The Passion of the Christ
February 23, 2004 3:16 PM   Subscribe

"One of the cruellest movies in the history of the cinema." David Denby reviews The Passion of the Christ in this week's New Yorker.
posted by Armitage Shanks (432 comments total)

 
LOWER THE THUNDERDOME!!!
posted by Stan Chin at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2004


The final paragraph of the article makes one of the best points about the apparent gluttony of violence in this movie.

It's amazing how many religiously-moral parents shocked and offended at a curse word or a flashed nipple are likely going to take their small children to see this film and treat them to two straight hours of on-screen torture and mutilation.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2004


To quote Cartman, "Jesus Tapdancing Christ!" We couldn't even wait until the wretched thing opened, we have to start in two days in advance of any of us even seeing this thing? It's an interesting and well-written article - it is, after all, by David Denby - but by what mangled criteria does a single post to a single review of a relentlessly hawked hunk of celluloid make a good MetaFilter post?!
posted by JollyWanker at 3:28 PM on February 23, 2004


Mad Mel: brilliant marketing, or serious paranoia?
posted by homunculus at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2004


dear jolly: the film is of great interest andmedia concern. Thus a review by a decent critic is always welcome...friend asked: going to see the film? Me: nah. I already know how it ends.
posted by Postroad at 3:32 PM on February 23, 2004


Wait, wait.. Danny Glover isn't in this?
posted by xmutex at 3:32 PM on February 23, 2004


I have an uncharacteristically late invite for a press screening, but I've decided to skip it. There'll be more than enough reviews out there, and it sounds like an ordeal to sit through. Rendez-Vous with French Cinema is bound to please me more.
posted by muckster at 3:38 PM on February 23, 2004


I've actually found that my lack of knowledge about this film or it's surrounding (manufactured) controversy is a good measure that I have lowered my TV intake to a suitable level.
posted by ao4047 at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2004


But how, I wonder, will people become better Christians if they are filled with the guilt, anguish, or loathing that this movie may create in their souls?

Let me try to answer that question (posed in the article:)

I think-no, I KNOW that we Christians have been guilty of taking the sacrifice of Jesus for granted. It has been a given that "He died for our sins" and few of us spare a moment to think of exactly what it meant for Christ Jesus to give His life for sinners. We have been complacent...we hear the message every easter, surrounded by lillies and bunnies...

The truth, the real Truth is brutal to the extreme. Here we have God Incarnate going thru a brutality of Hell that no one should ever endure-a brutality that He did not deserve in one iota....and he did it for people. Sinful people. Complacent people. People who have taken Him for granted. It hurts my heart to think of it, even as I recognize I am as guilty as the next. Those of us who have received His gracious gift of life need to be overwhelmed with gratitude for the enormity of what happened at Golgotha that day.
posted by konolia at 3:42 PM on February 23, 2004


* creeped out *
posted by xmutex at 3:44 PM on February 23, 2004


so, konolia, will you see the movie?

This movie may be saying much more about Gibson's mind than about Jesus (given that each of us see religion and belief differently), and i'm with Andy Rooney on the whole thing. "How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?"
(i'm also wondering if Gibson's keeping the profits.)
posted by amberglow at 3:49 PM on February 23, 2004


And The Cow was sent down unto us all, and that we might suckle mightily from The Teat, for it is through The Teat that The Father and The Uncle and The Pretty Good Friend Of The Uncle will truly show us what it is to be free. So I say unto thee, gentle flock, suck, and suck well.

And lo The Dude Who Hangs Out With The Uncle Sometimes spake unto the masses: he who refuses to suck from The Teat shall receive the most grievous of wounds, and from these wounds shall he not recover, most likely, and while he suffers he shall be forced to wear a bib, for bibs look silly.
posted by xmutex at 3:50 PM on February 23, 2004


"As Gibson was completing the film, some historians, theologians, and clergymen accused him of emphasizing the discredited charge that it was the ancient Jews who were primarily responsible for killing Jesus, a claim that has served as the traditional justification for the persecution of the Jews in Europe for nearly two millennia. The critics turn out to have been right. Gibson is guilty of some serious mischief in his handling of these issues."
Between this and the claims that Mel's father is making about how the holocaust was exaggerated, I think the worst fears of Gibson's critics have been realized.

Please do not go see this movie. You do not need to "see it for yourself" to know that Gibson is exploiting you.
posted by gen at 3:53 PM on February 23, 2004


so, konolia, will you see the movie?

I'm planning to.
posted by konolia at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2004


you people are fucking insane -- this has been going on for weeks -- google news keeps me updated with the current psychosis of the bored masses -- those who have the pleasure of not having to worry about staying alive or eating -- philosophy is a luxury -- A hobby will do wonders for your mental health.

Wasn't it the destiny of Jesus to die for the sins of the world? so that we might be saved?

Shouldnt this movie spark pro-semitism!? Someody had to kill the bastard -- somebody had to save your soul! THANK GOD THE JEWS KILLED JESUS AND SAVED OUR SOULS.

GOD DAMN.
posted by Satapher at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2004


I wasn't planning on seeing this, but after reading that review I may go just to lead the cheering section.

"Yeah, harder, give it to him!" ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2004


I <3 Satapher.

I don't quite understand him but I <3 him.
posted by xmutex at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2004


Please do not go see this movie. You do not need to "see it for yourself" to know that Gibson is exploiting you.

This man spent millions of his own money to make a film that he had extreme difficulty finding a distributor for in the first place. The actress playing Mary is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Somehow I don't see this movie as either a moneymaking scheme or as a scheme to blame Jews.

I agree with the man quoted on Entetainment Tonight several weeks ago-He said it was not the movie that was controversial, it was the subject matter.
posted by konolia at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2004


so, konolia, will you see the movie?

I'm planning to.

Do let us know what you think after you have seen it.
posted by donfactor at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2004


why dont they (those opposed to the movie) just make another movie about jesus that makes them smile and feel historically secure?? no ones stopping you... thats the beauty of free speech --- that it is free -- pro-semitism or not -- anti-christianity or not.
posted by Satapher at 4:06 PM on February 23, 2004


my problem with The Passion of the Christ is the sheer reverence that the movie treats the main character with. it's like they're trying to deify him or something.
posted by graventy at 4:07 PM on February 23, 2004


>another movie about jesus that makes them smile and feel historically secure??

I don't think you want a historically authentic movie about Jesus. The religious didn't handle Kazantzakis' take on the gospel too well in either book or film form.

Those who carry the powerful religious meme around in their heads unquestioned more or less seem unable to handle criticism or the interpretation of others.

Whatever. I'm waiting on Zoraster: The Movie to come out.
posted by skallas at 4:15 PM on February 23, 2004


why dont they (those opposed to the movie) just make another movie about jesus that makes them smile and feel historically secure?

Or they could just go rent this one.
posted by homunculus at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2004


my problem with The Passion of the Christ is the sheer reverence that the movie treats the main character with. it's like they're trying to deify him or something.

LOL! In a way this explains everything I have against the uproar against, for, or about this movie.

Its fiction friends -- of course the mouse really pulled the thorn out of the lion's paw -- thats the most important part of the story too -- worth killinf AND dying for.

thank god.
posted by Satapher at 4:22 PM on February 23, 2004


So, this isn't going to result in a bloody crusade is it?
posted by moonbiter at 4:29 PM on February 23, 2004


From the review:

"He largely ignores Jesus’ heart-stopping eloquence, his startling ethical radicalism and personal radiance..."

This is a reviewer looking for a negative angle. He's trying to say "See, I love Jesus as a person, but I didn't like the film."

I'll admit to finding the early Jesus's proto-communist ideas intriguing, but "heart-stopping eloquence" is a bit melodramatic, especially since the reviewer probably hasn't read the original Greek and Aramaic sources. Also, he probably didn't know Jesus personally and therefore isn't qualified to comment on His personal radiance.

I dislike Mel Gibson too, but Jesus H. Christ, go to the review with an open mind.

(disclaimer: I will never, ever see this movie, because I intensely dislike Mel Gibson and Jesus's followers. I'm peeved at the hack review, not the "thumbs down". I want objective movie reviews.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:34 PM on February 23, 2004


This wasn't so much a film review as much as a rundown of other things the movie could have been that Denby would have liked better. It wasn't strictly historically accurate. It wasn't a movie about the "existential" suffering of Christ. It didn't show the "radiance" of his personality. We can also conclude that Denby also doesn't like "death-haunted religious fanaticism" on an ideological level. What he doesn't address is how well the film succeeds as what Gibson intended.

(on preview: what Mayor Curley said.)
posted by transona5 at 4:40 PM on February 23, 2004


<yawn>the whole mess</yawn>
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:43 PM on February 23, 2004


Whenever "The Christians" (insert scary music) protest a movie they have not seen and tell people not to see it, "we the people" (insert heroic music) decry the fact that they would condemn something without seeing it.

Fortunately, "we the people" (insert heroic music) would never decry a movie made by "The Christians" (insert scary music) without seeing it. Unless somebody told us not to.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:46 PM on February 23, 2004


I was confused about the whole "He died for our sins, so it our fault" argument.

If Bob (or BoB for those in the know), decides to die for me sins, and I didn't ask him to or even gove me prior knowledge and or was pre-ordained, how the **** is it any ones fault but Bobs? Let bob take the blame if I can't talk him out of it.

About this whole crucifiction Seems the Jews were just a tool, Pilot the Rubberstamp and jesus a willing canablism victim,.

What a bizzare religeon, celebrate a "suicide by police" event.
Deism seems so inviting now.
posted by Elim at 4:48 PM on February 23, 2004


Hack review? I'm no David Denby fan, but you, apparently, don't read much film criticism. And Tryptophan, thanks for the eloquence.
posted by ghastlyfop at 4:50 PM on February 23, 2004


That all being said, this film seems a bit corry and a celibration of violence for a shock value only. Well done but not worht it just for a well known fable, see "Osama" instead if you want a film about the humanity in religeon.
posted by Elim at 4:51 PM on February 23, 2004


This wasn't so much a film review as much as a rundown of other things the movie could have been that Denby would have liked better. It wasn't strictly historically accurate. It wasn't a movie about the "existential" suffering of Christ. It didn't show the "radiance" of his personality. We can also conclude that Denby also doesn't like "death-haunted religious fanaticism" on an ideological level. What he doesn't address is how well the film succeeds as what Gibson intended.

I disagree. Any review worth its salt doesn't just say "it stinks," but rather points out its deficiencies. Who cares how well the film succeeds as what Gibson intended? Would that be a good way alone to evaluate "Triumph of the Will?" Why is it poor criticism to point out that the creator's intent is misplaced?

I heard a similar review of Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" on NPR recently. The gist of the review was that it was well-executed but poorly conceived. I find that kind of review useful to me, since I don't necessarily share the agenda and interests of every director.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:54 PM on February 23, 2004


Please do not go see this movie. You do not need to "see it for yourself" to know that Gibson is exploiting you.

According to Ebert and Roeper last night, not only is this an incredible movie (two thumbs way up) but it is also very even handed in its depiction of Jews. Though the story obviously does have some Jews who betray Jesus and call for his execution, it also has other Jews who were friends and supportors, and they even cited a particular example of a Jew helping Jesus carry his cross. It's not up yet, but check ebertandroeper.tv in the next few days to listen to the audio clip of their review. Though I don't always necessarily agree with their thumbs up/down decisions on particular movies, in their discussions they tend to give you a pretty clear picture of what a movie is like. Finally, they outright insisted that people really do need to see it for themselves before they decide to rally against it, because the anti-semitism is grossly exaggerated.

(On preview, they said a lot of the same stuff that Elim is saying, i.e. Christ was very willing, it was his purpose to die for our sins, he is more to "blame" than anyone. Ebert especially rallied around this point as it relates to the film.)
posted by rorycberger at 4:55 PM on February 23, 2004


While I think that it could be, in theory, appropriate to take something like the Crucifixion, which to many Christians has become an abstract concept, and make it a more real, visceral experience, focusing entirely on the last few hours of Jesus' life as a blood orgy of torture and pain seems obscene. And to ignore all of the historical data out there that provide a diferent contex for the writing of the gospels (like the historic records of Pilate's brutality) seems irresponsible.

I think it's very important to explain why Jesus was such a threat to the politically connected religious establishment - his embracing of societal outcasts, his condemnation of those who value their personal wealth over the lives of their fellow man, his slamming of religious hyprocrites, and so on. To me, those are the things that make Christ real to me - not the constant repetition of "he died to save us from our sins". To merely focus on the brutality of his death seems hollow and a cynical manipulation of people's emotions.
posted by echolalia67 at 4:57 PM on February 23, 2004


This man spent millions of his own money to make a film that he had extreme difficulty finding a distributor for in the first place. The actress playing Mary is Jewish and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

Some of my best friends are Jews.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:00 PM on February 23, 2004


hi.

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I'm pretty excited for this movie.
posted by angry modem at 5:03 PM on February 23, 2004


OK, I skimmed through the article. It sounds like Denby wanted a documentary. "One of the cruellest movies in the history of the cinema"? Crucifixion is pretty brutal, what does he expect? Expecting it to be a nice easter play is like going to see Bowling for Columbine and expecting a real documentary.

As for the children part... I don't think there will be as many children as he thinks - besides, who is he to tell others how to raise thier children? If I had kids, they wouldn't be going to see it. And from everything I've read, they say "not a children's movie" - although I'm sure someone took thier kids to see Spun or Se7en.

The only people responsible for killing Jesus were the people there - some of them where Jews, but I think most of them died a few years ago. I don't blame Germans for the holocaust.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:04 PM on February 23, 2004


How can any of this be irresponsible? Who exactly is Gibson responsible to? He has a lot of money, he uses this money to make his film and good luck to him. If I had the same amount of money I'd make a film about the wonderful healing properties of beer. It's your choice as to whether or not to go and see it but it's his choice if he wants to make it and what viewpoint he takes in the telling of it.

He's not obligated to give another point of view other than his own and why should he. It's like saying I'm not going to see Richard III because it's little more than Elizabeathan propoganda that bears little relevance to the historical record.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:10 PM on February 23, 2004


Thanks rorycberger, I think though Ebert said we all were to blame though and I disagree most srtidently on that point, Kinda like saying "Look what you made me do! Its all your fault argument" Giult Complex ion the extreme,
I feel if he did agree to it it was to make us all free, not for some a$$hat to hold over ANYONE, like most so called Fundamentalists do.
posted by Elim at 5:10 PM on February 23, 2004


okay it seems neither spell check nor HTML tags work here in Forfire. Danggit
posted by Elim at 5:16 PM on February 23, 2004


I love you, angry modem.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:17 PM on February 23, 2004


Mel, who claims he did extensive research to maintain historical accuracy, screwed up on the correct method of crucifixion. The nails are driven through the victim's wrists not the hands.
posted by lola at 5:21 PM on February 23, 2004


The book was better.
posted by ColdChef at 5:22 PM on February 23, 2004


I can't blame Jews or anyone else for being concerned about this film. People are so impressionable that a bunch of idiots got into car accidents on the way home from The Fast and the Furious. What are they going to do after this CAPS-Alert orgy of on-screen gore?It cracks me up that evangelicals and other cultural conservatives are so eager to see gore after years of deploring it. Even the CAPS people are on board with this idea -- graphic violence is wrong to put in movies unless it is inflicted on Jesus.
posted by rcade at 5:26 PM on February 23, 2004


The book was better.
Eh, that's just the sequel...the original is truly action-packed. Floods, sex, violence, salt, an ark--you name it!
posted by amberglow at 5:27 PM on February 23, 2004


That's the best movie review I have ever read.
posted by the fire you left me at 5:31 PM on February 23, 2004


MetaTalk.
posted by subgenius at 5:33 PM on February 23, 2004


Oh Lord, they didn't bring a victim child.
posted by Satapher at 5:36 PM on February 23, 2004


Bah. I'm with the less-blood-and-guts crew. What we need is more movies with Buddy Christ.
posted by krakedhalo at 5:46 PM on February 23, 2004


Jesus, Christians are sick, sick, sick.

Choose life, not death.
posted by rushmc at 6:04 PM on February 23, 2004


rushmc, we did.
posted by konolia at 6:10 PM on February 23, 2004


When the critics started attacking this movie, why didn't Mel Gibson simply turn the other cheek?
posted by ColdChef at 6:11 PM on February 23, 2004


I'm completely fine with the blood and gore I'll be seeing in this movie, just as I was with what I saw in several war films of recent years. And I wouldn't take my young son to this film or those ones because I don't think he's ready to see the graphic violence in either context.

I remember all too well the kind of fuss the press helped whip up over The Last Temptation of Christ and I'm seeing all over again with this film. In both cases, six months hence neither film will be much remembered because we'll all have gone on to whatever's next.
posted by alumshubby at 6:11 PM on February 23, 2004


I refuse to see such an openly anti-Italian film.
posted by Slagman at 6:16 PM on February 23, 2004


why dont they (those opposed to the movie) just make another movie about jesus that makes them smile and feel historically secure?

Or they could just go rent this one.


Or this one.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 6:32 PM on February 23, 2004


The truth, the real Truth is brutal to the extreme. Here we have God Incarnate going thru a brutality of Hell that no one should ever endure-a brutality that He did not deserve in one iota....and he did it for people.

You know, you can Loves That Jesus without feeling an obligation to pay $9.50 to watch him get the shit kicked out of him for two straight hours.

I seem to vaguely remember how a lot of Christians used to be against massive unnecessary obscenity on screen for the sole purpose of emotional stimulation- back when they called it "pornography."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:36 PM on February 23, 2004


Matthew 6:5-6:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


I think Gibson's desire to make a spectacle of his "faith" is a prime example of what the verse above decries. I'm not exactly a Christian, but from most sincere Christians I've met and from my Catholic upbringing and Bible reading, I was always under the impression that Christian faith was about humility and compassion.

Also, I realize that crucifixion is a violent act and to portray Christ's sacrifice as painful would be essential to any honest portrayal, but I also find myself asking, what exactly is Gibson's intent here. If it was to win over new converts, he seems to be failing miserably.

Also, konolia, (and please don't be offended by this, I'm merely curious), I'm somewhat puzzled by your enthusiasm for this film. Gibson is a militant Catholic and I was always under the impression that evangelicals didn't hold Catholics in high regard.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2004


From the article:

I realize that the mere mention of historical research could exacerbate the awkward breach between medieval and modern minds, between literalist belief and the weighing of empirical evidence. “John was an eyewitness,” Gibson has said. “Matthew was there.” Well, they may have been there, but for decades it’s been a commonplace of Biblical scholarship that the Gospels were written forty to seventy years after the death of Jesus, and not by the disciples but by nameless Christians using both written and oral sources.

And if Gibson were making a documentary film of exactly what happened in the time period, that might matter. As it is, he's making a movie from the Gospels, and even were the Gospels shown to be total fiction, films about such things are made these days. Or a director can be Oliver Stone and make films based on real events but with some changes/speculation.

It's perfectly valid to point out historical evidence or scholarship that would present a different view from what's found in Gibson's film or the Gospels, of course. But the problem I see here is this obsession with assuming this means the film is anti-semitic. Anyone with half a brain will realize what tomplus2 said -- "The only people responsible for killing Jesus were the people there - some of them where Jews." Implying complicity (or even the majority of responsibility) to the Jewish heirarchy of the time isn't anti-semitic anymore than criticising the current (or past) US Presidential Administration is anti-American.

It's like I'm waking up and someone said "Some people think that purple pigs must fly! Anyone who makes a movie in which some pigs are purple will make others think that pigs can fly!" The sanity of people who think purple pigs can fly isn't the only thing you start to question.

Incidentally, I do agree with all the comments about the violence and gore. I don't see the use, and I *am* a Christian, of sorts anyway. If the sacrifice of Christ is what Christians claim it to be, any attempt to depict the depths of somehow suffering the pain involved with the sins of the whole of humanity throughout history is probably outside possibility. Much better to understand the person of Christ by living his teachings.
posted by namespan at 7:00 PM on February 23, 2004


As a Christian, I can't say that I'm going to see this one. Why is Jesus's life not covered, just his death? Why aren't Jesus's teachings talked about so that we're reminded not just that Jesus died, but what he died for, and why it matters? If I read the reviews correctly, Gibson doesn't even put in the resurrection! It's just a really long portrayal of Jesus's death, with no context. Any idiot knows that crucifixion and torture are horrible and painful. The audience doesn't need to be told it. I don't think Mel Gibson is necessarily being self-serving; I think the movie probably means a lot to him. But as for me, I'm going to skip this one and watch "Jesus of Nazareth" again instead.
posted by unreason at 7:00 PM on February 23, 2004


Whenever I think of Romans, I think of them all talking like Sir John Gielgud. I want to see Gibson's version just because they speak Aramaic and Latin. It's a novelty, sure, but I think it might add something to the feel of the period that you can't get from watching "Ben Hur".
posted by stevis at 7:00 PM on February 23, 2004


konolia disturbs me on a regular basis. That's part of why I like her. I was baptized a Catholic and raised a Baptist, and I always found the adults' weird attachment to the brutal act of crucifixion as creepy and not unlike a sexual obsession. So, given this background, this film seems to me like a porn movie for the devout.

I think it's terrible that Christianity has become in the west so entangled with puritan sexuality that this is what passes for a religious expression, for passion. The true import of Christ's death cannot be measured in pints of stage blood gushed, nor should it be gloried in through a triumphantly destructive spectacle.
posted by squirrel at 7:03 PM on February 23, 2004


[moderately off-topic]

jonmc:

Gibson is a militant Catholic and I was always under the impression that evangelicals didn't hold Catholics in high regard

There are in fact many Catholics who embrace the term you mention, and at least some of them are interested in the practices of the Protestant counterparts.
posted by BT at 7:15 PM on February 23, 2004


Like stevis, that's about the only reason I have for wanting to see it (but sneaking in through the back door and peeking through the curtain). I've studied Aramaic and the "historical Jesus" and my worldview regarding those events (where 'those events' have been largely collated from circumstantial, after the fact evidence) is the polar opposite of paranoid Mel's. Regardless of my opinion, he exemplifies a certain unforfurtunate American standard; if you have enough money and enough ideology, you can rewrite history and fill in the gaps any way you please, and as a bonus, the media will generate free hubbub to drive up your marketshare of pliant curiosity seekers.

Traces of Barnum, anyone?
posted by moonbird at 7:16 PM on February 23, 2004


"Jesus wept." --- Uncle Frank, Hellraiser

It's interesting to consider that Hellraiser and it's sequels were probably less violent than The Passion. I expect to hear less moaning from the right about the violence in other entertainments like Grand Theft Auto. ~wink!~

Then there's this: "Governor Pizarro wished to obtain intelligence from some Indians who had come form Cajamarca, so he had them tortured." (From the account of Hernando Pizarro.) I find this startling, how off-handedly, even proudly, a man selects torture as a convenient method for collecting data.

It's horrible to contemplate that the events portrayed in The Passion are not extraordinary. They were commonplace then, perhaps only a little less so now. I wonder how many moviegoers will see this as less of a paean to the redemptive power of "the Christ," than as a spectacle of man's monstrous inhumanity to his fellows.
posted by SPrintF at 7:21 PM on February 23, 2004


well said, squirrel. the messed-up relationship between violence/martyrdom and sexual desire in catholicism is fascinating and Creepy (i say this as a girl raised catholic, with a particularly devout mother). look at any of those picture books they give children of the saints...you've got stephen bleeding all over the place and many many farm girls and princesses-turned-near-rape-victim-martyrs. and then there's teresa of avila and the rest, who speak of jesus as if he is a passionate lover. (the last type i think is less creepy, and deserves more research.) the functionalist spin a critic could put on the tradition of catholicism makes me dizzy.
posted by ifjuly at 7:33 PM on February 23, 2004


what do you people have against bloody hippie movies? dang.
posted by damnitkage at 7:34 PM on February 23, 2004


OK, I skimmed through the article. It sounds like Denby wanted a documentary. "One of the cruellest movies in the history of the cinema"? Crucifixion is pretty brutal, what does he expect? Expecting it to be a nice easter play is like going to see Bowling for Columbine and expecting a real documentary.


"After a brief attempt at the religious life at the age of 14, he returned to finish out his scholastic career at Davison High School, where he was on the debate team, worked with Student Government and even wrote a play for his High School to perform. Moore said, “It was a religious theme and it ended when Christ [came] down off the cross and [was] nailed back up. The people who nailed Christ back up were modeled on people in my town. They could recognize themselves"

It's a novelty, sure, but I think it might add something to the feel of the period that you can't get from watching "Ben Hur".

"From this dreamy state Ben-Hur was aroused by the sound of hammering. On the summit of the knoll he observed then what had escaped him before-some soldiers and workmen preparing the crosses. The holes for planting the trees were ready, and now the transverse beams were being fitted to their places"
-Lew Wallace, Ben Hur

HMMMM

Overall, Wallace--an activist at heart--grew disillusioned with his declining impact. In March 1881 he took advantage of a new President, James A. Garfield, to submit his resignation. The territorial press pleaded with him to stay. ``We believe Governor Wallace to be about the only reputable and worthy gentleman who was ever appointed to a federal office in New Mexico,'' one paper declared.
At about the same time, as it turned out, Garfield was reading Ben-Hur. Garfield wrote in his diary that the novel so moved him that he would offer Wallace the ambassadorship to Turkey in Constantinople, hoping the author may draw inspiration from the modern east for future literary work"
posted by clavdivs at 7:50 PM on February 23, 2004


This man spent millions of his own money to make a film that he had extreme difficulty finding a distributor for in the first place.

So is Gibson going to donate the millions he sees in profit to anti-Semitic groups to compensate for any backlash?

The above quotation could have been made by any number of producers about any number of films. It simply doesn't justify the blood money with which Gibson's cup will runneth over in a matter of weeks.

Churches are buying tickets in groups most certainly including teens and pre-teens who would not qualify to see the R-rated film on their own.

In fact, churches are so excited about getting their impressionable young members into the film that a New Zealand group is protesting and appealing for a lower rating, saying that "a film of such historical, social and cultural interest should be made available to young people to view with a parent or guardian." But that's disingenuous crap, obviously, because children would already be able to see it with a parent under the current NZ R16 rating.

It's further disingenuous crap because the aforementioned Society for the Promotion of Community Standards has made its name in NZ by always appealing for higher ratings on movies and shows containing "gratuitous sex and violence".

I guess a movie that Time calls "The Goriest Story Ever Told" doesn't qualify as "gratuitous violence" as long as it's getting out the Word. Halleluia!
posted by pineapple at 7:53 PM on February 23, 2004


Sounds like the type of film that some sort of whacked-out death cult would create.

They'd have had some sort of charasmatic and eloquent leader. No one would really know what he had done during his younger years, but he hit his stride in late middle age. Started small, maybe with a few siblings accompanying him, attracted people from some nearby families; eventually had a small entourage supporting him.

Basically he'd been doing the talk-show circuit, promoting personal transformation. Telling people that they gotta do better to each other and gotta start taking control of their lives. Anyway, he got whacked. Pissed off someone, probably Pat Robertson or Billy Graham.

Did serious damage to his show, of course. Reran a couple times. Got people real excited the first time that happened, but then it was pulled.

Eventually some new guy managed to wrestle control of the dwindling organization. Renegotiated with the networks, got things going. New show, same as the old.

This new guy has a lot of business smarts. Makes a shitload off the cult, way more than the old guy. Laid down a bunch of new rules, most of them pretty harsh. You'd think most everyone would have quit the cult, it changed so much.

But the new guy was smart enough to "defer" to the dead guy, pretend that it's what the dead guy would want. Basically changed it into a death cult. Whacked out idea, I know, but it's working!

The cult members have a real serious fixation on the dead guy. Celebrate his damn death like it was the fourth of July. Freaking weird. Takes all kinds, I guess.

Anyway, this "Passion of Christ" movie sounds like the sort of thing this death cult would do.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:02 PM on February 23, 2004


please, Last temptation of Christ contained more political intrigue, violence, sex then alot of religious movies.
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 PM on February 23, 2004


Being a non-believer, it is tempting to pay to see Jesus get the beating of his life. I wonder what the crowd reaction would be to my laughing.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:03 PM on February 23, 2004


FFF, please get a clue into the events of the era. Judas for instance, was a spook to say it simple. He was tied to the zealots and perhaps was sent to kill or spy on Jesus.

but why would he follow jesus and not do what ever it was he was sent to do. (remember, jesus knew judas would portray him and it is even possible that jesus asked judas to betray him) also, why would the group accept a tax collector, the worst of the political worst, into their ranks. What about jesus' ties to the baptist, surly the mad pat robertson of his time to use your simple minded analogy.

perhaps jesus "got it". violence and hatred are not the way.

In reality the romans killed jesus by having the people choose between jesus and a popular bandit-political operative. Also, why would the jewish council even bring the "jesus question" to the Pilate? why not just kill him?

I wonder what the crowd reaction would be to my laughing
take a camera.
posted by clavdivs at 8:21 PM on February 23, 2004


rad
posted by poopy at 8:24 PM on February 23, 2004


As far as historical accuracy, if you don't think the Gospels are accurate accounts, then about the only thing we know for sure about Jesus is that he was tortured to death.

So on that account, you might say Gibson's movie is more historically accurate than any other film of Jesus' life.
posted by straight at 8:27 PM on February 23, 2004


Feh. It's a snuff film. Fine if you're into that kind of thing. You'd have to be a real dummy to think it's like the real thing, but I guess that's part of the appeal.
posted by wobh at 8:32 PM on February 23, 2004


Christianity Metafilter : a blood orgy of torture and pain
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:34 PM on February 23, 2004


There's one good thing I can say about this review, and it is that the reviewer laid his bias on the table in the first paragraph and saved me the trouble of taking anything else he said seriously. The stories we have about Jesus are not histories; even if we did have contemporary accounts of his life and deeds, multiple interpretations of his character would be inevitable. Even a straight documentary is an act of editorial creation in which many viewpoints are possible - the more so when all we have to go on are four fragmentary, contradictory compilations of second-hand stories, a generation old when they were first written down. That the reviewer believes in "Jesus’ heart-stopping eloquence, his startling ethical radicalism and personal radiance" as a matter of history, not interpretation, is clear evidence that he is insufficiently openminded to present a fair review of this film.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:36 PM on February 23, 2004


Denby wasn't debunking the Christ myth, Mars, or faulting the film exclusively for being historically incorrect. I think he was decrying the lack of context (i.e. the value of the Christ myth) in what he considered to be a joyless gore romp without it.
posted by squirrel at 8:46 PM on February 23, 2004


I am not a Christian, but I agree with unreason. I mean, really, what's the point of watching a man get tortured to death if the reason why and the Mystery of what happaned after are irrelevant to the narrative?

I mean, I've heard some people on TV say they want to use the movie a conversion tool. What, I say again, is the point? From what I understand, all someone might get from this picture is a "Woah, that's fucked up."

The power of the Crucifixion of Christ, IMO, comes not just from the horrible agonies he endured, but why he endured them. It is not enough that he didn't deserve them, but that he received them for preaching a message of forgives, redemption and love. Not only that, an eager and willing Christ undermines the point of the suffering he is undergoing, because if he is the Mystery of being both man and god then he must've had doubts and worries and desires, (which is why I think Temptation and even Jesus Christ Superstar may be better portrayals.)

When it comes down to it, crucifixion was a fairly commonplace event, and to glorify that, outside of Christ's message and Resurrection, I think is missing the point.

I probably won't be going to see it, because even though I find the idea of dialogue in Latin and Aramaic neat, I became violently nauseous halfway through the Stations of the Cross when I was an altar boy, so it's probably not a good idea to press my luck.

The anti-Semitism thing, I think is to a certain extent, a red herring. It does bother me a little to hear what Mel's father says about the Jews and other topics, as well as Mel's refusal to repudiate that, but from what I understand about the portrayals about Jews in the picture, they don't leap out and scream with anti-Semitic context. I do think that Denby has a point that the motivations for the Pharisees are ill-explored to the movies detriment.
posted by Snyder at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2004


Prove to me that you're divine; change my water into wine.

I'm just saying...1973's version of Jesus was a lot more fun.
posted by dejah420 at 8:49 PM on February 23, 2004


I think it's terrible that Christianity has become in the west so entangled with puritan sexuality that this is what passes for a religious expression, for passion.

Passion has a specific meaning here that isn't quite the same thing as little-p passion.
posted by rcade at 8:49 PM on February 23, 2004


Also, konolia, (and please don't be offended by this, I'm merely curious), I'm somewhat puzzled by your enthusiasm for this film. Gibson is a militant Catholic and I was always under the impression that evangelicals didn't hold Catholics in high regard.

Mel Gibson is my brother in Christ. Period.
posted by konolia at 8:53 PM on February 23, 2004


fff, the similarity your story has to the last 20 years of the Disney Corporation scares me to death.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:54 PM on February 23, 2004


Not only that, an eager and willing Christ undermines the point of the suffering he is undergoing, because if he is the Mystery of being both man and god then he must've had doubts and worries and desires,

You forget. He knew and communed with His Father here on earth -the struggle that He had was to make the final choice to choose the Father's will in the Garden of Gethsemene when He sweat drops of blood...He knew who He was and He knew what He was called to do and why. The scriptures say that He focused on the joy set before Him (which was our redemption) despising the shame. He wasn't a masochist, longing for the cross-that would be sick. He was longing for us-and the only way to have us was to go through with the cross.
posted by konolia at 8:59 PM on February 23, 2004


They crucified Spartacus as well you know. Him and 6000 of his closest friends. And hung the broken, rotted bodies along the Appian Way for decades. Besides this reaction to the closest Rome got a communitarian revolution, this little contretemps in Palestine was a tame sideshow.
posted by meehawl at 9:04 PM on February 23, 2004


I was talking Scientology, actually, but I suppose Disney is a close enough guess. Extra bisquit for Xquz[etc]!

Religion truly is the opiate of the masses.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on February 23, 2004


konolia: You have to be the coolest Christian I have ever read on a message board.
posted by mischief at 9:35 PM on February 23, 2004


It had been arranged by the prison charlie, as part of my further education to read him the Bible. I didn't so much like the latter part of the book which is more like all preachy talking, than fighting and the old in-out. I liked the parts where these old yahoodies tolchock each other and then drink their Hebrew vino and, then getting on to the bed with their wives' handmaidens. That kept me going.
- Alex, A Clockwork Orange
posted by john at 9:38 PM on February 23, 2004


If I read the reviews correctly, Gibson doesn't even put in the resurrection! It's just a really long portrayal of Jesus's death, with no context.
posted by unreason at 7:00 PM PST on February 23

just wait til you see the follow-up movie,
The Passion of Christ II: Jesus Comes Back
posted by alicila at 9:47 PM on February 23, 2004


This chick who's really into S&M is telling me she'd "Love to see it", so I think I might go. She's also very hot.
posted by delmoi at 9:48 PM on February 23, 2004


He was longing for us-and the only way to have us was to go through with the cross.

Why's that again? I mean, his dad made the rules. Why did he make him get tortured and stuff?
posted by jpoulos at 9:50 PM on February 23, 2004


He was longing for us-and the only way to have us was to go through with the cross.

You want to try to explain the logic of this to the non-baptized among us, konolia? For my part, I sat through decades of "God's Son came to Earth for the purpose of dying so that future people could get "salvation" if we "accept" Him. That one never stopped being a head scratcher for me.

Pretend for a moment that you're talking to someone from an entirely different culture, to whom this talk of ritual slaughter and blood drinking and flesh eating sounds like, say, a hideous cult.

With that in mind, please illuminate the necessity of Christ's horrible/wonderful death.
posted by squirrel at 9:54 PM on February 23, 2004


Jinx, jpoulos!
posted by squirrel at 9:55 PM on February 23, 2004


Remember, this isn't the first time Mel Gibson has been accused of distorting history to shift responsibility for gory historical events.
posted by letitrain at 10:11 PM on February 23, 2004


To quote "Concrete Blond's' Tomorrow Wendy:
I told the priest, Don't count on any second coming,
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming!
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us!
No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us,,,?
Hey, hey, good bye
Tomorrow Wendys going to die
posted by Elim at 10:18 PM on February 23, 2004


With that in mind, please illuminate the necessity of Christ's horrible/wonderful death.

For that matter, what about the fact that god didn't actually die, since he's incapable of it? That would have been a miracle I could stand behind: an immortal giving up existence to make an example.

Jesus died? Big deal. I could give up eating eggs forever, considering that I already hate them.
posted by interrobang at 10:19 PM on February 23, 2004


Thanks Interrobang for ruining the film for me, Just for that, Anakin is VADER! HA! so there! Didn't see that coming did you?

(glad you weren't sitting behind me in the film)...
posted by Elim at 10:23 PM on February 23, 2004


Quick! Perform the special ritual to appease the invisible man in the sky!
posted by spazzm at 10:25 PM on February 23, 2004


gimme a virgin quick.....
posted by Elim at 10:27 PM on February 23, 2004


Sorry, Elim - I'm saving myself for marriage.
posted by spazzm at 10:29 PM on February 23, 2004


then you have doooomed us all with your selfish puritanical ways, fool!
posted by Elim at 10:31 PM on February 23, 2004


Are you experienced?
posted by spazzm at 10:41 PM on February 23, 2004


Bob has taught me much.... Some Frop?
posted by Elim at 10:45 PM on February 23, 2004


If you think it's too violent you can always blame the original story writer!

Oh wait...
posted by clevershark at 11:17 PM on February 23, 2004


Discipline & Punish : The Birth of the Prison - the disappearance of institutionalized physical torture is a very recent development in Western societies.

Check it out, I can't wait for the Mel Gibson version...

On 1 March 1757 Damiens the regicide was condemned "to make the amende honorable before the main door of the Church of Paris", where he was to be "taken and conveyed in a cart, wearing nothing but a shirt, holding a torch of burning wax weighing two pounds"; then, "in the said cart, to the Place de Grève, where, on a scaffold that will be erected there, the flesh will be torn from his breasts, arms, thighs and claves with red-hot pincers, his right hand, holding the knife with which he committed the said parricide, burnt with sulphur, and, on those places where the flesh will be torn away, poured molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur melted together and then his body drawn and quartered by four horses and his limbs and body consumed by fire, reduced to ashes and his ashes thrown to the winds" (Pièces originales..., 372-4).

"Finally, he was quartered," recounts the Gazette d'Amsterdam of 1 April 1757. "This last operation was very long, because the horses used were not accustomed to drawing; consequently, instead of four, six were needed; and when that did not suffice, they were forced, in order to cut off the wretch's thighs, to sever the sinews and hack at the joints...

"After two or three attempts, the executioner Samson and he who had used the pincers each drew out a knife from his pocket and cut the body at the thighs instead of severing the legs at the joints; the four horses gave a tug and carried off the two thighs after them, namely, that of the right side first, the other following; then the same was done to the arms, the shoulders, the arm-pits and the four limbs; the flesh had to be cut almost to the bone, the horses pulling hard carried off the right arm first and the other afterwards.

"When the four limbs had been pulled away, the confessors came to speak to him; but his executioner told them that he was dead, though the truth was that I saw the man move, his lower jaw moving from side to side as if he were talking. One of the executioners even said shortly afterwards that when they had lifted the trunk to throw it on the stake, he was still alive. The four limbs were untied from the ropes and thrown on the stake set up in the enclosure in line with the scaffold, then the trunk and the rest were covered with logs and faggots, and fire was put to the straw mixed with this wood.

"...In accordance with the decree, the whole was reduced to ashes. The last piece to be found in the embers was still burning at half-past ten in the evening. The pieces of flesh and the trunk had taken about four hours to burn. The officers of whom I was one, as also was my son, and a detachment of archers remained in the square until nearly eleven o'clock.

posted by meehawl at 11:26 PM on February 23, 2004


I can paraphrase Buddha and pull a rabbit out of your hat.

No hoopla about me. =\
posted by Satapher at 12:11 AM on February 24, 2004


Clevershark:
Problem is of couse Who wrote it, like you said, Problem is we don't know who wrote it do we?

First: probable that the gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In fact the names attached to the gospels-Mark, Matthew and Luke-are merely second century guesses as best we know.

Second: evidence also shows that the synoptics were all written after 70 CE. Close to half a century after the death of Jesus

But fear not after the 4th century AD 380 or there abouts I thin, The Latin Lulgate determined all was as is now. (At least untill Martin Luther) That Thes four bools were basically the bible.

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN620NTHISTORY.htm
for a better idea who really wrote what. (Why do most apologists for Christianity not even now the history?)
posted by Elim at 12:15 AM on February 24, 2004


Bools being books of course, curse this Spellchecker
posted by Elim at 12:23 AM on February 24, 2004


who wrote the traditional folk songs and what makes them traditional?
posted by Satapher at 12:54 AM on February 24, 2004


Interesting review, prose is good but some of his facts are questionable.

He largely ignores Jesus’ heart-stopping eloquence, his startling ethical radicalism and personal radiance—Christ as a “paragon of vitality and poetic assertion,” as John Updike described Jesus’ character in his essay “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew.”

The film centers on the last twelve hours of Jesus' life, in which there was very little eloquence. All that jazz came before.

Gibson is so thoroughly fixated on the scourging and crushing of Christ, and so meagerly involved in the spiritual meanings of the final hours, that he falls in danger of altering Jesus’ message of love into one of hate.

This is where I think Denby make a fatal flaw. Gibson in this pic is making the viewer focus on the human aspect of Christ. The bleeding, crying, gasping man. Traditional Christian thought maintains the Jesus was wholly God and wholly man at the same time. This (for me at least) is a muy difficil concept and one that tends to be overlooked. Most modern day Christian theology tends to focus on the Divine aspect and the man aspect is shunted to the side. I think it sounds like Gibson is trying to bring the visceral aspect of what Jesus the man went through as opposed to "It hurt but He was God so he could handle it." mindset. Gibson is trying to show what Jesus really went through in human terms.

The Jews speak in Aramaic, and the Romans speak in Latin; the movie is subtitled in English. Gibson distances the dialogue from us, as if Jesus’ famous words were only incidental and the visual spectacle—Gibson’s work as a director—were the real point.

The use to use the lingua franca of the day is a daring choice but a necessary one as it is a constant reminder this happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. My one minor quibble with The Last temptation of Christ (deliciously complex book, stunning movie) is that Judas, played by the incomparable Harvey Keitel, has a New York accent. I always thought of Judas as more a Philly guy.

But, as Gibson knows, history rescued the pagans from eternal blame—eventually, they came to their senses and saw the light. The Emperor Constantine converted in the early fourth century, and Christianized the empire, and the medieval period saw the rise of the Roman Catholic Church. So the Romans’ descendants triumphed, while the Jews were cast into darkness and, one might conclude from this movie, deserved what they got.

Completely not the point. To be blunt, if you don't accept Christ as your Savior, you are effed, regardless of ethnic/religious background. This reference to the Roman Empire at later dates is not in the movie and is a supposition by the critic. Again, I think Denby is off on this one.

“John was an eyewitness,” Gibson has said. “Matthew was there.” Well, they may have been there, but for decades it’s been a commonplace of Biblical scholarship that the Gospels were written forty to seventy years after the death of Jesus, and not by the disciples but by nameless Christians using both written and oral sources.


Both are slightly off. True a John and a Matthew were present but neither are thought to be the authors of the Gospels that bear their name. Canby is wrong because the figure he cites, "forty to seventy" is the accepted time line for the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) whereas John, which is completely different in pace, imagery and emotional content (compare the last words of Christ: "My Father, My Father, why hast thou abandon me?" to "It is Accomplished!" John wrote the latter and frankly, that is thematically what I want my Saviour to shout while dying, not the former quote which is confusing to me) was written, it is thought, around 120 C.E. Small point but it bothered me when Denby cites Gibson as getting his facts wrong then give wrong numbers.

But the central tradition of Italian Renaissance painting left Christ relatively unscathed; the artists emphasized not the physical suffering of the man but the sacrificial nature of his death and the astonishing mystery of his transformation into godhood—the Resurrection and the triumph over carnality.

OK, recall the God/Man thing I touched on earlier? Jesus was always wholly God and wholly Man. To imply that he became God upon his death is flat out wrong. The painters didn't depict the gory nature out of any sense of morality but, I suspect, that isn't what their patron wanted. Gore wasn't that big of a theme then. Not in paintings anyway.

The despair of the movie is hard to shrug off

This is where I think Denby misses another point. There was despair. The Gospels show that the apostles thought it was all over. The joy that many might feel is the great unfilmed after-the-movie.

Sorry for the long post. And for those keeping the running tally, I plan to see it when it comes out.
posted by Dagobert at 1:02 AM on February 24, 2004


What's up with critics this year? Ebert called Charlize Theron's performance in Monster "one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema." Denby calls this one "one of the cruellest movies in the history of the cinema." A.O. Scott called Sean Penn's turn in Mystic River "one of the definitive pieces of screen acting in the last half-century."

Are we living in a Golden Age of Blurbing?
posted by luser at 3:01 AM on February 24, 2004


luser: That was the most astute insight in MeFi history.
posted by RavinDave at 3:20 AM on February 24, 2004


People love to call themselves Christians and make an idol of the bible and jesus and anything else handy (saints).

Many of these people go around posing as someone with a thoughtful understanding of the bible and jesus and anything else handy.

Some of these people write books and make movies about their idolatry.

You can be a christian without believing in the resurrection, without believing in the trinity, without believing jesus died on the cross, without believing in miracles or any of the other scifi $#%@.

Gibson is focusing on the same thing that all these other phonies love to focus on: Not what jesus taught, but what pretenders pretend gave jesus's pretend death meaning, and by extension their own pretend self interested lives.

So sad and embarrassing, like every time anything attributed to Paul is part of a christian service.
posted by ewkpates at 5:26 AM on February 24, 2004


Jesus Scholars Find Fault in Gibson's 'Passion'
posted by amberglow at 5:49 AM on February 24, 2004


As someone who has already seen the movie, I thought it was two hours of gratuitous, graphic torture and brutality offset by short flashbacks to Jesus' greatest quotes - love thy neighbor, you will deny me three times, why have thou foresaken me, etc. Gibson's direction is heavy-handed and predictable, and he sets up the film perfectly for the sequel - Passion II, Three Days Later.

There is no subtext - pro-christian, anti-jew or otherwise. It's just a bad film.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:00 AM on February 24, 2004


Boring, listless, uninspiring savior-on-a-stick!

I'm sorry, but... die already, 'k?! The idea of Xtians paying their $8.50, buying popcorn and coke, then watching Jesus get flogged and logged is beyond satire.

I'm half-tempted to get a crowd of people together to get obnoxiously drunk before the movie, dress in devilish clothing (or Santa suits!) and shout out lines at the screen or chant "Die! Die! Die!" at appropriate times. My only reservations are that I'm generally polite and wouldn't want to pay the $8.50 to encourage the success of this widely panned "must see" movie. Even God hates bad films.

Jesus Horror Picture Show!
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:11 AM on February 24, 2004


The truth, the real Truth is brutal to the extreme. Here we have God Incarnate going thru a brutality of Hell that no one should ever endure-a brutality that He did not deserve in one iota...

good thing for us god called it even after the crusades, huh?
posted by quonsar at 6:20 AM on February 24, 2004


Here continues the superlatives: Ebert says, "The most violent film I have ever seen."
posted by PrinceValium at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2004


"The most violent film I have ever seen."

Now you're talking.

Could this film actually desensitise christians and draw them in to proper violent films? At the very least it should act to undercut some arguments (or at least some arguers) about the role of violent film in society.
posted by biffa at 6:41 AM on February 24, 2004


I still haven't found a review that answers the important question here: How hot is Monica Bellucci in this film?
posted by straight at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2004


Jack Chick's The Light of the World. "You can almost feel the crackling flames of hell as you watch!" (Now that's a tag line.) Here's some promotional pressage they archived which describes the movie more and briefly discusses it's co-occurance with The Passion.
posted by wobh at 7:16 AM on February 24, 2004


You want to try to explain the logic of this to the non-baptized among us, konolia? For my part, I sat through decades of "God's Son came to Earth for the purpose of dying so that future people could get "salvation" if we "accept" Him. That one never stopped being a head scratcher for me.

Pretend for a moment that you're talking to someone from an entirely different culture, to whom this talk of ritual slaughter and blood drinking and flesh eating sounds like, say, a hideous cult.

With that in mind, please illuminate the necessity of Christ's horrible/wonderful death.



It's about sin. People want to think that they get to Heaven and escape Hell by being good. Being kind. Helping others. Etc. But the problem is that sin has a penalty and that penalty is eternal death. Fair enough, since in order for Heaven to be Heaven it can't contain any evil in it. Since one of God's attributes is Justice, He cannot just say, okay, you're forgiven-because the moment He did Satan could rightfully say he should be admitted back into heaven.
Meanwhile, God is also a God of mercy and love. Here He is caught between His justice and his mercy-so the solution was for Him to be incarnate on earth and take all sin upon Himself on that cross. The penalty on that cross was not just the physical torture. That was actually the least of it. Jesus took the very wrath of God for sin on Himself so we would not have to experience it.

That means for every child molestation. Every rape. Every murder. Even for every stripe laid on His back by the soldiers-being fully God and fully Man He took every bit of it into his being suffering the penalty. He died, and the bill was marked paid in full. That is why we who trust Him for our salvation call ourselves the redeemed.
Those that decide they don't need Jesus get to reap the consequences of their own sin on their own. That was not God's intention. He did not intend for Hell to be a place for people to go. I think the greatest pain in the Lord's heart right now is that so many people don't understand just how much He loves us and wants us with Him...Only Love in the extreme could cause Someone who created the universe to submit to such torture from His creatures-when all He had to do is say the word and legions of angels would have delivered HIm from the cross. God could have obliterated the whole world and started over if He wished. But each one of us was infinitely precious to Him.

The stupidest thing satan ever did was to incite men to crucify the Lord.
posted by konolia at 7:31 AM on February 24, 2004


You can be a christian without believing in the resurrection, without believing in the trinity, without believing jesus died on the cross, without believing in miracles or any of the other scifi $#%@.


No you cannot. You may CALL yourself a Christian but it would be a lie.
posted by konolia at 7:32 AM on February 24, 2004


Konolia, I still don't get it, and believe me, I tried for many years.

Why did god sacrifice himself (Jesus) to himself (god) in order to save humanity from himself (god's judgement)?

I also find it interesting that you are able to speak in detail about god's opinions and hobbies, yet you actually have NO WAY of knowing them (or even if a god exists). This seems dishonest.
posted by jsonic at 7:54 AM on February 24, 2004


Ummm, no offense, konolia, but come to New York and I'll introduce you to Jesus Christ at least three different times. That they're crazy homeless men doesn't make them any less, or more, an arbiter of truthful religious identity than you. You have different levels of faith, but you have as much proof as they do.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2004


straight I've wondered this myself, but what it comes down to is that it doesn't matter how hot she is. This makes at least four movies she's been in now that I will never see: those Matrix pieces of shite, Irreversible, and now this. I'm not sure which of my sins got me in this hell but it must have been dire. (or perhaps it was one of those trivial ones most ignore these days, like masturbation or mental adultery. Wouldn't that just be poetic justice though? God save us all.)
posted by wobh at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2004


Why all the hooha about some loopy God-botherer making a movie that preaches to other christians? All religion claims to be about love, but seems to me hell-bent on hatred, whether it be Israel, Al Quaeda or Gibson's chosen cult.

( I say "loopy" because anyone who feels the need to evangelise is an egocentric fool who believe (s)he's got it right and other people are wrong - and the whole thing is unprovable anyway).

It's the 21st century, not the dark ages.
posted by Pericles at 7:58 AM on February 24, 2004


the reviewer probably hasn't read the original Greek and Aramaic sources

Mayor, if you have Aramaic sources for Jesus's life you should share them with the scholarly community ASAP -- nobody else knows about them.

konolia, I don't share your beliefs, but you're an eloquent gal.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2004


The stupidest thing satan ever did was to incite men to crucify the Lord.

I don't think I understand why if this wasn't preordained how it isn't God who was behind the whole incitement thing and why anyone but him has to carry the can.

Fair enough, since in order for Heaven to be Heaven it can't contain any evil in it.

Yeah but God can absolve, the question is when (or if) he's prepared to do so.

Also, with regard to accepting Jesus to get into Heaven, why doesn't being sorry simply cancel things out? There are clearly various standards regarding forgiveness according to various christian doctrines, why can't an infinitely loving god just let things ride on having a lived a good life?
posted by biffa at 8:05 AM on February 24, 2004


Why did god sacrifice himself (Jesus) to himself (god) in order to save humanity from himself (god's judgement)?


Ok, lemme give this one a try. God, theoretically, can do anything he likes. He is, after all, omnipotent. However, in reality he's somewhat limited. Not by His power, but by His own ethics. Here's an example for comparison:

Let's say you're on a desert island with your best friend, and short of food. Your theoretical options are to a) ration yourselves until you're rescued, or b) kill your friend in the middle of the night and eat him in the morning for breakfast. In reality though, b isn't an option. You're a nice fellow (I assume), and wouldn't be capable of killing and eating your best friend.

God's in a similar situation. He has moral feelings that He cannot violate. For example, He's good, and therefore can do nothing bad. The problem is that He's also just. This causes a problem, because according to justice, we're all guilty of various sins. And therefore, God is supposed to punish us. Most of the time He doesn't really want to. But his nature requires him to punish sin. And the penalty for sin is death, Hell, etc. Hell was originally created for the punishment of the devil for his sins, but because God is fair, there must be equal sentencing. If Satan deserves Hell, then so do we. So, God needed a way to keep us out of Hell while keeping Satan in. And the only way to do this was to have someone else take the punishment instead, to even the scales, so to speak. Since every human sins, no ordinary person could take the place for us; since he himself would be guilty already. The replacement needed to be entirely innocent, which means God. But the sacrifice also needed to human to take our place. Hence Jesus.
posted by unreason at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2004


"Since every human sins, no ordinary person could take the place for us; since he himself would be guilty already."

what sins does a baby have?
posted by Pericles at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2004


Excellent review - saved me the time of having to see the movie myself. As usual, the New Yorker delivers.

I don't know if this movie will incite hatred, but it has already incited some strangeness (via linkfilter).
posted by cup at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2004


The problem is that He's also just. This causes a problem, because according to justice, we're all guilty of various sins. And therefore, God is supposed to punish us.

Your conclusion does not follow from your premise (ie. we sin, therefore we must be punished).

Also, your premise is unfounded. Please prove that your version of god is 'just', or that we are all guilty of sins.

And I'll repeat my point for konolia to you. You seem to be able to describe god's opinions and motiviations in detail, but you actually have NO WAY of knowing them.
posted by jsonic at 8:21 AM on February 24, 2004


Pericles, duh! The sins of the father!
posted by thebigpoop at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2004


konolia, you may CALL yourself a Christian but it would (probably) be a misconception on your part.

Anyone who reads the bible can interpret it any way they like. People with wild jesus fantasies can SAY that they know who the REAL christaians are, but that just silly nonsense.

Christians are those who associate themselves with Jesus. Defining "christian" as anything more than that is the end of reason and the beginning of madness. Since much of the bible can be read in contrast to the gospels themselves, it can be effectively argued that people who associate themselves with parts of the bible that aren't Jesus quotes aren't Christians. They are probably bible worshipers (biblians) not jesus followers.

Do yourself a favor. Focus on Mathew, Mark, Luke, and maybe a little John, and stop pretending that you understand what Jesus wanted to pass on and what the requirements might be for a club you imagine that he wanted to start.
posted by ewkpates at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2004


Christians are sick, sick, sick.

Jews are sick. Muslims are sick. Native peoples are sick. Gays are sick. Hispanics are sick. Blacks are sick. Liberal Democrats are sick. Men are sick.

Wheee! Ain't bigotry fun?

Oops, forgot. According to the MeFi Guide to Snide, it is only allowable to paint certain groups with such shallow but broad strokes.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:30 AM on February 24, 2004


all He had to do is say the word and legions of angels would have delivered HIm from the cross

All he had to do was say the word, and all sin would be erased permanently, from the beginning of time, without all this nailing up and bleeding and such. All he had to wo was say the word, and satan would be unmade, never existing in the first place. All he had to do was say the word, and everything would be perfect, without all this dancing around these made-up rules and without needing to use little loopholes to explain this insane behavior.

An infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving god would not need to resort to such jiggery-pokery. It all feels like a cruel game, like having a psychotic parent who tells you that you need to cross the living room without touching the floor, because if you do, you'll die. But it's okay, because they'll carry you across, even though they have a bad back, so you should really thank them. And they don't even have a bad back! It's just madness.

Your god makes himself all these strange rules, and then can't use his super-powers to get around them. It's all so inconsistent and hypocritical... bah.

Next time, coffee first, then with the posting.
posted by majcher at 8:31 AM on February 24, 2004


Konalia, with all due respect, there is one thing that I've never understood.

Jesus was crucified for us. Jesus is the son of God. Jesus was resurrected by his father. What exactly did he give up? This seems like a pretty low risk proposition, being the son of God and all.
posted by cedar at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2004


Please prove that your version of god is 'just'

I was thinking the same thing, particularly in regard to this:

And the only way to do this was to have someone else take the punishment instead, to even the scales, so to speak.

Since when is punishing someone a just thing to do when the sin in question isn't attributed to them?

Silly me, thinking that justice meant we punish the ones who are actually guilty.

Come to think of it, if this is what this particular god conceives of as 'just', maybe I don't wanna hang around his heaven. I'm kinda scared.
posted by beth at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2004


what sins does a baby have?

Possibly none, depending on your feelings about original sin. But baby killing isn't a nice thing to do. Also, since being punishment for something you didn't do is unfair, God has to take it himself, rather than let somebody else be punished.

Your conclusion does not follow from your premise (ie. we sin, therefore we must be punished).

Part of justice means paying for the bad things we do. If someone commits murder, we punish them. That's justice. Sin is a kind of crime, and like murder requires punishment for the sake of justice. The scales have to be balanced, and if we can't do it, then someone else has to. Someone else has to be treated worse than they deserve that we may be treated better than we deserve.

And I'll repeat my point for konolia to you. You seem to be able to describe god's opinions and motivations in detail, but you actually have NO WAY of knowing them.


I believe I know them through the Bible and my own thoughts and experiences. If you don't except the Bible as having any truth, then you're right, I don't have any way of knowing. I believe in the Christian faith, extrapolate from its tenets. If you don't believe in Christ, you've got nothing to extrapolate from. What I am saying in these arguments is that assuming God is as described in the Gospels, this is why he did things the way he did. Whether you except the assumption or not is your own decision.

Christians are those who associate themselves with Jesus. Defining "christian" as anything more than that is the end of reason and the beginning of madness

Um, no. Christians are those who associate themselves with The Christ. Hence the name Christian. And Christ is a theological title for the messiah, the son of God, etc., etc. So, if you're calling yourself a Christian, you're saying that you follow Jesus as Christ, not merely Jesus as man.
posted by unreason at 8:43 AM on February 24, 2004


konolia,

Your logic may be internally consistent, but I suspect the reason it's so convoluted is that you are attempting to reconcile various unfounded assumptions (Jesus is God, there is a God, God is good, God is just, there is a hell, we are all sinners deserving of hell, God/Jesus saved us from hell.) It smacks of Ptolmey's epicycles.

The obvious explanation which does not unnecessarily increase the number of entities is that the Jesus story is a myth similar to every other culture's myths, created for the same reasons.
posted by callmejay at 8:44 AM on February 24, 2004


Your logic may be internally consistent, but I suspect the reason it's so convoluted is that you are attempting to reconcile various unfounded assumptions

So, if there's a simple explanation of Christianity, then we're believing without proper evidence, but if there's a complicated explanation then it can't be true?
posted by unreason at 8:47 AM on February 24, 2004


unreason,

A simple explanation would involve proper evidence. A complicated one with proper evidence would be believable as well. The suspicion comes from the fact that the explanation seems unnecessarily complicated, since it does more to create hypotheses than to explain existing ones.
posted by callmejay at 8:52 AM on February 24, 2004


No, it merely derives explanations from existing hypotheses. Look, I think we're talking past each other here. I'm not trying to offer you a proof of the existence of God. I'm not trying to prove that the Bible's right. Those are things you have to decide for yourself. What I'm saying is that if God in the Biblical sense does exist, this is the way things are. I'm explaining the Christian position, I'm not giving a proof of its validity. I'm saying that this is what true Christianity is and assumes. Whether or not you choose to accept Christianity or not is another matter entirely.
posted by unreason at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2004


"The stupidest thing satan ever did was to incite men to crucify the Lord."

Two "facts" in both books (Old and New)
One: God is all knowing and all powerful...
Two: Satan is no fool,

which leads me to the conclusion this truth is crap.
Jesus was pro-ordained correct? Then Judah is a hero, Pilot, Mary, the Romans, the Temple Elders even Satan is a hero and every one who got themselves a piece or jesus is a hero who martyred their legacies for us, but the Xtians do not see it that way, even if they all played their parts to perfection WE dare doom and curse them? for what!?! doing 'gods will'? Stoopid, that is why Christianity is at its core a questionablereligeon and christians have a serious lack of critical thought as a whole.
posted by Elim at 9:06 AM on February 24, 2004


I think it's very important to explain why Jesus was such a threat to the politically connected religious establishment - his embracing of societal outcasts, his condemnation of those who value their personal wealth over the lives of their fellow man, his slamming of religious hyprocrites, and so on. To me, those are the things that make Christ real to me - not the constant repetition of "he died to save us from our sins". To merely focus on the brutality of his death seems hollow and a cynical manipulation of people's emotions.

posted by echolalia67 at 4:57 PM PST on February 23


fact is, i believe Christ still is a threat to much of the current "Christian" establishment. as a Christian (and i know of many non or ex-christians who have been dissuaded by this) i'm continually shocked by how many of my own ilk are hypocritical, judgemental, and discriminatory. granted, i don't for one minute believe that Jesus would have fit into some hippie love-fest ideal, but much of what He had to say regarding the hypocracy and pompous pride of the religious right of that day applies directly to the same category today. which is rather sad.
posted by quadrinary at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2004


What I'm saying is that if God in the Biblical sense does exist, this is the way things are.

We aren't exactly disagreeing. I'm just arguing that if you assume A and B and find that you need to create a very convoluted explanation to allow them to coexist, it's likely that A is false or B is false or both. You can't be sure that one or both is false without an outright contradiction, but you'd sure better be suspicious.

It also doesn't help that each subgroup has a slightly to radically different convoluted explanation of A's and B's coexistence and that each subgroup is convinced its own explanation is the correct one.
posted by callmejay at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2004


I read this stuff and I might as well be reading about toddlers talking about their teddy bear friends for all the sense it makes.

It's all just so... sad. Adults with invisible best friends -- but, worse, adults with invisible best friends trying to convince everyone else that they should have an invisible best friend, too.

I find it quite disheartening that with our common understanding of personal responsibility that so many people still resort to placing their power outside themselves.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2004


Someone else has to be treated worse than they deserve that we may be treated better than we deserve.

Terrific thought. I'm going to have that embroidered on a sweater.
posted by rcade at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2004


This movie and the reactions to it are reminiscent of any great controversial debates, wherein one camp insists on detailing the truth of the matter in as gory a manner as possible, and the other cries foul for attempts of emotional manipulation.

We've fallen into this habit, for the sake of our sanity, of justifying atrocities and being able to live with them by dressing them up in some manner. Even our most realistic portrayals of some truly horrific crimes always bear this edge of elegance to them, of artistry that allows us to go, "That was so horrible. Wasn't that so horrible?" and yet still remain unchanged and blissfully into ourselves and our own little worlds and our own little lives.

And then when someone creates or says something that outright and flagrantly refuses to pretty up a truly heinous act, to justify it or cloak it with that level of noble martyrdom we need to make it all make sense, they are essentially crucified or otherwise avoided like the plague. I can't begin to imagine what Mel Gibson was thinking when he spent so much of his own money on a movie he must've known would spark rage and unrest amongst the complacent and dewy-eyed masses.

I'm personally not going to see it because I prefer my senseless violence without morals or obligation (real or imagined) to be anything other than I am: blissfully into myself and my own little world and my own little life.
posted by precocious at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2004


Complicated doesn't mean not true. Look at string theory, the current favored unified physics theory. It's horrendously complicated, and can imply over 10 dimensions that we haven't ever seen and never will. There's no proof of it at all. And there are many rival string theories with different variations. Maybe string theory is correct, maybe it's not. But no one says "string theory is too complicated, and physicists can't agree on the details. Therefore, it must be wrong."

Think about it. God, if he exists, is the most intelligent entity in existence. Wouldn't you expect that kind of a being's logic to seem complicated to us?
posted by unreason at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2004


Sin is a kind of crime, and like murder requires punishment for the sake of justice.

This is, plainly speaking, bullshit.

To sin is to fall short of the full glory of god, as it says in Romans. (Originally derived, iirc, from an archery term, meaning that one has missed the target?) Obviously no human can live up to that, so everyone is a sinner. How can a man compare himself to god? So, through no fault of our own - only because of yet another arbitrary rule made up by god himself - we are all doomed to death, unless we take advantage of this special one-time offer. To use the psychotic parent metaphor again, this seems an awful lot like someone beating their kids because they're not as tall as them. Crazy. Madness. And just plain wrong.

If this is the way that your god works things, then your god is a dangerous lunatic, and I want nothing to do with them.
posted by majcher at 9:36 AM on February 24, 2004


So, through no fault of our own - only because of yet another arbitrary rule made up by god himself - we are all doomed to death

Um no, it is our fault. We have a natural tenancy to sin (which the first humans caused), but it's our fault that we actually do. Humanity chose to be imperfect. Humanity chooses sin. When you do something bad, God didn't just force you to be bad. You made that decision all by yourself. As for being arbitrary, it's not. Things like lying, stealing and murder aren't made forbidden for the fun of it, but because they're bad things to do that harm yourself and other people.

If this is the way that your god works things, then your god is a dangerous lunatic, and I want nothing to do with them.

That's one of the gifts God gave you. A choice. Accept Him or reject Him, it's your decision.
posted by unreason at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2004


But no one says "string theory is too complicated, and physicists can't agree on the details. Therefore, it must be wrong."

First of all, there are reasonable critics of string theory who say just that. I personally don't know nearly enough about the subject to comment.

Second, there is no competing theory to string theory which is simpler while still accounting for all known evidence, whereas the Jesus story has a simpler competitor: that it's a myth like Gilgamesh, the Greek and Roman gods, the Norse gods, Native American mythology, Hawaiian mythology, and animism.

Third, string theory is an attempt to come up with an explanation for observable phenomena. As I understand it, string theorists are trying to unify gravity with the other forces. In other words, they are trying to reconcile an A (gravity) and a B (other forces) which are factual and supported by evidence. The discussion about about Jesus and saving is trying to reconcile an A, B, C, ..., Z (God exists, is loving, has a son, who was killed for our sins, so we would be saved from hell, etc.) which are NOT supported by evidence. In a case where you know your premises are true than you have the task of finding the simplest (but no simpler) explanation, whereas when you don't know if your premises are true, you have to be pretty suspicious when all of the explanations are convoluted.
posted by callmejay at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2004


I personally don't know nearly enough about the subject to comment.


Neither do I. My point is merely that simplicity doesn't necessarily mean truth. To use a slightly less controversial physics explanation, look at it this way. Scientists used to think that atoms were like little solar systems. A central body with electrons orbiting it in a regular formation. This theory was simple, practical, and seemed to explain things. But it's not complete. We know know that the truth is more complicated. Electrons, in a sense, aren't anywhere in particular, they merely have a probability of being somewhere. Quantum theory, when you think about it, is inherently silly. But it works. And it took awhile to find out that it did. In the same sense, it will be awhile until we receive proof of the truth or falsehood of my belief. Therefore, I concentrate on what I can conclude based on my beliefs. If you choose a different belief, that's your decision.
posted by unreason at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2004


Humanity chose to be imperfect.

Uh, no. I don't ever remember choosing to be imperfect.

And what was the choice? That Adam acquired wisdom and became god-like in his ability to distinguish "good" and "evil"? If Adam was perfect to begin with, then he wouldn't have made a bad choice, and if choosing to be more like the supreme, perfect being is a mistake that damns you and your offspring for the rest of eternity, then something is seriously, metaphysically messed up.
posted by bshort at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2004


unreason, you ignored (or didn't respond to) my second and third points.
posted by callmejay at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2004


How will you Christians in the crowd feel if even one anti-semitic act occurs because of this movie?
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2004


And what was the choice?

To disobey God. He told Adam not do to what he did, and he did it anyway. The problem wasn't a flaw in Adam's "manufacture". It was that God wanted to allow him to make choices, to have free will. Part of letting someone choose is to let them choose badly.

unreason, you ignored (or didn't respond to) my second and third points

Sorry, let me take a look here...

Second, there is no competing theory to string theory which is simpler while still accounting for all known evidence

I just said that simplicity doesn't mean truth. As for your way, it's not really a complete explanation. There's no actual theory for where matter came from, why dimensions formed and shrank in the Big Bang, etc. So saying that God is a myth really creates as many questions as it answers. It isn't a theory, it's merely saying that another theory isn't true.

Third, string theory is an attempt to come up with an explanation for observable phenomena

So is religion. And the phenomena we are examining is human behavior: Why do we do bad things? Why do we do good or bad things when they are not in our best interest? What is the nature of man? These questions are what religion is offering an answer for. As for more material phenomena, here's a question we seek to answer. After Jesus's death his former disciples said that they'd seen him after he died. They were told by various authorities to keep silent. But it's a matter of record that they died under torture still insisting that they saw a dead man live. What does this mean? Were they lying? If so, why when it wasn't in their best interest? Were they telling the truth? If so, what does that mean? Christianity gives a theory explaining these phenomena.
posted by unreason at 10:33 AM on February 24, 2004


Humanity chose to be imperfect. Humanity chooses sin.

You're not listening. Sin isn't about doing bad things, or choosing to be imperfect. Sin is about humans falling short of the full glory of god. This is their natural condition, and cannot be chosen one way or the other any more than you can choose to be two feet taller or shorter.

God made the rules, not humans. God said, "if you're not as perfect as I am, you will suffer eternal death", and then made sure that we could not achieve that perfection without resorting to torture and murder. If he loved us so much, why would he put us in this pickle in the first place?
posted by majcher at 10:42 AM on February 24, 2004


But it's a matter of record that they died under torture still insisting that they saw a dead man live.

Which record? Are these really the phenomena which Christianity is attempting to explain? Even if it is true, is the whole of Christianity a more simple or reasonable explanation than any of the following: they were lying, they were hallucinating, they were deceived, it was misreported, Jesus had a twin? If events are open to supernatural explanations, then you can add: they saw a ghost, the Roman gods tricked them, the Christian Devil tricked them, they were having a vision, etc.
posted by callmejay at 10:47 AM on February 24, 2004


five fresh fish and rcade, put your points together and you'll see that the legion of invisible friendsters aren't just sad, they're scary and dangerous. With an attitude that bloody vengeance is holy and that beliefs don't need any basis in observable reality, religious folks are arguably the scourge of humanity. This goes for many within Islam as well.

[Jesus] died, and the bill was marked paid in full.

This bill was drafted by God, for services rendered that we didn't order. I've been overcharged by carpenters before, konolia, so this "salvation" seems like a racket, no matter what your personal belief tells you.

Those that decide they don't need Jesus get to reap the consequences of their own sin on their own. That was not God's intention. He did not intend for Hell to be a place for people to go.

Oh, He didn't see that coming did He, konolia? Doesn't that strike you as strange? You and unreason depict God as an existence along the lines of Q from StarTrek.

I think the greatest pain in the Lord's heart right now is that so many people don't understand just how much He loves us and wants us with Him.

I think the biggest pain in God's ass is smug hypocrites who profess to do His will by wreaking destruction and spreading superstition in His name. Our whole messed-up and ineffective justice system is based on this sin and punishment model. It doesn't work.

You know, we have a brand new millennium at hand; isn't it time to start evolving toward a method of treating anti-social behavior as a community organization problem? With causes that can be observed and addressed? This system of creating environments of hatred and then whacking through them with batons, screaming "sin! punish!" should go down in the history books along side the Crusades as a failed experiment born of cruelty, fear, and self-hatred.
posted by squirrel at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2004


Sin isn't about doing bad things, or choosing to be imperfect. Sin is about humans falling short of the full glory of god.

Doing bad things is the way that humans fall short. That's what falling short of the glory of God means; choosing to be imperfect. That's the difference between God and man.

Which record?

Imperial Roman record, which was fairly accurate.

they were lying, they were hallucinating, they were deceived, it was misreported, Jesus had a twin?

Why would they lie? They were being tortured. Why would several different apparently sane people hallucinate the same thing in different places and times? As for a twin, isn't it just as far fetched to suppose that there's a twin that no one, including Jesus's own mother, knows about, and he is good enough at imitating Jesus that he can fool all of His closest friends?

If events are open to supernatural explanations, then you can add: they saw a ghost, the Roman gods tricked them, the Christian Devil tricked them, they were having a vision, etc.


It couldn't be a ghost, Jesus proved that by eating food in front of them, and touching them. As for it being the Roman Gods, why would a God try to get people to worship a different God? It goes against all Roman and Greek mythology. And as for the devil, why would the devil tell these people to do good things, not bad?
posted by unreason at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2004


As for a twin, isn't it just as far fetched to suppose that there's a twin that no one, including Jesus's own mother, knows about, and he is good enough at imitating Jesus that he can fool all of His closest friends?

Far-fetched, yes. Just as far-fetched as coming back from the dead? Not quite. My point is that coming back from the dead is so far-fetched that almost anything is a more likely explanation. Time travel is more likely. A gigantic horde of camoflauge ants who take on Jesus' shape is more likely.

It couldn't be a ghost, Jesus proved that by eating food in front of them, and touching them.

Well. That answers that then, doesn't it.
posted by callmejay at 11:09 AM on February 24, 2004 [1 favorite]


Doing bad things is the way that humans fall short. That's what falling short of the glory of God means; choosing to be imperfect. That's the difference between God and man.

So, a newborn baby is as perfect as God, then?

Really, if you're going to argue the crazy side of things, you should at least get your craziness straight with the other crazies.
posted by majcher at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2004


God is love. God made us out of His love, because to love is to share happiness and he needed us to share it with. He wants us to love Him back. The essence of love is freedom. You can't make someone love you. You can trick them, you can force yourself on them, but their love is no longer free. Because God loves us he would not trick us, nor would he force Himself upon us.

For a variety of practical reasons we can't return the love of the Divine One directly. The Lord understands this so He asks us to use the life and love He gives us to help each other. Doing this makes us more like God, sharing our happiness from Him with others. This is commonly given as the two greatest commandments identified in Matthew, but the whole Bible is of them. The Bible is the body of this first principle, the soul is Love and Freedom itself.

Consider the inverse of the two greatest commandments. We are free not to share the love the Lord gives us. We are free to attribute to ourselves what comes from the Lord. We are free to put our self-love above that of our neighbors and that of the Lord. This is the essence of evil. When we do evil we hurt ourselves, we hurt each other, and we hurt the Lord who loves us more than we can fully know.

The Lord's covenant with us is this: If we love each other, acknowledging that all our love comes from the Lord and not from ourselves, then He will save us from the consequences of our evil loves.

Evil is like a cloud which blocks the sun, it comes between us and the Lord, cutting us off from His love, choking us from lives of happiness and peace, progressively enslaving us. Eventually the cloud of evil is so great, essential freedom is endangered. When this happened the Lord had to do something. He had to come to us, as one among us and suffer from the temptations and evil that we suffered, to refuse them and throw them back. This was to reforge the covenant and ensure our freedom to love the Lord.

His earthly sufferings during this were nothing.

One can't understand this clearly if one believes in the insane fairy-tale interpretation of the Bible. One can't understand this clearly if one disbelieves in the insane fairy-tale interpretation but thinks it's the only interpretation around. One might now raise the question of why have a Revelation that looks like an insane fairy-tale? The answer is almost exactly the same as the question that started this: Love and Freedom. One might wonder about scientific evidence, (and perceived lack thereof) but the answer is the same: Love and Freedom. One might wonder what all this business of hellfire and brimstone is all about? Same thing: Love and Freedom. Hell is no more a punishment than heaven is a reward. Love, being from the Lord, is eternal. If people love evil when their non-eternal life inevitably passes away then they will have made their own eternity. They will spend it with those like themselves in futility, vainly pursuing happiness in the evil that they love. One might wish me to cite some passages from the Bible to back this up but that is impractical. It's in the whole thing, every jot and tittle.
posted by wobh at 11:22 AM on February 24, 2004


A gigantic horde of camoflauge ants who take on Jesus' shape is more likely.

that would 0wnz0r!!
posted by jpoulos at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2004


wobh, that's very pretty (albeit disturbing) but I could make up some equally pretty story and without "wonder[ing] about scientific evidence" who's to say you're right and I'm wrong? I just don't understand what makes the Jesus story true and all of the other cultures' myths false.
posted by callmejay at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2004


jpoulos: heh
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2004


You know, we have a brand new millennium at hand; isn't it time to start evolving toward a method of treating anti-social behavior as a community organization problem? With causes that can be observed and addressed? This system of creating environments of hatred and then whacking through them with batons, screaming "sin! punish!" should go down in the history books along side the Crusades as a failed experiment born of cruelty, fear, and self-hatred.

So what would YOU have done with Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? What would you do with people who rape babies? Who torture political prisoners? Embezzle life savings from elderly couples?

You can't fix the human heart from the outside in, and you can't let the evil go unrestrained... many on this thread think God put people in an unfair position, but you go stand at the foot of the cross and look up and see what that same God did to get us OUT of that pickle. That same life He gave up He gave us so we could live His life-so we would be ABLE to obey God. It is IMPOSSIBLE otherwise.

And by the way, I know Him. He is knowable. That is the ultimate purpose of the Cross, to restore true fellowship between God and people. If you don't want to know Him, just carry on as you are-but if you do, He made a Way.

And don't worry about the logic part of it all. The Bible clearly states that God meant to humiliate the wisdom of the wise, and that His foolishness was wiser than man's wisdom. Spiritual matters are spiritually discerned, not mentally.
posted by konolia at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2004


Far-fetched, yes. Just as far-fetched as coming back from the dead? Not quite. My point is that coming back from the dead is so far-fetched that almost anything is a more likely explanation.

Oh? and how to you judge far fetched? What metric do you use? Isn't it simply your opinion that a twin that can fool Jesus's friends and family and has Jesus's wounds on him is more likely than a resurrection?

It couldn't be a ghost, Jesus proved that by eating food in front of them, and touching them.

Well. That answers that then, doesn't it.


Well, if you believe in ghosts (which I don't) it does. Ghosts are supposedly immaterial, and can't be touched. And obviously a dead man can't eat.

So, a newborn baby is as perfect as God, then?

No, a baby doesn't sin because it hasn't had the opportunity or intelligence to yet. God doesn't sin because he chooses not to.
posted by unreason at 11:43 AM on February 24, 2004


The stupidest thing satan ever did was to incite men to crucify the Lord.
posted by konolia at 3:31 PM GMT on February 24

... for which christians need to be eternally grateful - to Satan? Right? As that is what led to redemption and a passage to your heaven....

But it's a matter of record that they died under torture still insisting that they saw a dead man live. What does this mean? Were they lying?


They may have been mistaken - it's a false dilemma, they lied, or they saw a supernatural event.

He may not have been dead in the first place (assuming that he ever existed...)
posted by dash_slot- at 11:47 AM on February 24, 2004


Isn't it simply your opinion that a twin that can fool Jesus's friends and family and has Jesus's wounds on him is more likely than a resurrection?

No. We have evidence of twins existing. We have evidence of twins separated at birth. We have evidence of fake blood and fake wounds. These go in what I'll call category 1: things which happen. On the other hand, we have no evidence of anybody else ever rising from the dead. Not once. Therefore it goes into category 2: things which are extremely unlikely to happen. Category 1 phenomena, I argue, are objectively more likely to happen.

Suppose bin Laden were found and killed tomorrow and then a week later, some of his henchman were being tortured and swore up and down, to the end, that they had seen bin Laden rise from the dead. Would you believe that story too?
posted by callmejay at 11:51 AM on February 24, 2004


Why would they lie? They were being tortured.

Talk about a non sequitur. People being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop. Torture isn't used to "get at the truth," it's used to dehumanize the prisoner (and, in applicable legal systems, to get a confession).


Say, weren't we talking about a movie?
posted by languagehat at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2004


konolia: And by the way, I know Him. He is knowable.

Really? You've actually seen and talked with a god? Or is it more of a mental exercise? If so, do you actually admit that you hear voices in your head that tell you what to do?

konolia: And don't worry about the logic part of it all. The Bible clearly states that God meant to humiliate the wisdom of the wise, and that His foolishness was wiser than man's wisdom. Spiritual matters are spiritually discerned, not mentally.

OK. We should ignore logic and rationality because the very book which makes all of these COMPLETELY UNSUPPORTED CLAIMS says that logic is untrustworthy. Do you not realize that you have to use logic in order to make your statement?

Further, if human logic and rationality is untrustworthy, then how do you know that you have interpreted the bible correctly? Sounds to me like you follow logic when it agrees with your beliefs, but ignore logic when it points out that your beliefs are irrational.
posted by jsonic at 12:05 PM on February 24, 2004


Because MY DAD SAID SO! That's why!

Jeesh! I'm *so* telling on you, once the Rapture comes
posted by jpoulos at 12:17 PM on February 24, 2004


There seems to be much confusion here about what Christianity actually is, and what it has to say about morality, especially in the case of sin. So I'd like to clarify this picture a bit. This is an area in which I am fairly well versed. But I must begin with the caveat that there are multiple interpretations of the New Testament and Christian theology. konolia's interpretation is one popular interpretation and is perfectly valid; but where it falls short, to the modernist worldview, is that it is almost totally self-justifying and so provides no foothold for the nonbeliever to grasp. Arguments from biblical authority tend to beg the question of biblical authority itself. And so on. Faith, for many, does not derive from biblical authority, but rather inspires it. To my mind, there is no convincing logical proof that any of this is worth believing. And yet, I and many others find that it is worth believing anyway. This faith tends to be experiential, personal, and qualitative, and generally is inspired by relationships with others who share such faith. As such, religious belief is something of a contagion, though none of this means that it is not true regardless; merely that it is something that cannot be proved within the confines of physics or mathematics or logic.

Anyway, sin. Our culture cavils at the notion of sin, because we find the notion that we were created as sinners only to be judged as such, to be cruel and mean-spirited on the part of God. This interpretation of affairs paints God as an arbitrary taskmaster bent on self-glorification and punishment. But if we examine the matter more closely, we see that this is really not the case that Christianity makes.

In the past, the notion of atonement was a simple one. Premodern cultures took it as a given that social hierarchies, with a god or gods at the top, were a natural state of affairs, and that personal judgment was a logical outgrowth of that state. Atonement was the process of appeasing the upper portion of the hierarchy by apologizing for wrongdoing. Paul's admonition to slaves to endure their fate with Christian patience is a good indicator that such views die hard.

Jesus utterly upended this worldview, redefining many of the terms and concepts of Judaism in the process. In Jesus's worldview, all persons were equal, regardless of their political attachments. The only hierarchy that existed was between persons and God. And the relationship between persons and God was to be viewed not as that between a slave and his master, or as a subject to a king, but as a child to a wise and loving parent. This distinction is crucial as regards our understanding of sin.

For instance, we do not regard children as stupid or evil for not having the skills of adults. Nor do we expect children to behave as adults. What we do, however expect from children is that they grow into healthy adults. For a child to behave as a child is proper, but for an adult to behave so is inappropriate.

Looked at this way, God's moral law is not a set of arbitrary rules designed to make us look bad, but rather a set of attributes that define what moral persons are in God's universe. In other words, spiritual adults. If we read the parables of Jesus in this way, we see that the "kingdom of God" is achieved not by appeasement or by senseless ritual, but by adopting the mindset and behaviors of spiritually mature persons.

Further, the Christian definition of spiritual maturity is total love. For a person to enter into the kingdom of God requires a conscious rejection of those attitudes and behaviors that are antithetical to Godly love. It is not that people are banished to hell by an angry God because they don't meet a standard, but rather that they are not growing toward that state of total love that identifies a person with God. To criticize God for not letting immoral people into this kingdom is like criticizing a professor for not letting an unqualified student take an advanced Latin class. It's not that he's unworthy of doing so, it's simply that he would have nothing to do there, and he wouldn't understand what was going on anyway. There is nothing preventing him from learning Latin and coming back, just as there is nothing preventing any person from becoming a member of this kingdom of God. In other words, sin is the moral equivalent of not learning Latin.

But here is the big difference: a knowledge of Latin doesn't go far to increasing the love, joy, and happiness of the world. Moral growth, by definition, does just that. That is, in fact, exactly what it is designed to do. So the question of whether or not you are close to God is deeply relevant to what kind of person you are, and what kind of impact you will have on the world. This is why sin is dangerous, why it is the handmaiden of evil, and why Christians humbly and willingly repent for having engaged in it when they find it in themselves. Sin is wasted potential, retrograde motion.

The obvious objection here is, "Why does someone have to be a Christian to be a good person?" I don't know, maybe you don't. I know plenty of atheists and Buddhists and all sorts of other people who are perfectly great people. I feel deeply that I know what is required of me as a person, and those requirements mesh perfectly with my Christianity; that's enough for me. Would I be just as happy as a Buddhist? Heck, I don't know. I never tried. I choose to dance with the one that brung me.

If I don't acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only son of the only true God and forswear all others as idols, am I condemning myself to eternal fire? Who knows? I do acknowledge Jesus that way, but not because I'm afraid of what will happen if I don't. And the notion that someone will be condemned to eternal suffereing because they have a different configuration of the facts underlying their nearly identical moral compasses seems--to me--to be more of a human creation than anything Jesus would have been concerned with. The vast majority of Jesus's declarations are positive ones--everyone who follows me will be saved, and not negative--everyone who doesn't follow me is damned. The Gospel of John is mostly where you find such negative claims, and compared to the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, John appears to have been somewhat redacted in its final form, or else it paints a picture of a person with different priorities and views from the Jesus of the other three gospels. Jesus seems to have clearly believed that striving authentically toward goodness, holiness, and love were the ingredients to achieving closeness to God. Most other conclusions about Christianity are, to me, human interpretations of God that fall short of describing the totality of God's will. I believe that interpretations of Jesus's death and resurrection fall in that category; they approach the truth, but so little is understood about their ultimate meaning that a final conclusion is, I think, unwarranted. We may only speculate. Mel Gibson is certainly entitled to his speculations.

Hope that clarifies the issue a bit. It is difficult for me to summarize these views in a shorter space; I realize the vast length of this comment will ensure that few people read it, but I don't know how to be more succinct than this.
posted by vraxoin at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2004


You can't fix the human heart from the outside in, and you can't let the evil go unrestrained... many on this thread think God put people in an unfair position, but you go stand at the foot of the cross and look up and see what that same God did to get us OUT of that pickle.

The pickle is still here, I'm afraid K. And if it depends on complete conversion of every living human... it ain't going away anytime soon, the way them 1 billion muslims are shaping up. Not to mention the sinful antics of most every priest/pastor/minister of most every christian stripe I've ever heard of. They're about as repentant as I am.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:19 PM on February 24, 2004


Good points, jsonic.

So what would YOU have done with Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot?

Or Pope Urban the Duce, konolia? These individuals represent a severe malfunction of the impulse toward power, not a visitation of a boogie-man in red pajamas poking their hearts with a sin stick.

And to answer your question, I would first see them as the tip of an iceberg, the culminating representative of a huge group of people moving in the same direction. I would certainly imprison the perpetrators--but not in the infantile, vengeance-lusting way that so many of the devout seem to believe is in line with God's will.

If you eliminate the red herrings of "sin" and "evil" you're left with people in contexts enacting behaviors enabled by their environments. That seems much more reasonable to me, and it's someting we can actually study in a systematic way.

It's time to start viewing genocide as a cyclical but preventable cultural phenomenon, not as an eerie visitation of a sinister force. As long as you keep that "cloud of evil" in front of your eyes, all you can do is lash blindly at anti-social behavior, ignorant of its causes as the cycle repeats itself.

Also, this kill-a-sinner-for-God rhetoric I see you espousing is nowhere in Christ's teaching.
posted by squirrel at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2004


Paul's admonition to slaves to endure their fate with Christian patience is a good indicator that such views die hard....Jesus utterly upended this worldview, redefining many of the terms and concepts of Judaism in the process. In Jesus's worldview, all persons were equal, regardless of their political attachments.

How much more of Paul/Saul's expositions in the 'New Testament' can you show to be at variance with his teacher's?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:26 PM on February 24, 2004


So what would YOU have done with Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? What would you do with people who rape babies? Who torture political prisoners? Embezzle life savings from elderly couples?

WTF? I'd do what we do with people who harm society: remove them from society. What's religion got to do with all that?

For what it's worth, it's quite amusing to see all the contortions and contradictions religionists will go through to avoid having to actually examine the lunacy of their beliefs.

You've got a God who's set things up to be impossible to win -- you're all imperfect because you can't be god -- and then punishes you like mad for not doing the impossible, then comes on down and suffers all sorts of temptations and degradations -- except that he's god, so these earthly temptations and degradations don't really hurt him -- and then fulfills his own destiny but lays the blame for that on a bunch of pawns who quite simply had to play the role they did in order for that destiny to be fulfilled, and for which they'll always be reviled. He then subsequently stands back while his newfound believers charge out into the world to torture and slaughter everyone who doesn't believe as they do, but's that's all okay, because They Believe.

It couldn't possibly get more insane.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2004


This faith tends to be experiential, personal, and qualitative, and generally is inspired by relationships with others who share such faith.

But doesn't that, in itself, make it likely that the whole Christian Joy and Knowing the Lord thing is a societal phenomenon, a method our species has evolved to hold together tribes (and thus help the propogation of the species) rather than something actually based in empirical fact? Doesn't that suggest that this whole thing is much closer to anthropology than to theology?
posted by jpoulos at 12:31 PM on February 24, 2004


FFF, Bravo sir, short sweet and to the point,
I salute you..

The one truth all seem to forget, is simple, "People do things to make them selves safe and happy" Not complex is it...

Church, (any church) makes them feel happy about there befiefa (no matter how right or wrong) and Safe in the afterlife. I don't begrudge them that, as long as it makes them happy fine, BUT when they, in practicing there befiefs, make ME unhappy we have a problem, hence my concern with the religeous right in amerikkka .

American Fundies are starting to make me unhappyand feel unsafe, and that is sad, because it goes against the only real truth that every one wants to be happy and safe....
posted by Elim at 12:47 PM on February 24, 2004


How much more of Paul/Saul's expositions in the 'New Testament' can you show to be at variance with his teacher's?

It's not so much that Paul's views contradicted Jesus's but rather that Paul seems to have been incapable of accepting the breadth of what Jesus preached. On the one hand, he seemed to be okay with the notion that, for instance, Gentiles could be Christians without being circumcised or following the dietary restrictions that Jews were required to follow, which seems to be consonant with Jesus's message. On the other hand, though, Paul had strict views about family and sexual mores that (to my mind) contradict Jesus's basic message; or at least, Jesus apparently never found such things important enough to mention. But Jesus wasn't big on details--he was a big picture kind of thinker.
posted by vraxoin at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2004


You've got a God who's set things up to be impossible to win

No...in the beginning Adam and Eve were created in a state of sinless innocence. All they had to do to keep it that way was to obey God in the matter of not eating from the Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil. When they ate anyway that is when sin entered the world. THAT is when it all got complicated.

The issue is and has always been-will we trust Him? Will we love Him? I don't know what else He could do to make some of you believe He is worthy of love.
posted by konolia at 12:53 PM on February 24, 2004


So trust him and love him, OR you will be punished?

And you don't see a problem with that?
posted by Elim at 1:02 PM on February 24, 2004


konolia: No...in the beginning Adam and Eve were created in a state of sinless innocence. All they had to do to keep it that way was to obey God in the matter of not eating from the Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil.

Uh, how do you expect Adam or Eve to understand that eating the apple was wrong BEFORE they had knowledge of good and evil? Sounds like they were set-up to fail to me. (or it could just be bad fiction)

konolia: I don't know what else He could do to make some of you believe He is worthy of love.

Demonstrating that he actually exists would be a good, and necessary, first step.
posted by jsonic at 1:05 PM on February 24, 2004


will we trust Him?

Would you trust a babysitter that put a bowl of poisoned candy in front of your kids, and then told them that they'd really, really, really better not eat any?
posted by majcher at 1:08 PM on February 24, 2004


I for one am sticky with my freind Harvey the Pooka..
posted by Elim at 1:08 PM on February 24, 2004


But doesn't that, in itself, make it likely that the whole Christian Joy and Knowing the Lord thing is a societal phenomenon, a method our species has evolved to hold together tribes (and thus help the propogation of the species) rather than something actually based in empirical fact?

More likely? I don't know. The universe is weirdly unlikely no matter how you spread it. What we conceive of as likely and unlikely has a lot to do with our cultural assumptions. For instance, plenty of physicists believed in the implications of quantum mechanics even when experimental verification was impossible, despite the fact that much of quantum mechanics clearly violates our intuition about how the world works. I don't think there's any theological equivalent to the Aspect experiment, though, so it's an unanswerable question. Certainly not a question that I can provide any satisfactory answer to. Part of living in faith is accepting that no matter how hard you attempt to approach the ultimate reality, it will always beat you back. We all do this, just in different ways, and with different realities. Christianity sounds ridiculous; I can see why people wouldn't believe it. Eating a dead man as a symbol of eternal life? That's insane, and yet the Christians LOVE it; can't get enough of it. Some people eat snails. The world is a weird place.

Interesting analogy with quantum mechanics: not unlike the wave function of a moving particle, God seems to resist all efforts to demonstrate His existence. In both cases, it's as though the universe refuses to reveal certain aspects of itself, no matter how cleverly we try to probe them. In both cases, we can only view the results and make inferences about what caused them.The Copenhagen interpretation has its view and Feynman had his. One is more realistic and less beautiful and the other is more beautiful and deeply troubling. Which one is right? Is a photon a wave or a particle? The answer is, I think, that photons are neither waves nor particles, and that God is not Christianity or Hinduism or Islam. We make our measurements, do our cuts, and hope for the best in this world.
posted by vraxoin at 1:14 PM on February 24, 2004


How will you Christians in the crowd feel if even one anti-semitic act occurs because of this movie?

Come on, that's disingenuous, any such acts will occur because of the prejudice and lack of self-control of the person(s) performing them, not because of the movie. People like to excuse their own violence by blaming movies, video games, religion or other scapegoats, but (in the absence of mental illness) the fault lies solely with the perpetrator of the violence.
posted by biscotti at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2004


Would you trust a babysitter that put a bowl of poisoned candy in front of your kids, and then told them that they'd really, really, really better not eat any?

The candy isn't poisonous, and neither was the fruit. It was simply a test of obedience.
posted by konolia at 1:26 PM on February 24, 2004


So trust him and love him, OR you will be punished

Trust Him and love Him and let Him rescue you or stay in the pit you are already in.
posted by konolia at 1:29 PM on February 24, 2004


but the consequences were still deadly so the compasiron is ver valid, eat and die.....
posted by Elim at 1:31 PM on February 24, 2004


Trust Him and love Him and let Him rescue you or stay in the pit you are already in.

I don't think I am in a pit. I'm doing just fine. Thanks, though. Christianity's like the mafia. Join us and we'll protect you. From whom?
posted by callmejay at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2004


All I know is, next year's Academy Awards could be really cool.
posted by subgenius at 1:39 PM on February 24, 2004


I don't know what else He could do to make some of you believe He is worthy of love.

Maybe he could get his people to stop spitting on my gay and lesbian friends?
posted by jpoulos at 1:44 PM on February 24, 2004


konolia: The candy isn't poisonous, and neither was the fruit. It was simply a test of obedience.

How would Adam and Eve know that dis-obedience was bad BEFORE they gained the knowledge of good and evil by eating the fruit? Do you see the contradiction, and therefore, the pointlessness of this mythical test?
posted by jsonic at 2:13 PM on February 24, 2004


konolia, thank you for an eloquent response to those acting confused, flippant, and/or snide. your comments in this thread have been inspiring, to say the least.
posted by ifjuly at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2004


Say, weren't we talking about a movie?

There's already a number of reviews up on Metacritic and Denby's is about the most negative of the bunch. Even the ones that aren't entirely positive mostly express admiration for the film's artistry and noncommercial vision. "The Passion doesn't suffer from the airless, pious airs that drag down most biblical dramas: It has a muscular, pounding energy and lyrical, almost gothic beauty," the Miami Herald critic wrote.
posted by transona5 at 2:49 PM on February 24, 2004


Noncommercial vision?
posted by homunculus at 3:01 PM on February 24, 2004


No...in the beginning Adam and Eve were created in a state of sinless innocence. All they had to do to keep it that way was to obey God in the matter of not eating from the Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil.

So basically, the only way to be perfect is to be a slave. Nice god you've got there. Makes you wonder who he's a slave to, if he's perfect.
posted by kindall at 3:04 PM on February 24, 2004


in the beginning Adam and Eve were created in a state of sinless innocence. All they had to do to keep it that way was to obey God in the matter of not eating from the Tree of the Knowlege of Good and Evil. When they ate anyway that is when sin entered the world. THAT is when it all got complicated.

Allegory: 1.
1(a). The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form.
1 (b). A story, picture, or play employing such representation. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Herman Melville's Moby Dick are allegories.
2. A symbolic representation: The blindfolded figure with scales is an allegory of justice.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:16 PM on February 24, 2004


I still don't get it.

Where did God's nature come from?

What was Eden all about?

(I might find a way to teach my kids to act more how I would like, but I wouldn't banish them for generations just because they messed up my garden.)

Does Leviticus still hold true?

Why did God need to have a piece of his creation killed which was him so that he didn't need to punish all those who had never heard of him or hadn't even been born yet?

What does it mean to those who where living for the 60,000 years before he turned up out of the blue? Why didn't everybody find out at the same time - it seems a bit rough on the Australian Aborogines, for example.

So my choice is do what I say, or else. Is that it?

Any help would be appreciated.
posted by lerrup at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2004


Noncommercial vision?

Yes - these critics found the film itself, not the marketing efforts on its behalf, to focus on an artistic vision first and foremost.
posted by transona5 at 3:42 PM on February 24, 2004


It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for people to make themselves feel superior by sneering endlessly at other people's religious beliefs. You don't believe in god? Fine. Neither do I. (*high-fives fellow nonbeliever*) Now move along and talk about something interesting. What do you get out of saying over and over and over, "It's a myth! It doesn't make sense! How does that evil thing work anyway?" When I was in fourth grade I got a big kick out of confusing kids on the St. Mary's bus with "Can God make a stone so big that he can't roll it? Huh? Can he?" But I grew out of it.
posted by languagehat at 3:50 PM on February 24, 2004


Languagehat: In a nutshell, the reason religion merits debate is because religion is a dire threat to our safety.

As nice a person as konolia is, she wants the world to end.

Worse, several of the people who are most capable of destroying this world are religionists who desperately want to see the Rapture come true.

The fewer religionists, and especially the fewer evangelizing or proselytizing religionists, the safer we are.

Let's keep those with insane beliefs away from The Big Red Button, k?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2004


I don't know why religious beliefs should be protected from criticism, when they are used constantly to drum up support to push down other people. (Gay marriage amendment, censorship, etc.) If we stay silent, the lunatics get to run the assylum. I don't want the idea that the US is a Christian country to gain any more traction.
posted by callmejay at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2004


languagehat: I'm not affecting superiority. Nor do I want to join a band of atheist crusaders, literally or metaphorically attacking believers. I do want to keep the power of the theocrats, sharp operators and cultural arbiters in check.

So I challenge them rationally. I do enjoy it, but no, I'm not smiling at this point.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:26 PM on February 24, 2004


He cannot just say, okay, you're forgiven-because the moment He did Satan could rightfully say he should be admitted back into heaven.

And why shouldn't he?
posted by rushmc at 5:03 PM on February 24, 2004


konolia, thank you for an eloquent response to those acting confused, flippant, and/or snide.

I want to thank konolia, too, and to some degree unreason. It's not easy taking the mantle of defending the unpopular. I would stop short of calling either of them eloquent or inspirational. I've had conversations with the devout that have given me profound thoughts to ponder. By contrast, konolia and unreason seem rather like 6-year-olds who have been told what to think but not given the background to really defend it. So, although there has been some flippancy, when people challenge them intelligently, they're forced to merely reiterate the illogical mixup in their heads, getting increasingly confused with each retelling.

languagehat, you've become lazy. As my posts here and the three posts succeeding yours express, there's a lot more to our dissent than clubby cruelty. People have legitimate reasons to distrust and attack the religious impulse for all the damage it has done to the world. I think people in this thread have done a good job articulating that; you just aren't paying attention or don't care.
posted by squirrel at 5:05 PM on February 24, 2004


That was not God's intention. He did not intend for...

If there were a god such as Christians envision, I can only imagine him striking you down for your temerity and arrogance in presuming to speak for him, as though you could possibly know his mind.

Only Love in the extreme could cause Someone who created the universe to submit to such torture from His creatures-when all He had to do is say the word and legions of angels would have delivered HIm from the cross.

Human beings make far greater sacrifices every day all over the planet. I'm not impressed.
posted by rushmc at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2004


He cannot just say, okay, you're forgiven-because the moment He did Satan could rightfully say he should be admitted back into heaven.

And why shouldn't he?


Haven't you seen Dogma? To do so would be to prove God's fallibility and thus all of creation would come to an end ^_~

I can't wait to see this being a linguist buff - my personal view being a muslim is that the Prophet Iesa (pbuh) was raised to heaven to return to combat the Dajjal (anti-christ) during the final conflict before the end of the world. But I do like a good story - even if I dislike it's innate blasphemy (imo).

As for violence, I wonder if it's worse than Irreversible which Ms Bellucci was also in? Now that shocked even me.

With regards to the sub-conversations in this thread, I have a number of problems with the lack of rationality and internal cohesion exhibited by many Christians and, in my view, their overreliance on faith. However, I respect their choice to choose whichever path they so wish as long as they ensure they learn as much of their religion as possible - seeing other religions and other views is a part of this. I frequently read anti-muslim websites as it helps me appreciate my own religion better, as well as highlighting possible inconsistencies I need to address - who better to critique than the critics? I've found it's only made my faith stronger each time ^_^

My suggestion to you having dealt with questions on both the base premises and the more specific childish criticisms is to draw on the wealth of good Christian apologetics present on the internet, or reference to literature which explains how it can maintain coherency and the base premises which are necessary thus. It's a good opportunity to clear up misconceptions and provide a source for those who wish to have a deeper understanding to go to.

Good luck and God bless.
posted by Mossy at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2004


What I'm saying is that if God in the Biblical sense does exist, this is the way things are.

And that is false, because you do not account for the fact that there are multiple, equally internally consistent interpretations of virtually every part of the Bible. What you are presenting is your particular interpretation, and there's nothing wrong with that, so long as you acknowlege it's obvious limitations.
posted by rushmc at 5:19 PM on February 24, 2004


He cannot just say, okay, you're forgiven-because the moment He did Satan could rightfully say he should be admitted back into heaven.

And why shouldn't he?


Can a rebel angel repent? Some people think so.
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on February 24, 2004


To sin is to fall short of the full glory of god, as it says in Romans. (Originally derived, iirc, from an archery term, meaning that one has missed the target?) Obviously no human can live up to that, so everyone is a sinner. How can a man compare himself to god? So, through no fault of our own - only because of yet another arbitrary rule made up by god himself - we are all doomed to death, unless we take advantage of this special one-time offer. To use the psychotic parent metaphor again, this seems an awful lot like someone beating their kids because they're not as tall as them. Crazy. Madness. And just plain wrong.

If this is the way that your god works things, then your god is a dangerous lunatic, and I want nothing to do with them.


Excellent.

He told Adam not do to what he did, and he did it anyway.

And that's a GOOD thing. Choosing to be a submissive toady who never thinks for oneself or explores is to choose to be less than human. We are not slaves, and the real sin is to pretend that we are.

God wanted to allow him to make choices, to have free will.

But he wasn't really content to give him the freedom to make his own choices and live with the natural consequences of them, was he? Rather, he felt compelled to create artificial, punitive consequences for those who chose otherwise than he would have them choose. How petty and vindictive is that?
posted by rushmc at 5:34 PM on February 24, 2004


So saying that God is a myth really creates as many questions as it answers.

No it doesn't. Acknowledging that certain questions have not been answered is not the same thing as creating new questions. If I say that purple plognoggers don't exist and therefore cannot be responsible for Friday afternoon traffic, all this means is that the causes of Friday afternoon traffic remain unidentified. And that's okay.
posted by rushmc at 5:36 PM on February 24, 2004


Why would they lie? They were being tortured.

You don't know much about the behavior of people under torture, do you? Lying under such circumstances is not at all uncommon. I'll bet even you would do it under certain circumstances (e.g., if you knew that your torturers intended to kill you regardless of what you said or did, and that if you told the truth, they would also go and kill your mother and your children). So that's a very naive question.
posted by rushmc at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2004


And yet, I and many others find that it is worth believing anyway.

The problem with that is that you must then concede that quite literally anything is "worth believing" if it conveys some real or imagined benefit to the believer. But to many of us, a life immersed in fantasy, unable or unwilling to distinguish where it begins and ends, is not only preposterous but immoral.
posted by rushmc at 5:59 PM on February 24, 2004


Like in any debate, well-articulated views and civility promote mutual understanding, whereas irrationality and the repetition of doctrine, from either direction, do not.

The reason that discussions about politics and religion are so quick to escalate is that they touch on our most basic assumptions about the world we live in. A world with God in it is a vastly different world from one without; nobody enjoys the implication that his or her life has been wasted pursuing a fiction, or ignoring an essential truth.

If fff believes, as he seems genuinely to do, that Christianity is the depraved lunacy that he describes, then he's somewhat justified in railing against it. Likewise, when konolia talks about sin, I gather that this is not idle talk; it means something to her. In a sense, both of them are even right, because Christianity, and religion in general, comprise a galaxy of interrelated beliefs and practices.

The Genesis creation story is a nice straw man to bash around; it's internally inconsistent, its supposed protagonist (God) seems to be a heartless, vindictive tyrant who not only puts his creations in an impossible situation but then clearly lies to them about their situation (God claims that eating from the tree will certainly kill them; it does not). There are, however, many different kinds of texts in the Bible. Genesis is one of them, and it betrays all the marks of a creation myth. The Gospels, on the other hand, are something decidedly different; bizarre theological biographical narratives whose contents diverge and whose meaning is sometimes utterly inscrutable. To infer from these observations, however, that religion in general and Christianity in particular are meaningless and impracticable are clear misstatements, because people find meaning and direction in the Bible every day.

I think it is great folly to simply accept some dogmatic religious teaching; but I think it a far greater folly to write off as irrelevant traditions that have persisted for centuries, simply because we don't like the looks of them--especially when we are not clear about what messages these traditions actually carry. There have always been believers and there have always been atheists. The truth is in there somewhere, and we ignore the wisdom of great minds at our peril. Einstein was wrong about quantum entanglement, and yet it was his attempt to crush quantum uncertainty (in the EPR paradox) that led directly to experiments that proved the reality of entanglement. Our discussions about the ultimate meaning of reality can produce fruit, but only if we are willing to listen.
posted by vraxoin at 6:08 PM on February 24, 2004


We are not slaves, and the real sin is to pretend that we are.

Hallelujah, brother.
posted by majcher at 6:12 PM on February 24, 2004


I wonder how much trouble IMDB's going to catch when their attribution (from subgenius's link) of authorship of Dis Book as a novel.

More seriously, as long as we're having this discussion again, can one of the redeemed please explain to me how there can be so many different versions of the Christian Bible? And are all the people who believe based on these variations going to Heaven as long as they meet the (similarly stated to my eyes) requirements?

Also, why would a just God make faith so difficult to have and hold, not to mention not expressed to so many people in faraway lands (China, India, the Western Hemisphere) for such a long period?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:16 PM on February 24, 2004


The problem with that is that you must then concede that quite literally anything is "worth believing" if it conveys some real or imagined benefit to the believer. But to many of us, a life immersed in fantasy, unable or unwilling to distinguish where it begins and ends, is not only preposterous but immoral.

That doesn't follow. "Worth believing" encompasses more than the simple assertion that a belief bestows some kind of benefit. Especially when the belief in question encourages people to sacrifice of themselves and to love their enemies. "Worth believing" to me means the acceptance of a worldview that makes the heart leap, that thrills the mind, and that sheds light into the universe and its inhabitants. It is a worldview that exists for very clear and serious reasons, and which addresses fundamental aspects of human life in a deeply satisfying way. This is a far cry from accepting an arbitrary fantasy. The crux, however, is this: it is also a worldview whose acceptance does not imply any material reward in the present, up to and including logical vindication.

The literature of Christianity is chockablock with divine encounters, mystics who firmly believed that they entered into the presence of God, and ordinary people who have felt the presence of God in meaningful ways. We can say that this is a shared delusion and nothing more, but as you examine the preponderance of this sort of anecdotal evidence, you become convinced that something is going on here. A mere fantasy that produces such results would be shocking, indeed. It would also be, as someone once said, the single greatest intellectual error in the history of humanity.

So no, writing belief off as an arbitrary comfort fantasy doesn't cut it, not for me, not by a long shot. I do not agree that my belief system could easily be substituted with a belief in talking pigs from Jupiter, or sentient rocks, or unicorns. Thus there is nothing dangerous or immoral about my belief system because I am fully cognizant of what is real about it, what its effects are, and what its morality tells me. At least as certain as anyone whose philosophy is based on nonreligious sources. Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy do not provoke religious awe, nor do they provide insight into the meaning of life or the foundations of morality. Christianity does these things. Islam also does these things. As do Judaism and other religious traditions.

So, unless you consider someone who deeply values human life, equality, and honesty a dire, immoral threat, I don't think you've got anything to worry about from me, or from most other Christians. The kind of rollocking, ultraconservative, eschatology-smooching superfundamentalists that you're worried about aren't the Christian norm; they are an aberration. The difference between Jerry Falwell and the person of Jesus Christ is something like the difference between Jodie Foster and John Hinckley, Jr. The one is blameless, and the other is a lunatic desperate for attention in the name of the one he worships. In fact, there is almost a one-to-one correspondence between the attributes that people like Falwell display and those of the Pharisees that Jesus went out of his way time and again to condemn.

That's it for me this round. I'm apologeticked out.
posted by vraxoin at 6:33 PM on February 24, 2004


Just curious - does this movie show Jesus coming back from the dead?
posted by Slagman at 6:44 PM on February 24, 2004


More seriously, as long as we're having this discussion again, can one of the redeemed please explain to me how there can be so many different versions of the Christian Bible?

Okay, one more. Your second question would require a book length answer, as it touches on some of the most controversial theological issues that there are. The first question is much easier.

There really aren't any different versions of the Christian Bible. There are only different translations, with different aims. Most modern translations are made from the Greek in the case of the NT, and Greek and/or Hebrew for the old. Not all of the "original" documents survive, of course, and some are translations of translations. The discovery of the Nag Hammadi library containing the Dead Sea Scrolls provided complete versions of documents that had only before been available in copies of copies, and so on.

As to translation praxis, different translators have different goals. The NIV Bible was created specifically for ease of understanding, and so sacrifices some of the poetry and specificity of the original texts. The Jerusalam Bible is intended to hew as close to the original meaning of the text as possible, regardless of poetics. The NRSV is intended to be a good overall translation that retains as much of the fluidity of the original language while rendering it in modern language and using inclusive terminology (i.e., "people" instead of "men" and so on).

Regardless, there are some passages, such as John 3:3, that defy modern interpretation. The greek word anothen can mean either "again" or "from above" depending on context. But the context in John 3:3 is difficult to grasp. Jesus tells Nicodemus that a man must be born anothen, but did he mean "a man must be born again," or "a man must be born from above?" A likely interpretation is that Jesus (or John) meant both, and as such the nuance is nearly impossible to convey.

Also, some manuscripts contain passages that other manuscripts do not; most bible translations will not this when it occurs, but such elisions almost exclusively occur at insignificant places.

So, when someone tells you that they believe the Bible is literally true, they kind of mean something, but taken as a whole, it's difficult to know what this means. Since the Bible contains several instances where multiple, divergent accounts are offered for the same events, which one is the one they literally believe in. I don't know. But I think I understand what they mean.
posted by vraxoin at 6:50 PM on February 24, 2004


"But there's a closely related dimension of Gibson's film that has so far received less attention, and which is at least as compelling: The movie is also a revival of medieval theatrical sadism."
posted by homunculus at 7:18 PM on February 24, 2004


It was simply a test of obedience.

Obedience is for dogs.
posted by rushmc at 7:20 PM on February 24, 2004


What do you get out of saying over and over and over, "It's a myth! It doesn't make sense! How does that evil thing work anyway?"

What do you get out of castigating people for insisting upon a standard of rationality when confronted with the deluded? Do you similarly argue that people committed to the moral good of truthtelling not confront and denounce liars? That those opposed to murder and war be silent when others seek to stir up base enthusiasms for same?

It seems to me that you are guilty of the very thing you decry. If we all get together and agree not to discuss religion at all, that's fine. But if religious people are going to make religious claims, then non-religious people are certainly entitled to respond to them, whether it happens once or a million times. The religious have no special dispensation on the right to be heard.
posted by rushmc at 7:30 PM on February 24, 2004


It is a worldview that exists for very clear and serious reasons, and which addresses fundamental aspects of human life in a deeply satisfying way. This is a far cry from accepting an arbitrary fantasy.

Contrary to your assertion, the two are not mutually exclusive.
posted by rushmc at 7:54 PM on February 24, 2004


Just curious - does this movie show Jesus coming back from the dead?

I don't believe so. If it did, then, technically, it would be a zombie movie.
posted by SPrintF at 8:33 PM on February 24, 2004


Obedience is for dogs

So if a parent has a five year old child, and that parent tells the child not to go into the street, that child's obedience should be compared to that of a dog's?

Rush, what if you were like that child, who then snatched his hand from his parent's hand and ran into the street, scorning obedience-right into the path of an automobile?
posted by konolia at 8:39 PM on February 24, 2004


It's amazing how many religiously-moral parents shocked and offended at a curse word or a flashed nipple are likely going to take their small children to see this film and treat them to two straight hours of on-screen torture and mutilation.

More importantly, I heard you can see BOTH of Jesus' nipples in this film.
posted by bargle at 9:01 PM on February 24, 2004


Unlike your Father, my father allowed me to grow up. I no longer need his threats of punishment to live an ordered, moral life. As an adult, I make the decisions; he does not make them for me.

As a society, we have no need for religion: we have grown up. No longer tribal, and so without the tribal need for a common God to protect themselves. We have a systematic order to our laws and our interactions on all scales, from individuals engaging in civil union, to near-global agreement on human rights issues.

Not only do we make the decisions now, we also construct the legal frameworks upon which to hang them. Our laws are more just, our unity is greater, and our ultimate threats of punishment more holocaustic than those ever dreamed of in tribal days.

It's the holy trinity of the post-religionist age: the word of law, the spirit of cooperation, and the cold sword of nuclear winter. No Gods need apply.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on February 24, 2004


row row row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily merrily merrily merrily
life is but a dream
posted by Satapher at 10:47 PM on February 24, 2004


So if a parent has a five year old child, and that parent tells the child not to go into the street, that child's obedience should be compared to that of a dog's?

A good parent would explain the reasoning behind why running into the street is a bad idea, in order to equip the child with important knowledge about the world and thereby help the child become an active participant in their own safety, not just expect unquestioning obedience from a thinking being that they themselves created. Dogs don't speak English, five year old human children do, and are capable of reason, just like human adults are.
posted by biscotti at 10:59 PM on February 24, 2004


Also, konolia's analogical speeding auto would be driven by the same parent. And the whole city would have been built by the parent for just this exercise. And the parent/driver would know in advance how the child would respond.

konolia, follow vraxoin's advice and get some reinforcements. Your arguments are teetering on the brink of buffoonery.
posted by squirrel at 11:20 PM on February 24, 2004


Rush, what if you were like that child

But I am not a child, and recognition of my limitations does not compel me to invent a more capable being to take care of everything.
posted by rushmc at 12:13 AM on February 25, 2004


Luke 18:16-17 (NKJV)"But Jesus called them to Him and said,"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you,whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
posted by konolia at 4:35 AM on February 25, 2004


Interesting thread this. On a side note, I'm sick to death of babble on Fox News and MSNBC protesting the so-called "media elites" protesting this film. I mean, give it rest already. Some of the criticism smacks of "if you don't like this film, you are a godless communist". When the fuck are we going to grow up in this country anyway?

There are maybe a few lefties out there that are frothing at the mouth about this film without having seen it, which was by and large the reaction from the right before Scorsese's "Last Temptations" came out. Like most things in life, it's probably worth holding one's tongue until one knows whereof one speaks.
posted by psmealey at 7:27 AM on February 25, 2004


I'm even sicker of the free ride "The Passion" has been getting in the media. Man, some of this stuff - front covers of the NY papers, for example - is just so much shilling.

It's nauseating. Why doesn't Fox crow about that? Oh, yeah, that's right - they're owned by the same company.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:40 AM on February 25, 2004


Languagehat: In a nutshell, the reason religion merits debate is because religion is a dire threat to our safety.
...
Let's keep those with insane beliefs away from The Big Red Button, k?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM EST on February 24

I don't know why religious beliefs should be protected from criticism, when they are used constantly to drum up support to push down other people. (Gay marriage amendment, censorship, etc.) If we stay silent, the lunatics get to run the assylum. I don't want the idea that the US is a Christian country to gain any more traction.
posted by callmejay at 7:22 PM EST on February 24

languagehat: I'm not affecting superiority... I do want to keep the power of the theocrats, sharp operators and cultural arbiters in check.
So I challenge them rationally. I do enjoy it, but no, I'm not smiling at this point.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:26 PM EST on February 24

languagehat, you've become lazy. As my posts here and the three posts succeeding yours express, there's a lot more to our dissent than clubby cruelty. People have legitimate reasons to distrust and attack the religious impulse for all the damage it has done to the world. I think people in this thread have done a good job articulating that; you just aren't paying attention or don't care.
posted by squirrel at 8:05 PM EST on February 24

What do you get out of castigating people for insisting upon a standard of rationality when confronted with the deluded? Do you similarly argue that people committed to the moral good of truthtelling not confront and denounce liars? That those opposed to murder and war be silent when others seek to stir up base enthusiasms for same?
It seems to me that you are guilty of the very thing you decry. If we all get together and agree not to discuss religion at all, that's fine. But if religious people are going to make religious claims, then non-religious people are certainly entitled to respond to them, whether it happens once or a million times. The religious have no special dispensation on the right to be heard.
posted by rushmc at 10:30 PM EST on February 24


Is that everybody? To all and sundry: you're making two big mistakes.
1) I too think theocracy is a bad idea and fear the idea of a religious maniac's finger on The Button. But (listen up now) konolia is not in power. She has no control over anyone else, let alone nuclear annihilation. So you are accomplishing nothing by making the same boring arguments over and over and over in thread after thread: not avoiding theocracy, not saving the country from religion, not even (it should be clear by now) changing konolia's mind, not that I see why that should be so important to you. All you are accomplishing is satisfying yourselves. If you refuse to see that, you're in exactly the position of the people blinded by religion you so enjoy mocking.
2) I am not "castigating people for insisting upon a standard of rationality"; I am saying you are not "entitled to respond to them." I am merely expressing my astonishment that such interesting, intelligent people can get such satisfaction out of repeating the exact same arguments endlessly, to no discernible effect. If you met a guy on the street holding up a sign that said "2+2 = 5" and you were in a chatty mood, you might stop to find out why he thought that and try to convince him he was wrong. But if he cheerfully denied all your arguments and said he just knew the sum was 5 and was comfortable with that, I doubt you'd stop every day on your way to work and go through the same argument. It would be boring. See what I mean?

(And yes, I realize my argument can be turned against me, but at least I only make this point once every few months instead of every goddam time the subject comes up.)
posted by languagehat at 7:43 AM on February 25, 2004


Er: I am not saying you are not "entitled to respond to them." And me an editor.
posted by languagehat at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2004


And FWIW, pace languagehat, I'd like to extend my sincerest gratitude to those rationalists who have stood up in this thread, and elsewhere, to debunk the pernicious and hateful teachings of religion.

The monotheisms - or those who interpret them literally, anyway - are the most destructive force in the world, bar none. They're lethal, devourers of souls beyond counting. I find any discussion of them that does not account for this to be in particularly bad taste.

languagehat, for me anyway, these comments are not a matter of mocking someone for their belief, which would (I agree) be ugly and disrespectful. Nor is it to engage in what is clearly a futile attempt at deprogramming. Why my heart warms at commentary like this is that it feels like the first time in Western history that we need not merely sit back and surrender the public discourse to the believers. We can declare our own understanding of things, ask that the believers not inflict their belief on us, remind them that there are alternatives.

If it saves even one person from the eternal night that is belief, gives even one person the first glimmerings of a way out of that madness, it's worthwhile.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:01 AM on February 25, 2004


Assuredly, I say to you,whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

:::politely declines:::
posted by rushmc at 8:01 AM on February 25, 2004


So you are accomplishing nothing by making the same boring arguments over and over and over in thread after thread

You did not address my point, languagehat. If it is boring repetition that bothers you, why do you not similarly call out konolia et al for continuing to make their silly claims? Your failure to do so makes you look like a religious apologist biased against the forces of rationality, whether you are in fact or not.
posted by rushmc at 8:05 AM on February 25, 2004


...konolia is not in power

No, she's not, languagehat, but the destructive ideas she espouses are embraced by many in the highest levels of global power, and the hegemony of religious fanaticism is rising. That gives us the right and the responsibility to speak out in defense of sanity.
posted by squirrel at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2004


One thing that's worth pointing out is that religion and reason are not mutually exclusive. Since the fideists such as Pascal, there has always been a class of religious people thoroughly devoted to exacting truth from whatever sources may provide it. I'm entirely comfortable with the claims of both science and of faith, since in the long run they have almost nothing to do with one another.

The Catholic Church condemned Galileo's Copernican interpretation of cosmology because Psalm 19 says that the sun "rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other." Does this mean that God is a flat earther? No more, I suspect, than you are when you talk about a pretty sunrise or say that the moon has gone behind a cloud. This is the kind of conflict that occurs between science and religion. Jesus wasn't a physicist, and said nothing about electron spin, or whether Everett's many-worlds hypothesis is true. That wasn't what he was there for.

This notion that all religious persons are necessarily delusional madmen or dangerous fanatics, is simply disingenuous. I got a nearly perfect score on the Physics AP test. I graduated from college with very high marks from a rigorous honors program. I believe in evolution via natural selection. I'm pro-gay, pro-choice, and an avid peacenik. I'm also a Christian. I have enough real world accomplishments under my belt to conclude that I'm a productive member of society, and that I have a fairly firm grasp of reality. So how is that I'm able to comprehend classical physics, special relativity, the Krebs cycle, hold down a steady job and maintain enlightened political, social and philosophical views, and yet at the same time be a deluded maniac? I don't get it. I've managed, at least to some degree, to separate the intellectual wheat from the chaff in every area of discourse that I've investigated except for the one discipline that I've spent the most time thinking critically about? That's highly unlikely, to put it mildly. What is it, a head injury? Latent paranoid schizophrenia? From precisely what malady am I suffering? If I can't trust my own judgment as a sane person regarding which subjects merit my intellectual approval, then there's no point in my going on. I might as well just stop thinking.
posted by vraxoin at 9:25 AM on February 25, 2004


squirrel: yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:26 AM on February 25, 2004


the destructive ideas she espouses

Um, which destructive ideas would these be? Are you referring to Jesus's inclusive treatment of the poor and outcast, or his commandment to love other people as oneself? The people that you need to be worried about aren't the Christians per se; rather, it's the neoconservative lunatics in charge of the country who are using Christianity as a weapon. The vast, vast majority of Christians that I've met are perfectly normal people who just want to live their lives in peace. As in any group, there are radical fringes who feel the need to enforce their views on others without their consent, but that is a function of human nature, not any particular dogma. When you talk about "destructive ideas" and "religious hegemony", all I can think about is my sweet Aunt Jessie baking pies for the church bake sale to raise money for orphans, and imagine the secret furtive conspiracy that must have lurked behind this seemingly inocuous activity.
posted by vraxoin at 9:37 AM on February 25, 2004


vraxoin: destructive ideas like that gay people are going to hell, should be banned from participating in marriage, and certainly should never be allowed to raise children.

Destructive ideas like that the apocalypse is coming and is desirable.

Finally, as regards insanity: you postulate a creator, in part because you feel the universe needs creating. Yet at the same time, your creator has no creator. There's a whopping discontinuity in your logic, yet you see no problem with it. You hold two contradictory thoughts simultaneously, believing in both passionately.

Tell me again how that isn't insane?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 AM on February 25, 2004


...it feels like the first time in Western history that we need not merely sit back and surrender the public discourse to the believers. We can declare our own understanding of things, ask that the believers not inflict their belief on us, remind them that there are alternatives.

Eloquently put. I'd just remind you that you are not Spinoza in 17th-century Amsterdam or Tom Paine a couple of centuries ago, you're on fucking MetaFilter in the year 2004. You are risking nothing except the warm bath of approval from fellow militant atheists—not even nastiness from konolia or her few fellow believers, since they're all too well mannered for that. You are accomplishing nothing but making yourself feel good, since you're not changing any minds. It is basically, in the immortal words of quonsar, whappa-whappa. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

why do you not similarly call out konolia et al for continuing to make their silly claims?

Because there are plenty of people already doing that. If MetaFilter were dominated by militant Christians who were mocking you for your lonely stand for rationality, I'd be standing up for you.

the destructive ideas she espouses are embraced by many in the highest levels of global power

Then go attack the highest levels of global power. Why are you picking on konolia? She's not doing any harm. Of course, she is an easier and safer target...
posted by languagehat at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2004


Someone fetch me a bucket. The mawkish aroma of fresh-baked pies mixing with the stench from millennia of religious killing is making me sick.

I'm sure Osama's grandma baked pies, too, vraxoin. Does that make Islamic fanaticism innocuous?
posted by squirrel at 10:24 AM on February 25, 2004


vraxoin, I don't have a major quarrel with liberal theists, as they are generally not trying to enforce their religious beliefs on others. I don't think that they are for the most part literally insane or unintelligent. I do think that they are incorrect. Their (as a group if not individually) beliefs seem to shift and warp over time and across the population based on how they can be squeezed into the gaps of scientific knowledge, and I find that suspect. They usually claim that their beliefs are based on the Bible or other sacred text, and yet they will freely admit that they disagree with much that is written there.

It is my impression that they aren't starting out with nothing but the facts and seeing where that goes; they're starting with "I'd like to believe in God" and seeing how to fit that into the facts.

languagehat: how is arguing with theists about their beliefs any different than arguing with conservatives or liberals? Or should we just assume that everyone, participants and spectators alike, have made up their minds and are unable to change?
posted by callmejay at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2004


So has anyone seen the movie yet?
posted by subgenius at 10:35 AM on February 25, 2004


Then go attack the highest levels of global power. Why are you picking on konolia? She's not doing any harm. Of course, she is an easier and safer target...

No one is picking on konolia, languagehat; many are challenging her ideas. As you know, there's a difference. Challenging the ideas of a hegemony is a way of attacking it. You know this stuff, you're just playing dumb because in this case you feel your role as defender of the attacked is more important than your well-earned role as critical thinker.
posted by squirrel at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2004


Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will cuz
I sure could use a vacation from this

Silly shit, stupid shit...

One great big festering neon distraction,
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied.

Learn to swim.

Mom's gonna fix it all soon.
Mom's comin' round to put it back the way it ought to be.

Learn to swim.....
Fuck smiley glad-hands
With hidden agendas.
Fuck these dysfunctional,
Insecure actresses...
Time to bring it down again.
Don't just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.

I can't imagine why you wouldn't
Welcome any change, my friend.

-Tool

You hold two contradictory thoughts simultaneously, believing in both passionately.

Tell me again how that isn't insane?


HA!
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2004


konolia is not in power. She has no control over anyone else, let alone nuclear annihilation.

Thank God.

To set the record straight, I am not looking forward or wanting to hasten Armageddon. I haven't even read any of the Left Behind books, and personally I think they might be based on faulty endtimes theology-but evidently they are a good read for folks who like fiction. Whatever. I am no expert on the subject.

Assuredly, I say to you,whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

:::politely declines:::
posted by rushmc at 11:01 AM EST on February 25


Fair enough. Wish you felt different, but up to you.
posted by konolia at 1:04 PM on February 25, 2004


Wish you felt different, but up to you.

Well said, konolia. Perhaps someday this beautiful sentiment will spread throughout the world's churches. The world will be a better place.
posted by squirrel at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2004


So has anyone seen the movie yet?

yup

i've just watched the long version trailers and based on those alone it doesn't look to be that great a film, they're edited together in a teen angsty sort of way, juvenile. we have free passes so we might cave in and go see it, just to see if it's as bad (as a movie) and as dangerous (as religious propaganda) as i've heard from friends who saw pre screens. i certainly wouldn't pay to see it, mel gibson is not someone i want to support, regardless of this particular film.
posted by t r a c y at 1:35 PM on February 25, 2004


one of the very few film critics i have some trust in has his review in today's toronto star:

Even from my position of relative spiritual impoverishment, I have no doubt that Gibson believes completely and utterly in the divinity of his mission. From precisely the same position however, I also believe, just as completely and utterly, The Passion Of The Christ to be a work of fundamentalist pornography. What graphic sex is to the use of the body in hardcore porno, graphic violence is to destruction of the body of Christ in this Passion.
posted by t r a c y at 1:43 PM on February 25, 2004


languagehat, remember: they rule everywhere else. Everywhere else. I cannot spend a penny without being reminded of their hegemony. I've lived with it, under it, my entire life.

It is deeply, deeply Other to me, and just as deeply repellent. I get cognitive whiplash trying to reconcile how it's OK to marginalize and suppress and ridicule and defame and (almost worst of all) patronize nonbelievers, but "heavy handed" or "risk[ing] nothing" to stand up for what is, in the larger scheme of things, a starkly minority viewpoint.

Here's how I see it: if a minor functionary of the Khmer Rouge - charming, personable, nattily turned out - showed up at your favorite cafe, would you commend him on his classiness, or would you (rightly, I believe) refuse to associate with him, or offer him any color of legitimacy, lest you appear to condone the genocide for which he works, and stands?

I can't take the hypocrisy anymore. This ideology murders, and continues to do so, and I can no longer be polite to its adherents. If that makes me a bad man, so be it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:01 PM on February 25, 2004


lh:
- I didnt attack Konolia, I disputed her ideas.

- I didnt mock her either, as you imply here: If MetaFilter were dominated by militant Christians who were mocking you for your lonely stand for rationality, I'd be standing up for you.

- I have avoided participating in many threads lately, as you clearly havent noticed, lh. So i don't feel as if such interesting, intelligent people can get such satisfaction out of repeating the exact same arguments endlessly, to no discernible effect applies to me [unless you want us to stop all discussion of religion? OK, I'll buy that. Will Konolia?]

- Yes, this is satisfying - as I do enjoy having my brain stretched, squashed and tested. As this thread has almost entirely been well mannered, and no ad hominems were directed at K, I think it's been examplary.

What are you really getting at?

tried to post this hours ago, but that ole slapper J-Run kept me down.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:11 PM on February 25, 2004


I think James Kopp can smell that pie your grandma's cookin' up, vraxoin. He's standing tall for Jesus!
posted by squirrel at 2:36 PM on February 25, 2004


Just curious - does this movie show Jesus coming back from the dead?

"When Jesus is resurrected, his expression is hard, and, as he moves toward the entrance to his tomb, the camera lingers on a round hole in his hand that goes all the way through. Gibson's Jesus reminded me of the Terminator—he could be the Christianator—heading out into the world to spread the bloody news. Next stop: the Crusades."
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on February 25, 2004


and after the Crusades, the Inquisition. The Passion of Torquemada?
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on February 25, 2004


I think the whole "In Charge" issue is, when some one makes a law Based only on religious Merit that effects others NOT of the religion (Like mandatory Pledge of allegiance with "under God" in it) then it becomes an issue,
Hence Denying gay marriage or Pushing the expulsion of non-jews from Israel to foster the second coming, Praising a hurricane and earthquake as Gods punishment of the sodomizers and infidels, Pushing for federally mandated religious based funding for certain projects, become a freaking issue... and anyone who doesn't understand this is beyond help...
posted by Elim at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2004


woman collapses during film and dies of heart attack

yikes
posted by t r a c y at 5:46 PM on February 25, 2004


After all this, why not let konolia go off and see her movie and the rest of us spend a delightful evening with Monte Python's Life of Brian.
posted by donfactor at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2004


From t r a c e y's link:

Whether Law's death and the timing in the film are related, we will never know, but religious and medical officials stress this film is not for the faint-hearted.

So what was this again about taking children to see the film?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2004


donfactor:
Because I've come to hate Monty Python with a white hot burning hatred?
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:06 PM on February 25, 2004


'Jews Killed Jesus' Sign Causing Controversy
posted by homunculus at 7:48 PM on February 25, 2004


I heard on tv last night that medieval passion plays were often the trigger for a pogrom, or other violence, or expulsion of jews from a town--if this is going to be repeated...
posted by amberglow at 9:27 PM on February 25, 2004


Because I've come to hate Monty Python with a white hot burning hatred?

My name is wonderchicken. You killed my childhood. Prepare to die.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on February 25, 2004


Honey, that was Princess Bride.
posted by konolia at 10:32 PM on February 25, 2004


Best movie ever made.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 AM on February 26, 2004


I can't help but think that the only way this film is going to stir hatred is because of the entire media screaming "This movie says Jews are evil", not because of anything in the actual film.

Anyway, isn't the hero Jewish?
posted by biffa at 2:15 AM on February 26, 2004


Don't you mean the Jewish media, biffa?
posted by rcade at 5:46 AM on February 26, 2004


rcade, that was uncalled for.
posted by konolia at 5:58 AM on February 26, 2004


Anti-semites under the bed rcade? I'll try and explain my point in language more likely to be understood by a knee-jerk reactionary. I'm starting from a perspective that there isn't a huge section of society that hates jews because of 'what they did to Jesus'. Thus a film which represents Jesus being killed by some people who died 2000 years ago and were jewish isn't going to see people just get up and go out and commit hate crimes against Jews. The media however are happy to kick up a stink saying that this is hugely controversial - could it be that this sells more news? The result being that some idiots are stirred up into behaving the way that the media says some people might behave.
posted by biffa at 6:43 AM on February 26, 2004


Dennis Prager: "The Jews in the film (except, of course, for those who believe in Jesus) are cruel and often sadistic. One prominent Christian who saw the film along with my wife and me said that while watching the film he wanted to take a gun and shoot those who had brought such pain to Jesus. I couldn't blame him. The Jews in the film manipulate the Romans -- who are depicted as patsies of the Jews and in the case of Pilate, as morally far more elevated -- into torturing and murdering a beautiful man."

Prager, a friend of Gibson who got to see the film early, says he wishes it was never made.

There are several things about this movie that fan the never-gets-old blood libel that Jews killed Jesus, and I think the most damning is his invention of Pontius Pilate as a sympathetic character.

Though some people suggest Gibson is merely presenting the story from its source -- his claim to have presented "the way it was" makes me wonder where he found 2,000-year-old videotape -- in several crucial elements the film has as much claim to realism as Lethal Weapon 3.

Until it became a subject of press scrutiny, Gibson told interviewers the film was inspired by "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ," by Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th century German nun and mystic whose visions of the crucifixion were particular vivid in their description of Jewish villainy.

Emmerich described the Jewish crowd as "the cruel Jews almost devouring their victim with their eyes" and called them a "crowd of miscreants -- the very scum of the people."

Gibson makes Pontius Pilate, normally the big non-Jewish villain of the story, someone who executed Jesus because he was manipulated by a cabal of Jews who manipulated things behind the scenes (as one reporter put this, "sound familiar?").

Emmerich describes Pilate as "that proud and irresolute pagan, that slave of the world, who trembled in the presence of the true God.''

Gibson gives Pilate an equally sympathetic wife, never mentioned in the Bible (but described in Emmerich's visions).

So we have a director singling out Jews for the death of Jesus, softening the culpability of Pontius Pilate, taking as inspiration a 19th-century Jew-hating nun, publicly supporting his Holocaust-denying father, and claiming his film is a documentary.

Damn that Jew York Times for creating an anti-Semitic backlash out of thin air to sell papers!
posted by rcade at 8:43 AM on February 26, 2004


Personally my feeling is that even if Gibson has a problem with judaism (and by all accounts the catholic church) then that doesn't behove every one else in the country to going out and attacking Jews as a result of a film he makes. The film may indeed be antisemitic (my previous comments don't deny this possibility and I haven't seen the film), but that doesn't mean that it will fuel pogroms. Perhaps I just have a higher opinion of your countrymen than you do.

I think it is also notable that Gibson's previous efforts (1, 2) have portrayed my countrymen wholly as rapists, murderers, torturers, betrayers and akin to Nazis, and AFAIK no Scot or American has seen fit to hunt an Englishman down as a result.

Your implicit name-calling is unpleasant and unjustified.
posted by biffa at 9:24 AM on February 26, 2004


I agree with you in spirit, rcade, but I don't think the sympathic Pilate is completely an invention of Gibson. I may be misremembering, but didn't this issue surface in the Last Temptation of Christ, where Pilate really wants to free Jesus, but the crowds insist he let Barabas go instead? (Or was that from another film.)
posted by jpoulos at 10:07 AM on February 26, 2004


rcade,

I think someone else stated this but it bears repeating, the only people this is likely to stir anti-Semitic feelings with are people who are already anti-Semitic. Most of this story has been around for 2000 years so it's not like the idea that some members of the Jewish community took part in his death is coming as news to anybody.

It seems strange the way some are focusing on what seems only a very small angle and trying to inflate it into anti-Semitism. According to the book the film is based on Jesus was arrested and turned over to the Romans by the Sanhedren. So whether Pilate was a good guy or a bad guy isn't really the point. It's obvious that the Sanhedren were the ones who instigated whatever events followed.

Does that make Jews bad? No. In fact, in the scene where Ciaphas is questioning Jesus, other members of the Sanhedren openly protest the proceedings asking why they are being carried out at such a late hour when the full Sanhedren is not available. Those members of the Sanhedren who speak up are physically removed from the hearing under Ciaphas' orders so he can conduct his pre-ordained trial. I would think that someone who was attempting to paint Jews as the killers of The Christ would omit the fact that several members of the Sanhedren attempted to intercede in Jesus' behalf.

I think the truth here is that Gibson was attempting to show that a few politically motivated Jews who were in positions of great power wanted Jesus eliminated because he posed a threat.

Or perhaps instead of non-Christians telling the Christians what type of reaction Christians might have, they should see for themselves. The showing I went to last night was sold out. Several times during the film I heard people in the audience crying. The film is brutal and graphic and it exactly that brutality and that graphic violence that make many look inside themselves and ask why would Jesus volunteer himself to this to absolve them of their sins.

One of the core tenets of the faith is that he suffered for your sins. I've heard some people comment that each lashing he took during the beating scene made them reflect on their own sins and feel personally responsible. It did not inspire hatred of Jews, rather a sense of shame that Jesus was being forced to pay for what they themselves had done.

I think I understand Gibson's role as a filmmaker and as a Catholic via this movie. Some call it brutal but guess what, it was brutal. Having it abstracted into a nice pretty "The Life of Jesus" film helps people learn the story of Jesus but it does nothing to help Christians understand the power of the sacrafice. For a non-Christian (and even some Christians) it is easy to see the violence and think that it's violence for the sake of violence but if you check out the link I posted above, many people found it deeply moving. Several reviewers called it "Life Changing." I think it will cause many of it's views to reflect on their faith and perhaps even re-focus their beliefs. I really believe that was the goal of Gibson after seeing how he constructed the film. He wanted that Catholic who hasn't been to church in 20 years to be moved enough to find their way back to the faith.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll have your own take on it and you're more than entitled to it, but it's funny that out of the 8000+ reviews on Yahoo the people who have actually seen the film feel much differently about it than those who haven't and comment on it anyway.

B
posted by billman at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2004


it's funny that out of the 8000+ reviews on Yahoo the people who have actually seen the film feel much differently about it than those who haven't and comment on it anyway.

There's a point to be made there, but remember that "those who've seen the film" is a self-selecting group. A large portion of those who rushed out to see the film within 24 hours of its release (on a Wednesday night), likely already had some different views about the subject than those who didn't.
posted by jpoulos at 10:45 AM on February 26, 2004


It did not inspire hatred of Jews, rather a sense of shame that Jesus was being forced to pay for what they themselves had done.

Good old shame. The motivator for endless repressive and violent acts of projected self-hatred. Out, damned spot!
posted by squirrel at 10:56 AM on February 26, 2004


jpoulos,

Every group is a self-selecting group in one sense or another. I'm not sure I follow where you're going with that. Yes, I would imagine that mostly Christians went to see it on opening night but read some of those 8000 reviews and you'll also see reviews in their from Hindus and other religions who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

B
posted by billman at 11:03 AM on February 26, 2004


The motivator for endless repressive and violent acts of projected self-hatred. Out, damned spot!

The entire religion is based on guilt. Duh! :-)
posted by billman at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2004


Bingo.
posted by squirrel at 11:19 AM on February 26, 2004


Andrew Sullivan's review is about as close as I want to get to this snuff film (emphasis mine):
In a word, it is pornography. By pornography, I mean the reduction of all human thought and feeling and personhood to mere flesh. The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and despicable piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the Gospels. It shows a man being flayed alive - slowly, methodically and with increasing savagery. We first of all witness the use of sticks, then whips, then multiple whips with barbed glass or metal. We see flesh being torn out of a man's body. Just so that we can appreciate the pain, we see the whip first tear chunks out of a wooden table. Then we see pieces of human skin flying through the air. We see Jesus come back for more. We see blood spattering on the torturers' faces. We see muscled thugs exhausted from shredding every inch of this man's body. And then they turn him over and do it all again. It goes on for ever. And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood. It is an absolutely unforgivable, vile, disgusting scene. No human being could survive it. Yet for Gibson, it is the h'ors d'oeuvre for his porn movie. The whole movie is some kind of sick combination of the theology of Opus Dei and the film-making of Quentin Tarantino. There is nothing in the Gospels that indicates this level of extreme, endless savagery and there is no theological reason for it.
posted by rcade at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2004


I'm not sure that makes sense. Andrew Sullivan's gospels indicate Jesus was hugged to death? Is this in his very special bible that indicates the Catholic Church really secretly loves homosexuals?

I mean, look at how long he managed to convince himself the GOP really secretly loves gays and lesbians. I don't believe a word he's saying, but I definitely want some of what he's smoking.
posted by subgenius at 1:09 PM on February 26, 2004


Come to think of it, that Tarantino reference reminds me of something Roger Ebert wrote in his otherwise positive review: "I said the film is the most violent I have ever seen. It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen. This is not a criticism but an observation; the film is unsuitable for younger viewers, but works powerfully for those who can endure it. The MPAA's R rating is definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic." That doesn't sound like porn to me, but we all have different interests.

I had a long conversation about this film with two of my good friends who are Orthodox Jews. To my surprise, both of them were quite interested in the film, and neither seemed particularly concerned that it was anti-semitic. I was skeptical of throwing money at a conservative cause, but I think my interest in supporting controversial films (e.g., Last Temptation of Christ, Kids) outweighs my concern that the $10.25 ticket will be counted as some sort of endorsement of organized religion.
posted by subgenius at 1:21 PM on February 26, 2004


Every group is a self-selecting group in one sense or another.

No. Some groups are selected by others. Often at random. Such a group would be a far better indicator of whether seeing the movie was the sole factor that influenced one's comments on the Yahoo site.

I don't mean to make a bigger deal out of it than necessary. It was a minor quibble. You're pretty obviously right in saying that the opinion of someone who has seen a film is far more valuable than that of someone who hasn't.
posted by jpoulos at 1:24 PM on February 26, 2004


Isn't blaming Jews for Jesus' death a lot like blaming women for original sin?
posted by rushmc at 1:37 PM on February 26, 2004


theology of Opus Dei and the film-making of Quentin Tarantino.

i see, he means that robert hanssen is judas-ish and that reservior dogs is not a rip off of the 'The Killing',

so kubrick is behind this?

snuff film
well, i have seen clips and they seem all in slow motion, shiney grim and blood pan and clip shots. But to try and depict the agony seems...
dam you rcade

the last temptation of christ was vilified by the church and i found the movie a bit gratuitous at times but a source of conversation about the gospels, psychology, what history there is, well alot to talk about. the churches seems to be promoting this film and it seems beyond gratuitous from some of the reviews.

i used to say 'well if your gonna look, you may as well see'
true i guess but perhaps not in this fashion, not amount of make-up and acting can depict the sins of the world carried by one man which is a concept to talk about.

and can we be clear that "blaming" the jewish people for the death of jesus is ignorant.
posted by clavdivs at 1:43 PM on February 26, 2004


Pilate's wife was mentioned briefly in one of the Gospels.

Matthew 27:19 "When he(Pilate) was set down on the judgement seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

(Oh, and Rushmc, biblically Adam is always blamed for original sin. He was the one who got the original instruction from God re the tree, and never said a word to Eve while she was being deceived by the serpent. Apparently Adam was using Eve as a guinea pig to see what would happen if she ate the fruit.)
posted by konolia at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2004


ok well i'm off to see the 6pm (est) showing, i guess i will come back and give a short review within the next 24 hours, if this thread is still active.
posted by t r a c y at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2004


billman, not to exactly quibble, but these 8000+ reviews you mention, the people who entered them all proved somehow to TPTB at Yahoo that they'd actually seen this movie before being allowed to post their thoughts? Or perhaps these are subject to the same spamming, gaming and other malicious/self-serving tricks every other web poll faces? We just saw a similar situation at Amazon regarding 'anonymous' reviews and a blog comment spamming campaign on behalf of this film.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:02 PM on February 26, 2004


Below may answer why some feel Jesus' death should be pointed at the Jews:
Jesus was a religious leader in an era in which religion was inseparable from governance and daily life. Jesus clearly posed threats to power and wealth that were very real, and the principal motivations for getting rid of him.

Apparently Adam was using Eve as a guinea pig to see what would happen if she ate the fruit.)

Adam was not around, not that I blame her but recall the serpent was talking to her privately first.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:36 PM on February 26, 2004


Thom, I went back and looked it up. Genesis 3:6 states he was with her. But you are right in that the serpent directed his comments at her and not at Adam.
posted by konolia at 4:45 PM on February 26, 2004


I just love that Fark is calling it Jesus Chainsaw Massacre.
posted by NortonDC at 7:08 PM on February 26, 2004


Below may answer why some feel Jesus' death should be pointed at the Jews:
Jesus was a religious leader in an era in which religion was inseparable from governance and daily life. Jesus clearly posed threats to power and wealth that were very real, and the principal motivations for getting rid of him.

I've always been told that there were plenty of messiahs around both before and after Jesus (and throughout our history as jews, over and over), so why believe that one? Also plenty of prophets.
posted by amberglow at 7:53 PM on February 26, 2004


Genesis 3:6

Ah, the Old Testament. King James at the wheel, baptist sermons in the deal. As a youth it was my garden of morbid delights, my dark seeing pond.

I had an exceptionally thick but extremely self-satisfied Sunday school teacher who would say things like "Black people don't have a Jesus" in a tone of pious solemnity. Her and her evil old friends used to feed us Kool-Aid.

But I loved the Bible. Especially the New Testement.

I wasn't like Alex in Kubrick's classic (and I LOVED Kubrick's "The Killing") A Clockwork Orange; I didn't lounge around luxuriating in the gore. But my idea of Jesus, the son of God, was such that I really enjoyed reading his words (in red type, as God intended) and imagining every building around him shattering like glass at the force of them. Sand blasting out in all directions as waves of molten glass. The words of the Christ blew my mind again and again.

But then, so now does Rumi.
posted by squirrel at 11:06 PM on February 26, 2004


It occurs to me that a couple of other guys were hanging around Jesus when he was up on the cross. (Apologies for the pun.)

Were they also beaten savagely? If Jesus was being tortured, surely they would have been, too: fair game all around, bloodsport, everyone gets a hand in, that sort of thing.

So we have The God being tortured by humans, and some humans being tortured by humans. Ho-hum. Just another day of the ultimate Roman punishment.

Someone should make a film about prison rape. I'll bet a crucifixtion can't hold a candle to the real-life tortures within our own penal system.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 AM on February 27, 2004


I always understood that they didn't beat and torture the other crucified prisoners. They didn't even nail them to the cross, but instead tied them up there with rope. They paid extra special attention to Jesus, what with the politics and the followers and the preaching and all.
posted by jpoulos at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2004


Odd. I understand the Romans didn't much give a flying f*ck about the Christ: they just wanted an end to the Jewish unrest. I don't see that they'd be particularly interested in torturing him when their sole goal was to just get rid of him.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:46 PM on February 27, 2004


FFF, bear in mind just how much satan hated Jesus-satan tempts man to sin all the time, how much more so to be so incredibly brutal to the Son of God?
posted by konolia at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2004


As usual, konolia's verifiable evidence clinches the argument. ;^)
posted by squirrel at 2:19 PM on February 27, 2004


It's absurd to suggest that your mythical Satan was twisting the minds of the Romans as Christ hung on the cross, when a far more sensible suggestion is that Mel Gibson was grossly exaggerating for effect. Nail him and stab him, sure; flail whopping huge chunks of flesh off him just for fun, I think not.

Besides, if it had been that violent, surely the gospels would have mentioned it.

As an aside, Job 1:6-2:10 describes how Satan can do only that which God allows him. Another one of those bizarro twists that makes one question the sanity of the religion.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 PM on February 27, 2004


squirrel, as a girl growing up in Korea, my wife told me that the SM aspects of the Gospels were *exactly* why she liked church and immersed herself in the bible. Much later, on seeing *A Clockwork Orange*, she nearly peed herself laughing at Burgess/Kubrick/McDowell's accuracy.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:14 PM on February 27, 2004


"It was my rabbit to help the prison Charlie with the Sunday service. He was a bolshy great bastard, but he was very fond of myself. Me being very young and now interested in the big book. I read all about the scourging and the crowning with thorns and I could viddy myself helping in and even taking charge of the tolchoking and the nailing in. Being dressed in the height of roman fashion. I didn't so much like the latter part of the book which is like all preachy talking than fighting and the old in-out. I like the parts where these old yahooties tolchok each other and then drink their Hebrew vino and getting on to the bed with their wife's handmaidens. That kept me going."
posted by jpoulos at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2004


Besides, if it had been that violent, surely the gospels would have mentioned it.

Isaiah 53


1
Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed
.
6
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
posted by konolia at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2004


For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
Hold on a sec--which people is whoever wrote that referring to? and why was it due?
posted by amberglow at 8:31 PM on February 27, 2004


Amberglow, that means He died for our sins.
posted by konolia at 8:36 PM on February 27, 2004


Isaiah is old testament, as you know, konolia. You can't cite that as an account of the crucifixion.
posted by jpoulos at 8:38 PM on February 27, 2004


jpoulos, ever hear of bible prophecy?

Yes, that was written hundreds of years before the Crucifixion, and yes, it was still about Jesus. Lots of other things in Psalms and the Major and Minor Prophets.
posted by konolia at 8:49 PM on February 27, 2004


Yes, the delusions of schizophrenics often have an airtight internal consistency. It's that they're nowhere moored to reality that makes them problematic.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:21 PM on February 27, 2004


Adamgreenfield, we aren't talking about Philip K. Dick here.
posted by konolia at 9:30 PM on February 27, 2004


No, we're not. At least one decent movie was made from his books.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:51 PM on February 27, 2004


Yes, that was written hundreds of years before the Crucifixion, and yes, it was still about Jesus.

:::cues Twilight Zone music:::
posted by rushmc at 11:26 PM on February 27, 2004


Zing! We're gonna make 500!
posted by squirrel at 11:39 PM on February 27, 2004


GaaaaahhHhh!

I don't think I can handle this simplistic, no-thought religiousity any more!

It's like watching New York City from ten thousand feet above as the electrical grid collapses -- what should be a bright, shiny network of light starts going dark section by section. Kinda like a brain, normally abuzz with thought processes, switching itself off so that it can blithely accept whatever crap it's been told to accept.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:38 AM on February 28, 2004


What was that originally referring to, before it was applied to Jesus?
posted by amberglow at 10:07 AM on February 28, 2004


It was a prophecy of the coming Messiah. There are a lot of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. The Jews were looking for and expecting a Messiah to come but because He came first as the Suffering Servant they didn't recognise Him. They were expecting him to arrive as the Conquering King. (When you hear a reference to the Second Coming that is how Jesus is coming back as.) Even His own disciples expected Him to overthrow the Romans and set up His Kingdom as a political entity at that time. And that is also why the pharisees and Sanhedrin were freaking out about Jesus. They didn't believe He was who He said He was, and they were terrified that Rome would take Him seriously and depose them from the limited power they had, or worse. They also thought He was blaspheming, but in any case they thought of Him as extremely dangerous and wanted Him gotten rid of. The kicker was when He raised Lazarus from the dead.

So it was the political and religious establishment that wanted Him done away with.
posted by konolia at 10:39 AM on February 28, 2004


thanks, konolia...and we still don't believe it. : >
(Thinking about it--based on the little I've been told about the whole messiah thing, and that no one I know, rabbi or regular jew, is actually waiting for a messiah to come save us or help us or even talks about it or considers it important (we're supposed to do for ourselves and help each other)--I still think that a messiah would have power, both earthly and otherwise, and that it wouldn't even be a question of not recognizing or recognizing one--it would be obvious and evident. I wonder where i picked that notion up.)
posted by amberglow at 10:50 AM on February 28, 2004


I guess those Jews are really stupid people. The old testament spelled it all out for them, and they still missed recognizing the messiah when he arrived!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 AM on February 28, 2004


I guess we are ; >
posted by amberglow at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2004


Is the egg on my face showing?
posted by squirrel at 2:07 PM on February 28, 2004


Oy vey!

Seriously, konolia, wouldn't those expectations be based on Biblical prophesy? And if so, how come those prophesies were wrong but not the ones you want to point out with 20/20 hindsight?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:21 PM on February 28, 2004


None of the prophecies are wrong, just some unfulfilled yet. People back then didn't realize that the Messianic prophecies were two-parters. Jesus is definitely coming back, and this time it won't be as a baby.

I do need to make it clear that whether or not the Jews recognised Jesus as Messiah the first time around, He would still have had to die for the sins of humanity. The Bible seems to indicate that God purposely made it so they didn't recognise Him the first time, actually.
posted by konolia at 6:42 PM on February 28, 2004


I just reread Isaiah 53 up there.

I really do love Jesus. I really really do. What an incredible thing He did for us...

I know most of you don't understand.
posted by konolia at 6:47 PM on February 28, 2004


I know most of you don't understand.

That's where you're wrong, konolia. Some of us have been there and done that. I was a born-again myself in high school and college ("evangelical Catholic" is probably more apt). I made all these same arguments to people who "just didn't get it" like I did.

Only when I began to learned enough about science (and I use the term loosely--not necessarily chemistry, et al, but social sciences, psychology, the whole scientific principle) did I become born again into atheism. I, for one, am not ignoring what you're saying or failing to understand it. I have spent much of my life considering it, absorbing it, living it--and only then rejecting it.

I completely respect your passion for your beliefs (while I know I have been disrespectful to you in the past, please know that I regret it). But don't simply assume that because we disagree, we just haven't "seen the light". I've seen the light, I just looked really close and realized it wasn't what I thought it was. Much like those who mistake weather balloons and jet planes for UFOs.
posted by jpoulos at 8:42 PM on February 28, 2004


I think Luke 18:16-17 sums it all up rather nicely: be as a child. Believe with all your heart and soul and mind that Santa Claus is real. Never question your parents, for your parents are all-knowing and all-powerful, and must be listened to. Remain naive, for the world is too big and too complex to be understood.

In short, remain stuck in Piaget's pre-operational stage.

I guess religion is okay for those that don't want to take their minds and lives any further than that. It at least provides an okay set of core moral laws and a community of like-minded supporters. Good enough for most day-to-day living, although it starts to really fumble and fall when you get out into the larger world and need to deal with people who aren't like you.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:29 PM on February 28, 2004


You really don't understand what I meant. Faith is a key that opens a lot of doors of interaction with the Almighty. I have interacted with Him enough for the past 23 years for my faith to be strengthened quite a bit. This isn't a matter of me straining with my eyes shut saying"I believe, I believe," with gritted teeth. I've experienced healings, I've experienced true miracles, I've experienced Him telling me things ahead of time, I've experienced miraculous provision, I've experienced peace when the peace itself was a miracle, I've experienced strength to endure things that were almost unendurable...
posted by konolia at 3:20 AM on February 29, 2004


no one I know, rabbi or regular jew, is actually waiting for a messiah to come save us or help us or even talks about it or considers it important

amberglow, you're a New Yorker, right? Haven't you seen those MESSIAH IS COMING! signs? Hint: that's not the Episcopalians.

jpoulos: Well said.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on February 29, 2004


I know most of you don't understand.

That's an extremely condescending remark, konolia. Though it seems to be an exception, one of the things that bothers me about outwardly religious people is that they frequently expect respect for their beliefs while giving none in return.

This is true even when they deal with people who are equally devout but practice a different faith. The fundies who are popping a boner about Roy Moore putting the Ten Commandments in a courthouse would be the first to protest if he was engraving passages from the Koran instead.
posted by rcade at 6:31 AM on February 29, 2004


languagehat, even the hasids (who are a weird bunch anyway) don't live their lives thinking that. Some of them even think their dead rebbe was it (the lubavitchers?). The bible doesn't say you should shun most of the world or dress like your ancestors in 18th or 19th century clothes or worship your rabbi like he was god himself, but they do that, too. I wouldn't use them as an example proving anything, but as a strange sect (like the amish). They wouldn't even consider me Jewish.

konolia, you're kinda right--no one can truly understand the extent and parameters of someone else's faith, but i do understand and respect that you hold that faith.
posted by amberglow at 7:00 AM on February 29, 2004


even the hasids (who are a weird bunch anyway) don't live their lives thinking that. Some of them even think their dead rebbe was it (the lubavitchers?)

Yeah, that's the Lubavitchers (and the ex-rebbe in question was Menachem Scheerson-Lehmann, as an irreverent friend of mine calls him). Actually, some of them (and other Hasids) do live their lives thinking that, and the whole was-he-or-wasn't-he-Moshiach issue has caused something of a schism among them. But I agree they're highly unrepresentative of Jews in general; I just was amused by your remark in the context of a city that probably has the greatest number of "Moshiach is coming!" types of any in the world this side of Yerushalaim.
posted by languagehat at 7:16 AM on February 29, 2004


I have interacted with Him enough for the past 23 years for my faith to be strengthened quite a bit.

And what if he doesn't exist, as remote a possibility as you believe that to be? Say, for a moment, for the sake of argument, that he didn't. What would that say about your state of mind these past 23 years?

This is the perspective of those of us who don't believe in his existence.
posted by rushmc at 8:58 AM on February 29, 2004


konolia, I think that for you, your religion benefits you. You seem to derive a lot of strength from it. And as long as you do not let your religion become political, I've got little problem with it.

I also think that you're absolutely deluded. I think all the things that have you convinced you've got a hotline to God are just a fascinating example of the power of the brain to fool itself. It's a variation of the placebo effect.

I'm mostly okay with you being deluded. That's partly because I don't know you from Eve, and partly because I desire people to realize their potential by whatever non-harmful means do the trick for them, and partly because I don't think you're particularly politically active.

At the same time, I'd like to see you get a grip on reality. Thus we end up with these discussions and debates on religion. You're powerful and good with your religious delusions... which means without them, you'd be unlimited in your abilities! I find that very exciting.

A world where everyone is self-aware, self-empowered, and understands the necessity for informed consent will be a world that's finally idyllic.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on February 29, 2004


These healers you speak of, konolia, do they vibrate?

I really, really wish that some tiny bit of that tambourine and mirrors hokum that passes for divine intervention among the devout would actually pan out, that is stand up to even the most cursory investigation.

The good that presumably comes from sham visitations is the greater community bonding that results from these in-group affirmations.

The bad is that you have a bunch of babbling yo-yos who believe that they have a direct line to the mind of God and are therefore superior to the laws of humanity. And as I indicated above, that's a dangerous, antisocial position.

And, languagehat, before you step into another phone booth and emerge as caped defender of the picked-upon, note that konolia keeps coming back for more.
posted by squirrel at 10:25 AM on February 29, 2004


None of the prophecies are wrong, just some unfulfilled yet. People back then didn't realize that the Messianic prophecies were two-parters.

This is precisely on point about what I was trying to get at. How is it you, in advance of a supposed second return, are able to make this distinction but the observant believers prior to the events of the first visit you have faith did occur could not? You both had access to the same set of words in the Torah, after all, and presumably faith is faith and your God, being the same, would reward both of you with the same understanding of them.

Also, you seem to have a fairly literal belief in the Bible, since you keep quoting specific language, but why is this when there are several major translatations in the English language alone?
posted by billsaysthis at 11:28 AM on February 29, 2004


You both had access to the same set of words in the Torah, after all, and presumably faith is faith and your God, being the same, would reward both of you with the same understanding of them.

Herod believed enough of it to send troops to Bethlehem to slaughter all boy babies age two and under (when Jesus was born.)

And actually after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, the reason so many Jews came to believe was that the Scriptures (Old testament ones since the new hadn't been written yet) were preached to them, bearing all these prophecies. The Book of Acts can give you a bit of the picture of back then.


How many of you would believe if you thought you could continue living exactly the same lifestyle as you do now? Just curious.
posted by konolia at 11:58 AM on February 29, 2004


konolia, you're kinda right--no one can truly understand the extent and parameters of someone else's faith, but i do understand and respect that you hold that faith.

rcade, amberglow knew what i meant when I said you probably didn't understand. I mean, you DON'T understand why I love Jesus, right?
posted by konolia at 12:02 PM on February 29, 2004


thanks, konolia--maybe it's because I have faith too--it's just very different : >

But did so many Jews join this new religion? Does anyone know for real? We know that Rome eventually adopted Christianity officially, no? (sort of in a trickle-down or imposed way) But does anyone know if the early Christians (beyond that core group that hung out with him and was there) were former Jews or former pagans, etc? It was Paul who really made it an organized religion, no? Did he target Jews or all the other people? (Jews were always a minority in the greater region, and still are.) You'd think there'd be better pickings in the other people.
posted by amberglow at 12:12 PM on February 29, 2004


How many of you would believe if you thought you could continue living exactly the same lifestyle as you do now? Just curious.

Do you honestly think that atheists are just small minded hedonists who internally wish they could be religious but won't, because then they'd have to stop drinking beer, or something? That is seriously delusional. I don't think I'd have to change my "lifestyle" much except in that whole "actually use your rational mind" category. Questioning how or why things are a certain way or ought to be a certain way - really trying to understand the world and my own existence - is central to my "lifestyle" and I have no interest in giving that up. And frankly, if I were god, I'd be pretty annoyed with religions that preach a suppression of that fundamental capacity...

There's no evidence Herod had baby boys killed outside the bible. There's really no evidence for Jesus at all outside of the bible, and the books of the bible weren't written until long after jesus's death. It took about 300 years until Christianity became seriously mainstream (we should check back on where scientology is in a few centuries...). Christianity picked up more of the roman pagan holidays (easter & xmas were pagan dates) & believers than it did of Judaism.
posted by mdn at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2004


But did so many Jews join this new religion? Does anyone know for real? We know that Rome eventually adopted Christianity officially, no? (sort of in a trickle-down or imposed way) But does anyone know if the early Christians (beyond that core group that hung out with him and was there) were former Jews or former pagans, etc? It was Paul who really made it an organized religion, no? Did he target Jews or all the other people? (Jews were always a minority in the greater region, and still are.) You'd think there'd be better pickings in the other people.

They didn't even start talking to Gentiles till Acts 10. After Peter preached to Cornelius (a centurion) and his relatives and close friends (which he only did to begin with because God told him to in a vision) he got in deep trouble with the other believers because he went to "uncircumcised men" (Gentiles.) So apparently Gentiles weren't even considered a target till then. Bear in mind that on the Day of Pentecost (that would be Acts chapter 2) three thousand Jews from various nations were added to the believers. Paul started out as Saul, and under that name he persecuted the church till Jesus literally knocked him off his high horse. Altho he did preach to Jews he was basically called to the Gentiles while Peter was called to the Jews.
posted by konolia at 12:57 PM on February 29, 2004


Do you honestly think that atheists are just small minded hedonists who internally wish they could be religious but won't, because then they'd have to stop drinking beer, or something? I've talked to people that basically said something along those lines, yes.

(Not all Christians are total teetolators. Depends on the culture. Among my group a glass of wine or two once in awhile is no problem-we just don't make a big deal of it because in the South in general people think Christians shouldn't drink. I have heard that in Spain real Christians don't drink coffee-under that criteria I and most of my friends would be in some difficulty. heh.)
posted by konolia at 1:02 PM on February 29, 2004


How many of you would believe if you thought you could continue living exactly the same lifestyle as you do now? Just curious.

I'm afraid I just don't understand this question. Being religious wouldn't require the slightest change in my lifestyle, with the exception perhaps of spending a few hours in church.

What kind of lifestyle do you think I live? I'm getting the idea that you might believe I'm a whore-monging sex fiend continually coked-up and engaged in petty theft and puppy abuse when I'm not encouraging children to discover their inner homosexual.

In reality, there's a very good chance that I live a more moral life than even you.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:40 PM on February 29, 2004


Well, speaking AS a whore-monging sex fiend continually coked-up and engaged in petty theft and puppy abuse when I'm not encouraging children to discover their inner homosexual, I can swear it makes no difference in my lifestyle to have religion. Bill Bennett says the same. ; >
posted by amberglow at 2:08 PM on February 29, 2004


note that konolia keeps coming back for more.

That's right, and she's perfectly capable of defending herself. I'm not trying to defend her, I'm just expressing my bewilderment that so many people seem to get such pleasure out of repeating the same pointless arguments to her in thread after thread. You know perfectly well she's not going to change her mind, so you're just doing it for the pleasure of hearing yourself talk. Hey, it's a free country. But I find it a little weird.

I do, however, thank you for ranting about "babbling yo-yos"—it will give me a handy quote next time the more pious atheists start telling me it's all just pure intellectual discussion, nobody's insulting anybody.
posted by languagehat at 3:50 PM on February 29, 2004


konolia, I'll tell you the same thing I'll tell God the Father on judgement day, should all that big-throne-long-white-beard stuff prove to be true: I believe what I am able to believe.

And languagehat, you're right about the babbling yo-yos. I was wrong to use that language. My point about their danger to society stands, though.
posted by squirrel at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2004


Konolia, sorry, my question was why didn't the pre-alleged time of Jesus observant Jews understand that there would be two visits from the Messiah? My (moderately educated) Jewish understanding is that Humanity will only get one visit from that Being. I'm still trying to understand the different translations thing.

Also, to answer your question, I think I live a pretty moral life even according to the lifestyle rules set down in the New Testament. That is, in the way I treat myself and other human beings. Having your kind of faith wouldn't change that.
posted by billsaysthis at 4:23 PM on February 29, 2004


You know perfectly well she's not going to change her mind, so you're just doing it for the pleasure of hearing yourself talk.

Some share your motivations for posting, languagehat; others differ. But do you see how binary thinking has trapped you into a false certainty? People post here for lots of reasons, big L.
posted by squirrel at 5:17 PM on February 29, 2004


jpoulos,

Proof that this thread is too big.
posted by john at 6:46 PM on February 29, 2004


I actually saw Clockwork Orange, years ago. Read the book, too.
posted by konolia at 6:53 PM on February 29, 2004


How many of you would believe if you thought you could continue living exactly the same lifestyle as you do now?

How's this: I will put my "lifestyle" and "morality" and good behavior from my first day right up to this one up for comparison with yours, straight across the board. Can you say the same?
posted by rushmc at 7:46 PM on February 29, 2004


Guys, it was just a question. Don't get yer knickers in a knot. And it isn't a question of who racks up the most good deeds in a given time either. I was simply thinking of a fellow I knew-who was an atheist-who told me straight up that the reason he didn't believe is that he knew he would have to change if he did.

rushmc, I'd hate to be you on a sleepless night at three in the morning, contemplating the void. I'm not trying to be funny. I just can't imagine truly being an atheist without going totally insane. Honestly. I know you don't want my pity so I won't give it. But I am still sad for you.
posted by konolia at 8:18 PM on February 29, 2004


rushmc, I'd hate to be you on a sleepless night at three in the morning, contemplating the void.

So you're saying that faith is a good substitute for prescription sleep aids?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:32 PM on February 29, 2004


told me straight up that the reason he didn't believe is that he knew he would have to change if he did.

I expect that was more his reason for not actively following a religion, than for his lack of belief.

I just can't imagine truly being an atheist without going totally insane.

And I can't imagine subjugating my reason to the easy solace of (what I see as) an imaginary friend, I'd rather face my fears and the void with a clear head and my own counsel than play make believe. So I guess I'm sad for you, too. :)
posted by biscotti at 9:32 PM on February 29, 2004


konolia, I should be clear that I respect that your faith is heartfelt, and I mean you no disrespect with my rather harsh (on rereading it) honesty.
posted by biscotti at 9:47 PM on February 29, 2004


I'd hate to be you on a sleepless night at three in the morning, contemplating the void.

Would I be better off pretending it didn't exist?
posted by rushmc at 11:07 PM on February 29, 2004


It's official. I just gave notice at my job so that I could spend more quality time with this thread.
posted by squirrel at 11:16 PM on February 29, 2004


I'd hate to be you on a sleepless night at three in the morning, contemplating the void.

not to be flippant, but this is one of my favourite things to do, 3am or otherwise. contemplating the void is not necessarily a scary thing at all. hey it's 3:01 am (est) right now, heh.
posted by t r a c y at 12:02 AM on March 1, 2004


t r a c y: Is the void contemplating you back?
posted by biffa at 2:44 AM on March 1, 2004


So you're saying that faith is a good substitute for prescription sleep aids?

For me, absolutely. I used to have terrible insomnia as a child. One of the instantaneous benefits of being born again was I was able to drop off to sleep in a reasonable time frame. Before then it was always a minimum of 2 HOURS. Cool, huh?
posted by konolia at 5:15 AM on March 1, 2004


The human brain works in mysterious ways.
posted by rushmc at 7:56 AM on March 1, 2004


Whatever gets you through the long night...
posted by jpoulos at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2004


It's official. I just gave notice at my job so that I could spend more quality time with this thread.

I'm beginning to think we can make it to 400...
posted by languagehat at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2004


t r a c y: Is the void contemplating you back?

heh, i have no idea. but i never feel lonely or scared like religious people say they would, if they didn't have their god. i'm perfectly comfy not having any answers and flying without a net.
posted by t r a c y at 8:53 AM on March 1, 2004


When we die, we absolutely cease to exist. There are no regrets, no wishes, no desires: there is nothing. And that makes our opportunity for life and joy and making a difference for future generations that much more precious.

The religionist position discounts our earthly existance. The sooner one dies, the sooner one enters the perfect happiness of heaven. By that standard, life isn't really worth living: it's death that's the thrill.

Consequently, by the religionist mindset, there's no reason to make this world a better place. It's just a temporary, ghetto-quality life, to be tolerated until such time one departs to heaven. Anything done that's good, is done only because it makes it more likely to get to heaven.

I prefer my beliefs: life is a one-shot deal, short and sweet, and so we'd all best do as much as we can to make the most of it for ourselves and for those that follow us. Celebrate now, and appreciate the opportunity we've been given!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 AM on March 1, 2004


And that makes our opportunity for life and joy and making a difference for future generations that much more precious. ... life is a one-shot deal, short and sweet, and so we'd all best do as much as we can to make the most of it for ourselves and for those that follow us. Celebrate now, and appreciate the opportunity we've been given!
That's exactly what the religion some of us hold says. Not all religions are about going to heaven or hell, and it's a mistake to generalize that way.
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on March 1, 2004


The sooner one dies, the sooner one enters the perfect happiness of heaven.

Actually, fff, I have already entered eternal life, have already entered the Kingdom of Heaven. There is life and purpose here still. If I die tomorrow, I will be with the Lord, but in a real sense I am already with Him now.


Anything done that's good, is done only because it makes it more likely to get to heaven.

Good deeds don't enable you to go to heaven. Having the life of God in you is what gets you to Heaven. The fact that goodness ensues is because of His life because He and only He is good.

If death was really only the cessation of existence for those who refuse Christ, it would be tragic enough. But there is such a thing as a second death.
posted by konolia at 9:14 AM on March 1, 2004


I find it very, very sad that you say the things you do. I quite like you in most respects, and I feel considerable pity when you show such deep faith in something that is such a lie. You could be so much more, if only you'd let yourself!

But that's not to be your path, and at least what you do believe is a useful tool for you. It's not the best tool for the job, but every bit helps.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2004


FFF, you baffle me. But I like you too.
posted by konolia at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2004


[hugz]

See, languagehat, it all works out in the end. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2004


*Lower lights, cue swanky music*

(We'll never reach 400 like this!)
posted by squirrel at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2004


So it's settled then. We've decided that...um...what have we decided again?
posted by jpoulos at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2004


we are the sparkly snowglobe on some random alien child's bedside table.

group hug...!
posted by t r a c y at 11:51 AM on March 1, 2004


*Needle skips and skritches*
*Playback resumes at "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash.*
posted by squirrel at 12:47 PM on March 1, 2004


But wait!

The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.

"The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film," said Gary Smith, owner of the Movies at Berry Square in northwest Georgia.


This could change everything. And I mean everything!
posted by squirrel at 4:12 PM on March 1, 2004


I'll bet they're holding the tickets upside down. Or the ticket-stamping machine only goes up to three digits. Or maybe it's the beginning of the mark of the beast. Go figure that Mel would bring on the apocalypse! Can't trust those Aussies.

Didja know the most-distant galaxy is some 13 000 million light-years away?

The universe is far, far larger than the mind can even begin to comprehend. Pretty cool that we teeny-tiny things get to take a part in it all!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:35 PM on March 1, 2004


Actually, fffish, we're huge. The universe goes just as far in the other direction, too.
posted by squirrel at 5:48 PM on March 1, 2004


Oooh. That's deep. I need to go find myself a stoner and toy with his brain now!

I could find this on the web, but I'll ask it here: do we (humans, or we, the earth) fall into that "middle size range" of objects?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on March 1, 2004


I need to go find myself a stoner and toy with his brain now!

You mean you need another one?

...do we (humans, or we, the earth) fall into that "middle size range" of objects?

Yes, exactly the middle. Who would have thought? But if scale cascades forever within and without, is it possible to pick a middle point?

Oh, I meant, "middle point, dude?"
posted by squirrel at 7:14 PM on March 1, 2004


It's threads like these that make me glad I don't do drugs anymore. ;-)
posted by konolia at 7:21 PM on March 1, 2004


Nuts to you, squirrely.

Religion's the opiate of the masses, konolia. What's that about not doing drugs?

[actually, tv is the opiate of the masses in this day and age. might be better off if it were religion instead.]
posted by five fresh fish at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2004


Just came home from the movie. (I took my mom) I tried to keep an open mind. But...man. Didn't like it.

I have this picture of Jesus as kind of a hip, sweet guy that told people, "C'mon people now. Smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now." Whether or not he really was the Son of God seems irrellivant to me. He was a guy who wanted everyone to try to get along.

This movie focused entirely on his death, not the glory of his life. To me, this is like hearing that a good friend of yours died in a car wreck, and you try to find meaning by figuring out what type of cars were involved.

Anyway, my meager input. It's a stinker, the shroud of Turin scene was cheeseball, and I'm going to have nightmares from that Satan-baby thing. Ick.
posted by ColdChef at 8:54 PM on March 1, 2004


Well it is a death cult. Heck, they eat their dead God and slurp down his blood.

And it is intended to make megabucks from the movie-watching public. This culture wants violence, not sweetness.

Time for a remake of Clockwork Orange, methinks!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on March 1, 2004


We like to think that self proclaimed Christians are merely sadly misguided in their beliefs and so fall short of their potential, but it is far more likely that they have no more potential, which is why they ended up sadly misguided individuals, and that they don't really believe anyway, they just talk it up every day to convince themselves.

How do we know what people really believe? They give up everything and walk the earth. How many of these do we know? Not too many. Talking the talk doesn't qualify anyone. Neither does going to churches, praying all the time, or "really feeling it in your heart."

We can say the bar is lower if we want. We can cut people slack and believe them when they tell us what they tell themselves, but where does that get us? I hope we try to be more skeptical of other people's claims, and don't sacrifice our potential as a culture to belief in the credibility of those whose claims aren't credible.
posted by ewkpates at 5:03 AM on March 2, 2004


Time for a remake of Clockwork Orange, methinks!

No way. They'd probably cast Jim Carrey as Alex.
posted by jpoulos at 6:56 AM on March 2, 2004


Interesting point, ewkpates. I suspect that guilt and fear about not believing enough fuels the kind of turmoil that finds release in spectacles like a two-hour evisceration.

Not to say that everyone who "believes" or who went to see this film has these motivations, but surely they account for some.
posted by squirrel at 9:10 AM on March 2, 2004


"O Lord, please don't burn us.
Don't grill or toast Your flock.
Don't put us on the barbecue
Or simmer us in stock.
Don't braise or bake or boil us
Or stir-fry us in a wok.
Oh, please don't lightly poach us
Or baste us with hot fat.
Don't fricassee or roast us
Or boil us in a vat,
And please don't stick Thy servants, Lord,
In a Rotissomat."


The not-believing-enough syndrome goes hand-in-hand with this "not so worthy as to gather up the crumbs under thy table" self-abuse theme.

True believers hate themselves, because God hates sinners and we can't help but sin.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on March 2, 2004


I am seriously amused that konolia admitted his/her religious beliefs were simply due to insomnia. So who's responsible for insomnia, God or Satan?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:28 AM on March 2, 2004


I am seriously amused that konolia admitted his/her religious beliefs were simply due to insomnia

Come on, that's not what she said.
posted by biscotti at 9:37 AM on March 2, 2004


"I'd hate to be you on a sleepless night at three in the morning, contemplating the void... [So you're saying that faith is a good substitute for prescription sleep aids?] ...For me, absolutely."

Contemplating the void and non-existance can be quite scary if one allows it to be scary. Once you settle into the fact that you've got one shot at things, it becomes very comforting: the value of life becomes far more focused, and one is motivated to Do Good and to Enjoy It All.

Life on earth becomes a precious thing, instead of a time of suffering to be endured until death brings you to what you hope will be a "better place."

A little thinking about absolute mortality would probably do our leaders well. They'd have to quit being so cocksure that they're on a personal mission from God and have a right to wage wars willy-nilly.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on March 2, 2004


I didn't infer from konolia that insomnia is the only reason she found faith. Still, I can certainly postulate a relationship.

FFFish, good points on the value of one-life awareness. We're going to drag this thread to 400 kicking and screaming.
posted by squirrel at 11:19 AM on March 2, 2004


True believers hate themselves, because God hates sinners and we can't help but sin.

If God hated sinners the Crucifixion would not have been necessary. I hate poop, but when my babies dirtied their diapers I didn't throw THEM out. I just cleaned the crap off them.

Y'all have some seriously mistaken views on the Almighty.

Look, be atheists or agnostics or bored or whatever you choose, but just know that the God you don't believe in is wonderful and really loving and really kind, infinitely wise beyond comprehension, very patient, very understanding, and worthy of every bit of love and adoration and worship that could ever exist. There are so many big lies about Him floating around, I can understand the confusion-but there is nothing and there is no one as totally fascinating and incredible as the Lord. And I waited until I found people who believed He was that way before I decided to give my life to Him. Boring churchianity ain't the way. JESUS is what it is about. It's just convenient to have a special location to go worship Him in, is all.
posted by konolia at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2004


konolia, I can sincerely dig your notion of God as a very wise and understanding existence. It strikes me as limited and more than a little human-centric, but if you must believe in a bearded, sandaled something, this seems okay.

Yet, doesn't it strike you as strange that so relatively few have access to your particular perspective? Doesn't it seem unfair that billions die without your particular notion of salvation and must therefore burn in eternal flames because no one cleaned up their poop? Especially unfair since the poop you speak of is invisible and has no smell? How is that just?
posted by squirrel at 11:59 AM on March 2, 2004


Romans ch 1 verses 18-25


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

God sees hearts, and it is faith that saves. If one exercises faith with the wee bit of light they have they always get more. Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness-and that was way before Jesus' earthly life.
I don't fully understand salvation but I know God, and if He went to the lengths He did as far as crucifixion is concerned, I know He will move heaven and earth for anyone who has a longing for Him. Even now there are areas in the world where He is appearing to people in dreams-these are places where it is a capitol offence to preach the gospel.
posted by konolia at 12:42 PM on March 2, 2004


Wait a minute. Are you seriously arguing that the eternal damnation of billions of souls is justified because those truly worthy of salvation inexplicably long for a Christian God that they never heard of? Even in, say, 3rd century A.D. central Africa?

You must acknowledge that since the death of Christ, billions have lived and died without ever hearing one word about the teachings of Christianity, in dreams or from burning topiary or otherwise. Since you "know God," konolia, and often speak with authority about His designs and will, please explain how their eternal suffering is just in His mind.
posted by squirrel at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2004


If someone rejects God, they deserve hell. But a lot hinges on the definition of "reject". And I highly suspect there's a lot of stuff on the subject that God hasn't told us.

To answer the question you pose, the truth is, I don't know. But I do know God, and I do know He CANNOT be unjust or unfair. On the other hand, I also know that a lot of you here DO know about what Jesus did. I will politely leave the rest of my thought unsaid.
posted by konolia at 1:55 PM on March 2, 2004


We're over 400, btw.
posted by konolia at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2004


And a beautiful thought it is, I'm sure. Not one of Christ's own, no doubt, but none of us are perfect. I felt God's love more when I got away from the church, and even more when I got away from the centralized structure that monotheism offered and into a more networked model.

I have a relationship with God that transcends the petty hithertos and wherefores of petty generations, including those that produced the Bible.

Keep tabulating the calculus of others' ruin, konolia. The only soul in hell is the one who creates and accepts it.
posted by squirrel at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2004


Arguing with a Christian is like trying to hump the bannister. Even if you get a good one in you just make a stain on the varnish, and there's nowhere to go but over the edge or on a long slide downward. Watch out for that burl knob at the bottom, squirrel.

I think Jesus is like Ralph Nader. He had some ideas and he piped up. He got shot down by some of his own. Others claim his lasting impression will eventually rise to overthrow the forces of darkness.

Which of them has inspired more bumperstickers we may never know.
posted by scarabic at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2004


Heh. Some points to ponder, bumper sticker man. I'll take your word on that banister, though.
posted by squirrel at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2004


"Jesus took the very wrath of God for sin on Himself so we would not have to experience it."

Your words, konolia. I note the use of "wrath," which is a pretty strong sort of description. Hate the sin but love the sinner is all well and good until you cast the poor bugger into a lake of fire. Tell me again that God doesn't hate sinners?

"...if He went to the lengths He did as far as crucifixion is concerned, I know He will move heaven and earth for anyone who has a longing for Him"

I fail to understand how getting crucified is any big deal for an almighty God. The guy's supposed to have made the universe, after all. When you're all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-eternal, crucifiction is child's play.

It occurs to me, at this moment, that your all-loving god that gave his yadda yadda to save us all, is the very same god who you say killed almost everyone and everything back in the flood.

Seems to me to be rather like those abusive, alcoholic fathers, who hugs you one moment, backhands you the next. Which, I suppose, explains why Christianity cowers and fawns over him simultaneously, like a beaten wife who sees no possible escape.

I could do some speculation on konolia's childhood and how it relates to her faith here, based on hints of her past life that she told in other threads.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2004


i'm calling for an immediate crucifixion of this thread. i don't think we can afford to wait the 3 weeks 'til it's officially closed.
posted by t r a c y at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2004


I've got some nails!

This thread went bad so that we don't have to.
posted by squirrel at 4:46 PM on March 2, 2004


what? nails?
posted by amberglow at 4:58 PM on March 2, 2004


I could do some speculation on konolia's childhood and how it relates to her faith here, based on hints of her past life that she told in other threads.

And you'd be wrong, probably. But that's okay.

I fail to understand how getting crucified is any big deal for an almighty God

Jesus experienced it as a man. He is/was just as much a man as He is God.

My pastor preached an awesome sermon awhile back explaining in detail exactly why the crucifixion had to happen-it would answer a lot of the questions here so much better than I could. If any of you are actually interested email me an address and I will send you a tape of it. You are all asking good and fair questions and altho I am answering them to the best of my ability I am really not an expert. Just because I have heard answers in the past that satisfied me doesn't mean I remember them well enough to communicate them to you the way they need to be communicated.

Oh, amberglow, don't get me started on those nail jewelry things. I have a feeling you and I share a similar opinion on them.
posted by konolia at 5:11 PM on March 2, 2004


Look, be atheists or agnostics or bored or whatever you choose, but just know that the God you don't believe in is wonderful and really loving and really kind, infinitely wise beyond comprehension, very patient, very understanding, and worthy of every bit of love and adoration and worship that could ever exist.

I'm pretty sure that this is one of the big sticking points in our ongoing disagreement. You tell us to "know" something that we've told you we can't accept. That is fairly arrogant of you, IMO.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.


These particular verses, which you mostly bolded, are funny to me because on the one hand they claim that God's nature is clearly seen and evident, yet previously you posted comments saying that faith is necessary. But such statements cannot both be true! So which is it, faith or clearly evident?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:32 PM on March 2, 2004


i'm sure we do, konolia : >

I think bill, it's evident if you're open to it, or something like that.
posted by amberglow at 7:04 PM on March 2, 2004


Jesus experienced it as a man. He is/was just as much a man as He is God.

He can't be "just as much a man" as the rest of us, because he's also god. A fundamental part of being human is that we are not gods; our powers are limited, we're fallible, we make mistakes and feel guilt. Jesus by definition could not experience these essential characteristics of being human. Since we're talking (not really, but - ) about violent movies, I'll mention 21 Grams, which certainly had its weaknesses, but was an interesting exploration of the power of guilt, of the need of human beings to be punished when they know they've done something wrong, this emotional drive to pay for what we've done, as well as to even the scales when we know someone else has done something wrong. In a civilized society we try to rationally mete out justice through a reasonably objective court, but it still stems from a fundamental desire to distribute ends in proportion to the actions of individuals.

Really there's something fundamentally unjust about the idea of jesus paying for everyone's sins. First of all, as suggested above, you can't really punish god - he's god; even in a human form, flesh wounds are meaningless to him, death is meaningless to him - these things are only frightening and terrible when the human form is identical with what you are. And secondly, surrogate punishment is fundamentally unjust. Punishing X when Y committed the crime is wrong.
posted by mdn at 7:30 PM on March 2, 2004


[konolia] And you'd be wrong, probably. But that's okay.

I hope so!

It's just that you've described a "wicked" past. Treading a drug-abusing/sex-abusing/"bad person" path generally indicates a childhood of abuse. Perhaps your idea of "wicked" and mine diverge significantly. I hope so, and I hope you had a sweet and wonderful and loving childhood!

[billsaysthis] You tell us to "know" something that we've told you we can't accept.

Yes, well. Us atheists only confuse the issue when we play along with the fantasy. Saying things like "God says this" and "I'll get to heaven based on my actions" and all the other claptrap. Very foolish to make-believe when dealing with these issues.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2004


Mdm, He was REQUIRED to be one of us, otherwise the crucifixion would not have done us any good. There is a difference between being God in a human form and being fully God and fully human at the same time. Jesus was the latter.
posted by konolia at 8:19 PM on March 2, 2004


fully human would mean he slept with mary magdalene and/or others, no?
posted by amberglow at 8:23 PM on March 2, 2004


Mdm, He was REQUIRED to be one of us, otherwise the crucifixion would not have done us any good. There is a difference between being God in a human form and being fully God and fully human at the same time. Jesus was the latter.

But do you see that that's irrational? To be fully human, he would have to not be a god. That's part of the definition of being human - being fallible, being limited, being imperfect, being guilty. was god fallible as jesus?
posted by mdn at 8:26 PM on March 2, 2004


To be fully human, he would have to not be a god

Not true.

I guess this is like trying to explain the Trinity, so we could simply agree to disagree and leave it at that.
posted by konolia at 8:58 PM on March 2, 2004


This was always the point of the discussion where my Sunday school teacher would say, "Well, there are some things that God doesn't want us thinking about too much. This is one of them, mkay?"

konolia's dodge ranks just below that one.
posted by squirrel at 9:09 PM on March 2, 2004


I just posted 420... duuuude!
posted by squirrel at 11:11 PM on March 2, 2004


I've skipped a couple of hundred comments before I go and do something productive, which I'll go back and read later, but I must say that vraxoin's first comment is incredibly eloquent and insightful, and mirrors many of the things I also believe. Except, as he notes, those beliefs do not in any way incline me specifically to be a Christian, although they have done for him.

And that's just fine. More than fine, it's excellent.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:17 PM on March 2, 2004


If "fully humans" can be god, then I can be a god.

I'm the god of oddly-curious pebbles, then. Bow before me, and keep a sharp eye out for agates.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:51 PM on March 2, 2004


Also : Honey, that was Princess Bride.

I know. I was riffing.

Also also : In Soviet Russia, void contemplates you!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:51 PM on March 2, 2004


Do you think Jesus ever thought 'What if I'm not the son of god, and I'm really just a nutter?'
posted by biffa at 2:32 AM on March 3, 2004


Do you think Jesus ever thought 'What if I'm not the son of god, and I'm really just a nutter?'

Actually, that's the heart of the theological argument that konolia is supposed to be making right now, but isn't. The real power of the crucifixion is only realized when Christ doubts the whole thing. "O Lord! Why have you foresaken me?" he says. At that moment, Christ experiences the utter despair that only a human can feel.

That's the counter-argument to the "how can the crucifixion hurt him if he's God" argument.

</devil's advocate, no pun intended>
posted by jpoulos at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2004


I loved the term "theological argument".

I've never heard one. I've heard "theological rationalizations" aplenty. And you know you're in trouble when Freud gets involved.

In Mathew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is a pretty useful philosopher. But the rest of the new testament mostly erodes that, especially Paul. Now Gibson has once again turned our attention away from Jesus's message to yet another rationalization for support of institutionalized religion and distraction from actual religious understanding.
posted by ewkpates at 9:13 AM on March 3, 2004


The more I read Paul's letters, the more I'm convinced he is, in Christian terms, corrupted by Satan. So much of his message contradicts the "love thy neighbour" philosophy of Jesus.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 AM on March 3, 2004


FFF, Paul was caught up to the third heaven and got his information from the Source. Peter himself stated elsewhere in the New Testament that some of the things Paul writes are hard to understand, and that is true. Much of what he wrote has got to be taken in context. But he's cool, and I can't wait to meet him.
posted by konolia at 11:16 AM on March 3, 2004


Don't forget the talking teacups!
posted by squirrel at 12:20 AM on March 4, 2004


Girl, you need to do some real research on Paul.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:38 AM on March 4, 2004


Jesus Demands Creative Control Over Next Movie
posted by homunculus at 3:55 PM on March 12, 2004


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