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Foot Removal 101

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about the prayer “joke” wishing for President Obama’s death. Today, I had a very personal reminder how “jokes” are not funny when they offend someone else.

I find it insulting to be told to lighten up or hear the patronizing words, “just kidding”. It takes a lot of courage for someone who has been offended to speak up, especially if the person who offended them is a friend or family member.

Today, I learned what it’s like to be the one doing the offending.  This shared post is from my personal blog. It’s a bit off topic from our usual politics/religion discussions, but I think it still applies to the forum we share here. I invite you to head over there and share your thoughts on Foot Removal 101.

Rolling out the Immigrant Welcome Mat…

In Recent Headlines on April 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I am writing this at the risk of alienating my core readers and commenters, but neither will I pretend to only see in blue and ignore red. I prefer to think I have violet colored glasses to view the world. 

I will start with the medicine. Open wide and swallow the bitter stuff I am about to serve you. 

  • I don’t have a problem with making English the native language
  • I don’t have a problem with requiring proof of citizenship 

That said, before the rebuttals start I will also say what I do have a problem with:

  • I think that we need compassion not hatred for new immigrants to our country
  • I think the propensity for profiling is immense and quite unsettling, because really, what DOES an immigrant look like? We need to be careful.  

It bothers me how often the finger is pointed at illegal immigrants for the problems in our nation. SOMEONE is giving them jobs. Let’s point in the right direction! If there were no cheap skate employers paying substandard wages without benefits so they could make a higher profit, there would be no motivation for anyone to come here illegally. If instead of border patrols and totalitarian regimes, we aggressively penalized the companies that gave jobs to illegal immigrants, we’d have a much more efficient border patrol. Worried about illegal aliens? Stop enabling incentives.  This is why I support citizenship papers. I realize those can be forged as easily as social security cards, and there always seems to be ways around a system, but at least set it up in good faith. It makes it that much more difficult to accidentally hire an illegal if they must provide proof.

As to the providing proof of citizenship when asked? I used to work at a grocery store. If we sold illegal items to someone underage, we were at risk of losing our jobs. I noticed that everyone who was legal to purchase tobacco or alcohol had no problem providing an identification card. Additionally, the folks who had fake IDs always behaved differently than the ones with genuine ones. The folks with nothing to worry about will not take offense. Much like flying today. As inconvenient as I find removing my shoes, emptying my pockets and having my bags rummaged through, I also accept that I have nothing to hide and it is worth the inconvenience to be safe.

Lastly, regarding the requirement to speak English. It makes sense. Were I to live in another country, I may not be called an immigrant, but rather an ex patriot, however, I would attempt to learn that language. I find it embarrassing that the United States is “mono lingual” but we are. Most of our citizens speak only English. That is not the case elsewhere, yet, if I traveled to France, I would still try to speak French. It may not be pretty, but if I were there long enough, I could converse with the locals. I would consider it a lack of respect for the culture to expect French to speak my language. I am a guest on their soil. As a guest, I would follow their customs. I feel the converse should be true on our soil. I think the problem arises is when the guests are treated as intruders and not guests. Sometimes we are so nasty to someone who does not speak English well. Truly it saddens me. It seems very uncharitable. I was taught to open my doors to guests and treat them graciously. I think that is our responsibility as a nation founded by outcasts. You are welcome here, but please respect our rules. 

Therefore, why not expect immigrants who want to live here to learn to speak English? Why not ask people to carry cards of citizenship?

The floor is open…

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Playing God in Popular Culture

In Gratitude, prayer, Recent Headlines on April 29, 2010 at 9:51 am

Quite frequently as a writer and commentator, I am inspired by the news of the day. I read a lot and have opinions about many topics. Oddly, in the past week, I have been riveted to stories about Bret Michaels, the lead singer for Poison, and reality show star. Honestly, until I started watching Celebrity Apprentice this season, I had no idea who he was or any of his history, but I am now a fan and I am worried about his health. 

At first, I found myself embarrassed by my concern and absorption. I am not a huge consumer of pop culture, television even less so. I do not follow the shows, the stars, or the plots. I tend to pick about one show a season that grabs me. In the past, it was American Idol, but I have lost interest. I do admit, though, reality television entertains me. I do not know if it is seeing how people behave in unreal situations or it just appeals to my people-watching fetish. 

However, I realized my concern and affection for Bret Michaels goes deeper. He seems real. In the few weeks I have watched the show, I have observed a decent man who can cry or celebrate with genuine emotion. Probably one of the most telling characteristics about him is how he always recognizes the people he works with. He compliments them, thanks them, and genuinely appreciates their help. 

I learned to look past the surface. My first impression was that some stoner, head banging, hard rock, wild man was on the show.  I never in a million years thought he would be the one I’d be cheering for. He looks the degenerate part, indeed. Instead, I saw a man who loves his children, wants to earn money for his charity, and really behaves like a team player. He steps up to the plate week after week. 

I do not even know where his walk is spiritually. I realized it does not matter. He just comes off as a good person who loves life and the people in it. I watch Donald Trump’s antics with equal fascination. He does not know that he is a caricature for capitalism on steroids, I am certain of it. He has fascinated me for years, perhaps irrationally so. I just am amazed how un-self aware he is. Moreover, it does not affect him in the least. He is who he is and makes no apologies. Sometimes when he sits in his boardroom and uses the iconic words “You’re Fired!” I think he is playing God. I do not know where he is spiritually either. Then I consider the idea of “playing God”. 

Is playing God about sitting and judging people and pointing out their shortcomings at every turn? Is playing God about knowing you can determine the fate of going forward? Alternatively, is playing God a bit closer to the New Testament? Is playing God about walking with everyone, regardless of appearance, and assuming the best? Is playing God about remembering all you encounter and showing kindness to anyone who crosses our paths? 

Maybe, reality shows touch me on a deeper level. A place I juxtapose New and Old testament understandings. A venue to enjoy all the ways of looking at we who are created in His image, and see how they behave when under a microscope. Make no mistake; I know they are just shows.

I also know I am watching closely and I want him to be okay.

He has our prayers.

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The Power of Prayer

In Church and State, Gratitude, prayer on April 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

Every person of faith I know at one time or another has questioned, “Does God answer our prayers?” It’s a fair question. I don’t really consider prayer as a DJ request line to God where all we have to do is ask and it is given. Instead I consider prayer a way to organize and focus our thoughts.

Prayer is what gives hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Prayer is how we pause and reflect on the direction our paths will take us. Prayer is our way of getting in touch with our Creator.

When I was in high school, every morning following the announcements, we had a moment of silent meditation. It was an opportunity to gather my thoughts for the day ahead. Some people finished their last-minute homework, some just counted seconds until it was over, but indeed some of us prayed. I imagine some prayed for an A and some prayed for a sweetheart to ask them out. I contend the outcome to such prayers had little to do with the prayer and more to do with free will and choices. Those who studied got As and those who interacted with the sweetheart got asked out.

So why pray? Why bother if we are autonomous creatures who are going to ultimately make our own choices?  Why do answered prayers seem to be answered so randomly and illogically? Everyone has a story of someone who was terminally ill and when they lived credited their survival to the power of prayer. That never quite sat well with me because I think it minimizes the prayers of others who didn’t survive their illness. Were their prayers unheard or any less valuable? Or perhaps the answer was not the expected answer. Life, yes, in eternity. A woman I knew well passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. Never did she feel God was ignoring her. Her final hours were spent praising life, not lamenting unanswered prayers. She was surrounded by loved ones. A true tribute to life and her Creator.

Prayer is not a fast food menu where we see what we want, order it and drive forward with a few bills to get it wrapped and ready to consume. In the movie Bruce Almighty, when Jim Carrey’s character is overwhelmed with prayers, he simply says yes to all of them. It’s pretty humorous. I thought the “winning the lottery” prayers were priceless. Everyone won something like $1.00.

I think we confuse getting what we want with having our prayers answered.  Prayer is the way we organize our wishes, hopes, fears, ideas and thoughts and offer it up to a higher power.  It is our way to humanize our communication with God, the way we feel heard.

Earlier this week, I seriously contemplated closing down this blog and the accompanying Facebook page. I said several prayers asking for guidance. I didn’t feel like it was accomplishing the original goal of two-sided (or more) communication.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about a truly blasphemous “prayer” and we had the highest readership we’ve ever had. The email and support Lifted on Eagle’s Wings has gotten humbles me. I believe that people do want dialogue, we do want to listen to each other and we do want to walk forward.  I am renewed.

I believe in prayer. Amen!

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Dear Lord

In Recent Headlines on April 21, 2010 at 8:41 am

There is a new group on Facebook that at the time of this writing has 454,520 members. The title of the group is:

DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN

I saw this group as a handful of my friends had joined it. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, because the founder of the group insists:

… it’s a F[***]ING JOKE, people! for the last time, i seriously doubt any of the people who responded to me would have said a damn thing about the same joke being used on W (well, except maybe to agree with it and laughing).

I’m not quite certain where I want to begin with my criticism. I’ll start with something simple like spelling and typing in all CAPS. I would think if Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett were favorite actors, the group founder would know how to spell their names correctly.

People who don’t like President Obama also tend to take their prayer pretty seriously. I find nothing f***ing funny about invoking the Lord’s name to pray for someone’s death. I’m pretty sure God isn’t laughing, either. As to the favorite celebrities? Kinda hypocritical here, as well.

Patrick Swayze’s breakout role was as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. His character had sex with an underage virginal teenager and he helped his friend get an illegal abortion, while dancing to the fabulous music of the early 60s. In Point Break, he wore the mask of Ronald Reagan while he robbed banks. In To Wong Fu Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, he portrayed a cross-dressing drag queen that riles a homophobic small town sheriff. Favorite actor, huh? I assumed a teenager who didn’t abstain, a friend who got an abortion, a mockery of conservative hero Reagan and blatant cross dressing would be offensive to such folks.

Farrah Fawcett was a bit more believable as a favorite choice. She also portrayed a woman who killed her abusive husband in The Burning Bed. In Small Sacrifices, she portrayed Diane Downs, a cruel, abusive, and neglectful parent who had been in trouble with the law before. Further investigation on the 28-year-old woman uncovered a troubled home life, surrogate pregnancies, a messy divorce, and an affair with a married man. Favorite actress, huh?

Michael Jackson, really? Michael Jackson who died from massive illegal drug prescriptions? Michael Jackson who carved his God-given body up with plastic surgery? Michael Jackson who had countless accusations of child molestation and Michael Jackson who dangled his baby from a balcony? Favorite singer, huh?

I suppose I should celebrate the open-minded nature of having such celebrity idols. Who knew that the conservative faction in our country finds such portrayals of immorality so entertaining?

I suppose what bothers me is not so much the choices, because honestly, I’m a fan of all of them. I “had the time of my life” with Dirty Dancing, I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels, and as teen, no dance was complete without several Michael Jackson songs. This is more a criticism of the conflicting messages. It’s in extremely poor taste to claim favorites only because they died last year, along with a snarky remark about a favorite president. It makes me cry more than it makes me laugh. To borrow from the founder,

… it’s not a f***ing joke, I would not have laughed about the same joke being made about W, I would have written something similar to this.

Like it or not, problems do not end with the death of someone. I’m more about figuring out ways to live effectively in each moment. Perhaps if the f***ing joke makers spent a little more time making change instead of jokes, they wouldn’t have to feel so ineffective as to pray for death.

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A Letter to Senator Scott Brown

In Recent Headlines on April 15, 2010 at 8:30 am

Today’s guest blogger is Kent Elliott, a frequent commenter on our Facebook page.  She and I met in a high school public speaking class. Kent is a working mother who has just completed a Masters program at Lesley University in Early Childhood Education and is specializing in English Language Learners (ELL). She is a writer, a gardener and artist. She was raised in Ft. Myers, Fl., but moved to Boston 22 years ago, fell in love the area and stayed. A lifelong Democrat, she voted for Senator Scott Brown in election that filled Ted Kennedy’s seat. When she shared a letter she wrote to the newly elected senator from her state, she graciously allowed me to post it for our readers here. Thank you for your thoughts, Kent!

Dear Senator Brown,

I just sent off a note to you thanking you for the job you are doing and telling you I voted for you, but I didn’t say why.

After all, I told you I am happy as a life-long Democrat who voted for President Obama and am happy the Health Care Bill got passed.

So what is it I like about you and the job you are doing besides not going to the Tea Party tomorrow? I like that when I read about you, you seem to go your own way and shock people who expect something from you. You seem to stand on your own. I respect that.

Also, you know this state and you know we are peaceful people here for the most part. I am in Somerville surrounded by colleges and immigrants. My town is full of artists and green thinking people.

It really hurts us and our spirits so much to hear the things people in the extreme right call us. The signs I see from the Tea Party, the language, it is very disturbing.

I grew up in the deep South and saw lots of racism down there. It traumatized me as a child and I couldn’t wait to grow up and move north. The Tea Party says it isn’t a White Power party, but I have yet to hear a good and articulate argument from a Latino group, or a Black group, or Catholic, or Muslim, or Jewish or Hindu that supports the Tea Party. I look in the audience and all I see are white people. The significance of this is that Sarah Palin wants to lead this country and we are made up of many groups, not just one.

We are ALL immigrants. Unless you are Native American, you and everyone else came from somewhere else. Xenophobia is not healthy.

They say they know God. God is love. Jesus did not lead an army or pick up a weapon other than the Word of God. It really saddens me that people use God’s name to hate on others.

I am a complex person and voter. My family is made up of Jews, Catholics and Protestants. I have a graduate degree but I am also a single mom that lives below the poverty line. I do not believe in abortion, and I do believe in job creation.

I do vote by party sometimes, but I am willing to vote for people who will bring chivalry and good manners back to the leadership of our nation. I was terrified of the Limbaugh’s and Gingrich’s and that ilk when I lived down South. I heard what people say when they only think white people are in the room. It is awful.

I don’t expect you and I to agree on every issue. I like to think that you are the kind of man President Obama is: A gentleman who is intelligent, reasonable, able to look for the good in each person, able to walk in peace.

We are all just people trying to get by in the world and make it as good a world as we can. President Obama isn’t evil. I am not evil. It really hurts to hear FOX go on about leaving social justice churches  and Obamanation spew.

I hear about militias rising up to wage war on their fellow Americans. I think back to something I read once: “They came first for the Communists, and I wasn’t a Communist so I didn’t speak out…” I worry that some poor family of color or some Muslim of Jewish family will be attacked down South.

I am more worried about terror inside the country than without. Plus, it will really be terrible if we end up in another civil war. We would not only destroy ourselves, but we would make ourselves vulnerable to any real enemies we have outside the country.

I don’t even know anyone who owns a gun. We are all peaceniks up here. It is beyond my comprehension how these folks can be so angry they are willing to start killing.

And how is it worse for people now than 50 or 100 years ago? Used to be Blacks and Jews couldn’t live in certain parts of town, belong to country clubs, go to Harvard…Poor people and children worked 6 days a week in sweatshops for 12 hours at a time, or in coal mines for company script or were sharecroppers. We had polio and other debilitating diseases. Blacks were separate but equal. The KKK was lynching. AND getting away with it.

I think many people think life is better today.

I voted for you because the Democrats seemed too smug and not to be moving on anything. Jobs weren’t happening fast enough for my taste. I hoped you would send a message to them, but it wasn’t that I didn’t want health reform. It was that I DID want it. They got a little scared and found their backbones.

I like Dems, but I do know some fine Republicans. Can’t we ALL disassociate with the militias with guns? Can’t we stand united that starting war within this country would be a VERY BAD THING?? Can’t we all agree that every person of every color, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation can expect to have the freedom to have their own thoughts and beliefs?? I respect Christians and Christian thought, but I do NOT think everyone in this nation needs to do what Christians say. They have to learn to live with people who are different. It is not OK to bully people into a belief system. Also, Texas textbooks are EXTREMELY disturbing too. God is the first scientist. God and science go together not apart.

Anyway, those are all the things on my mind lately. I don’t see in black and white. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Please work with my President to model appropriate behavior to the world.

Thanks so much.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

In Recent Headlines on April 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

A few interesting things have been happening on the way to my convictions. I have discovered that I don’t fit in with a straight party line.  I’m not even sure there is much of a party/celebration/festival. Currently, the outlook is somewhat grim, though I wrestle my rose-colored glasses on daily.

Supposing Internet quizzes are accurate, I took a quiz this morning that determined my political leanings. I’ve been labeled repeatedly and embraced the rhetoric that I am a “liberal”, sometimes qualified by “loony”. Imagine my shock to learn that I am a centrist. Yes, my plot mark is slightly to the left, but I am a solid, middle of the road centrist.

Political Centrist

If this chart doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what else does! (font = snarky)

The point of sharing this chart is quite simple, I have been told that I’m a “loony liberal” so often that it must be true. It reminds me of when I was pregnant the first time and everyone said “you’re carrying like you’re having a boy”. When the doctor told me she was a girl, I said, “Really?”

You see, I think a lot of us get caught in the label game of stereotypes and assumptions about each other. Because I believe in sharing my blessings, caring for the poor, protecting the least among us, I have been marginalized. The fact that I worry how to pay for it and wonder what can be given up instead so we can take care of each other is rendered irrelevant.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who wanted to know what I thought about Star Parker’s book, Uncle Sam’s Plantation.  Ms. Parker contends that government assistance to poor families is akin to keeping them enslaved. She is a former welfare recipient. This week, she announced she is running for Congress.

Honestly, I find her categorization of poor people completely reprehensible. It is easy to stereotype. The fact that she was once a welfare recipient who now is a writer for the Republican party isn’t a likely career path for most inner city poor. It’s quite easy to be smug and attempt to incite indignation when you’re getting paid to do so. How many other poor folks have been yanked by their bootstraps out of poverty as Ms. Parker has? Frankly, I find her assumptions quite patronizing.

Who wouldn’t be angry about a bon-bon eating, non-working, baby-making, unambitious person on welfare? Except that isn’t what the numbers say. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of assuming someone receiving public assistance is lazy and unambitious, instead of really looking at the reasons. Almost as easy as labeling me a “loony liberal”.  We’ve been told repeatedly that is what people on welfare do (or more accurately don’t do), so often in fact it begins to sound true.

In actuality, working poor is more the reality. The points in Ms. Parker’s book are (to borrow from a review of her book), 

…a list of Republican talking points from a Sunday morning news show, NOT a manifesto for helping the poor and people of color in America today. The benefit of these steps would be to give more money and power to those who already have it, and make those without money and power the scapegoats for the system.

In an interview with urban studies researcher and author Katherine S. Newman,

Newman shows how the “family values,” so frequently invoked in suburban America are also fervently cherished by the working poor, who endure the trials and tribulations of hard, unremunerative work precisely to preserve their families. It’s become a commonplace to imagine the inner city as composed of multi-generational families sunk in dependency, fissioning into criminal fathers, dissolute mothers, delinquent teenagers, and abandoned children.

Sorting the facts from the emotion laden bullet points is no easy task. But a perusal of the numbers, not editorial pieces intended to tug heart-strings, ought to sober every critic of people who are forced to rely on some level of public assistance.

An unemotional breakdown of the numbers reminds us of exactly where our dollars are going.

11%

It’s interesting to me that only 11% is allocated to Safety Net programs…

…programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship [including]… the refundable portion of the earned-income and child tax credits, which assist low- and moderate-income working families through the tax code; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals or households, including Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income families and individuals, including food stamps, school meals, low-income housing assistance, child-care assistance, and assistance in meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children.  A Center analysis shows that such programs lifted approximately 15 million Americans out of poverty in 2005 and reduced the depth of poverty for another 29 million people. [bold mine]

That doesn’t sound like slavery to me, Ms. Parker. It sounds more like helping our brothers and sisters.

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Resurrection Eggs

In Gratitude, Holidays on April 2, 2010 at 7:11 am

This week, as my family gets ready to celebrate Easter, I pulled out our Resurrection Eggs from storage. This is a project we made when they were very young, but it remains a tactile reminder of Easter.

To make your own Resurrection eggs, you need 12 different colored plastic toy eggs, an empty egg carton and a few miniatures as reminders.

Egg 1 contains something that represents bread/wine. I put little dollhouse baguettes in mine, but I’ve also seen communion cups to recall The Last Supper.

Egg 2 has 3 silver coins to represent the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.

Egg 3 contains a strip of leather cording to represent the soldiers using whips on Jesus.

Egg 4 has a scrap of purple fabric to remind us of the royal robe the Romans wrapped around Jesus.

Egg 5 has a little grapevine wreath to represent the crown of thorns. 

Egg 6 has a miniature cross to remind us of Jesus carrying his own cross. 

Egg 7 has small nails to remind us what were used to nail him to cross. 

Egg 8 has two dice to remember how the soldiers gambled for his clothing.

Egg 9 has a piece of sponge for the sour wine on a stick they gave him when he was thirsty. 

Egg 10 contains a miniature sword to remind us the soldiers pierced his side.

Egg 11 contains a small rock to represent the rock in front of the tomb where the dead body of Jesus was placed.  

Egg 12 is EMPTY, Because our Savior has overcome death and LIVES.

Amen.

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Movie Review: The Passion

In Holidays on March 29, 2010 at 7:59 am

Foreword: one of the great things about having my blog is that I never get any rejection letters. My gentle readers are subjected to read anything I write, but also invited to participate in the conversation.

In 2004, I was working as our church youth director and I took a group of our teenagers to see The Passion when it first came out in the theater. I left shaking. I wrote the following review for several publications, but it was not accepted. However, I’m changing that today… Thank you for your indulgence!

I’ve just returned from seeing The Passion from Mel Gibson’s point of view. My first reaction how deeply the movie’s violence offended me. I do not question the authenticity of the way our Christ died, but I do question Mr. Gibson’s need to show and share it with the public.

Offended is not a strong enough word to describe my reaction. I was completely appalled. Nothing I read prior to the movie could have prepared me for the on-screen bloodbath and mutilation. Nothing. Disturbing and graphic were the strongest words I read prior to the movie. I had heard that the anti-Semitism had been toned down and indeed, I didn’t walk away from the movie with negative feelings toward Jewish people. More with negative feelings towards humanity in general.

I walked out of the movie shell-shocked and distraught. The movie is an excellent study of the power of mob mentality. Then and now. People line up to watch the crucifixion of our Lord and stand by aghast, but nobody truly speaks up. The argument that this is a Christian film about a true story does not hold water with me. It depicts stylized violence and a horrible bloody death. Theaters are filled night upon night as the box office receipts show a higher and higher profit. Christians are encouraged to go and see. Watch what happened. 2000 years ago executions were public entertainment and we assume society has evolved since then. Judging by the receipts, we have not. Much like a car wreck, we stare, both fascinated and repelled at the same time.

I tried to determine if this movie had redeeming value for my Christian faith. Would The Passion serve as a vehicle to bring more people into the faith or strengthen those of weak faith? I cannot help but think of Jesus’ words to Thomas (John 20: 29), “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” I found very little in the film that would strengthen my faith or draw a non believer in. I didn’t need to see the blood dripping from His body, the holes in His hands, or the flesh ripped from His ribs to believe He suffered a horrible death.

I was saddened by how little of the film showed the three years of our Christ’s ministry and how little time was spent on His Resurrection. Instead, the movie focused on the punishment and crucifixion. The Roman soldiers excitedly took on their duty of torture, much like a fraternity hazing. The soldiers hit harder and harder, buoyed by their gleeful laughter as they ripped the flesh from the body of our Lord. I wonder if Mel could relate to these soldiers as he showed more and more graphic depictions. Was Mel caught up in the fraternity of filmmakers to compete for the title of most violent film? I read a review praising the film for following in the feet of the secular films the public has come to enjoy. Somehow, the Christian challenge to be in the world and not of it seems at odds with this film. Rather, it seems to pander to the public’s bloodthirsty tastes.

2000 years ago, Jesus’ friends and followers stood by, terrified to speak up, afraid to be a voice of reason or dissent. Pontius Pilate disowned the entire affair. As a faithful Christian, I will not sit by and watch, mute. I am upset and appalled. I will be a lone voice if necessary, begging people to stop filling the theaters. The tenet of my faith is that I believe even when I do not see. 

Below is a chart of the gross dollars the movie has generated

Opening day $26.6 Million

First weekend $83.3 Million

1st week total gross $125 Million

2nd week total gross $214 Million

3rd week total gross $264 Million

4th week total gross $295 Million

March 24, 2004 reaches $300 Million 

Judas gave back his 30 pieces of silver after he betrayed Jesus with a kiss. I can only wonder what Mel will do with his.

Afterword: In the six years since I wrote this, I’ve had opportunity to discuss the film with many other Christians. My personal opinion has not changed, but it was really quite a stark contrast to the opinion of the teenagers who went with me to the movie. They felt that The Passion really brought the sacrifice of Jesus to life. They also are desensitized to violence via television and video games most of their lives. I conclude that such a movie speaks differently to a different generation and if it helps grow their faith,  it has some redeeming value.

However, I stand by my original assessment, for myself.

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A Time to Heal and a Time to Build Up

In Holidays, Recent Headlines on March 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

Something occurred to me this morning as I scrolled the news of the day and read the comments on my Facebook wall.  It’s time to walk  forward.

It’s easy to conjure righteous indignation, it’s easy to hold a grudge, and it’s quite easy to judge another. But what really are the benefits of such behavior? What is the outcome of tearing another down? What is the net result of holding a grudge?

Energy that could be used to positively affect change is wasted. I contend that neither side likes waste.

I joined a silly group this week on Facebook, it gave me quite a chuckle, I must admit. It was something about “reminding Rush Limbaugh to leave the country”. This morning, in light of my suggestions for forgiveness as well as asking for it, I realized the folly of even so much as a click to join such groups. Truly, what would membership there accomplish?

I know that both sides of the political fence have groups that mock and tear down the other side. We could spend all day discussing why the other side is wrong. But truly, is there a point? What if that same energy instead were used to promote why you believe your side is right, WITHOUT ever discussing what the other view thinks. WITHOUT denigrating them. What if we followed the rules of our grandparents, “If you can’t say something nice (and honestly, frequently, that’s a challenge for me), say NOTHING.”  To practice the art of being silent at appropriate times is challenging.

I am reminded of the viral news from last week’s health care protest in Ohio, involving a young father and a retired PhD with Parkinson’s disease. Yesterday, the poorly behaved man apologized and made a donation to his local Parkinson’s foundation. There has been a lot of debate about the sincerity of his apology, etc. It’s time to accept it at face value and move forward.

In the Christian world, we are approaching Holy Week and ending our 40 days of Lent. At the beginning of Lent, I issued a call to give up conditions on generosity.

At the end of Lent, I issue a different call. I would like to challenge all my readers to give up anger, give up negativity, give up resentment. I am asking you to rescind your membership in any negative, snarky group you may be affiliated with. Let. It. Go.

C’mon you can do it! We don’t have to publicly ask Rush to leave nor countdown to Nobama.  We don’t need to denigrate the other side to lift up our own views. We can join groups with a positive message and show the world we aren’t about petty infighting. 

Healing can start today.  The season is now.

 

 

 

 

 

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