The Revolution of God’s Death, II. Last night, with several friends over, we again discussed mel gibson’s “the passion of the Christ”, particularly its vivid depiction of Jesus’ suffering. It promoted the only one among us to have seen it to rethink this theology of suffering (or lack of) in light of this filmic depiction. Now, the sad irony was not lost on him, nor anyone else, that it took a film (a hyper-real medium) for us white/affluent/Western Christians to experience of the suffering of the one we follow, while the rest of Christendom (2/3 world, non-western Christianity) suffers, even repeats/completes the passion of Christ, in their own bodies daily.
We were also discussing, agian, much of the conservative Christian response to this film, trying to make it an evangelical tool rather than an artistic meditation on the meaning/event of Christ. And again, we discussed the sad irony that Christians in the West rely on a hyper-real presentation of the life of Jesus (a third party depiction) to tell our story, to reveal it to the world. Doesn’t that mean we have already cease to be the body of Christ, that we have lost the Spirit of Christ, when our actions don’t tell his story. The Church in Southern Christianity doesn’t need mel gibson to present for them the “suffering servant”, the scapegoat of those in power, the innocent victim, because they gather up that story in their lives. Third world Christians live, and therefore witness to, the passion of Christ most everyday. They are the most persecuted people on earth (even though the media doesn’t report it and our universities would like us to think that Christinity is the cause of much global oppession, not its victim). They are the literal body of Christ; they bear his marks on their bodies; they present his story to all who see them.
So, where does this leave us. It certain doesn’t mean we disparage or boycott “the passion of the Christ”. Maybe instead of making it an evangelistic tool for the pagan, it should been seen as penance/repentance for the believer.
He died so that we might live. Does that translate into, he suffered so we might be comfortable? Or he revolted so we might be the status quo? No! Let the revolution of God’s death continue, and with all machocism aside, let it be borne out in our very bodies.