[Marxism] Sander Hicks on The Passion
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 28 15:14:09 MST 2004
Confront the Violence of the State:
Sander Hicks Reviews "The Passion of the Christ"
Saturday, February 28, 2004
This goes out to my brothers and sisters on the Left, the anti-war
activists, the anarchists, the socialists, the liberals, and the atheists.
I saw "The Passion of the Christ" and as we waited in line in a theatre
packed to the gills, I felt like I was a part of some kind of revolution.
This film has struck a nerve in the populace, people are coming out to see
it in droves. We've got to stop the judgmental tittering about it. We've
got to go out and see it, and pass out flyers and pamphlets and speak out
to the crowds who pack the theaters. There are connections to be made
between the message of Christ, as portrayed in Passion, and our anti-war
Jesus Christ confronted the violence of the State. He did it 2000 years ago
and this film has him doing it right now. If you're into taking a stand
against modern day slavery, the violence of imperialism, then Christ is
with you. Even if you think the old definition of God is dead, well, Jesus
agrees! He was here to put away the definition of a jealous, patriarchical,
vengeful warrior God, and to declare a new era of peace. As Christ's slow
torturous execution winds its way through this film, there are effective
flashbacks to Christ's ultimate message, at the Sermon on the Mount, and at
the Last Supper, when he steels his comrades to get ready for persecution
in this world of power. He commands us to choose understanding over hate.
Consciousness and love instead of attachments to revenge. He tells Peter to
drop the sword, he wants Peter to allow him being over to the soliders.
Jesus knows that the best way to get his message across, to impact history,
is to let himself be executed by the hypocrites that he came to liberate us
There's way too much judgement of this film on the Left, from people who
should be supporting it. On NPR, I hear commentators harping on irrelevant
details, claiming the wood of the cross doesn't look authentic enough. They
don't get what this film is for. The all-out resistance to war that Christ
calls for is too much for them.
There has been loose talk about anti-Semitism in the film. It's true that
Mel Gibson's father is a holocaust-denier. Gibson would be a better
Christian if he renounced these false views publicly. In the meantime,
though, his film works, it's accurate, it coincides with the best
scholarship of the time of Christ. The Temple courts didn't have the legal
right to execute criminals, so they had to manipulate Pontius Pilate into
executing Christ as a rebel against Rome. Gibson is even more compassionate
to the Pharisees than the Gospels. When Christ dies on the cross, an
earthquake rips the Temple in two, and Caiphus, the chief priest, weeps. He
seems to realize he's been completely on the wrong path.
Now, this film is bloody. But I walked away from it with a
never-before-felt respect for Mel Gibson. He made an artwork without trying
to please the crowd, he didn't serve anyone but the truth. The film is full
of accurate historical/anthropological details. For instance, scholars of
history tell us that the whips that scourged Roman criminals were laced
with shards of iron and sharp bone, designed to turn a human being into
bloody hamburger. Criminals often died under the scourging, or lost their
minds in the process. In this case, the cops of Rome beat Christ to within
an inch of his life. We see just enough of the excoriation to be moved, but
the camera isn't sadistic. The scourging is one of the most effective,
balanced scenes. In the theatre last night, a hardened modern audience
collectively wept. At one point, the barbs of the whip stick in Jesus's
side, and the sadistic young Roman soldier grinning and spattered with
blood, has to jerk the whip back to get it free. Christ's flesh is ripped
in a way you feel in your gut.
There's something accurate about group psychology in The Passion that I
really enjoyed. Part of the film's horror is the raw alienation that Christ
went through, more painful than anything was the betrayal and abandonment
he felt by the crowd. 11 of his 12 apostles fled the experience. One of
them gave into his own devils and literally sold Christ out. There's a
sneering paranoid quality to the jittery grins of the Roman soldiers that
reminded me of the NYPD at a protest, or the jocks back in high school, as
they surrounded a kid who was different.
"The Passion of the Christ" was made outside the Hollywood system. Yet when
it opened last Wednesday, it set a record Box Office gross, fifth highest
for a Wednesday opening. One of the distributors said, "I think people feel
like Hollywood has not given them a film like this, and now they've stepped
up and said, 'We're here.""
The masses are responding to the story of history's biggest peace activist.
Is the "Peace Movement" going to be a part of this groundswell or is it
going to miss this big beautiful chance to make connections with the people?
For more on this subject, and how Bush's Christianity is actually a pseudo
Christian "Blood Cult" see this excellent piece by Navy Vet Wayne Madsden
The Pontiff "wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the
possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations."
And, according to journalists close to the Vatican, the Pope is also
concerned that the 9-11 attacks were known in advance by senior Bush
administration officials. There is a perception within the Roman Catholic
hierarchy that a coup d'état was implemented, giving Bush near-dictatorial
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