Thursday, February 26, 2004

Peace, all. I thought I would see it, but now I'm leaning against it. Some friends want to go out to see The Passion of the Christ on Friday, and as fortune would have it, our daughter will be at a friend's home for a sleepover. So the movie followed by dinner is well within the realm of possibility (except perhaps for the meal after the movie idea). It's hard not to bump into a movie review somewhere, and I admit these comments color my choice on this movie, especially the violence. I'm thinking Gibson's extended scenes of imagined scourging are not going to play well in my imagination. My wife, sensibly enough, seems dead-set against going, which may give me a convenient out. Once I heard a teacher rehearsing a young class for Stations. My heart sickened as the little kids were urged to shout with enthusiasm, "Crucify him, crucify him," and I had to leave the church. Not that I duck out for Holy Week, but I have to say that when I was preparing to become a Catholic in 1970, the people's participation as the crowd never rang right with me. When I was a teen, I started non-participation in the missalette stuff, and I continue my closed mouth today. Many years ago I was struck by a Palm Sunday strip of Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse in which the boy is watching a Jesus film, and his mother finds him upset by it. Michael professes he would never have participated in the mob demanding death. I felt confirmed in my non-compliance with Paluch. I'm moved by the profound liturgies of Holy Week, and I wouldn't dream of missing my diet of two liturgical Passions a year. A skilled single person proclaiming the Passion is always better than the semi-Passion plays we're force-fed by missalette publishers and the Roman Missal. But thankfully, the Church gives us 364 days a year with the Last Supper commemoration, and only two with the Passion. Maybe there's some perspective there. In one day, Mel has made back half his investment on his cinematic passion play. Good for him, I guess. I'm inclined to believe that keeping Jesus' suffering on screen or the stage might make it easier to stay blinded to the ways in which we enact cruel tortures on the other sons and daughters of God around us. The issue for me is not Gibson's anti-Semitism, but the devilish inhumanity around us we keep quiet about. Yesterday, two girls returned to school from a brief duty at the beginning of 8:15 Mass upset that they had done something wrong, when in reality an older priest did not review his outline sheet in detail. Their only fault was to get caught between a few confused adults, one of whom found the Mass to be an occasion to be publicly upset over a simple misunderstanding. So maybe this Lent will be a better time for doing, rather than spectating. WWJD? Probably not sitting in a theatre. Maybe I'll keep watch for little kids getting trampled by today's angry mobs. But I'm interested to hear if anyone had a significant experience, either by going or staying home.

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