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The Jesus Fetish
I can't help but have a cynical reaction to the new Mel Gibson movie. I know that some Christians will use it as a springboard for new evangelical fervor. As if it isn't hard enough living in Tulsa when they are restrained by a sense of propriety. Now they will leave the movie, hit the streets and feel energized to accost the first person they meet that doesn't show a sufficient amount of enthusiasm for JESUS!
I live in "Jesus Country". And as a non-believer I feel a little like a fleshy pinky to a room full of snapping turtles.
What's worse, now that they've watched Jesus get beaten to a pulp on the screen they will have an inflated sense of what it means to "live up to" Jesus. What could possibly be enough to compare to the suffering that Jesus had to endure?
UPDATE: (Feb 27) I've added this link to an excellent review of Passion by Orcinus:
The Passion of the Christ is, in other words, a film designed to virtually obliterate the memory of the love at the heart of Jesus' message, and replaces in its stead a sense of Christianity as a closed community devoted to nurturing other "true believers" and obtaining retribution against the "other side." It poses a sense of Christianity as a series of constant, unending challenges to the question: Can you live up to His sacrifice? And the suffering Jesus endures in this film makes it clear the answer must always be: No. You can't possibly. Only rigid adherence to the "true faith" gets you in the ballpark.
There's a nasty convergence of the coming culture conflicts with a growing fetish for martyrdom. Living like Jesus will been transformed into a challenge to heap suffering upon oneself. That could spell trouble as the election campaigns will surely stir the pot of hot button issues.
I feel like I'm living behind enemy lines here. Local newscasts are giving away tickets and little flyers for the movie are everywhere.
The good news is that it will soon all be over and out of theaters. The bad news, it will always be available on DVD and VHS, and no doubt thousands of copies will bought up and distributed by evangelicals for missionary reasons.
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