The controversy surrounding the movie “The Passion” has already
been well publicized in the media. That is not the purpose of this
letter. We have not seen it, so we cannot speak with authority.
However, we do know that there will be reactions to this film. Hate
it or love it, be inspired by it or enraged by it, reactions will
vary depending on the individual and where that individual is
coming from when they walk into the theater.
For Jewish students, they may be appalled at what has been
described as the film’s depiction of the Jews as culpable for
Christ’s crucifixion. From a Jewish perspective, this reopens an
issue that has been a prime cause of anti-Semitism for almost two
millennia. Such a doctrine was officially and strongly rejected in
1965 in the Vatican II Reforms. The fear of the potential
anti-Semitism the film could unleash could derail nearly 40 years
of improved relations between Judaism and Christianity.
For Christian students, they may feel inspired by the message of
Christ’s suffering and salvation, and it may reinforce their faith.
Or they may feel repulsed by what has been described as the film’s
extremely gory and graphic detail – a full 45 minutes of this
R-rated film. Or they may feel that the emphasis on the brutal
suffering takes away from perhaps an even more important Christian
message – that of love.
Any viewer may be concerned that “The Passion” is presented as
fact, as history, when accounts of the final days of Christ vary
from source to source, gospel to gospel. Certainly film, in all its
potent visual splendor, leads an audience to believe it is reality.
And the images that become etched in a viewer’s mind are indelible.
Are these the images we want to leave? This is, at the end of the
day, Mel Gibson’s personal rendition of the source material – the
choices were his. And he is a filmmaker, not a theologian.
The point of this letter is to let you know that there are
places you can come to talk about your reactions to the film. Here
are a few:
Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus, is located in
N16 of the student organizations offices in the basement of the
Lory Student Center. Hillel at CSU is part of a statewide
organization that is part of a worldwide Jewish college student
organization that offers a safe and comfortable environment for
students to explore and celebrate their Judaism and for interested
non-Jewish students to learn more about Judaism. For more
information, call 491-2080.
The Listening Post, a safe place where students can come to be
heard and accepted and explore ideas, is located in the Flea Market
of the student center every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For
more information, call Pastor Connie Winter-Eulberg, Lutheran
Campus Ministry, 482-2160.
The University Counseling Center, and its new referral center –
The Wellness Zone – located in the student center. For information
and appointments, call 491-6053.
We hope that instead of “The Passion” being a polarizing and
divisive force, we can use it as an opportunity to open up the
lines of communication for continued interfaith dialogue.