Via Media

Via Media

Snark alert

I hope that every person who berates others for criticizing TPOTC, for suggesting that it’s a spiritual experience that shouldn’t be seen as an object of criticism never, ever leave a Roman Catholic Mass griping about the music, the homily, the language in the prayers or the demeanor of the presider again.

There. That should get you hopping.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 11:11 am

First of all turnabout is not fair play. Being right and just and true is fair play.
Second, whose “berating”?

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posted March 2, 2004 at 11:16 am

Good point and one that I partially agree on although one is not forced to sit through TPOTC but one is forced to sit through a Mass with “bad” music or a not so reverent Mass or a flaky priest. To clarify, Mel Gibson puts something out and we are free to be a part of the audience or not, but the parish priest or bishop or liturgical expert picks what s/he likes or finds meaningful to them and the “audience” is a sort of prisoner. To my mind, anyhow. OTOH, nothing wrong with not liking TPOTC or parts of it and one can always vote with their feet at their parish (but the others are sadly probably similar).
OK, you can kill me now!

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posted March 2, 2004 at 11:17 am

BTW, there was a fascinating analysis of reactions to the passion that was in the Washington Post this Sunday, and that Mark Blogged as well. It truly is worth a read, because it says that the Passion’s aesthetic ought to be objectionable to protestants because it is Counter Reformation–not just in style but in substance.
Something to consider when deciding the extent to which one allows oneself to be “shaped” by the movie. . .

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posted March 2, 2004 at 11:32 am

A friend of mine did not like the film very much. She was moved by a scene here or there. Basically, the violence was too much for her and detached her from the movie.
She told me yesterday that she is becoming afraid to tell people what she thinks of the movie because they start arguing with her when she does.
But, I also had someone try to argue with me when I said that I did like it.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 11:47 am

Now I admit I’ve been out of the country (sposi novelli papal audience!), but for some reason when you said “TPOTC” I thought “The Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Makes for very different movie reviews.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 12:30 pm

Re: Washington Post article
Thanks for the link. I have passed it on to many of my friends. I had been thinking I would not see the film because I’m rather squeemish.
But this article about the Catholic counter-Reformation aesthetics v. the iconoclastic Protestant aesthetic makes the film more intriguing.
I truly believe this movie is the occasion for a lot of re-examining the differences between Catholics and Protestants. Particularly the Protestant recognition of what Catholicism and its trappings are about without the “whore of babylon” mindset obscuring who and what we really are.
Some Jews are also saying the movie is causing frank discussions between Christians and Jews.
I guess I better see it or I will not be able to discuss it intelligently.

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Donald R. McClarey

posted March 2, 2004 at 1:06 pm

Amy, I just wish that the average mass, with the all important exception of the Blessed Sacrament, in this country had a fraction of the thought behind it that Mel Gibson obviously put into the Passion

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posted March 2, 2004 at 1:45 pm

Amen, Donald. I think that one of the powerful aspects of the film is the way it puts specific verses from Scripture into context. For example, when Christ, carrying his Cross, says to His mother, “behold, I make all things new.” The passage isn’t from the Gospels but from Revelation. The film shows how the two are connected. That moment had more Biblical exegesis in it than the last 10 homilies I’ve heard.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 2:09 pm

Good point, Amy. And as a rule, I generally keep silent after a Mass with hokey music, weird homily, etc. As a matter of tact and consideration–and just plain self-control–I don’t see the purpose of gratuitous complaints.
The only time I might complain is when I see outright instances of disobedience during the Mass (e.g., tampering with the Sacred Liturgy, teaching unorthodox doctrine, etc.). Even in these cases I think silent intercessory prayer is more effective than my own venting.
The same considerations apply to those who felt profoundly moved by THE PASSION. One would think anyone with tact would not tell such people to their face they thought the film was crap. Likewise, a person who loved the film needn’t berate those who didn’t.

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Jane Wangersky

posted March 2, 2004 at 2:31 pm

Last night I was reading something by the late Catherine Marshall, where she said Protestants feel they have almost a responsibility to criticize sermons. She was afraid this led to “a deficiency of love and joy”.
Are *we* happier for not making a regular habit of this? Maybe.

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Jane Wangersky

posted March 2, 2004 at 2:35 pm

Last night I was reading something by the late Catherine Marshall, where she said Protestants feel they have almost a responsibility to criticize sermons. She was afraid this led to “a deficiency of love and joy”.
Are *we* happier for not making a regular habit of this? Maybe.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 3:43 pm

When my Parish Church gets a Crucifix larger than the one hanging on my bedroom wall (I’m not even asking for a bloody, life-size corpus, here! just not the “touchdown Jesus” which flies, sans crux and arms outstretched, above our altar), then we’ll talk about not complaining about the liturgy.
Anyway, I can appreciate people meeting movies and films in different ways, but honestly, the only Christians who couldn’t be moved by ANYTHING in the movie (even if all they felt was disgust) are probably either automatons or suffer from a pathological inability to experience emotions and should probably seek professional help.

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Christopher H.

posted March 2, 2004 at 4:55 pm

I agree with your statement literally, but not the broader context. That is, complaining about music, homilies and demeanor are fairly petty issues which don’t make a mass illicit. But if you mean to extend your analogy to other matters that are addressed in the rubrics (or in the G.I.R.M.) then I would have to say that there is a legitimate reason for concern. One is a work of art, so focusing on the artist’s message is really the key to enjoying the art. If you don’t like it, then just say you don’t like it. Don’t say it’s wrong. The Mass is not art. It is liturgy which is subject to rubrics or “regulations” such as the G.I.R.M. To that extent there are some things that are either “preferable” or “unpreferable”, but other things that are either “proper” or “improper”. Complaining about things that are improper, is not the same as complaining about things that are “unpreferable”.

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posted March 2, 2004 at 5:59 pm

Catholics, at least, ought to be able to distinguish the “inside” and the “outside” of a thing – the substance and the accident as it were.
My experience of the movie’s substance was very positive. My opinion of the artistic elements was generally positive, but not entirely so. No one has to agree with me on either, but it does help to maintain some perspective on what is being done as opposed to how it is done.

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Sulpicius Severus

posted March 2, 2004 at 6:34 pm

As with the Passion-NASCAR advertising during the Daytona 500, I again point out that criticizing a movie about the Passion is a completely different thing from defending from modernist innovation the Unbloody Sacrifice of Holy Mass. One = movie. Other = The Central Act of Catholic Worship.
Criticize the movie all you want. Don’t mess with the Eternal Sacrifice of Holy Mass. UIOGD,

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Christopher H.

posted March 2, 2004 at 6:44 pm

Whuddyu call my momma?!

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posted March 2, 2004 at 10:41 pm

Aside: I love that word “snark”. I’m not really sure what it means, but it sure is fun to say.
Excepting legitimate issues of liturgical abuse, I wonder if we’re not talking about matters of degree here, both in regard to criticisms leveled against The Movie and in regard to criticisms leveled against all those “weird” Masses.
Here’s an example. It’s one thing to say: “The Mass was ruined for me because the music was sentimental and trite.” It’s another thing to say: “The Mass was ruined for me because the choir was off-key when they sang the third-to-last note of the second verse of the opening hymn.”
Applied to The Movie…. I think most folks (even fans, such as myself) would at least be willing to consider criticism of the first kind. But criticism of the second kind can get pretty tedious pretty fast, and a lot (not all) of the negative “professional” reviews I’ve read have been criticism of the second kind. This is the criticism of the specialist, the technician–the person who delights in seeing the trees. I’m guessing that most folks place more importance on seeing the forest.

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