Reflections on the day After The Passion

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I attended an opening day matinee of The Passion yesterday. As the Garden of Gethsemane scene unfolded, an elderly woman broke the hush by rummaging in her popcorn bag and then chewing loudly. It just seemed to be a weird time to eat popcorn. This is what happens when spiritual events transpire in entertainment settings.

I got past the irritation with the old lady, figuring if Jesus can endure the pain of the cross I ought to be able to handle this gnat sized aging irritant.

As you know by now, this is a stunning film, powerful enough to make grown men weep (I did). I think the deeper your devotion to Christ the more you’ll be pained by the agony of the disciple’s betrayal (I’ve done that too) and by the depth of Christ’s love in choosing to suffer when he could have called ten thousand angels.

Will this film deepen the devotion of people who call themselves “Christians” but are clueless about the sacrifice involved in daily taking up a cross? At one point Jesus announces that the disciple is not above the master how many Christians made the connection between their bloodied Savior and his call on their lives? I was raised singing, “there is a fountain filled with blood.” You call the Passion Mel Gibson’s fountain filled with blood. Today Dustin Hoffman and others indicated this movie could hurt Mel’s career. Do you think he cares?

As I watched the credits with my pal Bill Hogg, a woman asked her friends, so did you enjoy that?” It seemed an odd question how can you “enjoy” watching Jesus getting pulverized? I guess it is another case of the spiritual set in the entertainment venue.

I stopped at CompUSA to buy some DVD disks because I needed to burn a DVD of a family “show-and-tell” my wife is taking to her brother in Florida today. A commercial transaction seemed inappropriate just after watching the Passion. I went to the Ash Wednesday service last night and couldn’t stop weeping. Crazy as it seems, by 9PM I was watching Bachelorette Meredith choose Ian and fuming as if it mattered.

Art makes us feel and the Passion has gotten past my intellectual radar. I feel like weeping a lot today. I think this is a good thing, but part of my sorrow involves seeing more clearly the superficiality of some of what occupies my day (like Meredith on The Bachelorette) and my concern that there is too great a dissonance between Jesus’ devotion to me and mine to him and I am not sure what to do about it. Drawing closer to Jesus is supposed to equip us for daily life not cause us to withdraw like the Essenes of Jesus’ day, yet so much of life is trivial and not worth the energy.

I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

Also if you’re near Seattle, next week I’m appearing in Lynnwood on a panel to discuss “The Passion” (Monday March 1st, 7:30 PM) call 425-732-9111 to reserve a seat.

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

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