My husband and I had a fight on the way to Bellevue, and the O’Tuesdays where we ate with our group was about the worst restaurant I’d ever been to. So by the time we were seated for our showing of Passion of the Christ I was not in the best of moods. I allow that may be why I did not care for it. Yes, I felt moved. But I also felt very much as though I was being compelled through artifice to feel moved. Anyone who watches a person endure torture and doesn’t feel moved–regardless of their feelings about the person being tortured–has issues that should be seen to in therapy. But the movie didn’t change me. It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. And it ended without the resurrection, so as far as I was concerned it was no missional piece. It was just Bible-themed torture porn.
So WHY did it make more money than a Dasani machine in Hell? I keep reading articles about that, and those articles are everywhere now that Noah is on the way. Some people theorise that it’s because anything with Jesus will sell to the Evangelicals. Other people bring up the violent aspect and suggest (more politely than I just did) that the extreme level of violence appeals to some moviegoers.
I went with my Sunday School group. Many people did; in fact everyone I know to have seen it saw it with a church group. We all got discount tickets via a special package sold through our churches (an issue that troubled me as it tread closely to moneychanging, I thought.) But that’s not why everyone went.
Dear Hollywood: Everybody went to see Passion Of The Christ because Mel Gibson sold himself as a Member Of The Team. We didn’t go to see Jesus. We didn’t go for a cheap date. We didn’t go to see a man beaten bloody and suffocating to death.
We went because Mel went to every TV show and magazine in the English-speaking world and told the story about when they filmed the crucifixion scene it was a closeup of HIS hand driving the nail. And every one of us knew that to be a very deeply personal expression of Christianity because we know the verse that says “when you sin you crucify Christ anew.” We knew that Mel was One Of Us.
Nothing will motivate Christians faster than to give One Of Us a position in what many of us see as The Enemy Camp. We are in a schizoid culture of faith. We want to believe that Christian presidents and politicians are a natural and frequent occurence, yet we believe that Christians in “the media” (eg. films and television and newsertainment) are rare as hens’ teeth and often barred from positions higher up the food chain than coffee girl. So when you tell us that The Biggest Movie Star In The World is part of the faith and that he spent his own money in defiance of The Studios to make this movie about Jesus…well, you’ve just passed the biggest offering plate in the world.