Right off the bat let me start by saying that I am not a Biblical scholar so anything I say here should be taken with an industrial sized salt serving.
And yes, I'm about to spout off on RELIGION, which my Mother warned me about - come to think of it, everyone has warned me about it - so I know that I'm not only treading on dangerous grounds in my social circle but risking eternal damnation.
Sometimes, you've just got to risk it.
Today, as I write this, it is Good Friday. The number one movie of the year remains Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ" and I've yet to see it.
Why? Not for the reasons you might think. I'm not against religious movies. I've enjoyed many a good one, although I tend to believe that to qualify the film must be a generation old.
Nor is it because of the blood, copious though it seems. We all know that Big "C" Roman Catholics love their "hurting Saviors" (having created the Passion Plays in the first place), and Mel is as Big "C" as they come, but that's not the reason either.
It's not because of the tacky "The Passion of The Christ" tie-in merchandise. Although I am fundamentally offended by any company making money selling necklaces with representations of the spikes that pierced Christ's flesh.
And it's not because the movie is made by a Roman Catholic. Yes, I'm an Anglican (Episcopalian to you Yanks) and historically pre-disposed to hating Roman Catholics and the things they do but you're going to have to put an "X" in that box as well Alex!
And it has nothing to do with any perceived, eronous belief that a certain group and it's people are responsible for the death of my personal Savior. I've long since forgiven the Romans for that, besides, you really miss the point of the story by thinking these events weren't only ordained but mandated by God as required to happen. Those of us who believe in eternal salvation should thank you. At least if you're not Christian you have an excuse for your ignorance.
None of these things are the reason I haven't seen "The Passion..."
So why, you ask? (You did ask, right?)
Well, for one I'm still not terribly comfortable with people playing the part of God even when it's in the Christ form. That first Commandment and it's rather clear "no graven images" thing sticks with me, particularly since it was the only Commandment of the big ten that Christ specifically referred to just before his Passion.
But not being comfortable isn't enough to stop me. After all, if my interpretation of that Commandment is accurate I'm not the one playing Christ so, one could argue (and I've been accused of being willing to argue with the Pope) that I'm not the one who is committing the sin (although the discomfort comes from not being sure I believe that).
No, the reason I'm not going to see "The Passion of The Christ" is because too much of modern Christian society has gotten hung up on the wrong part of the message.
The point to Christ, his purpose and mission, might have been to die on the Cross for our sins but the message of Christianity is redemption through His Resurrection. The mistake western society has made is closing down stores and giving employees Good Friday off instead of Easter Monday.
Easter Monday? Yup. You know, the third day after his Crucifiction. The day of Resurrection. The Life of Christ was a build up to take our sins but the Point of Christ was to provide a path to redemption, to await his return. The Spirit over the Body.
By sancitifying and alone commemorating the Death without providing equal if not superior reverence and respect to the Resurrection we are committing the gravest of sins. Missing the message. And guys and dolls, this is a very important message.
The Passion was act one, and an important act it is, but society and religious trappings are giving this too much of the emphasis.
I know what some of you are saying, doesn't the beginning of Matthew 28 put the third day as "After the Sabbath, at the dawn of the first day of the week". That's what it says in my Bible. And I know the Hebrew calendar puts the Sabbath on Saturday, meaning Christ rose on Sunday so you might wonder what the fuss is about seeing as we get every Sunday off.
Well, when any other Holiday (from the original Holy-Day) falls on Sunday we don't go to work on Monday, we get Monday off. Easter Sunday shouldn't be about candy, chocolate and eggs (although at least the EGGS are symbolic of something useful). Easter Sunday should be the celebration of a chance each one of has to earn eternal life and salvation.
So maybe I'll watch "The Passion..." one day, but only as a double bill with Mel Gibson's "The Resurrection of The Christ". Now that would be a movie!