The Corner

Re: The Passion

I saw it yesterday, and was deeply moved. I’ll

have a column about it in tomorrow’s Dallas Morning News. But a few things

here: 1) the intensity of this film blasts away the standard bourgeois

American domesticated Jesus we get from too many pulpits today; it’s

impossible to come out of this movie and to remain satisfied with the faith

as it is lived in much of America, and even in your own life; 2) I was

startled by how much empathy I had for Caiaphas and Pilate; echoing Mike’s

comments, the movie made me see that both of them reacted very humanly to

the “problem” of Jesus: if I were a temple priest, and I’d had to listen to

this preacher going around calling me and my kind hypocrites, and then had

him right in front of me claiming to be the Messiah, I’d surely see him as

an outrageous blasphemer; if I were Pilate, a colonial bureaucrat who just

wanted to keep the peace and avoid trouble, why wouldn’t I have given this

innocent stranger over to die, if it made my life easier? Like Mike said,

the religious and political authorities just wanted to defend order — and

lots of us contemporary conservatives understand the impulse.

Which is all to say that this film made me understand in my bones that if I

had been there, I probably would have wanted to crucify him too. And, as the

Church teaches, in some mystical way, I did.

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