In an editorial in the February issue of Catholic World Report, my boss Phil Lawler explains why he doesn’t plan on seeing The Passion. Before you read it, understand one simple point. Phil is giving reasons why he won’t be seeing it. He is not saying that no one else should see it or that it’s completely inappropriate for everyone. He has misgivings about its effect on his prayer life as well as on certain members of the public who might see it.
While I agree with much of what he says well.
“Enthusiasts say that Gibson’s film enables us to participate in Christ’s Passion. No! That is presumptuous. The viewer who watches a movie, from the comfort of a theater seat, is not experiencing the pain that he sees depicted. And keep in mind that what appears on the screen is not really the Passion; what the viewer actually sees is a cast of actors, playing roles.”
So we can’t take anything from the Pieta, after all, it’s just a statue. Or the paintings in the Vatican since it’s just paint and colors…and we can’t listen to the words of the Gospel being proclaimed at Mass because, after all, that’s a human being and we aren’t entirely sure that they got the inflections right-huh?
Does he really mean to say that what we see doesn’t affect us? What we hear doesn’t move us, can’t change us? That just because we can’t transport ourselves back to the actual event we can’t create what we think may have happened? or appreciate someone who is sincerely trying to show this event as accurate as he knows how?
No, I think Mr Lawler, while I respect him very much is a bit disingenuous here. I do plan on taking youth and their parents, we plan on discussing it, how it could change our hearts, how we can bring others into the reality of Christ’s love for us.
“It is obscene to probe the details of another person’s anguish, just as it is obscene to air the details of an act of love. And as we look toward Calvary, where history’s greatest suffering was poured out in history’s greatest act of love, we might do well to avert our eyesr_url>
Well this is weird.
I read Phil’s article and thought “Hey, Phil, I know exactly what you’re talking about and thank you for articulating it.” And then forgot about it.
[This often does not always happen between Phil and me. I’ve known him and respected him for many years and have also experienced many disagreements with him. By the way.]
Now I see folks ready to crucify him, practically, because he doesn’t choose to see a bleepin’ MOVIE?
And Sock? Dom says you’re okay.
Despite this recommendation from one I trust, I think you’re talking like a bleepin’ ass.
“In my estimation, anyone who claims to be a Christian and who does not fully meditate on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in all of its bloody manifestations is lying to him or her self.”
Gee, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” was on TV a few weeks ago, and I missed it. Am I still Catholic? Because if I recall the movie correctly, there WAS a Passion scene.
And as far as:
“Et tu, Dom?”
So far below the belt you’re staring at his soles, Sock baby.
Sock and derek,
For one thing, the same issue of the magazine has two articles that are highly laudatory of the movie. Once again, what suits some people is not necessarily valid for all others. And Sock, I’d rather work for a guy who isn’t willing to seel himself out for a couple of bucks, but that’s just me.
It’s a great work of art? And you’ve seen it? You’ve compared it to other works of art? What is Phil doesn’t think it’s great art? Doesn’t his opinion count? How does something become great art? “We think it’s great art, and if you don’t, well then sit down and shut up.” Is that how it works?
And yes, Sock, I refer to the cult of St. Mel. I like Mel Gibson’s movies and I think he would be a fun guy to hang out with and smoke a cigar, but to see the way he’s been canonized in some circles, to see the cult of celebrity and fawning adulation makes me a little uncomfortable. God forbid someone criticize him or his movie. Doesn’t anyone else think that’s a little strange?
Lawler writes, ” I notice that God, in his wisdom, arranged the affairs of that day so that 11 of the 12 apostles did not witness the violence.”
Was it God’s wisdom? or the cowardliness of the Apostles?
Their cowardliness then should speak to our own cowardliness now. Lawlers words smack of pacifist spin.
Lawler is turning his back to the imagery perhaps so he can bathe in “Faith is formed in the cool light of reason, not the glare and heat of the emotions.” To each his own. Reason can be overrated.
Some of us need to be shaken up, myself included, though I can’t imaging myself at the Megaplex downing popcorn seeing this. I’ll be watching the Passion on DVD with my wife in my living room.
To each his own.
That’s the whole point. Just because Phil doesn’t want to see the movie and doesn’t think it will have a good effect doesn’t make him a bad person or a faithless coward. It’s a movie! I really don’t understand Sock’s point. It seems like he’s saying Phil should lie and say he’s dying to see the movie so he can sell a few magazines, rather than express himself truthfully. The former doesn’t sound much like a Catholic stance.
Sock, I don’t know why you’ve decided to leave. I never said you should and I certainly didn’t take any “shots” at you. I disagreed with you so now you have to leave? It’s up to you, I guess.
Phil Lawler is, and has been, a striking and staunch defender of the faith for years. He has unflinchingly challenged, and continues to challenge, any and all comers who believe they are above the Church instituted by Christ. These include, but are not limited to, powerful politicians, multi-million dollar special interest groups, the mainstream media, priests, and yes, bishops and cardinals. (And among the latter two groups, as much as he has no doubt often been a thorn in their sides, the fact that he has retained their respect speaks volumes.)
I believe he has been able to be a beacon of light for the Church because he has cultivated a deep spiritual life. It is clear from his article that he values his prayer life far and above popularity. And certainly far and above magazine sales!
His piety is anything but “affected,” his work anything but “spin.”
For as long as I’ve known him, his demonstrated courage has been a breath of fresh air in a world where that virtue appears to be in scarce supply.
He doesn’t need me to defend him. As far as I can see, he’s not the one who needs defending at all.
Whether I agree with him or not on minor issues (and this movie, despite the hysteria, is a minor issue), at the end of the day reading and listening to the calm reason that is a Phil Lawler trademark is a rare privilege.
If I may get back to the topic…? (which, as I recall wasn’t bashing Mr Lawler.)
Clearly in Orthodox Catholocism there is room for disagreement on an intellectualy level-and not get so emotional about it.
At any rate, Dom, I still not convinced that movie making is not such a different art form, then is a statue is or a painting. Both are created out of men and yes, will be less than perfect than Divine Revelation. However, I stick to my original arguement that if this person has studied the Gospels and is commited to authenticity, like any of us, good things-excellent, even-can come from us, from those of us who are artists in any genre.
My guess is whoever wrote that silly Poem of the Man God (frankly I rolled my eyes when it swept campus as THE pious book to read) while possibly sincere was not well informed. Whoever wrote that wrote out of imagination. The Director of the Passion writes directly from the Gospels. Is this any different than what we do when we meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries, or do the Stations of the Cross or watch Leonardo Defilippis’ dramatization of the Passion?
When we are asked to meditate on such an event as this, we are asked to conjure up in our own minds what it might have been like. Will we get it all right? Maybe not, but that’s not the point. The point is that we meditate on it. The point is that great art can inspire, will inspire. It is so much more than “actors playing roles” (Mr Lawler)-it can inspire, it can lift up, it can convict, it can move us.
Is it the Gospel themselves? Divine Revelation? No. But I still demure that great art, moving or stauary can, if we allow it, to bring us to our knees in adoration and contemplation of God.
PS. Did you REALLY compare this movie with “The Poem of the Man-God”? Really? That’s such a silly book. Based on…what? Not the Gospels, that’s for sure.
The comparison is based on people’s reactions to both, not content. And movies are different than other art forms because of the way they absorb you into them and become real to you. If I see a painting, I’m not going to mistake it for reality, but many people see movies and think they accurately depict reality. How many people who saw Perfect Storm think it actually happened just as the movie depicted? Even though it really didn’t? In fact, the family of the dead captain sued because they said the depiction defamed him.
And when I use my own imagination, what I conjure up is limited to the images in my own mind. But a movie imposes images from someone else’s imagination and some people are not prepared for the brutal gruesomeness actually involved in crufixion. They may imagine what it is, but they don’t really know until they see it on the screen and it could have an adverse effect on the ability to meditate on the Passion.
I’m not saying that the movie can’t be great art. What I’m sayingd about a dozen of them carrying signs stood directly behind the podium of our rally. Their signs said things like “Shame on you Sean” (referring to Archbishop O’Malley) and other hate-filled rantings. It’s ironic that we’re the ones accused of hatred, but it’s the other side that manifested it. Meanwhile one speaker noted the irony that while we had several American flags spread throughout the crowd, the counter-protestors only brought their rainbow flags. We’re fighting for our democracy and our nation’s best interests. They’re interested in their own individuals wants and desires.
To counter the signs behind the podium, the Knights of Columbus carrying the US, Vatican, and K of C flags, as well as groups of individuals made their way back there to stand in front of them. They were not treated kindly. Anastasia Drost, who is a regular reader here, said she and her 65-year-old mother were mocked and insulted, heckled and called bigots. So much for the forces of compassion.
The picture to the right shows the “warm up” act. Local Catholic musician Bernie Choiniere and his band performed some songs before the event to keep everybody’s blood pumping. One impression I had was that some people kept forgetting that even though the rally was organized by the “Your Catholic Voice” organization, it was an ecumenical gathering. A lot of references were made to the Catholics in the crowd, until someone told them to widen the application of their exhortations. A lot of groups were present: The seminarians from St. John’s Seminary were present with a large sign and a banner which they held in front of the counter-protesters, garnering a lot of abuse no doubt. I also saw plenty of Knights, the America First Party of Massachusetts, and the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a single indentifiable group from Voice of the Faithful. I guess they only show up in organized ranks to protest in favor of their liberal agenda.
- BernieChoiniere.jpg: Own photo