“The Passion of the Christ” makes a difficult story into an even more difficult movie. I’m not a Biblical historian, so I can’t speak to its accuracy in portraying Christ’s final hours. I’m not an expert on the subtleties of historical interaction between Jews and Christians, so I can’t speak with authority on the claims that this movie is anti-Semitic. I am just a 19-year-old Christian struggling to understand Jesus, a social reformer and prophet, a man who is said to have died for my sins and risen from the tomb.I was not offended by Mel Gibson’s film, but I’ll say right at the outset that I did not enjoy it. If Gibson’s aim was to make the viewer feel either the pain of Jesus or the guilt of a Roman centurion, then he has succeeded on both counts in my case. My intention here is not to deride a movie that may be a very powerful force in the faith of devout Christians during this season of Lent. I only wish to state my general dissatisfaction with the exclusive vision of Christ as crucified Lord that this movie presents. In itself, the traditional view of Christ as “Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world” is a venerable part of the Christian tradition, but this film is an excellent example of how narrow this view can become when separated from complementary visions.The intensity of Gibson’s focus upon the torture and crucifixion of Christ effectively denies his viewers the hope of the resurrection. Granted, the final minute or two of the film has the stone rolled away from the tomb to reveal a risen Christ, but the final frame is that of light shining through the hole nailed in his palm. The viewer is never allowed to forget the pain endured or the sacrifice made. While Christians should always be mindful of this facet of the life of Christ, we must also celebrate Jesus as prophet, as a social reformer, as a healer, as a servant and as one who welcomed all to his table. While a very few of these facets are presented through flashback, they are all secondary and easily overshadowed. This film successfully lifts up Jesus as the son of God, sacrificed for our sins, but in doing so, it denies Christians the opportunity to understand the humanity of his life, actions and teachings and inspires us to “put on the Mind of Christ” in our own lives. Gibson intersperses various flashbacks to the teachings of Jesus throughout “The Passion.” Placing his words, through which he shared a transcendent wisdom with his followers then and now, between graphic scenes of his torture and death on the cross is a gross misappropriation of focus on Gibson’s part. While Christ’s death is a tragically beautiful example of ultimate compassion, the true power of Jesus lies in his transformative teachings. Christians everywhere should continually be spiritually challenged to new understandings of these words and their mystery, but Gibson has offered instead the comparatively simple task of surviving two hours of graphic violence.Adair can be reached at cadair@campustimes.org.

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