Feb 252004

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.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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