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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 25, 2004 11:26PM

will probably be used by some worrisome groups and churches as part of thier indoctrination material.

This is surely not Mr. Gibson's intention, but his film might be good material for inducing emotional crisis and shame/guilt.

From what I have read about this movie, it is reportedly painful to watch, emotionally manipulative, and may produce the following effects:

1) Severe shame and anxiety

2) Dissociation/Depersonalization (to cope with the severe shame and anxiety)

3) ??? (open question) Hatred toward the Jewish community

The film could be used to 'set people up' for heavy indoctrination.

After they see the film, many might feel traumatized and may be more suggestible than usual. Their confusion could then be easily manipulated to serve the agenda (overt or covert) of a manipulative leader.

My speculation is that quite a few problematic churches and preachers might purchase copies of this film and use it as part of their thought reform techniques. I could imagine certain preachers showing the film to stimulate more emotion from a group that is growing 'lukewarm' and then sending them out to recruit new converts.

Or certain lukewarm members could be ordered to see the film,both to stimulate their flagging commitment, and perhaps even as punishment for daring to become lukewarm.

A great German historian, von Rank said this about another historian who used a lush, emotionally over-wrought style:

'He writes in such a style that the truth cannot be told.'

Anything that fosters heavy, heavy emotions of fear and shame as the Gibson film has done, might engender regression to childlike states of cognitive functioning, and make it more difficult to access adult reasoning.

Exit counselors who specialize in working with persons who are harmed by toxic churches and Christian groups had better become familiar with Mel Gibson's film, because it will perhaps be added to the 'tool kit' used by high demand churches in their indoctrination processes.

If you want to learn more about the ultra-traditionalist Catholic church that Mr. Gibson grew up in (and was indoctrinated into),
get a copy of 'The Smoke of Satan' by Michael J Cuneo.


The book is slim, readable and fascinating, written by a sociologist of religon who used some of the participant observer techniques of the anthropologist.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: LoriS ()
Date: February 26, 2004 06:56AM

I read something earlier today regarding people sending their children to see it. Can you imagine how traumatic an experience this would be for a child? Unbelievable.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 26, 2004 01:22PM

I know people who when they were children freaked out when they saw the flying monkey soldiers in the Wizard of Oz.

A guy I knew told me that when he was a wee youngster he cried his eyes out watching the scenes in [i:8e8de0c186]Gone With the Wind [/i:8e8de0c186]that showed the burning of Atlanta.

(His grandmother, who was a social snob sought to comfort him, saying, 'Oh, honey, dont cry. The people living down there were just railroad trash.' As my friend put it, 'I grew up in a very Southern Gothic family.')

Exposing a child to this film could, very possibly inflict trauma. If you can find a URL for that article, could you post it?

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 26, 2004 10:57PM


Chicago Tribune (USA), Feb. 24, 2004
By Lou Carlozo, Tribune Staff Reporter

After seeing an advance screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" two weeks ago, I felt like Pilate pondering a host of questions: Was it anti-Semitic or fair to Jews? Was it true to the Bible or adapted, a la Hollywood, to accommodate dramatic flourishes?

On one score I had little doubt: "The Passion," which opens Tuesday, is easily the most violent, blood-drenched film I have seen in years -- perhaps ever. And therein lies a serious issue I see not only through the eyes of an entertainment writer, but also a church-going Christian.

Churches busing youth to this movie like it's some sort of Chuck E. Cheese field trip need to think -- and pray -- long and hard about the aftershock. "The Passion" is not kids' stuff. It is gory in the extreme, with prolonged flogging and torture scenes. One lasts 45 minutes.

Further, "The Passion" has the potential to traumatize kids and young adults rather than bolster their faith.

That is not to criticize the film outright, as some Christian opinion leaders point out. "I thought it would be a very moving and powerful film and I'm glad I've seen it twice," said David Neff, editor of Christianity Today. "But I'm just a little nervous that it's being promoted as a film that everyone must see. It depicts Christ's sufferings so graphically that I have my reservations about exposing younger teens to this kind of violence."

Some churches even plan to bring viewers as young as 10, and that has national theater chains scrambling to cover themselves. AMC plans to make adults escorting large groups of minors sign forms acknowledging "The Passion's" graphic content.

Granted, it is impossible to ignore those Christian clergy who have seen "The Passion" and testify to its power. For some, a visible reminder of Christ's sufferings serves as a spiritual and cerebral firebrand.

Yet do teens and preadolescents need to be burned so? On the one hand, it's easy to say we live in a world of Eminem, Mortal Kombat, Columbine and "Thirteen," that today's kids are tough and have seen and heard it all -- and rationalize that the violence in Gibson's film is at least redemptive.

But the film's brutality, I would argue, could also be excessive and desensitizing. And for many church kids -- who are not only unaccustomed to this kind of viciousness, but in fact zealously guarded from it -- "The Passion" will deliver a huge, unexpected jolt.

Imagine a congregation buying a big block of tickets to see Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1." Not in a million years, right? That's because Christian churches don't embrace violent entertainment -- conservative churches in particular. So it seems curious that evangelical Christians have bought thousands of advance tickets for "The Passion," a hard R-rated movie.

True, conservatives hope this film will lead the "unsaved" to become believers, including the young. "Bring a friend" mission campaigns have been built around this very strategy. And yes, moving conversion stories will come in the days ahead. To resurrect an old cliche (with biblical roots): Seeing Christ's wounds is "believing."

But it's hard to imagine that Jesus -- who said one must become like a child to enter his kingdom -- would want any young one to endure something this harsh as the admission price.

What's more, even well-meaning clergy can be dead wrong when it comes to branding entertainment. Just a generation ago, nearly every evangelical pastor worth his Psalter dubbed rock "the devil's music." Try that line out on today's Christian punk and heavy metal bands.

Likewise, the most zealous shepherds gathering youngsters to see "The Passion" seem equally ignorant in declaring this film a must-see.

For children and adults alike with tender, sensitive hearts -- the lambs, in Christian parlance -- witnessing Christ's slaughter will be like getting hit over the head. And in the gut. And across the face. Over and over and over again.

Christian historian and author Martin Marty puts it well in Sightings, a newsletter of the University of Chicago Divinity School: "The previewers who like violence if it shows Jesus suffering, on the grounds that savagery moves people to appreciate his sacrifice, are measuring the wrong thing. In Holy Week I'll be listening to Bach's `Passions,' singing about `was there ever grief like Thine?' and meditating on the wounds of Christ, but not in the belief that the more blood and gore the holier, a la Gibson."

He adds: "The point now is not to accept grace because we saw gore."

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: LoriS ()
Date: February 28, 2004 01:17AM

I did not find the first article I mentioned, but in my local paper this week, an assistant pastor was quoted as saying that he intended to bring his FIVE YEAR OLD daughter to see the Passion, and that he felt comfortable recommending that children see the film.


I personally feel that is horrifying, but I think I understand the point.

Mel Gibson has said in interviews that the hands that are nailing Christ’s hands to the cross in the film are his own. He did this to show his own culpability in the death of Jesus. Several people leaving the theater have expressed the Christian belief that Christ died for “all of us”, and therefore leave the theater with the guilt and responsibility of Christ’s death squarely on their shoulders

The way people get indoctrinated, the point when their brains misfire and their critical thinking shuts down is accomplished by bringing them to a traumatic state, or completely confusing their minds. Imagine a child so young watching something so graphically violent, then being told by their parent that it’s their fault.

How do you keep a person in a cult? Guilt and self-loathing. That is what this movie seems designed to produce.

I cannot help but see the hypocrisy in the Christian community supporting such a graphically violent film. If this much violence were portrayed in any other subject matter, you can imagine how they would react. But because this gore serves a purpose for them, they applaud it. It is sickening. It is despicable.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 28, 2004 11:03PM


For One Catholic, 'Passion' Skews the Meaning of the Crucifixion


Published: February 28, 2004

The Passion of the Christ" is not just another movie. No one in America is saying, "What do you want to see this weekend, `The Passion of the Christ' or `50 First Dates'? " None of us can see it innocently. If audiences were juries, there is no possible viewer of this film who would not be rejected by either the defense or the prosecution.

Whether or not we like the 21st century, it is where we live, and we can view this film only as citizens of our time and place. That means me, too. I can look at "The Passion of the Christ" only as a woman who defines herself as Catholic, who also defines herself as someone for whom the creation of story has been a crucial locus of self-understanding, and as someone for whom the Gospels have been crucial texts. So I respond to it as a person formed by my history, as Mel Gibson has been formed by his.

I'm older than Mel, but not by much, and we were both brought up by Catholics who would define themselves as conservative. And yet our visions of both the nature of history, the role of story and the experience of Jesus are miles apart.

So, no, I didn't like the movie. But I didn't like Mr. Gibson's "Braveheart," either. I don't do spectacle. I don't do graphic violence. I didn't lose any sleep, though, about not liking "Braveheart." I didn't care about "Braveheart"; I didn't care who liked it because nothing important was at stake. I didn't imagine that "Braveheart" could do any damage in the larger world. The story of "Braveheart" wasn't precious to me. But "The Passion" has been, for me, a cause of deep distress.

My distress has two sources. The first is my anxiety that it will have the effect of fanning the flames of a growing worldwide anti-Semitism. I accept Mr. Gibson's assertion that he didn't mean to make an anti-Semitic film, but he has to be aware of the Passion story's role in the history of the persecution of the Jews, a story whose very power to move the human spirit has been a vehicle for both transcendence and murder. To be a Christian is to face the responsibility for one's own most treasured sacred texts being used to justify the deaths of innocents.

What, then, is one to do with that knowledge? I believe that one bears witness to it, in one's life and in one's work. Certainly one does not take the risk that one's life or work might contribute to the continuation of a horror.

Can this be read as political correctness with a theological twist? As a writer, I am certainly sensitive to the specter of censorship. But as one who has made a life's work of studying narrative, I wonder why Mel Gibson's vision of the Passion — its importance to him, he says, is that it shows exactly what Jesus did for us — must depend on a portrayal of Jews as a bloodthirsty mob headed by a sadistic and politically manipulative leadership?

Mr. Gibson's defense is that he tells it like it is. Or like it was. But that is not precisely the case: the film's screenwriter, Benedict Fitzgerald, has added extra-Scriptural details: the character of Claudia, Pilate's wife, is much amplified from the Gospel hint; Pilate is given a sympathetic psychological complexity that is nowhere found in the Gospels; details of Jesus' childhood have been invented for dramatic purposes. Caiphas, the high priest, is a cipher in the Scripture; in the film he is, compared with Pilate, a one-dimensional monster, a shrewd rabble-rouser who rejoices in the shedding of his enemy's blood.

It is true that the Roman flagellators are portrayed as viciously sadistic, *but there are two good Romans, Pilate and Claudia, to add a counterweight to our understanding of Romanness. There is no counterweight to the portrayal of the Jews. *And arguably a writer who is concerned about the effects of a work that will have enormous popularity might be more worried about a negative portrayal of Jews than of Romans. No one has tried to set fire to the Pantheon; Hadrian's Villa has not been ransacked.

The second cause of my distress is that Mr. Gibson's portrayal of the Passion story seems to me a perversion of the meaning of the event and its context. When I spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald, he told me that for him and for Mr. Gibson, the Passion was the most important part of the Gospel and that that was why they had focused on the last hours of Jesus' life, *giving short shrift to his ministry and his ideas.*

But if, as Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Gibson have done, you take the Passion out of its context, you are left with a Jesus who is much more body than spirit; you are presented not with the author of the Beatitudes or the man who healed the sick but with a carcass to be flayed.

A great deal of screen time is taken up with the flagellation of Jesus. What does this accomplish in an understanding of the meaning of Jesus' life and death? How is Jesus different from any other victim of torture? How is "The Passion of the Christ" different, then, from "The Silence of the Lambs"? Jesus as a person with mind and spirit is not very present in this film. This may partly be because Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus, is not an actor of great psychological subtlety. In the scenes when he is ministering rather than being bloodied, he is merely bland. These scenes have a perfunctory, tacked on quality, and Mr. Caviezel's face, which is pleasant but vacuous at the Last Supper, for example, does nothing to add to their power.

When I asked Mr. Fitzgerald why they had made the film so violent, he said that in an age of great violence, you had to use violence to make your point. He told me a story that had been dear to both his mother, who was the editor of Flannery O'Connor's letters and a great friend, and to O'Connor herself. The story goes like this: A man buys a mule from another man, who tells him that the mule will do anything if he is treated with loving kindness. So the man gives the mule the best feed, then some sugar, but he still won't work. So he brings it back to the seller, saying he's been duped. The seller hits the mule on the head with a two-by-four. The buyer says, "But you said he needed to be treated with loving kindness." The seller says, "Yes, but you have to get his attention first."

My problem with "The Passion of the Christ" is that I felt as if I were being continually hit over the head with a two-by-four, but I never tasted the sugar and I wasn't even given my portion of healthy feed. Once my attention was grabbed, what was it I was supposed to hear? That Jesus suffered greatly for my sins, more greatly, perhaps than I should imagine. But who is this Jesus and what is the meaning of his suffering?

Theologically, the meaning of Jesus' death comes with the triumph of the Resurrection, arguably the weakest scene in the film, in which Mr. Caviezel looks not victorious but stoned. Yet St. Paul says, "If Christ has not risen, then vain is your faith." Psychologically, the power of the Passion is that it acknowledges the place of suffering, particularly unjust suffering, in human life. It is a vessel for our grief. If you listen to Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," there is very little violence in the music; the overwhelming tone is one of mournfulness and a kind of crushed sorrow. In the film, to be sure, there are shots of women weeping along the Via Dolorosa, but the dominant tone in the film is one of rage-inducing voyeurism.

I understand that people of good faith might be moved by the film. I was in Boston the day of the premiere, Ash Wednesday. A woman interviewed on local television said that she thought the movie was not about violence but about love, that when she saw Jesus' struggle with his cross, she saw her own.

**A minute later, though, a woman with ashes on her forehead looked into the camera and said, "At least we know who really killed Jesus, and I don't have to say who."

I would venture to say that neither of these women's vision of the world was changed by the film. They brought their own Jesus into the movie with them, their own religious history and their understanding of the history of the world. As, of course, did I. And so if Mr. Gibson's goal was to change hearts and minds, I can't believe he'll be successful. In his goal of being true to his vision, he may in fact have succeeded.

But how does his vision tie in with the vision of the Gospels as a whole? In the Beatitudes, Jesus blesses those who hunger and thirst after justice. I can't imagine that Mr. Gibson's vision or his film will add to the balance of this world's justice. But as he has told us, that's not the part of the Gospel that interests him.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: nycupperes ()
Date: February 29, 2004 08:40AM


Some churches even plan to bring viewers as young as 10, and that has national theater chains scrambling to cover themselves. AMC plans to make adults escorting large groups of minors sign forms acknowledging "The Passion's" graphic content.

"First they fcuk you children’s bodies, now they fcuk their minds"

I went to a lecture last evening to gain a different perspective on the move, it was interesting what I learned. Most of what I learned was more or less withheld in Mel Gibson’s story.

1) The Romans spoke Greek at that time in history.

2) Most scholarly Jews today still study and speak Aramaic, and therefore understood the content of the movie, more then most Catholics.

3) The Jews were under occupation and oppression at the time of Jesus.

4) Jesus was one of at least 5 sects of Judaism at the time, some sects chose life over death (today's various sects of Jews), one sect chose DEATH (some call it sacrifice, martyrs, etc. Jesus).

5) Had Jesus not been brought back to life, his life would have no extraordinary meaning, therefore this part of the story was necessary.

6) All the writings on Jesus were done 30 to 70 years after his death.

7) The Christians and the Jews were very close in proximity until 350 AD (CE), after all it was just another sect that was still in early formation.

I've personally never been overly interested in religion in general, but obviously the dynamics can't be ignored. It seems that all successful religions always have some form of "Judgment." In Christianity, it's Heaven and Hell. In Judaism it's inscription into the "Book of Life." In Islam it's go something to do with the promise of 72 virgins, or something like that.

From a purely psychological stand point; this judgment is sort of like the approval a person seeks from their parent. Johnny if you’re good, you will get ice cream.

The invention of religion and group behavior seemed to be a fairly easy thing to program into people, and the power of monotheistic religions seemed even easier. I propose the history of most of mans existence was in PACK type behavior, hunter and gathering type societies. In order to survive individual thinking would have NOT have been a desirable trait, so group behavior would have been desirable trait and therefore passed on. The most effective groups have a single leader (Thus today’s most successful companies have a single CEO, not a group of managers).

G-d represents the CEO of each and every religion, he judges you just like your parents did when you were a child, we all seek approval from our parents, and therefore we all seek G-D. Maybe I’m right, perhaps I’m wrong.

...but if you're not a good Christian, Jew or Islamic, G-D will send you to you're room without dinner (HELL, No inscription in Book of Life, NO Virgins for you).

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 29, 2004 11:58AM

In 1997 I attended a class entitled 'The Trial of Jesus--A Life Sentence For Jews? by Nitzia Shaked, a lawyer.

Shaked had a mentor, Haim Cohen, who had been a lawyer in Germany, then fled the Nazis, took refuge in Palestine and became a judge in the new State of Israel. In his student days, Dr. Cohen studied Talmudic law, which required fluency in both Aramaic and Hebrew. Later, he decided to become a lawyer and this required fluency in Latin and mastering Roman law, the foundation for the pre-Nazi German legal system. And, having enjoyed a classical education, Cohen had learned to read Greek.

As a result, Cohen mastered all the relevant languages needed to study Jewish law, Roman law, and the Gospels. In retirement, he began to examine the Gospel narratives. Many of the key events were legally impossible. Dr Shaked listed a few:

1) Jewish law forbade trials at night. Trials could only take place during the daytime on Temple Mount, and only when the full Sanhedrin was in session. Therefore, a nightime tribunal at the High Priest's house would have been impossible.

2)The Passion supposedly took place on Passover eve. At that time, the High Priest was fully occuppied with his responsibilities at the Temple. And had he involved himself in a capital trial, he would have been ritually unclean--unfit to participate in the Passover rituals.

3)It was against Jewish law to humiliate a prisoner in custody. If a man was taken to his death, his dignity was to be preserved.

4)Finally, crucifixion was a Roman penalty, and nothing like it was mandated in Jewish law.


Dr Shaked's book is supposed to be published some time this year.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: Larryjames ()
Date: March 09, 2004 11:17AM

I come in peace.

It is such a pity that people are panicking about the movie. Especially in an environment where there is an over abundance of "horror" movies, even on television! Unfortunately, children are constantly exposed to it. And, many of the horror stories are just fiction.

But, history records that Jesus was crucified. None of us have experienced what crucifiction really is, thank goodness. But, according to what we know, crucifiction was a gruesome way to be killed. In the movie, Mel Gibson tries to make it as realistic as possible.

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Mel Gibson's Passion Play/Blood Feast
Posted by: brw ()
Date: March 10, 2004 07:11AM

If the intention of the violence and gore in "Passion" is to be as realistic as possible for historical purposes, ok, fine.

But if the intention is to give the viewer a heaping dose of guilt, then is this healthy? Is being "shocked and awed" into being a better Christian a positive experience for a child? There's got to be a more productive way.

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