Friday, April 02, 2004

APRIL 2, 2004 (FRIDAY)

On Believing

We watched The Passion of the Christ today. It was one of those movies where you can’t help by flinch, and no matter how hard you try to hold back your tears, there will be an inevitable trickle down your nose. You finally get a sense of the word “sacrifice” in the Christian sense – to the point that your heart simply breaks.

And yes, I'm not surprised that it sparked controversy. Any film that you make about religion will spark a reaction. But looking at it from a storyteller’s sense, you get the idea that what makes Christianity so powerful is because it plays up on the archetypal characters from distant mythologies and transforms them into a doctrine. But then you end up asking yourself – and this is what Peloy pointed out to me on the way home – how do we know, then, how much of the Holy Bible is the real story of Jesus Christ, and how much is added on by the Church?

And I must admit, her has a point: from a historical perspective, Jesus of Nazareth had only a small following, and certainly his teachings of peace and love and mercy made them a pacifist group, unlike most religious zealots. So what was it that triggered the ire of Caiphas the Pharisee, to the point that given a choice between a convicted murderer and the preacher, he would rather that Pilate let the murderer go?

I suppose that was what was missing in the film – the motives behind the actions of the principal character. And of course, Gibson pins it up on “the Devil” character, a serpentine creature, hooded and cloaked and carrying a disturbing parody of a child, which really didn’t succeed in giving the film a mystical undertone – it came off as campy and unnecessary.

But I loved the character of the Virgin Mary there, and it was during her scenes that I ended up crying: you could see the pain in her eyes while she watched her son bleeding while being scourged (and God, it was horrible) and knowing that she couldn’t do a thing to save him. Mary Magdalene was also beautiful there, though she didn’t have much to do except assist Mary and weep. You could hardly recognize Jim Caviezel in the film, though – it must be all the flesh peeling off and the gouts of blood that were coming out from all those open wounds. But I applaud the decision to make everyone speak in Aramaic and Latin – they were beautiful languages, for one, and it lends an authenticity to the film.

In fact, I think that it encapsulates the whole idea of Christianity better than the stale old homilies by ageing priests up in the pulpits during Sunday mass. Christianity isn’t just about keeping the traditions that have been passed down to us through the millennia; it’s about the basic human tenets of love and mercy and forgiveness. That was what Jesus exemplified until the very end. Christianity is about giving hope. In the end, I don’t really think it will matter to the universe if we went to mass regularly or abstained from meat during Lent; what matters is knowing the stories behind our faith and keeping it alive. In the end, it will be about valuing the teachings of one man and knowing that his death was the ultimate sacrifice – regardless of whether one is Christian or not – because in watching the film you cannot help but believe.

One Week

So he’ll be gone for Holy Week, an unwilling accomplice to the family trip to Mindoro (his province – mom’s side). No big, really – I think I'm a big girl and I can handle this. ^_^ Gave him a pretty notebook to write in just so he won’t be bored during the whole time. Plus a couple of books that have been languishing in his bookshelf for ages, and I hope he’s all set.

(And if ever he plans to have a fling, I just hope the girl’s beautiful. Hehe.)

In the meantime, I find myself preparing for summer term, and cleaning up my desk. As in seriously cleaning up my desk – to the point that it will take more than a day to get rid of everything. I find that my area of the room is due for a major cleaning. ^_^ Looking forward to that – hoping I wouldn’t get all snotty and nose-clogged during that time. Also have a couple of articles to finish writing, and here’s crossing my fingers for Dumaguete. Oh well – whether I get in or not is up to the fates at this point; there’s nothing I can do except hope for the best…particularly if I do get in and the workshop happens to overlap my summer classes.

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