Letter From Belgium

Just 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.

April 7, 2004