just for starters that I can think of off the top of my head
          without looking up the details. Black added:

          > The Romans, after all, might have been far more active players in the
          > execution of Jesus than the gospels suggest!

          And even the Gospels suggest active Roman involvement. Crucifixion was,
          after all, a form of execution reserved for Roman civil authority. If the
          passion had been solely or primarily a Jewish act, then Jesus would have
          been stoned.

          So the basic problem with the movie is that, apparently, Gibson is NOT
          telling "things as they were."

          Bob

          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          Northern Arizona University
          Flagstaff, AZ

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        • Loren Rosson
          Folks -- Let me preface this by saying that I ve been rather put off by Jim West s cavalier attitude toward (and sloppy assessments of) the Passion film in
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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            Folks --

            Let me preface this by saying that I've been rather
            put off by Jim West's cavalier attitude toward (and
            sloppy assessments of) the Passion film in general.
            However, regarding Zeb's remarks:

            [Zeb]
            >>The problem of course is that ADL opinions and
            positions have not resulted in any persecution or
            killings of Christians, let alone centuries of it.
            Until the Holocaust, and in some circles still I'm
            sure, hatred and killing of Jews (anti-Semitism) was
            "justified" because they were the killers of the
            Christian messiah. It seems perfectly justifiable that
            a Christian made widely disseminated and popular movie
            that portrays the role of the Jews in the death of
            Jesus, regardless of how accurate the movie might be,
            might make Jews nervous -- is this just going to
            reopen old wounds that in many cases have not actually
            healed over. In other words, given the damage that has
            resulted from Christian anger at Jews over this, what
            is even the point of doing a movie treatment of
            something so hurtful?<<

            For the same reason many of our best films are made
            about hurtful things. None of your above remarks about
            the history of anti-Semitism -- as accurate as they
            are -- have any bearing on the integrity of The
            Passion **as a film**. Gibson may be ignorant about a
            few things (and no one I'd care to break bread with),
            but he's a good filmmaker. I'm looking forward to his
            movie. There really hasn't yet been a good film on
            Jesus' passion (save perhaps The Life of Brian :) ),
            certainly not one realistic and dramatic enough to
            meet the increasing demands of today's audiences. You
            may as well ask what's the point of David Lynch
            showing brutal sado-masochism and rape in Blue Velvet.


            I'm going into The Passion much as I went into Oliver
            Stone's Nixon. Little to offer in historical value
            (and how much of the historical Macbeth do we get in
            Shakespeare?), but powerful drama nonetheless. By all
            indications, it will be a splendid achievement.

            Loren Rosson III
            Nashua NH
            rossoiii@...


            __________________________________
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          • Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab)
            Hi Steve, Since this is now off-topic, here are the comments I mentioned yesterday that I was going to post just before the plug was pulled. Great to see you
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
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              Hi Steve,

              Since this is now off-topic, here are the comments I mentioned yesterday
              that I was going to post just before the plug was pulled. Great to see you
              the other day (trust Greek is going well).

              I do indeed agree that in a post-holocaust world, one needs to be careful
              about the use of language. Since we agree on this, I hope I don¹t need to
              elaborate. But does this trump all other considerations? I¹m not sure it
              does. In terms of what actually happened to Jesus, is anyone really
              suggesting that Israel¹s leadership of the day were merely innocent pawns
              wanting only the best for this rabbi but who were cruelly outwitted and
              manipulated by the nasty Romans? Every nation on earth has blood on its
              hands at some point. Is it such a surprise that Israel has some as well?
              (Ask any number of people, let alone Palestinians, what they think about the
              present situation in the Middle East). As I was thinking about this, I had
              what might seem an outrageous thought: to use Zeb¹s analogy of the family,
              if there is tension, in my experience the best way to begin to resolve it is
              to confess my part in the fracas and apologize. When just about every other
              modern nation is apologizing for the sins of its fathers, perhaps a word
              from Israel¹s leadership might not hurt (maybe they¹ve already done so and I
              missed it): ³Yes, the part of our past leaders in the execution of Jesus was
              unjust. We are sorry.² What¹s to lose? And consider what might be gained.

              But there¹s more isn¹t there? Why is it honorable to criticize Israel¹s
              present policies but frightfully anti-semitic to recall a bad policy
              decision in the past? In terms of relative importance, which is more likely
              to fuel present anti-semitism: increasing criticism of and hostility toward
              modern Israel or the telling of what, to be honest, is an increasingly
              irrelevant religious story, at least in the minds of most Western people?
              Odd, is it not, that some of the more vocal critics of this movie happen to
              be very critical of the modern state of Israel¹s policies in the Middle East
              which I know for a fact would be seen by many Jewish people, not all of
              course, as a form of anti-semitism and which criticism has in fact already
              fuelled acts of violence in North America. Why is the Holocaust not invoked
              to trump this kind of criticism but suffices in the case of Mel¹s movie? One
              man's anti-semitism is another's justice I suppose. Yes there is, sadly,
              rising anti-semitism in Europe, but I doubt very much that it has anything
              to do with the Christian story which has long been abandoned by most
              Europeans. Can any one smell oil here? (At the risk of chasing rabbits,
              there is indeed a history of anti-semitism in Europe, but now given recent
              scholarship which pretty much reverses the traditional view of the
              Inquisition, Christianity, and witch-burnings (which actually took off in
              the age of Reason, not medieval Europe, was actively championed even fuelled
              by irreligious intellectuals, tended to be concentrated in the border towns
              where tensions were high and central control had broken down‹Spain and Italy
              had by far the lowest rates of executions‹and was first condemned, not by
              free-thinking proponents of unfettered reason, but by Jesuits who operated
              in the Inquisition who actually intervened to prevent such executions), one
              can¹t help but wonder if Christianity¹s purported role in European
              anti-semitism has likewise been distorted ...it¹s just a thought, and I
              neither intend to absolve perverse Christians nor make a judgment save only
              that since we have clearly not been well-served by at least a century of
              blatantly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian scholarship in other areas, there
              might likewise be a problem here.)

              But back to the present: what of the people for whom the Jesus story still
              matters? It is interesting is it not that the Christians who are most
              enthused about Mel¹s film, and those who are most likely to constitute its
              largest audience, also happen to be the staunchest supporters of the modern
              state of Israel¹s right to exist, and of Jewish participation in life in
              North America in general? Am I being asked seriously to accept the
              suggestion that it is precisely these people who are likely to be swayed
              into an outburst of frenzied anti-semitism? And this when those who have
              seen the film almost to a person declare they see their sin as the primary
              cause of Jesus¹ sufferings, and in no way Œblame¹ Jews? What does one say
              then to individuals who simply dismiss this thorough-going evidence, and opt
              instead for some ³potential,² and frankly rather improbable even
              preposterous, outcome? Do such persons really have windows into other
              peoples¹ souls? Isn¹t that what the proverbial inquisitors believed they
              possessed? Does there need to be some kind of reality check? Are we seeing
              yet another case of academicitis where the ³theory² simply Œtrumps¹ the
              data? The only review by a self-confessed atheist I¹ve seen, as I stated
              earlier, strongly asserted that this is not a religious film but one of the
              most powerful experiences he¹d ever had. Didn¹t provoke him to anti-semitism
              either. I understand Jewish sensitivity on this issue but sensitivity is not
              always the most reliable guide to reality. I very much doubt that Mel¹s film
              is really the problem here.

              Odd too is the fact, as a Jewish conservative rabbi recently observed (i.e.
              these are his remarks, not mine), that a Jewish curator can put on a show in
              which a Madonna is spattered with feces, and then screen a film which treats
              Mother Teresa with considerable contempt, and be defended by several
              well-known Jewish social critics as artistic freedom but somehow Mel¹s film
              is charged with anti-semitism.

              I don¹t mean this to shut down the discussion, do feel free to continue, but
              I find myself increasingly resonating with the words of a non-Christian film
              critic who was rapidly tiring of what he regarded as the frantic and
              hopelessly overwrought carry-on over this film: ³For God¹s sake, shut up and
              watch the movie.² Not exactly my choice of language but for God¹s sake
              indeed.

              Take care... we haven¹t yet had that coffee (on me).

              Rikk



              On 4/2/04 8:29 AM, "Steve Black" <sdblack@...> wrote:

              >
              > On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:
              >
              >> > If you make a movie that tells things
              >> > as they were you are bad-
              >
              > But is it really "as it was"? The Romans, after all, might have been
              > far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels
              > suggest! The passion narratives are all the products of ideologically
              > committed Christians who wanted to undermine their ideological
              > opponents and the stories they tell reflect this battle - including the
              > passion. So really what we have in the passion narratives is not "what
              > was" as much as a representation of what was believed to have been -
              > put in such a way as to maximize the ideological punch - hardly the
              > stuff of accurate history. This ideology entered into the western mind
              > historically with disastrous effects. This doesn't mean that either Mel
              > or Mk, Mt, Lk or Jn where anti-Semitic - but it does mean that we must
              > exercise caution.
              >
              > Steve Black
              > Vancouver School of Theology
              > Vancouver, BC
              > Canada
              >
              >
              >
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            • Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab)
              SORRY! In the middle of cutting and pasting some other stuff I neglected to alter the address line. This was meant to be a private word to Steve... please
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
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                SORRY! In the middle of cutting and pasting some other stuff I neglected to
                alter the address line. This was meant to be a private word to Steve...
                please delete..

                Rikk




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