The media is full of stuff about the Academy Awards today.
The two best quotes I read today had only a peripheral relationship to the big event — which, like millions of others, I watch until the (yawn) end.
This from a Parade Magazine interview with Viggo Mortensen, the reluctant hero of the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn:
“I knew early on that life is sorrowful”, he replied. “We all decline, slowly or quickly, and we die. We can’t change that. Be we can change our attiude toward it.”
He paused a mement, then added: “We each have only a limited amount of time here. We have to do more with it — pay attention, explore, be open to all of life. Because we have only one chance, we have to make life seem longer than it really is.”
And from piece about the Academy Awards by Diane Cameron, my favorite local columnist, in today’s local newspaper:
It’s also tempting to disdain movies as just entertainment, but we have to remember that movies, even bad ones, become part of us. They are now what plays or poems were in the past: important sources of metaphor and imagery that we draw on in viewing our world and in our own identity formation. Human beings are always making stories and talking to themselves. Stories with pictures are even better. The best movies, though, are the ones in which we star. No need to be embarrassed. It’s a fact that most of us are watching and narrating our own story a lot of the time: “This is me shopping, this is me eating, this is me walking down the street.”
We might suspect that with all of the new home entertainment technology, the movie business will shift to all-TV and we’ll simply get our movies at home. But that ignores something older that draws us to the movie theater. That is the ancient urge we have to come together with others in the dark to listen to stories.
And there is also, now, the storytelling in the dark of the Blog.
That’s David Weinberger to whom I’m referring, who asked this question in a comment to my post about the passionless Passion.
I ask this as a Jew who hasn’t seen the movie. And I ask it sincerely. If this movie were all you had to go on, what would you think of Christianity? Does it do a good job representing the meaning of the religion?
In my review of the movie, I purposely avoided that issue because I wanted to review the movie as a movie and not as propaganda. Having done that, however, David’s question gives me an excuse to share my answer to that important question — which is unequivacally NO!
The model of tolerance and compassion that the figure of the Christ is supposed to be for Christians is not reflected in the movie. The main message this movie gives about the Christ is that he was tortuously martyred by Messiah-denying Jewish religious leaders. The model of political and philosophical courageous rebellion that the Christ is for lots of us others isn’t there either. The point of the movie is that he said he was the Messiah, and the Jewish leaders said he wasn’t, and there more more of them then there were of him and they won out.
This is not a movie about any of the aspects of Christianity that might make it a valuable path to follow, that might give insight into its potential power to those who don’t know much about it. This is a movie made by a man who looks at the world through a two-inch pipe.
The mindset that made this movie is the same one that caused feminist Monique Wittig to write:
On my tv news right now: Jason West, the 26 year old mayor of New Paltz, NY (who won his office on the Green Party ticket) says that he’s going to start marrying same sex couples tomorrow. Four couples are far on the list so far. Experts say that nothing in NY State law says that he can’t do that.
I just love New York!
OK. I admit, upfront, that I’m biased. Beginning with the time Sister Mary Whatshername took our sixth grade class to see a Black Friar-produced Passion Play, and continuing through another half-dozen years of Stations of the Cross and Seven Last Words and various other celebrations of that noxious crucifixion, I pretty much had my fill of the story’s gory details.
Maybe that’s why, sitting through Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ this afternoon with my mother snoozing on and off next to me through the less loudly symphonic parts, I felt….well….I felt bored.
Or maybe that’s not why. I mean, I really like going to the movies. And I am deeply enamored of all kinds of mythologies. There was a time that used to to read the gospels over and over because I loved the stories. Hearing Haydn’s interpretation would move me to goose bumps and tears. So, why did Gibson’s Christ leave me cold.
Well, first of all, costly coagulated make-up effects and lots of eerily expressive faces aside, Gibson directed this movie like it was a film student’s final project. All of that slow motion drifting of various droplets, bodily and otherwise! Those creative camera angles and constant crescendos of new age-y music! And, of course, those lengthy close-up portrait shots of fluid-oozing faces!
Anyone who doesn’t know the details of that mythic journey might totally lose track of the story line as it flashes back to various signficant moments in the Christ’s life-before-flogging. You really had to have read the book. Probably several times.
And then there was the flogging. And the flogging. And the flogging. No man born of woman would have lived past the first round. By then, essential organs would have been mortally wounded, and at least a few ribs cracked and sticking in and out of places that they were never meant to be. Certainly, after having just about every inch of skin pretty much flayed to strips, any human would have fainted from the pain, gone into catatonic shock.
Oh, what’s that you say? But he wasn’t human. Oh, but the point of the movie and of scripture is that he was. His father in heaven did not protect him or save him or take that chalice from him. He made his choices and he took his chances.
And so it was with Gibson-the-director. He chose to turn one of the greatest stories ever told into what amounts to a graphic novel. Oddly enough Pontius Pilate comes off as the only character who thinks in more than one dimension. Unfortunately, the historical Pontius Pilate was much less bothered by conscience than the one that Christian mythology has come to embrace and the one that Gibson chose to portray.
I think that Gibson has done a great disservice to both faith and myth, which, when it comes to the passion of the Christ, are based in so much more than the skin-deep story that his movie tells.
Instead of being drawn into the heart of the matter, as I watched Gibson’s movie I was remembering my sixth grade introduction to the Passion Play, when Stanley Szymanski sat next to me and held my hand. And during the most dramatic moment of the play, when the Christ was hanging on the cross and about to utter his last words, and the sound effects thundered and the lighting effects blinded. Stanley leaned over and said to me “let’s get hitched.”
P.S. For some clever related visual sacriligious humor, check out Rage Boy’s “Christ on a Crutch.”
I got the following from my son’s website, out Oregon way. He says it’s being emailed around, but this is the first I’ve seen it. It sure does make the point — at least it should to anyone who doesn’t look at the world through a two-inch pipe.
As certain politicians work diligently to prevent marriage between two people of the same sex, others of us have been busy drafting a Constitutional Amendment codifying all marriages entirely on biblical principles. After all, God wouldn’t want us to pick and choose which of the Scriptures we elevate to civil law and which we choose to ignore:
Draft of a Constitutional Amendment to Defend Biblical Marriage:
* Marriage in the United States of America shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5.)
* Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
* A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
* Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
* Since marriage is for life, neither the US Constitution nor any state law shall permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9-12)
* If a married man dies without children, his brother must marry the widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow, or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
* In lieu of marriage (if there are no acceptable men to be found), a woman shall get her father drunk and have sex with him. (Gen 19:31-36)
I hope this helps to clarify the finer details of the Government’s righteous struggle against the infidels and heathens among us
In his post, b!X makes the following statement, which, I think, it right-on.
The same arguments made today against same-sex marriage — which boil down to something about a threat to the social fabric — are merely echoes of the arguments which supported the idea that blacks were not quite human and could be owned as property, the idea that women should not be allowed to cast votes at the ballot box, and the above idea that whites should not marry people of other races.
Thing is, they’re right. Same-sex marriage indeed is a threat to the social fabric, just as were the ideas of free blacks, voting women, and interracial marriages. But when the social fabric clearly is worn, tattered, and only protects the privileged few, it deserves to be threatened.
We can only hope that the next national election will provide what’s needed to do some major Constitutional mending (in contrast to Amending.)
A couple of months ago, a long-time friend of mine who’s a quilter agreed to quilt a “portrait” of me that I could hang on my wall — not a literal portrait, but her creative interpretation of “me.”
And she did it. And I hung it on the wall above my couch. And then I surrounded it with images of the people in my life who empower me, because the piece that she made, for sure, exudes pure power.
She usually quilts pieces that hang as rectangles; but mine she made as a diamond, with the diamond-shaped inside pieces representing the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The fabrics are rich and textured and appliqued and metalically embroidered — with milagros attached — hearts and turtles and salamanders.
It’s like a magical “ojo de dios” watching over me.
I’m not sure that my friend knows what an “ojo de dios” is, yet she created one as she delved into her feelings about what she knows about me. (She’s out of town now, but I’m going to check with her when she gets back to find out if she ever heard of it or not; she might well have, since she travels often to Mexico and collects Mexican art.)
Here’s my wall of power:
Meanwhile, I’m collecting textured yarns with which I want to make a mandala based on the “ojo de dios” idea. This site provides directions on how to make one. Jay Mohler, the artist, makes and sells them, but I have my idea for my own — one with lots more texture. I want to hang it over my computer, across from my wall of power — the eye of the god and the eye of the goddess sparking the space between.
I was posting over at my old Blogger site while the server I’m on here was down. There’s a few good February posts over there, plus links to some oldies but goodies, in case anyone is interested.
The World Wide Web is usually visualized like a spider web. I experience it as a whirlpool, an eddy, a vortex that spirals me into it. I ride on the fringes of the spiral, a mere droplet among the rushing currents. But I hold on, managing just enough surface tension to keep connected. But never part of the major flow.
For example, there’s this new “friends network” that one of my blogger friends sent me an invitation to join. Wotthehell. I did. But I was curious to see how he got connected to it and who his other “friends” were. And, as the strands of the spiral wound farther and farther outward, I saw the names of other bloggers I know who are also connected in that strand that must have started somewhere, with someone. The first cause, so to speak. After spiraling out about as far as I could go, I’ve decided it might well have been Joi Ito, whose session I attended at the “free” day of BloggerCon held at Harvard last fall, and who has established himself as a consummate virtual community builder.
I don’t know what I think I’m doing eddying around with techies who are way out of my league. But, again. Wotthehell. I’ve got nothing to lose.
Actually hanging around even on the fringes gives me a certain credibility in this blog world. The other day, at the suggestion of Blog Sister Jeneane, I was interviewed by someone developing an article on women and blogging that she hopes to sell to a magazine. I found myself explaining things to her that I never even realized I knew about how these spiraling connections work; I had just absorbed them from all of the stuff washing around me as I hang on for dear life in this wordy whirlpool.
And in the process, I bump up against cool people, like Adam Lasnik, a techie and a Lindy Hopper. (Ah, if only I were thirty years younger and lived on the West Coast; hey, I’m might be aging, but I’m not dead yet!)