Mea Culpa
Thursday, February 26 at 1:45 p.m.
The Passion of The Christ seems to be the big thing these days. And it is. It's so big that even my little sister was sent to the theatre to see it. Those of you acquainted with my family will know how momentous that is.

The media, it seems, has focused on two aspects of the film - it's violence and it's supposed anti-Semitic slant. How someone reacts to these two aspects of the film will largely depend on the views they hold before they enter the theatre. To the anti-Semite, it will provide fuel for their beliefs. Not because the film promotes such a view, but because people who hold such views have a tendency of twisting things into their own frame of reference. Those who are simply looking to find something wrong with the film will resort to the last charge as well as to the violence.

The film is violent; violent enough to make me turn away from the screen at one point. But that is how it was. And I believe it does not go far enough. Here is Isaiah 53:3 as translated in The Message:

He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

"One look at him and people turned away." Most, if not all, would have reacted so to the sight of the bloody and disfigured person who traversed the Via de la Rosa. Although some of that emotion is present in the film, the idea of “disgust” is not. I suppose it would be hard - even blasphemous - to make our Saviour disgusting, but I believe that is how he was seen.

Similarly, the film does not truly convey Christ's emotional, mental and spiritual anguish. The scene in the garden does so to some extent, but I do not think it enough. On the cross, Christ bore the sins of the world. Saying that, however, does not do it justice. Christ also bore every possible sin, every sin that you and I could commit. In other words, the unseen pain he felt was - in my opinion - infinite. That is why the Son of the infinite God had to bear it; such a thing would have been impossible for a finite man. Furthermore, that was the moment of seperation for the Triune God; the God which is complete and always in communion. The Father turned away from the Son as He became sin for us. A difficult concept to understand, much less portray on a screen, but still something that I found lacking.

My final complaint has to do with the subtitles. They are necessary, but should have been more subdued. At some points in the film, they are just a distraction. The choice of words in some cases also bothered me; the substitution of the word "chalice" in place of the traditional "cup" when Christ is in the garden being one.

The most commendable of interpretive additions to the film is Satan, who appears as an androgynous, cloaked figure. It does much to bring out the fact that Christ was constantly tempted, always being asked to give up. There are also some very powerful scenes revealing the emotions of his disciples and mother as they watched that moved me to tears.

When all is said and done, The Passion of The Christ remains a powerful film. I would be lying if I said that I was not touched. It is much more than any other film I have seen that deals with similar issues. I would still warn anyone who wishes to see it that for some the violence will be too much. Even so, I think that this is one film every Christian should eventually see.

This song, I think, perfectly captures the essence of the Passion. All this speculation about who really killed Christ is, in some sense, irrelevant. The Passion is about Christ and what He did for "me". And because He died for my sins, I share the blame for His death.

Mea Culpa.

Above All
Lenny LeBlanc & Paul Baloche

Above all powers, above all things
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth

Crucified, laid behind the stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall, and thought of me
Above all

Have you read this far? What perseverance you have. Thank you for doing so. Before I go, to all those who will be leaving in the next little while for the mountains of Pennsylvania, have a good trip. Come back to us safely.