On the Passion pressures in Chicagoland

"Truth is, I've been following this movie very closely for professional and personal reasons. My wife is an Presbyterian minister, a hospital chaplain (and, I might add, among the numbers who will not see this movie, though not for the reasons I write about. I have seen the film and will likely see it again.) "I believe Jesus speaks very forcefully throughout scripture in defense of those who otherwise would not have a voice. That, Douglas, is quite the opposite of a 'trend' story."

-- from comment by Lou Carlozo, reporter at the Chicago Tribune

Hello. It's time for another episode of Revenge of the Passion Posts.

I have shipped my column to Scripps Howard (prayers on the religious left) and given my last two final exams. So now let me pause to offer my two cents on the unfolding debates in the comments section on the Chicagoland Passion controversy.

First of all, I should note that I had a tiny bit of contact with this story. I was contacted by Chicago Tribune reporter Geneive Abdo, who was looking for national contacts to back up the story that was already on its way to print. It seemed to me that she had a local story or two and was trying to make this a national headline.

I have to admit that I was, personally, a bit put off by the fact that there seemed to be little interest at all in other points of view on the matter, even a diversity of viewpoints that were critical of the movie.

I mention this for one reason: As the comment offered by Prof. John Granger notes, I actually suggested that the Tribune research some people who had made decisions not to see the movie on their own, for theological reasons.

Some felt conflicted about wanting to see it, but then deciding not to -- primarily due to concerns about the highly literal images of violence. I am the only member of my family to have seen the film, for example, and do not plan to see it again. (Studying parts of it in classes I teach would be another matter.) I also know what kinds of email one receives after writing a column that is in any way critical of this movie.

Now, I have no doubts that there were some pressures -- church to church, perhaps -- to get involved in the early screenings. But the whole tone of the Chicago Trib article stuck me, well, rather as it did Doug. Perhaps I felt that way because of my earlier contacts with Abdo.

I don't know -- maybe there was loads of national information, stories and facts that did not make it into the final draft of the story. Maybe there was this Passion pressure wave from coast to coast. But I did not see it in the Trib story and, having made a ton of calls and emails on Passion topics, I have not run into it anywhere else. I told Abdo that, as we played phone and email tag.

Finally, has anyone else in this circle watched the actual Mel Gibson interviews on EWTN? I guess I am with him on this matter. He told the viewers: This is going to be very, very graphic. If you have any concerns about that, do not go. (Or words to that effect.)

Sounds like good advice.

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