22 March 2004

A Murderer Ushered Into Paradise

Well, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, goodbye and good riddance. How ironic that a man who will send women and children into Israel strapped with explosives is posthumously labelled a "spiritual leader" by the major news outlets. I would venture to say I'm as irked by their usage of the term "leader" as the term "spiritual". This man exhorted his followers to martyr themselves for Islam, and he was constantly surrounded by bodyguards. What a dastardly, pitiful excuse for a human being. A hearty OO-RAH for Israel today, they've struck back. It's stunning to read the Palestinian reaction...for example, a man lamenting that "their bodies were shattered" by the missile strike. Does that not sound like a perfect description of the aftermath of the suicide bombings? But not just militant, terrorist thugs...we are talking about little boys and girls, mothers and fathers, grandparents...civilians. I'll shed no tears for Yassin.

Finally saw Mel Gibson's movie this weekend. A (literally) stunning movie, one of those experiences that seems to transcend just a show on a screen. Ultimately I believe that faith is what is behind the controversy. To those that know Christ...those that believe and know the Gospel...this is a glimpse at the horrific reality of the Crucifixion. To those that have rejected Him, its pointlessly violent and fixated on one particular event to excess. Those are the people who want more of a balanced story...they've come to the theatre to see art, and to be entertained, or at least enlightened. Mel's movie is not about entertainment (obviously), and is not really a backdrop for intellectual pondering. It is simply evocative of intensely deep emotion (although the word Passion is unrelated to our current English usage, in this context, it does seem to have some coincidental application). I do not mean this as a criticism in ANY way. That is merely the scope of his film...he sets out to break our hearts with the suffering of Christ, and most would agree he succeeds.

Now as for anti-semitism, HORSEFEATHERS. All the lame, wobbly arguments that this is anti-semitic flew out the window after I saw this movie. We could start with Satan. I don't know if anyone else saw this, but this man was 100% Vladimir Putin. As white as white can be, boys. Imagine if Satan was portrayed with darker skin...can you imagine the outrage? These things are subtly overlooked, when people desire to find bigotry where there is none. The Romans were picture perfect Europeans...lighter skin, Latin language (which would form the basis of French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian, and influence many other European languages). Neat close cropped hair and clothing that seemed far more Western than Oriental, when compared to the Jewish ceremonial dress. Yet these were the most savage men depicted in the film, as evidenced by the scourging scene. The scene where Satan walks among the crowd of Jewish men was cited as "anti-semitic" by Krauthammer. For one, there were no other people groups around for him to walk through, which seems blazingly obvious! And secondly, the scene was much deeper than that...you had Mary walking along one side of the street, and Satan on the other. Let us not discount the Catholic roots of this movie (nor unduly criticize them!). I will say, the vast majority of "good" characters in this movie were Jewish. Simon of Cyrene, John, Peter (despite his failure!), the dissenting Pharisees, Mary Magdalene, and of course, Jesus himself. The only non-Jewish good characters were Claudia (Pilate's wife), and to some extent, Pilate himself, who was painted as a "decent" man, but one given to pragmatic concessions, instead of moral clarity.

"Quid es veritas?"

No comments: