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Author Topic: Mel Gibson's Movie--Again  (Read 2044 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: November 11, 2007, 02:08:41 AM »

The following posts, through reply #6, were split off from this thread about a Coptic Orthodox video:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13227.0.html



concerning the film, i never quite understood why so many eastern orthodox had a problem with;  
I feel the same way; I've never quite understood why either. Huh
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2007, 03:22:57 AM »

I feel the same way; I've never quite understood why either. Huh
Because empathizing with Christ's suffering is neither Scriptural, nor how the Early Church approached the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Frederica Matthews-Green wrote a good piece explaining the Eastern Orthodox view and the development of the "empathizing" approach in other Churches: http://www.frederica.com/writings/what-mel-missed.html
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2007, 04:15:42 AM »

Because empathizing with Christ's suffering is neither Scriptural, nor how the Early Church approached the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

I would agree, upon the assumption that you intend the term "empathising" in the sense of mere emotional sympathy or pity, but Frederica seems to say something much different:

Quote
But in the earliest Christian writings we see a different understanding of the meaning of the Cross, one which, shockingly, didn’t think it was important for us to identify with Jesus’ suffering.

"Empathising" and "identifying" with Christ's suffering are two different things. The former is, as we have suggested, merely concerned with feelings of pity and sorrow for Christ's suffering, whereas the latter allows one to establish a sense of solidarity with Christ's suffering, and hence find purpose and meaning to their own suffering in light of Christ's sufferings. The latter, in contrast to the former, consequently helps build virtues of hope and endurance, allowing the sufferer to know that just as He shares in the suffering of Christ, He is also able to share in the victory that such suffering accomplished.

"Identifying" with Christ's suffering in this sense was very much a part of the early Christian approach to the Passion of Christ. It was precisely because of being able to identify with the sufferings of Christ in this sense, that the early Christians facing persecution could hence in turn harbour the hope in identifying with His Resurrection. A primary force motivating St Ignatios of Antioch's defence of the reality of Christ's sufferings, was the idea that such was able to make sense of his own sufferings. Consequently, he says, in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, "if everything our Lord did was only illusion, then these chains of mine must be illusory too!" He then goes on to explain that it is precisely because he is able to identify with Christ in his suffering, that he is hence able to endure his suffering in the first place: "Also, what end have I given myself up to perish by fire or sword or savage beasts?...it is only in the name of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of sharing His sufferings, that I could face all this..."
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2007, 05:10:22 AM »

On a different matter, could one of the moderators split this thread where they feel appropriate so as to move discussion relating to 'The Passion' to the Faith or Free For All section. The video linked to in the OP is clearly and simply aimed at provoking an awareness of the Liturgy as a re-enactment of the Life of Christ, particularly His Passion. It is not concerned with the questions being raised in regard to theological approaches to Christ's Passion.
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2007, 05:53:37 AM »

Frederica seems to say something much different
Methinks thous readest too much into it.

"Empathising" and "identifying" with Christ's suffering are two different things.
Not in the context in which Matthews-Green is speaking, nor in the psychological sense of "identifying". "Identifying" is a psychopathology in which one's sense of self or ego is "identified" with someone (or something) else's. You cannot know how or what anyone else feels or what they suffer- you can appreciate it, but you cannot know it.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2007, 07:10:33 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2007, 08:51:27 AM »

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Methinks thous readest too much into it.

Well I hope so. Consider, however, that I am reading her in light of what she doesn't say as much I am in light of what she positively asserts.

In my opinion, if Matthews-Green properly appreciates the significance of the historical reality of Christ's human sufferings, then her critique shouldn't have been so one-sided.

When I first saw 'The Passion' I was personally very moved, not because I felt sorry for Christ, but because I was graphically reminded of the extent of His Love—of the fact that, although being the impassible and transcendent God, He, of His own will, humbly assumed true flesh, and consequently experienced (again, of His own will) genuine human pain, suffering, and ultimately death, for our sake.

I was very conscious of the fact that throughout the entire course of His Suffering, He was conquering suffering—at no point did I pity Him (the only one I could pity was myself, as I was prompted to reflect upon the fact that despite the measures He took for my sake, I have yet to reciprocate an infinitesimal measure of His Love) yet at the same time I realised that He could've so conquered suffering and death through any other means had He so willed (after all, He is God). But He chose to suffer. Not in appearance, but in reality.

That's how I apprehended the movie when I first viewed it; it was an artistic reinforcement of the historical reality and genuineness of Christ's Passion—a reality and genuineness that serves as concrete evidence of His Love. Later on, as I got deeper into Christological and Soteriological studies, I came to a more refined understanding of just how that Love was effected as I came to further appreciate the idea that the historical reality and genuineness of Christ's suffering is the foundation of our own hope to be freed from the suffering of this age and world; a reality and genuineness that the Church has gone to lengths to defend since time immemorial.

Ultimately, like any form of art, Gibson's movie is not self-interpreting. It is what the viewer makes of it based on their own presuppositions. In my opinion, a good Orthodox response to 'The Passion' would aim to reinforce the Orthodox presuppositions through which the film should be viewed so as to encourage an edifying apprehension of and reflection upon the movie. Absolutising a particular and negative take on the movie is not only theologically narrow, but philosophically absurd (in my opinion at least).
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2007, 09:05:31 AM »

Why haven't brutally violent and bloody portrayals of Christ in excruciating agony been in either of our Churches iconographic/artistic and even literary traditions if they are so vital to our appreciation that they were "real" events? Our Churches certainly had the media with which they could have done so- so why didn't they?
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2007, 08:53:30 PM »

Why haven't brutally violent and bloody portrayals of Christ in excruciating agony been in either of our Churches iconographic/artistic and even literary traditions if they are so vital to our appreciation that they were "real" events?

Well, first of all, I don't think they are vital to such an appreciation; only helpful to developing and/or reinforcing such an appreciation, and even then, only helpful to some.

Second of all, I agree that the movie was maybe a little too "brutally violent." I think it would have been just as effective had it been toned down a bit. I am in no position to judge the historical accuracy of the degree of violence depicted, however, and I would suggest that such is an important issue to consider.

Thirdly, I think the iconographical tradition is a whole different issue—it has a rather unique and defined purpose. With respect to non-iconic artistic depictions of the Crucifixion, I will address that in my response to the below comment:

Quote
Our Churches certainly had the media with which they could have done so- so why didn't they?

The effectiveness of 'The Passion', insofar as I have attempted to account for it in light of my own personal experience and interpretation, lies in its ability to absorb the viewer and transport him/her to the historical stage of Christ's Sufferings as a live witness. This ability is ultimately a result of the "realistic-ness" of the scenes—a realistic-ness that only the highest level of cinematography and professional acting can successfully produce. I don't think either of our Churches have ever had the capacity or means to do what Gibson did, and if we ever at any point do acquire such a capacity and means, then I should hope to see an Orthodox take on the Passion some time in the future--one which does not play down His Suffering (it seems that Matthews-Green would have Christ strolling to Golgotha as if taking a walk in the park), but one which nevertheless complements such scenes with substantial emphasis on the Resurrection so as to give a more complete picture to those who approach such a film without the proper theological presuppositions in mind.
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2007, 12:00:26 AM »

Hello,

Part of the need and the usefulness of this film is to combat what I call the band-aid death of Jesus theory. If you watch the films of Christ, which is were many Christians will form a solid image of the Passion of Christ, there is something very amiss. At the time of the Crucifixion, after the scourging and crowning with thorns and all that, Jesus looks no worse than if He had fallen into a rose bush - a couple of scratches. Put a band-aid on it and it's all better. So from this image, it is easy to deceive someone into thinking - maybe Jesus really did just faint (Muslims, etc.) or maybe He could have survived and wed someone (Dan Brown, etc.), etc. The "Passion of the Christ" forms the visual image that there is no way Christ survived the Crucifixion. That was a given back in Apostolic times when everyone knew what crucifying entailed, but we don't have that knowledge readily today.

Another thing it shows is the extent of the pre-Crucifixion beating that Jesus took. There are doctors who have studied this and say that Jesus most probably died from a severe loss of blood - cue typology of the sacrificial lamb.

Another thing this movie imparts is the extent of God's love for us. That Jesus undertook that willingly for us men and for our salvation. That He endured that for YOU and for me.

There are other good points made by EkhristosAnesti. That is all that is coming to my mind at the present moment.
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2007, 12:15:58 AM »

Mel's movie, past threads:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11345.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2624.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2957.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5470.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,1949.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8277.0.html
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2007, 11:37:43 AM »

Why haven't brutally violent and bloody portrayals of Christ in excruciating agony been in either of our Churches iconographic/artistic and even literary traditions if they are so vital to our appreciation that they were "real" events? Our Churches certainly had the media with which they could have done so- so why didn't they?

Because they didn't live in an age and place that lived in such denial of violence.  I remember when the films from the bombers of the first Gulf War were sold as entertainment.
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2007, 07:23:49 PM »

Just for the record, HH Pope Shenouda didn't like the movie.  He explained the reason to be that the Crucifixion was taken in isolation of the Resurrection.  I might have mentioned this in another forum.  But nevertheless, HH didn't like that "emphasis" on the suffering of Christ (even though I find nothing wrong with it, especially since the movie was called "the Passion").

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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2007, 08:58:28 PM »

Hello,

He explained the reason to be that the Crucifixion was taken in isolation of the Resurrection.
Even though they do show it, albeit for only 5 seconds?

I am still waiting for a prequel and a sequel to this movie.
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2007, 11:13:29 PM »

Oh, there is a sequel already. Here's the trailer.
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2007, 11:26:14 PM »

Hello,

Oh, there is a sequel already. Here's the trailer.
Maybe someone finds this funny. But when it comes to Our Lord, I don't find that kind of crude content humorous in the least.
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2007, 01:36:20 AM »

Hello,
Maybe someone finds this funny. But when it comes to Our Lord, I don't find that kind of crude content humorous in the least.
Yea, my sentiments exactly! Sad
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