Sunday, February 29, 2004

Pot. Kettle. Cork.

Barbara Nicolosi of Church of the Masses recently explained why The Passion had such an impact on her family:
My family are of the stock for whom this movie is most meaningful. We are people who have spent thousands of hours brooding over the Sorrowful Mysteries. We are rosary people. We are people who really really DO Lent, and for whom Passion week is the center of the year. We think of the mass as being an unbloody Sacrifice that only has power because it recreates the bloody one of Calvary. We make the stations and holy hours and read the Scriptures and go on retreats and honor the Sacred Heart and offer things up and go to confession pretty much monthly.
Bill Cork links to this post and says "this is dangerous, and shows why the film is dangerous -- and why we do indeed need to be afraid of how it will play out." I've said before that Bill's voice is one which ought to be heard whenever Christians make a passion play -- but not everything he uses that voice on is edifying. In fact, I'm fed to the teeth with the twisty, snide, and irresponsible polemics against The Passion and people who find it spiritually uplifting which so frequently scar and pockmark Bill's thoughts on the film.

Does Bill really think we need to be afraid of becoming "rosary people" who make the stations and holy hours? That's the post he linked to when he described what we need to be afraid of, you know -- not the post which claims that criticism of the film is demonic. Why the reckless, one-bomb-fits-all approach? What did he say about Mel Gibson?
I don't think Mel was intentionally making a movie to blame the Jews for Deicide. Rather, I think we can accept his explanation that he wanted to make a movie focusing on the meaning of the Passion for us. But in doing so, he used the writings of an 18th century German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, as the basis, and this resulted in the inclusion of some problematic elements. Her Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the product of a pious but overworked imagination, and reflects both misunderstanding and ignorance of Scripture and unquestioning acceptance of antisemitic assumptions that prevailed among Catholics of the era. Her "visions" are so much a part of this movie that it would be fair to say it is a movie of her book, not of the Gospels.
Well, double dittos for Bill. I don't think Bill is intentionally setting out to excoriate anything that's authentically and devotionally Catholic. Rather, I think we can accept Bill's explanation that he wants to blog about the meaning of Catholicism for us. But in doing so, Bill's tactics and orientations result in the inclusion of some problematic elements, such as telling us to be afraid lest we end up going to confession and daily mass. I think Bill's perspective on the film and its admirers might be the product of a pious but overworked imagination, which reflects both his misunderstandings about the nature of Catholic devotionalism and his unquestioning acceptance of some shallow anti-traditionalist notions that prevail among Catholics of our era. His visions about that are so integral to his criticism that sometimes it's fair to say his critiques are vindications of his own preferred way to live Catholicism and not actually criticisms of Mel Gibson's movie.

I think that's why Bill hasn't stopped to consider how someone might get a tad agitated when they're told that faithful Catholics -- the ones who follow the magisterium and so dislike Gibson's film -- need to be afraid of their rosaries and of experiencing "profound sadness" (NB: Not "intense desire to kill Jews") after watching The Passion. Bill's overheated imagination, which doesn't acknowledge any other frame of reference for the film, has been recklessly slathering The Passion and its admirers with a mile-wide brush of tar since Day One, suggesting over and over again that anyone who approves of The Passion is likely an anti-Semite or at least comfortable with anti-Semitism; won't mind infidelity to the Gospels; and aren't being faithful to the magisterium. Bill's had a number of visions identifying positive reactions to The Passion with people who believe in world zionist conspiracies and UFOs, the SSPX, Robert Sungenis, and Aztek revanchists. More recently, Bill's revealed that people who find The Passion wonderful do so because they enjoy pornographic depictions of violence.

Bill's vision is so powerful that he can't recognize the effect such criticism has on Catholics who don't experience the same problems with the film as he does. Over and over again, by Bill and a host of other critics, Catholics are being told that to approve of, or be moved by, The Passion is to enjoy anti-Semitism, infidelity to the Gospels, and disobedience to the Church. It's not the work of Satan, but only of human nature, that such a relentless inquisitorial barrage tempts people to see something demonic in a litmus test for Catholicity that requires both disgust at Gibson's "pornographic" movie and an apparently-equal disdain for masses, lenten penitence, retreats, and devotion to the Sacred Heart. Ms. Nicolosi got tempted, and said so in another post.

And of course Bill, running true to form, tells us it's just more proof that The Passion's admirers are a dangerous and frightening bunch of UFO-believing, Aztek-feather-wearing, SSPX-Jew-hating morons. Who's been guilty of demonizing, Bill? Is it just the Feeneyite, Faheyite, Kristallnacht pornography-junkies who think The Passion is one of the best Christian films ever made?

In case the answer isn't clear, let's try Bill's modus operandi on him and see how easily a pious and overactive imagination can make it work. We can start by linking to a website critical of The Passion like this one, and quote it, just like Bill quoted the anti-Semitic screed on the UFO-believer's website:
As you can see Jim Caviezel is very Roman Catholic. This man is totally devoted to the worship of Mary. He loves the abomination of the Eucharist where Jesus is supposedly turned into bread and then eaten by Catholics. He went with Mel to the sacrifice of the Mass every day. This is where Jesus is re-sacrificed again for the sins of the people. This sacrifice is done in a bloodless manner on the alters of Roman Catholicism. The reason it is done is Romanism does not believe the sacrifice on the cross was sufficient payment for all sins. Instead, the Lord Jesus is sacrificed again in each and every Catholic mass for the sins of the people. Jim also mentioned in the above interview that he kept a charm or a relic on his body for supposed blessings. Witches and occultists use charms and tailsmen but Catholic's uses relics (i.e. so called pieces of the cross etc). Finally, Jim carried his rosary daily.
That's step one. Step two is rhetorically winking at the audience: "Like a certain blogger (NAMED BILL CORK) this critic also doesn't like the passion. Funny how anti-Catholicism and resistance to the film seem to go hand and hand -- at least in some places." We could go on and quote other fruitcakes who don't like the film such as this one:
"What are your thoughts and feelings on this upcoming Catholic movie? Isn't it just another step towards one world religion? The signs and wonders that have been happening on the set and many people turning to Catholicism. Why would a discerning Christian want to see this movie and why are so many churches and prominent Christian leaders promoting this catholic movie? How confused could a lost person be after viewing this and then be susceptible to apostate teaching?"
Why, if we agreed with Bill Cork we'd soon believe that Catholicisim is the Antichrist religion of the End Time!!! If Bill can choose anti-Semites and UFO-fantasists who like The Passion to represent all the reasons why anyone would really like it, surely we can say that anti-Catholic nut-cases who dislike The Passion represent anyone who think it's a spiritually-dangerous film. We can generalize just like Bill does and say that everyone who criticizes this film hates Catholicism. Haven't we just proved it by quoting people who, like Bill Cork, don't like The Passion and hate Catholicism? All we need now is for Bill to blog a few approving words about Dignitatis Humanae and Taize-style ecumenism, and we can let our overheated imaginations get us to crap all over that at the same time.

Bill's crusade against The Passion, like most of the criticism he cites, takes the unfortunate tack of proposing that a faithful Catholic can only see the film as bad and unwholesome. He was among the first at St. Blogs' to claim he knew whose side the devils of hatred, schism, and heterodoxy were on. He ought to be among the last people at St. Blogs' to complain when someone else says they know better.

No comments: