Posts from February 28, 2004

The Jewish perspective

The Jewish perspective
: Jewsweek, the wonderful online magazine, devotes itself entirely right now to Mel Gibson’s Passion.

Editor Benyamin Cohen’s review:

Well, after walking out of an advance screening, my first comprehensible thought was this: I really want to kill a Jew.

In recent interviews, Gibson has been uttering the following mantra: “Wait until the film is released. You’ll see that I don’t blame the Jews.” Well, Gibson not only goes out of his way to blame the Jews for Jesus’ brutal crucifixion, but he goes so far as to portray the Romans as unwilling accomplices, which is, with certainty, a willful distortion of the original text. Meanwhile, Gibson depicts most of the Jews as an angry lynch mob which gains pleasure from watching a man writhe in pain and flood the ground with blood. It would take an act of God to incite more anti-Semitism than this film is sure to ignite.

But putting false claims of theological culpability and biblical fidelity aside, the film suffers from poor storytelling. Since the movie only depicts Jesus’ final hours, we are given no background — why did the Sanhedrin want him dead? What crimes did he commit to deserve such a gruesome death? All we’re shown is these mean Jews who want to murder this nice young man.

… [B]y reducing the film to just twelve brutal hours, Gibson has, unfortunately, undermined Jesus’ spiritual qualities and squandered an opportunity to create a unique cinematic and profound religious experience. Instead, he opts to turn the story of Jesus from one of intense spirituality to one of brutal violence. The film feasts on the physical torture and not the metaphysical elevation. It’s Gibson’s obsession with sadomasochism on display for everyone to see in all its, um, gory.

This does a horrible disservice to the Christian community. By transforming the story from one filled with hope to one mired in rage, Gibson is teaching a new, and violent, Christian doctrine. Contrary to what you may have learned in Sunday School, he seems to be saying, Christianity is based on revenge, not love. This is nothing short of an embarrassment to our Christian brethren.

This reminds me of one thought I had during the film: The fetisishtic treatment of violence and blood reminded me of nothing so much as the unleashing of self-flagellation by certain Islamic sects. It emphasizes the virtue in suffering and pain, in blood and violence — rather than the virtue of good acts and a gracious heart. And that is troubling.

: Jewsweek’s blog points us to the official Mel Gibson Passion souvenirs, such as this pewter spike — just like the one nailed into your Christ’s hand — on a leather necklace. Only $16.99. Oh, man.

: And there is an excerpt of a book on the Oberamergau Passion Play; a feature on the Jewish actress who plays Mary; a story on Mel Gibson’s father‘s infamous anti-Semitism; a backgrounder on the story of the Passion by a Columbia religion prof; a state-of-anti-Semitism story; a story on Mel’s side; and many columns. An impressive report and I’m only halfway through reading it.


: Prince Charles writes in the Guardian that we are becoming allergic to our Western lifestyle:

The rising trends in allergy seen in developing countries, as they adopt our western habits, point strongly to factors in the way we live. We spend up to 80% of our time indoors, and the sealing of our houses to conserve heat and energy, the increase in soft furnishings and the rising numbers of pets all increase the chance of those genetically at risk becoming sensitised to domestic allergens such as dust mites, moulds, cats and dogs. Similarly, at work, increasing allergies give rise to the “sick building” syndrome. But increased exposure to allergens cannot be the whole answer, because we are also becoming susceptible to outdoor aller gens such as pollens, and to certain foods, especially fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.

RSS fame spreads

RSS fame spreads
: Now the AP writes about RSS. [via Scoble]

Amen to that

Amen to that
: Censorship will grow if bozos have their way. Some on the FCC would leach out past the public airwaves to private wires. And once they start censoring cable, I’ll repeat, watch out: Your weblog could be next.

Ernie Miller outs one bozo on the FCC who’s leaching:

What Part of the First Amendment Don’t You Understand?

Im talking to you, FCC Commissioner Kevin J. Martin.

According to a Reuters wirestory posted on Infoshop, Martin wants the FCC to consider regulating indecency on satellite and cable (FCC’s Martin ponders indecency on pay TV, radio).

Let me think about that … um, no.

“Cable companies need some way to empower parents and families to have more choice,” Martin said. “I think that it has the potential to be a problem when they are receiving things they object to and have to pay for that.”

It’s called stop paying for cable, Martin. It’s called a lockbox, Martin. Its called the First Amendment, Martin.What a maroon.

: One more thing: One of my loyal commenters has taken me to task in email for only mentioning the Bush and Republican bad guys in this fight.

Right. I should mention that I’ve long called Rep. Ed Markey of the other side one of the most dangerous men in Washington. Some years ago, on a John McLaughlin show, I went ballistic against Markey over the V-chip and his desire to blacklist and censor media.

More youth blogging

More youth blogging
: Two significant developments for taking blogging younger: Bravenet, which for a long time has provided web-site add-ons (forums, chats, polls) — has started a blogging (aka journaling) tool. And Tucows, the huge software download site, has just acquired Bravenet and Tucows are both big services, particularly with younger users. Blogging has gone mass and the mass keeps growing.


: Iranian radio reported that bin Laden had been caputured in Pakistan. U.S. officials deny it.

: Meanwhile, The Times reports:

President Bush has approved a plan to intensify the effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, senior administration and military officials say, as a combination of better intelligence, improving weather and a refocusing of resources away from Iraq has reinvigorated the hunt along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The plan will apply both new forces and new tactics to the task, said senior officials in Washington and Afghanistan who were interviewed in recent days. The group at the center of the effort is Task Force 121, the covert commando team of Special Operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency officers. The team was involved in Saddam Hussein’s capture and is gradually shifting its forces to Afghanistan to step up the search for Mr. bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar, the former Taliban leader.