Wednesday, March 31, 2004

text from Smile at Me
image noticed at new rags: the wonder of the gospel of grace

Many groups are struggling against such gross evil that at times it seems the ends justify the means, but that is another truism taught when we were young, "the ends never justify the means". Console one another, support one another. Commit a random act of kindness for no reason other than charity. Do not accept anything for it, stay as anonymous as possible. It will drive people crazy trying to figure out what you're up to.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

[from grrrl meets world in this context]

Today, I noticed Unedited Ravings placed me as a link on his blog. Feel free to check him out.

Monday, March 29, 2004

[noticed at Unedited Ravings in this context]

New mediums of expression unlock new places within the soul... and old places that have lain dormant in the shadows.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

[if you're in Saskatoon]

Worship Freehouse tonight

8:00 p.m. at the The College of Emmanuel and St. Chad :: 1337 College Drive

Saturday, March 27, 2004

[noticed by Al Speegle in The Door Magazine's Chat Closet]

The theological implications of The Passion of the Christ proved too much for one God-fearing American couple last weekend when what began as a discussion on the content of Mel Gibson's movie ended with Georgia natives Sean and Melissa Davidson spending a night in police cells, each charged with battery.

"It was the dumbest thing we've ever done," Melissa later admitted. "We both called the cops on each other. It was just one of those stupid things."

The problem, in a nutshell, was that Sean left the cinema believing that the Father referred to in the Holy Trinity was a human being, whereas his wife interpreted this in more symbolic terms.

---from Mel's Passion too much for Georgia couple

The Fashion of the Christ?

[noticed by Eric from The Door Magazine's Chat Closet]

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sometimes it's a thin line between bargaining and exploiting.

Monday, March 22, 2004

[noticed at renaissance girl]

There are moments between people when something happens. Something non-physical, non-verbal, inexplicable--mystical. It often doesn't make sense within the normal parameters of what usually contributes to the development of such a relational connection, key factors being time and shared experience.

I'm not writing about love at first sight, or even romance for that matter. It certainly can be romantic, but the connection I'm referring to can also be purely platonic. I usually find this connectivity in making eye contact with others, but it doesn't happen with everyone. There is something I cannot deny in the eyes of some strangers, in some of my acquaintances that draws me to them, that evokes greater compassion, desire to relate. It is an unspoken kinship that often never becomes fully actualized. Somehow the experiences of these people, their thoughts, dreams, and fears, resonate deeply within me like monsoon thunder in July.

I know this, whatever it is, when I see it. I am always thankful to find it. And when I do, I find my mind more at peace, my heart more fully beating" -Cameron Lawrence

Sunday, March 21, 2004

[noticed at scottyd]

With so much happening in the world,...that counters peace, human rights, freedom, and equality, it is easy to become disillusioned and think that one person in 6 billion can so little, if anything. But... Ghandi hoped everyone working for a better world could show evidence in their own lives for what they desire in the lives of all people.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 13

[referred via TheyBlinked]
In a broad sense, "The Passion," as well as the controversy that stalks it, is an extension of the very long struggle for narrative control over the life and mission of Jesus. We, the American public, are given the impression that the discussion about the movie and its main character is a discourse between folks on both sides of a curious hyphen in the Judeo-Christian ambit, with Rabbis and Jewish intelligentsia expressing their fears that the movie will inspire anti-Semitism and with Christians denying that.

The irony here is that Muslims are perfectly poised to offer a view that no one seems to be talking about. What "The Passion" depicted in chilling imagery is but one narrative among several about Christ. ...

The Muslim "middle" view here is not a self-conscious act of officiating a religious debate between Jews and Christians. Our understanding and beliefs regarding Christ are essentially identical to the beliefs we have about Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad: all prophets, all humans, sent by God to teach humanity certain things that should keep us guided and clear in our very brief lives. ...

In an important way, "The Passion" is an accidental expose about the religious sensitivities of our times, about a wounded spirituality that seems to require sensationalism to keep the faithful going. This is a point that men and women of religion may all agree upon and observe in their respective flocks. Mel Gibson unwittingly may have done a service in raising issues indigenous to the human spirit that the postmodern world seems to shun, issues about God, prophets, salvation, mercy, and hope. It's a vital conversation with divides and alliances, passions and perils, but a conversation that nonetheless can stand to hear the "middle" view that Islam naturally offers.
---from Muslim Passion For Christ by Ibrahim N. Abusharif

(seen at Wendy Cooper)

Authenticity and community

If I have to conform to be accepted, am I accepted at all? Of course not. If I have to fake my life in order to people to accept me, I am saying, "I am not worth being accepted as who I am", only as they think I should be.

(seen at Mark's Blog)


You did it this time.
You did it.
Did what?
You broke trust.
I know.
I don't know if you do.
What do you mean by that?
If you knew,…
you wouldn't have done it again.
But this time I'm really sorry.
No more sorry than last time.
But I am sorry.
Maybe. . .
I'm sorry,…
what more do you want?
I want it to have never happened.
But it's done.
Is it?
It is in the past…
but is it done?
I don't know.
Well then how can you be trusted?
I don't know.
What do you know?
I wish I didn't do it.
I know.
What do I do now?
I don't know.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 12

[noticed at Beliefnet] the earliest Christian writings we see a different understanding of the meaning of the Cross, one which, shockingly, didn’t think it was important for us to identify with Jesus’ suffering. For contemporary Christians it’s hard to imagine such a thing. The extremity of Jesus’ sacrifice has been the wellspring of Christian art and devotion for centuries. It has produced great treasures, from late Renaissance paintings of the Crucifixion, to the meditations of Dame Julian of Norwich, to Bach’s glorious setting of “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded.” Mel Gibson’s “Passion” arrives as the newest entrant in a very old tradition.
A funny thing happens, however, if we press further back in time. Before the Middle Ages, depictions of the Crucifixion show very little blood. Though the event itself was no doubt horrific, artists preferred to render it with restraint (like the Gospels, but unlike Gibson). The visual elements in an ancient icon of the Crucifixion are arranged symmetrically, harmoniously, and the viewer is placed at a respectful distance. The depiction is not without drama: Mary and the disciple John, at the foot of the Cross, reel in grief. But Jesus does not reveal any sense of torment. He is serene, almost regal.
---from What Mel Missed by
Frederica Mathewes-Green

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 11

[noticed at the Mail and Guardian online]

Neatly, the Passion seems to be serving both God and Mammon: the powerful evangelical movement in the US hopes to use the film to "sell" Christianity to non-believers. Outreach, a Christian marketing organisation, has described the film as "perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2 000 years". But not all churchgoers are happy to see the Bible turned into a blockbuster. Ole Anthony, who runs a Christian media watchdog, told CBS: "They're trying to put God in the spiritual supermarket and try to market him like they do Madison Avenue -- it's a shame."
---from Passion pulls in the multitudes

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 10

[noticed via open book]

Today's American passion plays, like the granddaddy of them all at Oberammergau, offer paying customers titillation and brutality, good guys and bad guys, and casts of biblical proportions. But unlike Oberammergau (and Gibson's "Passion"), they tend to be rather upbeat. Some refuse to restrict themselves to the last days of Jesus's life, setting his trial and execution against his teachings and miracles. Others, like the popular "Glory of Easter" play staged annually at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., emphasize the resurrection over the crucifixion.

Like most drama, these performances traffic in the illusion of reality. When it comes to passion plays, however, this illusion is particularly dangerous -- and theologically distorting. If we were to travel back to Oberammergau in 1900 we would probably find it difficult to suspend disbelief. But audiences at the time were transfixed, transported from modern Bavaria to ancient Jerusalem. The actors played their parts "with absolute realism," one American pilgrim reported, and even Krauskopf called the play "realistically rendered." ...

But what other than blind faith informs such endorsements? Even if we take the Gospels as gospel, we simply do not have enough information to squeeze out anything close to a two-hour movie. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not screenplays, or even treatments of them. To make a Jesus film based on the Bible you have to go outside it (as Gibson reportedly did, consulting the visions of a female mystic recorded in "The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ"). You have to make millions of idiosyncratic choices about dialogue, sequence, action. You have to choose this line from John rather than that line from Luke. And you have to make things up.

Among the most monumental choices Gibson made was to restrict himself to Jesus's final 12 hours -- in other words, to make a passion play. Having made that choice, Gibson inherited an unholy host of genre-specific conventions not only from medieval European anti-Semitism, but also from the ancient thirst of drama for conflict.
---from at Honest to Jesus by Stephen Prothero

Sunday, March 14, 2004

[noticed at The Invisible Sun right here]

I've seen far too many activists who are not the answer. Their head answer is largely correct, but the energy, the style, the soul is not. So if they bring about their so-called revolution, I don't want to be part of it (especially if they're in charge). They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer, in fact they are often part of the problem.
" That's one reason that most revolutions fail. They self-destruct from within. Jesus and the great spiritual teachers primarily emphasized transformation of consciousness and soul. Unless that happens, there is no revolution. Where the leftists take over, they become as power seeking and controlling and dominating as their oppressors because the demon of power was never exorcised.

" We've seen this in social reforms and in lay and feminist movements. You want to support them and you agree with many of the ideas, but too often they disappoint. The need to be in power, to have control, and to say someone else is wrong is not enlightenment. There's nothing new about that. That's the old paradigm. I wonder if Jesus was not referring to this phenomenon when he spoke of throwing out the demons (leaving the place "swept and tidy") and then seven other demons return making it worse than before (Matt. 12:45). TOO ZEALOUS reforms tend to corrupt the reformers, while they remain incapable of seeing themselves as unreformed. We need less reformation and more transformation.

---from Next Reformation

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 9

[noticed at NewsMax]
Controversy may make Gibson’s film a “happening” and draw a general audience to the most talked about movie of our time. People who are not attuned to the film’s religious message are likely to receive a message different from that which Gibson had in mind. They may see a story of a dissenter who paid for his dissent with his life.

The unjust mistreatment of Jesus will bring home the cost of nonconformity and daring to speak truth to power. Many may emerge from the film with their courage weakened and with second thoughts about the wisdom of questioning authority.
---from The Passion's Message by Paul Craig Roberts

Friday, March 12, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 8

[noticed at the Christianity section at]

But there is a problem with this theology, with this piety, and with this movie, a fatal flaw at the very center of Mel Gibson's faith, as well as the popular forms of contemporary Christianity that this film reflects. As Mel Gibson's Passion so powerfully illustrates by negative example, the suffering of one human being, even if it happens to be Jesus of Nazareth, is not sufficient to make all things new. For however bloody and painful the death of Jesus was in fact--and this movie pulls out all the stops in making that suffering clear--ordinary people in the world today, two thousands years after the time of Christ continue to suffer and die just as he did and in the same old ways as victims of ruthless violence, and they do so in the same old places, such as the streets of Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Baghdad, not to mention the awful, violent deaths occurring weekly, daily, hourly right here, much closer to home. Was the death of Jesus on the cross any more ghastly than the deaths not long ago of nearly 3000 human beings in the towering infernos of the World Trade Center, where, within a few painful minutes, these thousands were burned, asphyixiated, crushed, pulverized or buried alive? And as this bloody world turns, such deaths continue daily, hourly, minute by minute such that we are incapable of counting, let alone remembering them.

I happen to believe that the world will not be saved by the repetition of such violent stories, but rather by the saving acts of a loving God who reaches out to each and every one of us in ways that are as numberless as they are real. Today in contemporary America we are fixated upon violence both fictional and real, and I am afraid that Mel Gibson's film is a symptom of that fixation, rather than its cure. What the world needs now is the good that can come from God, and all of God's people acting in concert to repair this broken world, not a ritual of violent sacrifice from which some still believe the good may flow. In American today we need to listen to the words of the prophet of old, who put it quite plainly: "I desire steadfast love and not your bloody sacrifice." Hosea 6:6 -- translation mine.
---from Mel Gibon's Passion, reviewed at

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 7

[noticed at the Conversation Cafe in the reviews section]

My second viewing as an educator and with my Jewish friends in spirit reminded me of 1993 when I was invited to speak on the topic "Is the Christian Bible Anti-Semitic?" to teachers in a Jewish school. A teacher in that school taught comparative religions and took a class to a church so her students could experience a Christian service. The pastor made some statements to the effect that all Jewish people were lost and going to hell, and the teacher and students left traumatized by this approach and what they considered anti-Semitic sentiments read from the Christian Bible.

My comments on that day are very similar to my response as an academic worldview thinker to The Passion of the Christ. Jewish literature historically reflects variegated opinions. For example, the Talmud contains discussion and debate, and notes disagreements via majority and minority opinion. Disagreements over truth-claims in Jewish tradition do not equal or warrant bigotry or racism. As literature written by those with Jewish roots, the Gospels and other Christian biblical writings also record the variegated opinions that surrounded Jesus. Just as the Torah was and has been "interpreted" differently by Jewish groups, so Jesus has been and is "interpreted" differently as a Rabbi, Liar, Lunatic, Revolutionary Threat, Prophet, Messiah, and Lord. Three of the Gospels were written by Jewish people who became convinced based on certain lines of evidence that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Tanakh. Thus, the Gospels are best viewed as "legal briefs" that contain evidence leading to the legal conclusion that Jesus is Messiah, written in the spirit of Deuteronomy 19:15.
--from the review of The Passion of the Christ by John Geib

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

(yes, this is going on and on...but hey, it's lent, right? *smile* )

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 6

[noticed on AKMA's Random Thoughts]
When I pre-reveiwed the movie, I cited the absence of heart of the gospels from Gibson's Passion. I was wrong, insofar as Gibson does introduce some very brief flashbacks to Jesus' ministry, but I was right that one would never develop from those short scenes any sense of the Jesus of the gospels. Jesus heals the Roman soldier's ear, but we see no program of healing; Jesus utters pithy sayings, but we see no career of teaching in parables or of wisdom teaching; the Jesus who suffers through this Passion doesn't offer us a sense of what the suffering is all about. The Gospels show little interest in abstract "sin", and great interest in the shape of a life that follows Jesus. Gibson shows little interest in the contours of Christian living, and a genius's obsessive fascination with Jesus' remediation of "Sin".

At the end of the film, I was shaken and drained. I earnestly hope I will never again see such harrowing scenes of brutality. My appreciation of the physicality of the crucifixion has increased tremendously. My anger at the way that Christians casually emphasize general Judaic responsibility for Jesus' horrible death, while they trivialize or shrug off Rome's blame, has grown also. My sense of the historic embroideries of the Passion tradition has modulated from detached curiosity to engaged fascination and repulsion. My faith, such as it is, was perhaps least affected by the experience; what I saw this afternoon involves my feelings more than my understanding of who God is.
--- from The Mystery of The Passion at AKMA's Random Thoughts

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 5

[noticed by JeffRock at The Door Magazine's Chat Closet]

People view Christians as self-righteous. They see believers as thinking they have all the answers. They see us as confrontational, militant, ready to ambush them with a sales-pitch for Jesus.

This very thing happened this morning in Dallas. A crowd of believers and unbelievers filed into a cinema, experienced a work of intense and complicated art... something that requires a good deal of time for recovery afterward... something that requires contemplation.

But just as the credits started the roll, and while the music was just beginning to soar... the system was shut down.

A team of ministers appeared on stage.

The gospel was explained and an altar call was held.

Some filed out... believers and unbelievers alike... astonished that they were not allowed to absorb the film and think about it. They were ambushed, taken advantage of, while in a state of high emotion.

This is wrong... just plain wrong. It is presumptuous, arrogant, and manipulative. And I believe it is further hardening people's hearts, making them not want to have anything to do with a religion that does not allow them to experience something for themselves and have their own thoughts about it.
---from A letter to Christians. How should the Church respond to The Passion of the Christ?

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 4

[noticed by The Door Magazine]

There are no "winners." No one comes off looking "good" – except Jesus. Even His own mother hesitates.

As depicted, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day merely do what any of us would have done – and still do. They protected their perceived "place" – their sense of safety and security, and the satisfaction of their own "rightness." But everyone falters. Caiphus judges. Peter denies. Judas betrays. Simon the Cyrene balks. Mark runs away. Pilate equivocates. The crowd mocks. The soldiers laugh. Longinus still stabs with his pilus. The centurion still carries out his orders. And as Jesus fixes them all with a glance, they still turn away. The Jews, the Romans, Jesus' friends – they all fall.
--from The Last Word by Jody Dean in the latest The Door Magazine, emphasis mine

Friday, March 05, 2004

Even a loser can win...

The Door Magazine (formerly The Wittenburg Door)

The Door Magazine (formerly The Wittenburg Door)

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 3

[noticed by Unedited Ravings]

From audiences around America, I am encountering bitterness at Jewish organizations insisting that belief in the New Testament is de facto evidence of anti-Semitism. Christians heard Jewish leaders denouncing Gibson for making a movie that follows Gospel accounts of the crucifixion long before any of them had even seen the movie. ...

Many Christians who, with good reason, have considered themselves to be Jews' best (and perhaps only) friends also feel bitter at Jews believing that The Passion is revealing startling new information about the crucifixion. They are incredulous at Jews thinking that exposure to the Gospels in visual form will instantly transform the most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators.

---from Rabbi says 'Passion' protests do more harm than good by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 2

[noticed by Al Speegle in The Door Magazine's Chat Closet]

So what's the problem? Why is Mel getting pounded for making this movie? It's too easy to claim that Mel is just another victim of routine Christian-bashing. What is going on is a disconnect in how different people see the movie.

Mel (and most Christians) see this movie in an intensely personal way -- "Jesus did this for me, because of me, to save me." And they're right. That's what the movie is about. It's a theological, artsy movie dealing with the cosmological vanquishing of sin by the Sin-Bearer, Jesus, God Incarnate. That is Mel's message and his only message. If you are a Christian (as I am) you see this easily.

Whereas most Jews see the movie very differently. Jews see this as yet another medieval Passion Play, featuring evil Jews running a kangaroo trial for Jesus, evil Jews scourging Jesus, evil Jews turning Jesus over to Pilate, evil Jews screaming for the blood of Jesus, evil Jews calling down the blood curse on themselves, evil Jews building the cross. And they have a point. Now that I've seen the movie, I think they have a very serious point. Scene after scene shows a large crowd of Jews baying for blood. The vast majority of the movie's Jewish characters are in this crowd. Which gives a very distorted view of reality, because in fact, the proportion of Jews involved in the death of Jesus was probably very small. In the Jerusalem of that time, the vast majority of Jews would happily have elected Jesus their king in the hopes that he would crush the Romans and set up a theocracy, the Kingdom of God, here and now. Jesus would have refused that option, but the Romans and the Jewish aristocracy were terrified that he would accept it. All this is clearly spelled out in the only decent historical documents we have for this episode, the four Gospels in the New Testament.

A historical fact is that Passion Plays in medieval times were flash points for anti-semitism. The Passion Play is an intensely emotional experience, and it sometimes led rather directly to the murder of "Christ-killers." That is not likely to happen here and now, not in modern America. But I am less sure that it won't happen in eastern Europe, or Russia, or anywhere else in the world where anti-semitism still lives. Since Gibson's movie does not address the issue of anti-semitism, or even take any steps to counter it, anti-semites can easily take away a message of hate that Gibson never intended. That's a shame. Mel was warned, but he didn't listen. To be fair, his critics chose some poor tactics, but he chose to mostly ignore them.
---from About Mel Gibson's Passion Movie by Randall Ingermanson

Since The Passion of the Christ is in theatres...part 1

[noticed by Eric in The Door Magazine's Chat Closet]

It’s a curious thing to consider the immediate versus the underlying causes of Christ’s death. On the one hand, according to the story, he had to die, and he came to offer up his life of his own accord. No one group therefore is inherently culpable for his death. All humanity is collectively guilty since it was our sins that he came to deal with. On the other hand, the biblical account gives a fairly accurate rendition of how an innocent man became the pawn in a game played between two competing power structures.

It’s a fascinating piece of case law. The Jewish high priests can’t condemn a man to death for breaking their own Sabbath laws, but they can insinuate the effects if the Roman rulers don’t execute him. Caiaphas accuses Jesus before Pontius Pilate of the political crime of sedition—if he claims to be King of the Jews, then he won’t pay tribute to Caesar. By implication, Pilate will face a usurper if he does not immediately quell the uprising, and will have to answer to Rome for not executing Jesus.

Christ is not killed by either the Jews or the Romans. He is killed because the Jews don’t want him and the Romans can’t have him. For the Jews, to let him live means harboring a false prophet; for the Romans, continuing his life means freeing a known political terrorist. But these accusations are only tossed by each group at the opposing system of power—Jesus is not guilty of either crime, and this is so whether or not he truly is the messiah. As he says to the former charge, “If I have done wrong, then tell me what I have done,” a question to which his accusers are mute. Of the latter charge he tells Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

The story is so arranged (or so happens) that Christ falls through the cracks of a he-said, she-said argument. In between two competing definitions of justice, Christ falls guilty to neither party, but his death continues to show that true justice is foreign to this world. Guilty of no crime, he is ultimately the “victim” of political necessities much smaller than his own purpose.
--from Metaphilm's review of The Passion of the Christ