Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bill Cork on The Passion: Too Passionate.

Bill Cork has written a rather silly argument that The Passion is an anti-Semitic hate film because it contradicts Scripture and exaggerates the role of the Jews. You can read it here. Now I've said before that Bill's concerns are not to be discounted out of hand. I've gone so far as to say that without people who have those concerns, somebody probably would end up making an anti-Semitic retelling of the Crucifixion. But these complaints do Bill (or his cause) little credit. I'd spent time writing a reply. But then I noticed from Mark Shea's blog that Courreges has already published one. It's not only very good, it's far more kind than the one I wrote. So go there and read a very good demolition, not only of Bill's perspective, but the perspectives of just about everyone else who dislikes The Passion.

I would, however, note Bill's "all-over-the-map" approach to The Passion. On Friday, the day before penning his condemnation of The Passion's anti-Semitic exaggerations, he wrote that
James Dobson is clueless. He raves about "The Passion," and then seeks to reassure Evangelicals: "There are no specific references to unique Catholic doctrine in the film." Huh??? That, I think, is one of the positive features of the movie: it is a uniquelyCatholic vision.
Bill's most recent criticism leaves little doubt that he thinks The Passion is anti-Semitic. He's also on record archly suggesting that people who want a large audience for the film are ignoring (even, perhaps, contravening) Church teaching and discipline. He's also on record saying that everyone should "forget" The Passion and watch instead the Gospel of John because it, unlike Mel Gibson's film "tells the whole story of Jesus" and "is completely faithful to Scripture."

"Huh???" indeed. Is anti-Semitism a uniquely Catholic vision? How about contradicting Scripture or the doctrines or discipline of the Church? The point here isn't to suggest that Bill's vision of what's "uniquely" Catholic is pejorative. The point is that it's difficult to see how The Passion can be as bad as Bill says it is and as good as he says it is at the same time. It can't be anti-Semitic or contradict Scripture and be authentically Catholic. It can't be worth watching and worth ignoring at the same time.

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