Saturday, February 28, 2004
Prothero on Gibson. Again!
Stephen Prothero couldn't have written American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon at a better time [Amazon; Powells; Harvard]. He's everywhere on Mel Gibson's Passion: Dialoging with Biblical scholar Robert Alter for Slate, writing "Honest to Jesus" about the history of American images of Jesus for last Sunday's Boston Globe Ideas section, and now he has a fine essay in the New York Times Magazine — "The Personal Jesus". Do read it. One of his key observations:
One puzzle of the reception of the film thus far is why born-again Christians have given such a big thumbs up to what is so unapologetically a Catholic movie. Why are they putting their grass-roots organizations at the beck and call of the producer formerly known as Mad Max, buying tickets by the thousands for an R-rated film? Why are they lauding an image of Jesus that owes as much to medieval passion plays and Hollywood action movies as it does to the Gospels, that runs so hard against the Protestant grain?
The culture wars no doubt have something to do with the evangelicals' decision to close ranks with Gibson, who must be commended for so adroitly spinning the debate over his depiction of Jews into a battle between secular humanists and true believers. The evangelicals' ''amen'' to the movie may demonstrate that conservative Protestants have bought more into Hollywood's culture of violence than they would like to admit. Or that, while anti-Semitism is still alive in the United States, anti-Catholicism is finished.
P.S. Down at the bottom of the nytimes.com page, there's a great text ad from an independent group called the Universalist Christians Association that says God is not a sadist — and adds, "Not all Christians believe that God torments sinners for all eternity." Indeed!
Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 28 February 2004 at 9:24 PM