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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Day by Day (A discussion on the Passion of the Christ)

The other day I watched the musical "Godspell" for the first time since I was a small child, and it brought back a flood of memories. "Godspell" is a silly movie from 1973 where crazy hippies re-enact the Gospel of Matthew through singing and dancing around New York City. I love that movie. My viewing reminded me of the last movie I watched about Jesus. It was a small film, and didn't get much press, and caused very little controversy. It was called "The Passion of the Christ." Unless you have been living under a rock, you get the sarcasm here. Anyway-BUNNY TRAIL- Here comes yet unother rant about the American Church. Seriously, I am not blaming anyone here, and I am the farthest from perfect there is, but someone has got to point out the problems, and I am appointing myself- BACK TO MAIN STREET-Anyway, the marketing for "The Passion" was genius. In a nutshell, if you didn't go see "The Passion" you weren't a good Christian. So, I saw the movie on opening night. I didn't enjoy it very much. Actually, I think you would have to be a Satanist to enjoy the movie, that is, if you left before the last thirty seconds (resurrection goodness). I get what Gibson was trying to do. Enjoying the film is not the point. The point is experiencing Christ's PHYSICAL (only one element of His) suffering. That's pretty much it. There is hardly anything about Jesus' life on Earth, or His teachings. Just violence, violence, and more violence. Oh. Did I mention violence? Not just the punishment for Jesus, either. We get grotesque demon hauntings of Judas. We get an eye-ball popping out of somebody's head. We get rotting animal carcasses. This film is about violence. I can see how watching this film once can be an eye-opener for anyone who can't quite comprehend the descriptions of Jesus' beatings in the Bible (but I don't get why all the other violence is so prominent). After that, I can't quite comprehend why anyone would want to watch the film again, but I've been called a pacifist and a bleeding heart and a softie, so I guess that's just me. Maybe that's why I enjoy Godspell so much more.
First off, you actually get to hear Jesus' teachings, and see them acted out.
Secondly-this film is hillarious. There is a joyful sense of reckless abandon, and just downright happiness. Jesus is a happenin guy.
Third-Being the child of ex-hippies, I had a very interesting early upbringing. My newly Christian mother sat me in front of the TV for all kinds of crazy hippie Christian shows, and made me listen to crazy hippie Christian music (Like Bullfrogs and Butterflies, and Dallas Holmes, and Keith Green) and I like(d) it. Godspell reminds me of the first three or four years of my life. Plus, early 80s LPB rocked. Old-school Sesame Street. 3-2-1-Contact. Reading Rainbow. Bob Ross. Plus, I got a healthy dose of What's Happening, too. Rerun (the What's Happening character, for the uninitiated) was my hero. Anyway, all this to say, I feel very comfortable when I watch crazy things from the 70s and early 80s.
So anyway, when Hippie Jesus (played by Victor Garber(he is awesome) knows it is time for His crucifiction and says goodbye to each disciple individually, I tear up. I did not tear up during "Passion" because I was too busy holding back vomit, and feeling strange, cold, and isolated. Jesus is my hero. Watching Him get beat up doesn't give me very much pleasure.
I guess my point is (I actually don't think I have one this time), I sure miss the happier, and less cynical times where Jesus could sing and dance, and wear cool facepaint and suspenders, and His disciples could sing and dance with Him. Now, the only thing Jesus is allowed to do is be beaten, and nailed to a cross. That's not much of a teaching tool. Sure, the death is important, but what good is it to show the death, without showing the life? If the Gospels were only the second to last chapters, we would be missing a lot.
I sure would like to make a historically accurate film some day that focuses on Jesus life, instead of just his death. We Protestants wear an empty cross, while Catholic's wear one where He's still up there dead (Gibson =s highly Catholic) because we focus on Life, right? That's what I always thought, anyway. Not knocking Catholics or anything (or maybe I am, I can't quite tell). When I finish reading the Gospels, I feel like I can take on the world, not like I've just had the hell beaten out of me. I don't know. I guess I'm just crazy.
-In conclusion (taken from IMDB):
Pharisee Monster: (made of garbage): What is the greatest commandment of all?
Jesus: Thou shalt love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and your soul. This is the greatest commandment of them all. The second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. All the rest of the Law and what the prophets have written is based on these first two.
Pharisee Monster: Argh!!! (Self destructs)
-Eating glue is not the answer!


Jon said...

beautiful use of parenthesese(?) when talking about your old christian hippie music. I liked that post. I really want to watch that movie now. My friend David has the hippie bible. It's called "The Way" and it's written in groovy 60's bubble letters with pictures of hippie christians in them. It's the awesomest bible ever. Three cheers for christian hippies "Hiphip... HOORAY! hiphip... HOORAY! hiphip... HOORAY!"

Oh I got your other comment, but it's really ashame that we communicate more through your blog than on the phone these days. It's makes me cry. But, uh... yeah I guess we can do that, whatever we'll figure it out when you get back. Bring me back some german gay porn please!


Anonymous said...

Nice. I like very much what i've seen of the Jesus of Nazereth Tv series done in the 70's by Franco Zefereli (sp?) and if you haven't seen it you should. I know they have it at blockbuster and the library. I currently have it from the goodwood library where I still work (it's been about two monthes that I've had that dvd gosh!)

Anyways, yeah I definately plan on making some hippie jesus movies.
Oh and get me some of that german pron too. Not gay though. Jon's just weird.


-E said...

I didn't care for the Passion either. In fact I don't think it would have made any difference if it was about some Kwikymart employee instead of Jesus as there was no identification with WHO he was in the film. But you've sold me on looking into renting Godspell. Thanks for the tip.

Nicholas said...

-e: I agree. It might as well have been "The Passion of Apu." If I hadn't been familiar with the source material, I would not have known any better. As to Godspell: Sweet! I hope you enjoy it.

-Jordan: "Jesus of Nazereth" was an Easter staple for me as a child. Also, the only way I am buying you porn is if you wire me some money.

-Jon: I know someone else who had a "The Way" bible. I'll give you a hint. He's your friend. He has a blog. It's called the Nicsperiment. I can't seem to find the thing now, though. My mom has thrown away a lot of her old stuff. As to blog vs. phone- C'mon Jon, blog is the wave of the future. The wave of the futute. The wave of the future. The wave of the future...

-E said...

HAHA, seen The Aviator recently?

But it is good to know that there are other folks out there that feel the same way about that movie as I do. You know, he is cutting about 7 minutes of "violence" for its rerelease in March. Now, why is it going BACK in theaters?

Nicholas said...

Hmm...I guess either:
A. Gibson is desperate for cash for whatever his new project is (If the 300 + mil from "The Passion" isn't cutting it?)and is cashing in on the Easter-time movie market.
B. His marketing department thinks cutting seven buckets of blood out of 127 might bring out those too "queasy" to see "The Passion" the first go around.
C. The demand for seeing someone beaten, flayed, and crucified is higher than I thought.

The Aviator made me very happy.

Anonymous said...

There is one other thing that you forgot to mention in your rant. I will bring this in because I pay big money to learn this kind of stuff:

In about the second century, a man named Tatian harmonized the four gospels in our canon into a book called the "Diatesseron." This was rejected by the church fathers and Tatian was later cast out as a heretic (for other reasons). The reason his harmonization was rejected is that the early church recognized the importance of letting each source speak for itself. There are differences in them and there are reasons that those differences are there. We should note that and find out what the author is trying to emphasize with his/her perspective. Why did the Holy Spirit choose him/her to write it? What is a horse shoe? Are there horse socks? Is anyone listening to me?

Nicholas said...

I'm glad you posted that here. I hadn't thought about it before you told me (where were we, the Reeperbahn?). Have your thighs healed, yet? I know my crotch hasn't.