February 27, 2004

The Physicality of Christ's Suffering in The Passion of The Christ

Andrew Sullivan claims that Mel Gibson's theology is creepy and he has a "psycho-sexual obsession with extreme violence". I've yet to see the film but AS seems to have his own obsessions in rejecting Christ's passion as a physical event. The truth is that there are many roads to understanding Christ. Some of these roads are more intellectual, more analytical, others are richer in ritual and habit, while others focus on physicality.

Which road you take, as long as it is sound, does not matter as much as the final destination. In a world filled with horror, cruelty, and public executions, a brief description is surely enough. If you've seen a crucifixion, you understand it and don't need to go into the details of a particular instance to understand very well what kind of suffering is going on.

But that's not 21st century America, a nation so removed from the reality of roman style law and imperial brutality that such a depiction is entirely new to our experience. It shocks us and brings us to a profound knowledge of the reality of the physical suffering that Jesus Christ underwent.

If such graphic violence were to be made into a habit, it would be disturbing and wrong because we would risk becoming inured to it, no longer shocked because we have seen it all before, and once again we lose the reality of the event.

The calibration of the human spirit should neither find evil and violence entirely foreign and outside of its personal observation, nor should it become too intimate with it and used to such depredations. For Catholics and other apostolic christians, we have our experts, the church hierarchy, to deal with such fine points and if Gibson had truly gone too far, you would be hearing condemnations from the pulpits and not recommendations to see it from high church officials.

I can understand Andrew Sullivan has a bone to pick with the Church because of its position on homosexuality. But I think that his difficulty with his Catholicism is a bit more than he lets on. Perhaps he should ask why so few hierarchs are opposed to this film if it reeks so much of a deranged creator going beyond the bounds of proper artistic interpretation?

Posted by TMLutas at February 27, 2004 11:50 PM