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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Missing the Passion's Point

Secular commentators are now decrying the brutality of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in a fruitless, last-ditch effort to keep people from seeing it tomorrow. They say it isn't appropriate for children. It leaves even adults emotionally drained. The commentators routinely ignore the fact that Mel warned parents to leave children 12 and under at home.

I have two points to make in response to their inane remarks.

1) Every time I see these reports, I think of all the children who have seen exactly that level of violence during the course of their lives. Take in the long run of history, contemplate the dreary years before the crucifixion up to the present day. In 21st century America, our children are mostly sheltered from this level of violence through the fortune of having been born in the right place and time, but historically that film pretty much depicts the way people treated each other for centuries.

2) I don't doubt that churches are organizing grade schoolers to see the movie despite Mel's warning. Christianity is primarily for children, after all. That's the constant practice of Catholic parishes in this country for well over a century.

What the secular commentators are shocked at is the idea that Christianity might be something only an adult can really stomach, and even then, just barely.

Catholicism is for adults. We can teach children a pale imitation, but the full flavor of the cup makes it an adult drink. Historically speaking, martyred children who tasted it to the dregs did so only through the miraculous power of the Spirit.

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