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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Non-Believers for Jesus

Briefly to follow up on last night's post on The Passion, I've been thinking more about the oddity of my liking the film as much as I did, and one thing that occurs to me is that my lack of religious belief may have actually increased my enjoyment. Obviously for people who share Mel Gibson's faith and interpretation of the gospels, the movie must be pretty sweet--that's been well documented. On the other hand, for people who have some other form of belief in or vision of Jesus, presumably one that is less dark than that depicted in the film in most cases, I imagine The Passion must have struck a sour note.

Then there are people like me who see Jesus as basically the most beloved literary character of all time. I have no personal relationship with Christ, no expectations for what he should look and sound like, how he should act, what his time on earth should appear like. I'm willing to take something like The Passion as simply one interpretation by a filmmaker of the events described in the Bible. Since I see the Bible as a collection of fairy tales, essentially, I'm not all hung up on historical accuracy either--this is a story involving a man performing miracles and rising from the dead, mind you, so whether people say the wrong words or do things in the wrong sequence hardly seems to matter. I watched the movie much as I would any other, without letting extraneous things get in the way, and that, I feel, is one way to appreciate Gibson's work without necessarily sharing his religious views. (Plus, in this instance, I was able to prevent myself from having a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything religious conservatives think is good, something I can't say for the likes of Andy Rooney, Frank Rich, et al.)