I’m writing in response to Brent Ables’ column concerning “The
Passion of the Christ” Although Mr. Ables makes some interesting
points concerning the delineation between media and real life, his
analysis concerning the redeeming value of the film (or absence of
said value) lacks perspective. He laments the fact that this movie
had the potential to carry a powerful message for its viewers, but
that message was lost in the wake of the extreme violence.
In his own words, “Gibson had the ability to bring those aspects
of Christ’s life to the screen that would have brightened the
spirits of believers … Instead, Gibson chooses to beat viewers
into submission with violence and dread.” What Mr. Ables fails to
consider, however, is that when telling the story of Jesus Christ’s
death, the violence involved is an absolutely critical component of
the overall message. Too often, Christians affirm their belief that
Christ suffered and died for them without really stopping to
consider what that would have entailed.
We consider the abstract implications of that idea, but not the
reality of it. Psychologically speaking, it’s natural to want to
gloss over the brutality of Jesus’ death, but in doing so we miss
out on the true nature of his sacrifice. In this sense, the
violence of “The Passion” represents a restoration of the meaning
to the story of Christ’s death, rather than detracting from that
meaning. The intent was not to “brighten the spirits of believers,”
but rather to humble them, and in my own experience, the movie
accomplishes exactly that.
Viewing this movie is by no means a pleasant experience, but it
has the potential to be a very valuable one. Mr. Ables’ conclusions
concerning the social and spiritual worth of “The Passion of the
Christ,” while noteworthy, are by no means universal.