Saturday, July 29, 2006

Anti-Semitism and Mel Gibson: From the Abundance of the Heart?

Mel Gibson has repentant words (see below) after reportedly making anti-Jewish comments while being booked for a DUI by police. But as the good book says, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And here's what Mel said according to Police reports: after referring to “f****** Jews” he observed that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

Mel, who self-financed the movie "The Passion of the Christ," has, one suspects, submarined his links with Christians worldwide. He nearly certainly will get a cooler reception from American evangelicals should he ever produce a sequel to that blockbuster.

Words do matter. And those words, from the mouth of the director of a movie already held in suspicion regarding anti-semitic content, will damage his reputation severely as both a Christian and as an artist.

And frankly, that's as it should be.


Mel Gibson's statement regarding his arrest Friday on suspicion of DUI:

After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed.

I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person.

I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone who I have offended.

Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself.

I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.

I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.


ian said...

C.S. Lewis, in "Mere Christianity" gave the illustration of rats in the cellar. For us it is easy to hide our inner rats when we here someone approaching the cellar door. But should someone sneak up to the door, swing it wide open and hit the light 'on' there they have manifest before them the reality of the infestation. The rats have had nowhere to hide. Mel Gibson seems to have experienced this (although he really let his own guard down). Sometimes the abundance of the heart speaks more eloquently - for good, and in this instant, for ill - at such times of crisis.

If we were all honest with ourselves I think we would acknowledge that at times we say things and act in certain ways that bear evidence to the sin we all struggle with. Do we judge Mel more harshly because he is a public figure? Do we judge him because he is rich and famous? Or do we abandon him because he shames our community of faith?

Frankly, I'm ashamed of the adulterous love affair that took place between the christian establishment and the marketing of Mel's "Passion". Yes, in many ways it proved to be a profound depiction of Christ's torture and crucifixion - but, after all, it was just a movie. Exegeting the movie, rather than the Bible went way over-board!

Perhaps the feeling is that Mel brought this all on himself and deserves to reap what he has sown. Don't we all? Isn't grace offered to us, whether rich or poor, whether slave or free, whether male or female etc., despite what we deserve? Out of revealing the abundance of my own heart I have, at times, reaped what I have sown. Some of this has been an act of grace on God's part - He used it to bring me closer to Him. I cringe, though, when we as Christians are willing to dole out our wise judgement on individuals that they may experience the result of their actions as perhaps 'it should be'.

philjohnson said...

Some folk are "surprised" about Mel Gibson's alleged outbursts concerning the Jews. I guess this depends on how familiar people are (or the time they take to inquire) about Mel Gibson's childhood faith, his father's published views and so forth.

Mel Gibson's father is Hutton Gibson. Hutton has long been associated with a very conservative network of Catholics who are somewhat disenchanted with the Vatican. Several years ago Hutton wrote a book "Is The Pope Catholic?".

Unless one is briefed about the diverse conservative groups in Catholicism, then I suppose Mel's alleged statements might be astonishing.

There are many networks and diverse groups that are unhappy with the direction the Catholic Church has taken since the Second Vatican Council. Some feel that theological and liturgical revisions have compromised the faith. Thus in some publications one can read how appalled some people are at the reduced number of times that a priest officiating at the mass makes the sign of the cross. Then the alterations made from Latin to English have not involved mere translation but also revisions in the liturgy.

Some are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories relative to the changes made via Vatican 2. Thus the Freemasons and Jews are often touted as part of the plot to deceive the faithful and to even instal the Antichrist (a false pope). I have read conservative newssheets replete with photographs to show that Pope Paul 6th was "replaced" with a look alike (photos endeavour t show a changed jaw-line thus showing an imposter). Some argue that Pope John the 23rd was the last true Pope, others wind the clock back to Pius the 9th!

Mel's father Hutton does not necessarily hold to all of the above examples. However he is a critic of Vatican 2 and seems to be favour a conspiracy paradigm to explain current events.

It is worth noting that conspiracy paradigms often (though not always) are tinged with anti-Semitic ideas (like the wretched forgery "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion"). In view of many US evangelicals being so enthused with Israel (because of dispensational eschatology), they might want to ponder about the flavour of Hutton's ideas and those that Mel also shares. In fairly strict terms Mel's theology would lead in the direction of him regarding evangelicals as being more than "separated brethren" (i.e. salvation is only found in the true church the Church of Rome).

I too found it intriguing that quite a few evangelicals were very enthused by Mel's "the Passion". The script was not just arranged around biblical texts but also drew on a 19th century passion play where the theology is very different from that most evangelicals would consider themselves to be comfortable with.