Oscars, Passion, Da Vinci and more.

The Academy Awards provided a much needed break from “The Passion” furor. I thought it had all been said, then a Seattle rabbi weighed in with an editorial as divisive of any I’ve read, and sadly, reflective of a Da Vinci-Code-kind-of-ignorance about “recent scholarship” as gossiped into the mainstream by magazines like US News and World Reports. By the way, the Da Vinci Code is back in the news with a nice summary of its fiction-presented-as-fact debunking.

Edward Rothstein offers an interesting contrast The Passions of Bach and Gibson. Catholic writer Mary Gordon is concerned that there are good Romans and bad Romans, but “there is no counterweight “ to the bad Jews. The obvious problem with this argument is, of course, that Peter, John, Mary, Jesus are ALL counterweights to the “bad Jews,” they just don’t happen top be counted as Jews because they are now called “Christians.” At this level the issue isn’t anti-Semitism, but an internal religious difference among Jews.

Dan Wooding reports that John Debney,composer of The Passion soundtrack, did not believe in a personal devil until he worked in this production.

Finally a book has been written for those who have worked for and with me over the years. It is titled, “How to Work for an Idiot.”

In a postmodern age Art is more than ever considered in the eye of the beholder. In describing the battle of the Beatles and Brian Wilson over artistic accomplishment, Glen Frankel called their work a “version of art” that is a clever way of nudging contemporary work in the direction of credibility while withholding a full endorsement. I still find most useful Ken Myers observations about the weightlessness and vacuity of popular culture. On artistic opinions, the one category I questioned LOTR win in was music where I found Allison Krauss’s Cold Mountain pieces stirring. USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco disagreed saying, “and then there are those songs, which must be performed even when, as with the two Cold Mountain numbers, they bring the show to a grinding, nails-on-chalkboard halt.”

I try to maintain a cool head on the current gay marriage debate, but today I read an editorial arguing gay marriage is a basic human right and implying it would probably have the support of Thomas Jefferson were he alive today. This is interesting. Our Founding Father’s argued that human rights are endowed by the Creator, who the Judeo-Christian tradition reveals, (along with Mohammed for that matter), created humans as male and female and then instituted marriage for these complementary sexual beings. Their union involved becoming one flesh and a mandate to be fruitful and multiply (the only commandment humans have obeyed, environmentalist Bill McKibben points out). With the advancement of such arguments and a NY City Councilman demanding the mayor break the law for gays, it is difficult not to hear St. Paul’s refrain, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done¢â‚¬¦they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”

Remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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