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Mel Gibson's reply to 9/11

By Michael Moriarty
web posted March 8, 2004

I'm fairly certain that the seeds of Mel Gibson's extraordinary work The Passion of the Christ were sown long before Islamic fundamentalists delivered their abominable message to America and the entire Judeo-Christian civilization. A devout Catholic for much of his life, Gibson has openly admitted that until he returned to his faith, his life was in a shambles. He'd contemplated "jumping out the window." With all the fame and money anyone could want sitting at the top of the entertainment industry, this extraordinarily brave Australian artist felt obliged to risk it all for his Lord.

Mel GibsonGibson was asked on a network interview show, "What if the film fails? You've personally invested $25 million in it." Without much of a pause, the director replied, "I can go to work for $18 an hour."

The New York Times recently predicted the end of Gibson's career. Five days and over $100 million in box office receipts later, that bible of Liberal America and the famous curmudgeon Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes, dismissing a film he never saw, were proven wrong. When asked if he'd seen the film, Rooney replied, "I'm not gonna pay $9 just for a few laughs." He should have seen it, if only to avoid his own embarrassment. The only people laughing in The Passion of the Christ are the villains.

Whether you believe in fate or not, I personally know the importance of a creative urge which begins long before its necessity reveals itself. The protests against the film are further evidence of how deep-seated the Liberal establishment's fear of Christianity truly is. But the genie is out of the bottle and the anti-Christian types can do nothing to stuff it back in again. I envision Gibson's testimony to be pirated into countries that will try to keep it out.

Osama bin Laden's assault on the Twin Towers was also a declaration of spiritual war. With his hijacked planes, he was basically saying that we English-speaking peoples don't believe in anything except money and our own greed for power. In other words, we wouldn't know true religious fervor any more than we would know how to speak Arabic.

The Islamists hadn't counted on the courage and selflessness of Gibson's faith. Nor do they know the depth to which a worldwide spiritual armada will gather to confront bin Laden and his minions and defend our 2,000-year-old message.

Marxism is still less than 150 years old, but until quite recently it was winning the popularity contest with the liberal leadership class and media opinion-makers. The Marxist machine demonized Christian faith with increasing success.

President George W. Bush has so far failed to capture bin Laden. Gibson, however, has struck more forcefully at the heart of al-Qaida's spiritual armory than the American ground troops who drove Saddam Hussein into a rathole.

The stakes are now even higher than those of World War II. A simple inventory of the world's arsenal will tell you that.

Could there be a non-violent response to our enemy's ultimate goal? There is now. The fallout from this metaphysical bomb will be endless.

Gibson, while writing his script, must have sensed the secular implications it would hold for its audience. Much of his film is straight from the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I'm grateful that Gibson added Luke's sole testament about the Good Thief.

The few elaborations Gibson added must have been inspired by his increasing awareness of what is to come. The experts might correct me, but I really don't think that Christ crushed the head of a snake in the Garden of Gethsemane. He refused the Devil's temptations in the Wilderness, but at Gethsemane he was utterly alone, without man or beast to comfort or torture Him, as He sweated blood over His coming fate.

Do I object to that act of killing by the God of love and forgiveness? The Catholic Church declared unequivocally that there is such a thing as a "just war."

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored.
— Battle Hymn of the Republic

There's no way to call either the American Civil War or World War II "unjust." Yet now much of the world is protesting the imprisonment of a known, genocidal psychopath, Saddam Hussein. Even Christian leaders are joining the campaign. Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush to apologize for the invasion of Iraq. I wonder if the Archbishop would have asked Abraham Lincoln to apologize for invading the South at a cost of 600,000 lives, a large chunk of the American population in 1865, to free the black slaves.

To that extent, perhaps Gibson is a contemporary prophet. Seemingly unafraid of anything, the director took the implications of human history and added an Old Testament warning: Yahweh is not known to be all-forgiving. The Devil in the New Testament is a voice, not a body, a hissing in Christ's ear. Gibson envisions Lucifer as an icy-eyed hermaphrodite.

A scene from The Passion of the ChristA friend who viewed the movie with me, leaned over and asked me why, after the long trek toward Calvary, with all the scourging before and along the way, there was no blood on the cross. The cross is the entire human race and all its sins. Because of Christ's forgiveness, the blood of Jesus is no longer staining us if we accept His boundless offer to absolve us of all our sins.

Once the nails are driven into Christ's hands and feet, we see the blood flowing again. Not long after that, the Lord forgives the very men who hammered the nails into his flesh.

When asked why his portrayal of Christ's torture was so brutal, Gibson replied, "To show the enormity of His sacrifice."

In 33 A.D., the world's population was hardly what it is now. Today, six billion souls live on planet Earth. Obviously the weight of that cross and the depth of Christ's vocation have increased exponentially. I take no fault in Gibson's pointing this out. Those numbers, coupled with the breathtaking insensitivity and indifference to Christ's message that even the free world has shown, justify the film's shock value, to my mind.

I have a few devout Catholic friends. I told them, because of their lifelong faith, they are not obliged to relive the Crucifixion. They endure it in their hearts every time they look at a crucifix. Our Lord to them is now a family member and watching Him die again would be like living through the execution of our father or son.

Gibson is here to simply remind us of the only hope the human race has: the love and forgiveness of our Lord, the Christ.

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actor who has appeared in the landmark television series Law and Order, the mini-series Holocaust, and the recent mini-series Taken. In 2002 he won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his work in James Dean.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Deicide and The Passion by Jeff Snyder (September 22, 2003)
    The controversy over Mel Gibson's movie The Passion misses, argues Jeff Snyder, what the story really means and it has nothing to do with who is to blame for Jesus Christ's death
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