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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Friday, September 10, 2004

The Passion

Yes, I finally watched it last night. I have nothing but praise and admiration for Gibson for making this film...truly I thank him for it.

First I was surprised at how little moved I was by the violence...perhaps I had heard so much about it that I expected worse than I saw? Or, more likely, I have seen video and pictures of REAL violence and thus can be more disengaged from violence I know to be fake? (Not sure) I am also still amazed that most evangelicals seem to have embraced this film given that there were so many extra-biblical themes/scenes/lines in it. In my evangelical time and universe I would have had to work hard to get past all of that "traditions of men" stuff. Funny, though, much of those same extra-biblical portions were my favorite parts of the film

E.G.

Jesus falling on the Via Delorosa and Mary rushing to Him - cinematically accompanied by a flashback to when Jesus was a child and had fallen: "Behold Mother...I make all things new." Wow...powerful!

St. Veronica venerating an Icon. YES!

But, (you knew there had to be a "but", right?) it was a decidedly western view of the work of Christ. You see while it seems to me that Mel (and the West?) got so much right - in the film at least - he got two things very wrong: the devil and the devil's timing.

Having Satan tempt Christ to AVOID the cross seems utterly contrary to the Orthodox understanding of the events. What I gather from my feeble patristic readings and from paying as much attention as I am able to during the Holy Week services is that Satan wanted to kill Him, to destroy Him, to hold Him forever in death and hell. And the moment in the film when Satan screams in apparent agony would not actually happen when Jesus dies (lest we see that as a moment of celebration), but rather on Great and Holy Saturday when death, hades, and/or the devil realize that his/their plan wasn't going to work. And so while that scene of Jesus crushing the serpents head was fantastic, it was not in the right place. He should have stepped out of the tomb and there crushed the snakes head.

The difference may appear subtle, but it really isn't. In my simple mind, the distinction tells us more clearly (AYE, MUCH MORE CLEARLY) who/what is the enemy and Who is the Ally. Interesting that while I knew I would wrestle overall with the western emphasis on substitutionary atonement in the film, I did not expect that that wrestling would be completely "personified" in the mischaracterization of Satan.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:42 AM [+]
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8 comments


8 Comments:

good comments james.

"Behold Mother...I make all things new."
that is one of THE greatest lines in any film, ever.

up there with the line in 'out of africa'... "dees lion ees hongry sabu, but eet duz not have dees ox... dees wagon ees heavy sabu but eet duz not have dees ox... God is happy sabu.... He plays with us".

of of course, most every line in the thin red line, but especially: "Oh my soul, let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes, look out at the things you've made. All things shining..."

in what scene did you see an icon venerated? totally missed that...

)( seraphim

By Blogger seraphim/seattle, at 12:33 PM  

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There is just something very intense about the relationship between Christ and His Mother...not sure I can explain it...but there He is talking to His Mother (our Mother, our Sister, us) and telling her (comforting her with) the most cosmically significant news ever.

"All things new..." sends chills

St. Veronica, after receiving the cloth back from Christ (with His image now upon it - one of the "Icons not made by hands") kisses it.

Never saw "Out of Africa."

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 12:41 PM  

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When St. Veronica comes out of the side street to wipe Christ's face, she finishes and then kisses the cloth. a few frames later, as the camera angle changes, you see her standing by the via dolorosa with the cloth in her hands, on the cloth is an imprint/ image of Christ's face.

BTW, I talked to Fr. John (http://eviljuan.blogspot.com) today, here's an interesting review he wrote.
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=112086&view=public

sfallin

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 PM  

________________________________________________________________

There is just something very intense about the relationship between Christ and His Mother...not sure I can explain it...but there He is talking to His Mother (our Mother, our Sister, us) and telling her (comforting her with) the most cosmically significant news ever.

"All things new..." sends chills

St. Veronica, after receiving the cloth back from Christ (with His image now upon it - one of the "Icons not made by hands") kisses it.

Never saw "Out of Africa."

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 12:52 PM  

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It's just a praiseworthy wonder to me that so many people saw the film and that such a strong (but flawed) testament to the awesome love of a merciful God even made it out of the gates of Hollywood. I'm changed by it -- even months later. I belonged to Christ before I went in the theater, and that belonging was only strengthened.

Laura sent me. I'm glad she did. Thrive in His grace.

By Blogger not perfection, at 7:43 PM  

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i was like you, pretty unmoved by the violence. but the eyes - every time the camera focused on Christ looking at someone, it was just so deep.

By Blogger Rick, at 8:56 PM  

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James, as I'm sure you know, I'm not a quite as positive about the film as you.

That scene near the end really bemused me. It seemd to be a portrayal of the harrowing of hell, but Jesus was still dead! Is this a typical Catholic approach to the idea?

On the whole I loved the personification of Satan - and I thought the scene with the demonic baby was excellent.

By Blogger Graham Old, at 7:59 AM  

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Well Graham,

the Harrowing of Hell takes place on Holy Saturday and in a sense crescendos with the Resurrection. The hymns of the Orthodox Church are amazing on this point...maybe I'll post about them.

The movie has Satan screaming the moment that Jesus dies ("completing His mission") and while we would affirm that His work on earth had been accomplished...what was to happen now (quite naturally) was that death was to confront the author of LIFE. This "taking of a man and confronting instead God" was the point at which the devil ought to begin being concerned. There is a prominant Patristic frame of mind that describes the devil as having been tricked into the killing of Jesus.

The personification of the devil was of course great - in the sense that he is indeed a person...but I think they got his motivation wrong. He wanted Jesus dead.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 AM  

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