Passionate news in 2004

For headline writers, 2004 was the year of "values voters," stormy acts of God in Florida, gay marriage rites and countless clashes between "believers" and "infidels" in Iraq, Russia, Spain and other locations around the world.This may sound like the annual list of the top 10 news events released by the Religion Newswriters Association. But no, these events dominated the 2004 Associated Press survey of the top stories in the world -- period.In a typical year, at least half of the world's top … [Read more...]

Year 16 — Passionate voices on God beat

The Harvard Divinity School didn't hide its feelings about "The Passion of the Christ."Mel Gibson's hit is "deeply sadistic" and "militaristic," said history professor Robert Orsi, during a panel discussion."Pornographic," added New Testament scholar Ellen Aitken, speaking with what a press release called "biting contempt." The always outspoken Harvey Cox called it a "celebration of apocalyptic violence." Make that "obscene" and "blasphemous," according to writer James Carroll. The room was … [Read more...]

The Passion according to Judas

It's hard to watch Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" without concluding that the suicidal Judas Iscariot was chased by demons into the pit of hell.On the other hand, it's hard to watch the ABC television movie "Judas" without concluding that somehow, before he hanged himself, his sense of remorse put him back on the road to redemption.These movies offer radically different takes on the Passion and events that led to it. While Gibson has been attacked for his stark, traditional … [Read more...]

Conservative thumbs down for ‘Passion’

Classics scholar John Granger will not be joining the throngs of other Christian conservatives as they pack theaters to witness "The Passion of the Christ."Why not? Granger answers with four words: "Gone With the Wind."Think about it, he said. Long ago, this best seller was devoured by legions of devoted readers. Then it was made into a Hollywood blockbuster, with Rhett Butler played by the charismatic Clark Gable. The film ruled."Ask yourself, after reading this 900-page novel, what your mental … [Read more...]

The Passion and the Talmud

The ancient rabbinic text is clear about the punishment for those who twisted sacred law and misled the people of Israel.Offenders would be stoned and then hung by their hands from two pieces of wood connected to form a "T." The Talmud once included this example from the Sanhedrin."On the eve of Passover they hung Jesus of Nazareth," said the passage, which was censored in the 16th century to evade the wrath of Christians. "The herald went out before him for 40 days saying, 'Jesus goes forth to … [Read more...]