Monday, March 08, 2004

Ostriches, Theology, and the Passion
I spoke with a student from Prophets and Propecy at length today about something that really bothers me. First let me say a few words about this student. She is intelligent, carries herself well, and I think pretty highly of her. She is doing great in my class, and is obviously motivated. So anyway she is in my office today, we were talking about her grade, but we got to talking. It turns out she is quite angry about the course and the way I teach it as of late. She claimed I was disrespectful, which shocked me as respecting other people's beliefs and backgrounds is something I take very seriously, especially given the nature of my discipline. To make a long story short, much of this stems from my critiquing Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ. I posted on Blackboard a link by a Boston College Theologian that is a great article/critique/analysis of the film, and it can be read here:
Do yourself a favor and read this article. It does a great job analyzing the film in my opinion.

This upset student is a religious Christian, as most of my students are, but she claimed that the movie was great and meant so much to her as a CHristian, that when I said bad things about the movie, I was saying bad things about Christianity. For example, in the movie as in the Gospels, Jesus forgives the guy being crucified next to him, but I said Mel Gibson didn't forgive, because he had a crow fly down and peck out the poor guy's eye. We talked about how Mel Gibson's theology was close to the Deuteronomistic Historian's, so the film was a great discussion tool. But suddenly this film is much more than a film to her, and not only are we as Christians not allowed to critically examine the Bible in her opinion, but we should not be allowed to critically examine this film. I was shocked. I felt like we were back in the Middle Ages. I spent the entire first week talking about how this class was not pastoral, how it wasn't Sunday school, how it was an academic study of prophets (in the Bible and out), and how we would apply critical methods to the text.

I asked her about Biology (her major I think), and if because there were students that did not believe in evolution, should a Biology teacher not talk about evolution because it was disrespectful to Creationist Christians? She seemed to imply that was accurate, and as evidence said most of her biology teachers when they get to that section skip over it quickly because they know it is offensive to most students. I find this hard to believe, and if it is true it is very disturbing to me. It's a good example about how this film is so divisive.


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