Of course, it is Friday, and the weekly Krauthammer column is up. I have noticed the deviation of the punditry from the masses on this one issue. For some reason, they can't get their heads around Christianity whatsoever.
I have not yet seen Gibson's movie. I plan to...I'm half-looking forward to it, half-dreading it (like dreading a dental procedure, an aerobic workout, or a job interview...you know it's good for you, but you fear the pain involved).
Krauthammer (and countless, countless other pundits) all make the illogical point that Jews are portrayed in an especially bad light in Gibson's movie. Well, may I ask how many people groups are portrayed in total in this movie? Unless Gibson throws in a Samaritan or an Ethiopian somewhere, every character in the movie is either Jewish or Roman. Jesus is Jewish. Mary is Jewish. The disciples are Jewish. Simon of Cyrene is Jewish. Caiaphas is Jewish. The only major gentile characters are the Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate ("Citizens of Jewusalem...Wome is your Fwend!"). From what I hear, the Romans are vicious and brutal, and Pontius is accurately portrayed as a waffling politico who is confused but ultimately gives the Jewish leadership what they want in spite of better judgment, in desire to bolster his political stability.
Isn't it obvious? Most of the characters are Jews...this is a Jewish story, with a few Romans involved. Even in a literal sense, the Jews did not kill Jesus. Some Jews accused another Jew of something and convinced the Roman authority to crucify him. It's patently clear! Anyone who infers from the Gospel account of the crucifixion that "the Jews killed Jesus" is an illogical moron, who obviously carries enough inherent anti-semitism in him that he needed no such movie to stoke the fires of bigotry in his heart.
Concerning the graphic and shocking violence of the movie...anyone remember the critically celebrated "Schindler's List"? Couldn't that have been made less shocking and graphic? No, my friends, there is an obvious point. There is virtue in shock value...not as a cheap way to spice up low-budget horror flicks, but to jar the viewer into a sense of reality, that this really occurred, and is not simply entertainment while imbibing overpriced soda and popcorn.
Look at "Schindler's List" again and see the parallels. You see a group of people (the Germans) portrayed almost exclusively as vicious, brutal, and evil. You see a German (Schindler) who is good and just. The story of Christ's death isn't hardly as black and white. Only the Jewish political leaders are painted as being malevolent. The parade of sympathetic Jewish characters (listed above) overwhelms the idea that the Jews are pictured as an evil race in this movie. Does your average upperclass American Jew really fear that your average Ned Flanders style evangelical Christian is going to see this movie with his family, and then get his church fellowship group to drive to the upscale 'burbs and drag Jewish families into the streets for a lynching?
And the idea that this movie is bad because it might be used to justify brutality is as repugnant as the idea that the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" is bad because Charles Manson cited it as his inspiration. The song, which is a very good song by the way, is a silly loud rock song about a tornado slide at a playground. It was written and recorded because Paul McCartney wanted to outdo the Who for being considered "the loudest rock band in Britain". What backwards, faulted logic.
I will say, the Jewish community would do well to pick its fights more wisely! The outcry over this is alienating its strongest allies, the Christian evangelicals, a thousand times more than this movie ever could. You want a pro-Israel stance? You won't get it from secularists or Islamists. I mean, we collectively feel a bit betrayed like Michael Corleogne in Godfather II. "Fredo, I know it was you...and it breaks my heart." Disclaimer: NO I AM NOT DRAWING ANY FURTHER PARALLELS OR IMPLYING THAT WE SHOULD APPLY THE FISHING BOAT DOOM OF FREDO TO ANYONE WHATSOEVER.
OK, done ranting.