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March 2005

 

Mel plans 'Miracle' film: "First Mel Gibson made 'The Passion of the Christ' ó now he's planning to make a movie about the miracle of Fatima. The 'Braveheart' actor will bring to life the story of three peasant children who were said to have been given a prophetic vision of the future by the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917." See Mel Gibson's "Passion"

July 2004

Jesus actor mistaken for the real deal: "James Caviezel has been swamped with requests to perform miracles by Mexican fans who believe he really is Jesus Christ. The 35-year-old actor, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, was on a one-week tour of the east Mexican state of Veracruz. According to Mexican newspaper Reforma, dozens of residents from villages throughout the state, one of the poorest in the country, asked Caviezel to heal the sick and perform other miracles as he passed through." Caviezel doesn't claim to be Christ, but his image as Christ deceives many. Luke 21:10 and Mel Gibson's "Passion"  

May

Passion of the Christ raises questions among Buddhist audiences: "The Passion of the Christ has left viewers stunned and questioning the religious meaning of Christís violent death since the blockbuster film directed by Mel Gibson was released April 29th in the overwhelmingly Buddhist country. ... Some Christian Churches and the Bible Society in Thailand worked to offer an explanation to the film as moviegoers entered the cinema."

       Let's pray that God use this movie to draw the people to Himself. Prayer

April

 'Passion' to be tough act for Hollywood to follow (Registration required): "The success of 'The Passion,' coupled with the remarkable popularity of the 'Left Behind' series... suggests there is a pent-up demand for religious-themed entertainment....

    "Reality-TV producer Mark Burnett has chosen 'Daughter of God,' based on a novel about a female messiah, as his first feature-film project.... 'The war between good and evil is a basic plotline,' says Elaine Pagels, the renowned biblical scholar, whose book 'The Gnostic Gospels' was one of the primary historical sources for 'The Da Vinci Code,' another religious-themed thriller with wide popular appeal. 'It comes out of biblical sources, but it's been a plotline for 'Star Wars,' for `Lord of the Rings' and for 'The Wizard of Oz.'' ...

     "Though Pagels considers the prospect horrifying, she concedes that a 'Left Behind' picture directed by Steven Spielberg 'could be very powerful. If they use Revelations, and the image of Jesus as a warrior triumphing over the forces of evil, it could be a war movie.''' (SJM, 4-18-04)

     Yes, that would surely feed today's growing lust for violent thrills and feel-good, postmodern interpretations of "good," "evil," "god" and 'religion.'" See Mel Gibson's "Passion"

Passion' draws worldwide praise, outrage: "'The Passion' has gone global as Christians prepare to celebrate Easter week. But the coming week is also the Jewish holiday of Passover, which could sharpen the focus on what some perceive as the movie's anti-Semitism. ... The film has opened to packed houses in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat watched the film at his West Bank compound with a group of local Muslim clerics and Christians from the United States, Canada and Britain." See Mel Gibson's 'Passion' and T he Power of Suggestion

March

The Passion : "A Jewish advocacy group has stated that the movie is anti-semitic and it encourages anti-semitic acts. They have petitioned the Justice Department to consider charging the producers of the movie with hate crimes.... Charging Mel Gibson with hate crimes is only a few steps away from saying that the Bible is hate literature....

    "There are already some people who say that evangelism promotes hate crimes. An example is a Methodist bishop who said that evangelizing is arrogant because it presumes that some people are saved and other people need salvation. He said that this treats unsaved religious groups like second-class citizens, and it is dangerous because it can encourage hate crimes against them." See UNESCO Declaration on the Role of Religion

 

'Passion' rising toward box-office history: "The Passion of the Christ... could become the highest-grossing film in history. By the end of business [a week ago] Sunday, the subtitled story of Jesus' final hours had grossed $264.5 million (over $3 million now) in the United States and Canada."

 

Hollywood Rethinking Faith Films After 'Passion': "As the overwhelming success of 'The Passion of the Christ' reverberates through Hollywood, producers and studio executives are asking whether the movie industry has been neglecting large segments of the American audience eager for more openly religious fare. During the weekend the film took in another $31.6 million.... It is expected to finish its domestic run taking in well over $300 million in box-office receipts.... That number will only swell when the film is released internationally, beginning in Europe and Latin America in the next few weeks....

     "Some predict, as one result, a wave of New Testament-themed movies or more religious films in general.... 'The R rating is limiting younger kids, but it is getting teens and college kids.'... The film has been promoted on horror-fan Web sites, and young men seem to be drawn by reports that the movie is gory."

     "Considering today's Biblical illiteracy, Hollywood's future assortment of "biblical" themes will probably open doors to all sorts of popular interpretations -- both from producers and viewers. See Heresy in high places

The Passion of the Christ is A Promise of Change: "It opened my eyes to so many things. I realized we want something to believe in no matter what it may cost us in times of trials and adversity, then why can't we just believe by faith? This movie did not cause me to approach with a theological analysis, I did not compare scripture line per line and I did not take my bible to compare the content and text for complete accuracy. I did however, carry with me into the theater an open mind and a yielded heart. My only scrutiny was that I have a discerning view of what this movie would mean to me....The Passion of the Christ is a promise of change. It widens a once narrow view. It teaches you to embrace and not reject diversity."

     But God tells us to be discerning, not open to new versions of His unchanging Word. What counts is what He has told us, not the many meanings and interpretations we might add to His message. We need to evaluate all things -- not through our feelings or imagination, but through the filter of His Word -- in order to see what is true or false." Psalm 119:11

 

The Passion. Big Screen Jesus - Part 2: 'Commenting on an admittedly fictitious scene in The Passion, a caller [on a radio program] described... a scene where the devil tempted Jesus. Hereís what he said: 'It's a very powerful movie. I don't see anything in it that's not scriptural. There were a few scenes... and I thought they were very powerful, especially... before Jesus was arrested... and the devil was in -- was there Ė and he was trying to, almost like tempt Him away from the cross. Now, that's not in the bible. I know that. But it was very realistic - and ... obviously, it wasn't in the scriptures Ė but I really feel that it was something that was very apropos.'"

       The last sentence makes an important point: Such "realistic" scenes make the distortions all the more believable and memorable. See Mel Gibson's 'Passion' and The Power of Suggestion

Survey studies who is planning to go see 'The Passion' movie: "...83 percent of evangelical or born-again Christians have either seen or plan to see The Passion of the Christ. ... 13 percent of Christians who identified themselves as born-again or evangelical do not plan to see Mel Gibson's box-office hit.... About 27 percent had already seen the film...."

Where's Luther, We Need Reformation: "What was Mel's rational for having Peter running to fall at Mary's feet to ask for forgiveness? Why would Peter think he needed Mary's forgiveness?... Since when have evangelicals gone along with visions from anyone other than those in the Bible? Jeremiah 14:14 states: 'Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.'"

'Passion Youth Appeal: "Young males who flock to slasher pics seem to be taking an interest in 'The Passion,' which has been widely characterized as gory by reviewers. Fangoria editor Anthony Timpone said, 'It's sparked an interest in my readership because of the extreme nature of the it as well as the controversy.'... And at least one horror fan site, E-Splatter.com, has given 'The Passion' the thumb's up: 'As a horror fan, I was more than satisfied. This is not some kiddie Christ film. This is the real deal.'"

     Since young people have become increasingly addicted to violence, core and horror, this is no surprise. Many others will now be introduced to the emotional stimuli that both desensitizes minds to violence and builds hunger for more. See Toying with Death

 

Three eyewitness reports (David Cloud's website): "The images [from the movie] are burned deeply into your mind. The music... plays on your emotions and your mind.... I have suffered from the image of the actor portraying Christ jumping into my prayers.... The movie portrays Jesus as somewhat bewildered at times."

      "Mary was conveyed by Gibson as having special divine powers and knowledge.... [W]hen anyone referred to her in the movie they always used the word 'Mother', with a capital 'M'. She was also the only other character, aside from the character of Jesus who could see the character 'satan.'"

     "What I saw portrayed was a weak 'Jesus' and a strong Mary.... After Peter denies Jesus, he... gets on his knees to Mary, calls her 'Mother', and confesses his denial to her.... You really get the impression that Jesus just couldn't have done it had Mary not been there." Psalm 119:11

 

The next article helps explain why a movie version of the old German "Passion Play" (promoted by Hitler to fuel hatred toward Jews] has stirred fear among many Jews, even though the movie itself is not antisemitic. With the rising assaults on Jews and synagogues in Europe, the movie could fan the flames of that relentless hatred.

 

A Time to Dance, and Mourn (David Brooks, 2-28, registration required): "Jews settled [in Wegrow, about 55 miles northeast of Warsaw] early in the 16th century, and there were 6,000 to 8,000 of them when the Nazi occupation began on Sept. 7, 1939. A few weeks later, on Yom Kippur, SS officers went to the home of the town's rabbi, Mendel Morgenstern, dragged him to the central marketplace and ordered him to undress. They handed him a broom and told him to sweep up the manure in the square and carry it to the town dump in his velvet hat. As the rabbi tried to do that, a soldier drove a bayonet into his abdomen, killing him. His synagogue was immediately closed....

      "News about the concentration camp in nearby Treblinka swept the town, but the roundups in Wegrow didn't begin until the day after Yom Kippur in 1942. A few families had constructed hiding places in attics and basements, and they could watch through peepholes as their relatives and friends were loaded onto trucks. By that time everyone knew exactly what was going to happen....

      "'I want to live a little longer,' one girl told her mother as they stood in line. 'No, you will not live because the world has no room for you,' her mother answered.... About half the Jews in the town fled to the nearby forest, where almost all were hunted down and shot by German troops. (Poles received two pounds of sugar for every Jew they killed or captured.) ... At night, those in hiding could hear Germans celebrating the deportations. By day they watched their former neighbors taking over their stores and businesses.

      "Some Jews did survive. About a hundred were kept in the town to work, though they were herded into a building on May Day 1943 and burned to death." See Preparing for Persecution

Rowland sees 'explosion of faith' in country: "'It is unbelievable. It is breathtaking,' Rowland said at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Hartford church. 'It shakes you to the core of your soul. 'But it is the Gospel, and people need to recognize and realize that we need to reach out to faith. We need to reach out to each other and, most importantly, we need to reach out to the power above us.'" Matthew 7:13-14

The Passion Of The Christ: "Exclusive tools to invite your community to see the movie and then visit your church!" More merchandise to buy!  What's next?

All Purpose Driven Products: "The Passion of The Christ movie is an unprecedented outreach opportunity for your church and small group. The overwhelming truth of the crucifixion as portrayed in the film is sure to stir a lot of emotions and questions from Christians. The Passion, the Purpose and Person of Jesus Christ Small Group Study allows everyone, from seekers to mature believers, to discuss their thoughts and feelings about the film.... This 3 week video-based curriculum is built on the Purpose Driven model, and features video teaching by Pastors Lance Witt and Tom Holladay, with an introductory video message by Pastor Rick Warren." [click on "more"] 2 Corinthians 2:17

The Menace of the Religious Movie by A. W. Tozer (1897-1963): "From God's revealed plan we depart at our peril. Every departure has two consequences, the immediate and the remote. The immediate touches the individual and those close to him; the remote extends into the future to unknown times, and may expand so far as to influence for evil the whole Church of God on earth. The temptation to introduce 'new' things into the work of God has always been too strong for some people to resist. ...

     "The Miracle Plays of medieval times have been brought forward to justify the modern religious movie.... [T]he vogue of the Miracle Play coincided exactly with the most dismally corrupt period the Church has ever known. When the Church emerged at last from its long moral night these plays lost popularity and finally passed away. And be it remembered, the instrument God used to bring the Church out of the darkness was not drama; it was the biblical one of Spirit-baptized preaching. ...

     "...there are still many thousands of Christian people who grieve to see the world take over. If we draw the line and call attention to it we may be surprised how many people will come over on our side and help us drive from the Church this latest invader, the spirit of Hollywood." 1 John 2:15-17

 

Mel Gibsonís end-around: ď'I just canít believe it!' said one movie mogul to the other Hollywood big shots assembled in his office for the crisis meeting. 'I thought Mel Gibson was one of us. Didnít you think so, too? Why, we feted him and put him on a pedestal and gave him every possible award. We made him! Then he goes out without our permission and creates this, uh, whatís the name? Oh, yeah, The Passion of the Christ movie. How could he do this to us?'

     'I know what you mean,' said the studio owner. ďHeís definitely off the plantation. What could Mel have been thinking? He was brought up through the system; he has to understand how it works...?" 

    Here's a parody from the Baptist Press which sounds authentic but is not -- and makes Gibson a martyr, which he is not.

February

Visual Arts in Worship: A Search for Biblical Guidance: "As worship leaders, how should we respond to the burgeoning enthusiasm for visual arts in worship? We may be tempted to jump on the visual bandwagon because it's trendy. But is it right to take this leap? And if we take it, how can we decide which visual expressions belong in worship and how they should be displayed?" See Mel Gibson's "Passion"

Big Screen Jesus 1: "Traumatic events leave lasting impressions on the hearts and minds of onlookers that can psychologically scar them for the rest of their lives. Just ask anyone who has witnessed some horrendous event. They live with reoccurring images that may never go away. Only today I saw a quote by Billy Graham, addressing the impact viewing the film has had on him, saying, 'Every time I preach or speak about the Cross, the things I saw on the screen will be on my heart and mind.' How could that not include the bloody face of James Caviezel?" Isaiah 55

 

Mel Gibson's Film Inspires Soul-Searching, Not Anti-Semitism: "Gibson's film is an intensely Catholic account of the Passion. Indeed most of the scenes depicting Christ's journey along the Via Dolorosa on the way to Golgotha seem inspired by the Catholic devotional ritual the 'Stations of the Cross,' which dates back to the 14th century. A scene in the film depicting Jesus' encounter with Veronica, who wipes his face and is left with Christ's image on her veil, is part of Catholic tradition.... The only characters who come off as demented sadists are the Roman soldiers who torture Christ after Pilate orders him beaten -- and these truly seem to be possessed of the Devil, who appears as a specter-like character throughout the film."

     The Roman soldiers were just following orders. They bore no grudge against Jesus. He was no threat to them. Why would they show such inhuman cruelty? The Bible doesn't tell us that!  In contrast, Jesus was a real threat to the lifestyle and teaching of the Pharisees, therefore most of them despised Him. But that's no reason to call the story of the gospel antisemitic. After all, Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. Oneness in Jesus Christ

 

Woman Collapses During Showing of 'The Passion Of The Christ': "She was pronounced dead a short time later at a Wichita medical center.... Religious leaders around the country and here in Wichita say people need to be prepared for the graphic brutality."

 

Ticket, please! Bush wants to see Mel Gibson's flick: "The White House has a private theater in which presidents can view first-run films. Gibson directed, financed and co-wrote the movie, which tells the story of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ."

 

Protestants see the "Passion of Christ" film as a great evangelistic tool : "Although Mr. Gibson is Roman Catholic and the movie is replete with Catholic touches, like the Stations of the Cross and the centrality of Mary, influential Pentecostal and evangelical leaders have embraced it.... Mr. Gibson's film company has hired several marketing firms experienced in reaching Christian audiences, including the publicist for the Rev. Billy Graham. But much of the promotion was initiated by an assortment of ministry agencies, churches and individual Christians....

     "Teen Mania, an evangelical group that holds youth crusades in stadiums, says at least 3,000 leaders of church youth groups have bought CD-ROM kits that instruct young people in how to use the film to deepen their own faith and bring their friends to accept Christ.

     "The film is rated R because of the violent scourging and crucifixion of Jesus that occupies much of its two hours. Ron Luce, president of Teen Mania, says children would benefit from seeing it, and the CD-ROM supplies information to persuade parents to allow their children to attend." See Movie Magic and Unconscious Learning

 

Kids will see R-rated 'Passion': "The R-rated movie portrays the final 12 hours of Jesus' life in graphic detail, including the crucifixion and a beating that lasts 45 minutes. But many parents and church leaders plan to have kids as young as 10 see the film....

     "'Most images of Christ on the cross are too tame,' says Matt Stoehr, pastor of the West Coast Christian Center in Vista, Calif. 'They minimize the sacrifices he made. Scripture tells us that he was beaten to a pulp. [No, it doesn't!] I think seeing that on screen will be more powerful for kids than any sermon.' His church, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles, has rented out a theater Feb. 29 and will admit children 10 and older if they are accompanied by adults.... 'a lot of kids are already mature for their age. Look at what they see on MTV.'"  [Many Christian children don't watch MTV. In any case, this argument illustrates moral relativism, not Biblical faith or reason]

     "That's no reason to subject youngsters to Passion's adult themes, says columnist Nell Minow.... 'Disturbing images can be what sticks with a child, not the message behind it,' she says. 'I would have severe concerns about exposing children to that kind of violence.' But theater owners already are bracing for a first: children flocking to a violent R-rated film with their parents' blessings."

 

Filmgoing believers set to put 'PASSION' in Fashion: "In Plano, Texas, two members of a large Baptist church bought out a 20-screen multiplex so 6,000 people could witness the Ash Wednesday premiere of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ.' In Costa Mesa, Calif., a nondenominational church canceled services on opening weekend, booking its congregation into 10 movie theaters instead. In Dallas, one NASCAR sponsor is emblazoning its car with images of the film's leading deity after producers began using a blurb allegedly from the pope himself.

      "Even the Big Apple is getting in on the craze. The Archdiocese of New York has purchased several hundred tickets to the film for parishioners and will hold a lecture on the film. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sold out of 3,200 special discount tickets in a matter of days....

     "Outreach Inc., a Vista, Calif., firm that offers advice to churches seeking to boost membership, is touting 'The Passion' heavily, saying the flick is 'perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years.'"

 

Behind film endorsed by both Catholics and Protestants is a stigmatic whose life and revelations continue to amaze: "While newspapers focus on the vivid portrayals of Christ's Crucifixion... and the controversy with Jews as reasons why there is so much 'buzz' about the upcoming movie on Christ's Passion, there is a hidden, mystical element, and that's the charisma attached to the stigmatic whose revelations contributed significantly to the film....

     "The mystic is Anne Catherine Emmerich....  [R]eading her revelations leaves one feeling that he has undergone an 'unusual influence' -- similar to what is now reported with those who see the movie.... It's no surprise that the movie's director, Mel Gibson, is said to carry one of her relics." [Gibson pulled the relic out of his pocket and showed it to Diane Sawyer during a televised interview]

 

AMC refuses to accept Texas Baptist ad: "AMC Theatres is refusing to accept a 30-second ad produced by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and timed to coincide with the Ash Wednesday opening of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ.'"

 

Jesus' Nail Sale: "Replicas of the nails used to hang Jesus on the cross have become the red-hot official merchandise.... Hundreds of stores across the country will be selling licensed items tied to the movie.... The souvenirs include a book, pins, key chains, coffee mugs and T-shirts. ....'The response so far has been overwhelming.'" See Mel Gibson's "Passion"

Will Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ help save Christianity? by Daniel Johnson (2-11-04): "I am, however, a practicing Roman Catholic. For me, the repudiation of anti-Semitism in all forms is not merely an issue of the utmost moral and theological significance....Gibson belongs to a small sect, the Old Catholics, who left the Church more than a century ago over the issue of papal infallibility and have been out of communion with other Catholics ever since. Hence Gibson is not bound by the constantly evolving Catholic doctrine on Judaism and the Holocaust. ...The American Catholic establishment, still reeling from the drubbing it received from the media over so-called paedophile priests, regards Gibson as an embarrassment."

"Exclusive Interview With Father Di Noia of the Doctrinal Congregation :

Q: Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has been a newsmaker for months -- well before its scheduled release. As one of the handful of people who have actually seen it, what is your overall impression of the film?
Father Di Noia: Seeing this film will be an intensely religious experience for many people. It was for me.
Q: Is the film faithful to account of the passion of Christ in the New Testament?
Father Di Noia: Remember, there are four accounts of the passion of Christ in the New Testament, concerned chiefly to present the religious meaning of these events.
     "Mel Gibson's film is not a documentary but a work of artistic imagination. He incorporates elements from the Passion narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but remains faithful to the fundamental structure common to all four accounts. Within the limits possible in an imaginative reconstruction of the passion of Christ, Gibson's film is entirely faithful to the New Testament. ...
      "But Maia Morgenstern's Mary is equally powerful. It reminded me of something St. Anselm said in a sermon about the Blessed Mother: Without God's Son, nothing could exist; without Mary's Son, nothing could be redeemed.....
      "There is a powerful Catholic sensibility at work here. In his recent encyclical on the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II says that Christ established the memorial of his passion and death before he suffered -- in anticipation of the actual sacrifice of the cross. In Mel Gibson's artistic imagination, Christ "remembers" the Last Supper even as he enacts the sacrifice it memorializes.
       "For many Catholics who see these images, Mass will never be the same. In any case, issues of originality entirely aside, Mel Gibson's film will undoubtedly be considered to be among the very best.
Q: Does "The Passion" blame anyone for what happened to Christ?
Father Di Noia: That's a very interesting, and very difficult question. Suppose you pose it to someone who was unfamiliar with the Gospel passion narratives until seeing this film.
Q: There has been a lot of controversy about the film's alleged anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism. Can you tell ZENIT what you think about this?
Father Di Noia: Speaking as a Catholic theologian, I would be bound to condemn anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism in any recounting of the passion and death of Christ -- and not just because of the terrible harm that has been done to Jewish people on these grounds, but also because, as I have already suggested, this represents a profound misreading of the passion narratives.
     "But let me answer your question plainly: There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish about Mel Gibson's film.

A Guide to "The Passion of the Christ:" Question: "Why is a particularly Catholic guidebook important in order to understand the movie?"
     Pinto: "A Catholic guide is necessary because the Gospels are completely Catholic, as is the movie. Even still, many will not see or understand the more sublime teachings that the director and writers are putting forth through this epic film. ... A secular viewer, for instance, will probably not understand that the image of the serpent's head being crushed is a reference to Genesis 3:15. Likewise, the heavily Eucharistic and Marian emphasis of the film is something that a well-catechized Catholic will easily see, but many uncatechized Catholics and many Protestants will not deeply grasp. ... We simply explain the connection between the sacrifice of Calvary and the sacrifice of the Mass."  

January

Mel Gibson under attack for Jesus film? "Actor-director Mel Gibson said tonight he's under attack for making a realistic movie about the suffering, sacrificial death of Jesus....  

     "'This is a movie about love, faith, hope and forgiveness,' Gibson said. 'He died for all mankind. He (Jesus) suffered for all of us. It's time to get back to that basic message. The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness.' " 2 Cor 4:7

September

Mel Gibson's 'The Passion': Most offensive film ever made: "Jesus was offensive to all who were unwilling or not yet ready to believe his message. His message was so offensive that mobs attempted to stone Him or throw Him off a cliff because of His teaching and healing.... What kind of message could elicit this great condemnation? It was and is still very simple: Jesus is the Son of God. God chose to sacrifice His Son in order to pay for the sins of all mankind. The only cost to the sinner is the putting aside of our foolish pride in order to accept this free gift....

     "The problem is this: Today's American can't even see they need salvation! 'What have I done? I haven't murdered anyone, have I?' This message of redemption is really, really offensive to a whole bunch of people." John 15:20

 


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