Thursday, February 26, 2004

Do You Recognize This Jesus?

Ken Woodward's comments on The Passion from Op-Ed Contributor: Do You Recognize This Jesus?:

"Most Americans worship in churches where the bloodied body of Jesus is absent from sanctuary crosses or else styled in ways so abstract that there is no hint of suffering. In sermons, too, the emphasis all too often is on the smoothly therapeutic: what Jesus can do for me.

More than 60 years ago, H. Richard Neibuhr summarized the creed of an easygoing American Christianity that has in our time triumphantly come to pass: 'A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment though the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.' Despite its muscular excess, Mr. Gibson's symbol-laden film is a welcome repudiation of all that.

'The Passion of the Christ' is violent -- no question. Although Mel Gibson the believer identifies with a traditionalist movement that rejects Vatican Council II, Mel Gibson the artist here displays a thoroughly Catholic sensibility, one that since the Middle Ages has emphasized Jesus as the suffering savior crowned with thorns. Martin Luther, too, would have recognized in this film his own theology of the cross."