Letter From Belgium

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prior to the Belgian release of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The
Christ, the media reported that religious leaders were "negative"
about the movie. Mr. Guigui, the chief Rabbi of Brussels, condemned
"the antisemitic nature" Of the movie and its "sadism
and masochism," and demanded a severe condemnation from the
Church. According to my newspaper, Mr. Guigui is "the representative
of the Jewish community."

One Peter Tomson (a "Protestant exegete" and a "representative
of the Protestant community"), regretted that the movie was
about Christ suffering and dying to redeem the rest of us. In his
opinion, it expressed "a very medieval notion of faith."
You see, we are all such incorrigibly nice people – and isn’t that
the sum total of post-medieval "Christian love"?

One Jozef de Kesel, the assistant-Bishop of Brussels ("a representative
of the Church hierarchy," according to the paper), regretted
that some Christians would be moved by the movie. He thought it
would be necessary "to correct those people." He also
promised to investigate what steps the Church could take to control
the damage the movie might do.

He thought that by not explaining that Jesus was "a rebel"
(someone like Che Guevara or perhaps James Dean?) the movie made
it appear as if Christ’s suffering and death were "absurd."
However, he did not comment on the fact that the story of the last
day of Christ on Earth needed much explanation in a country that
reputedly – if only for old times’ sake – is Catholic. That would
have put the Catholic education establishment in too bad a light.

Oh, yes, the paper promised that it would invite some "Bible
experts" to give their opinion. Now that, I’m sure, will settle
everything once and for all.

7, 2004

van Dun [send him mail]
teaches philosophy of law at the Universities of Ghent (B.) and
Maastricht (Nl.).


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