FAITH IN HOLLYWOOD
A Mere Christian Commends Mel Gibson's Traditional Catholic Beliefs
By Ted Baehr
Publisher, MovieGuide Magazine
The world needs more movies about Jesus Christ who loved mankind so much that he was willing to die for those who set themselves against him as his enemies.
CBN.com – HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) -- Recently, the New York Times ran a featured article by Christopher Noxon in the prestigious New York Times Magazine entitled “Is the Pope Catholic. . . Enough?” (March 9, 2003). This article, which was listed as news on the New York Times website, dripped with sarcasm as it sliced and diced Mel Gibson for directing a movie on the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life entitled The Passion . The article was pointedly aimed at poisoning people’s attitude about Mel’s movie The Passion and about Mel himself. On March 11, 2003, Fox News concluded that “Sunday's New York Times Magazine didn't do a heck of a lot for Mel Gibson. In fact, there's a good chance it may have wiped out his career.”
Mr. Noxon’s article was so biased and inaccurate that I felt I should respond even though I am a Christian, but not a Roman Catholic, and even though I have heard that Mel Gibson does not support our efforts to redeem the values of the mass media of entertainment through our Annual MovieGuide "Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to Hollywood," where we have awarded his movies with several Crystal MovieGuide Awards year after year going back to his version of Hamlet.
The article opens by painting Mel as the leader of “a group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists and disaffected conservatives – including a seminary dropout and rabble-rousing theologist who also happens to be Mel Gibson's father” This should have been phrased more accurately as Mel is supporting a church for Catholics who share a love for the Latin Mass, vibrant Christian faith, traditional values, and remnant theology.
Mr. Noxon goes on to say that the Mass will be “conducted entirely in Latin.” “Latin, however, is just the beginning -- traditionalists refrain from eating meat on Fridays, and traditionalist women wear headdresses in church.” In other words, these believers prefer the Latin Mass, which is beautiful; fasting, which is biblical; and, hats, though Mr. Noxon makes it sound as if these are some strange group of natives who like “headdresses” (really!).
The next line is a hoot, “The movement seeks to revive an orthodoxy uncorrupted by the theological and social changes of the last 300 years or so.” Every revival is an attempt to get back to basics. In many ways, this sounds like a good idea.
Then, Mr. Noxon quotes a book entitled The Smoke of Satan by sociology professor Michael W. Cuneo to cover a large leap into pure presumption and defamation. According to the quote, Mr. Cuneo contends that traditionalists “'would like nothing more than to be transported back to Louis XIV's France or Franco's Spain, where Catholicism enjoyed an unrivaled presidency over cultural life and other religions existed entirely at its beneficence.”' The inference, of course, is that this is what Mel wants, but Mr. Noxon has not asked Mel if this is what he wants, rather Mr. Noxon has unfairly associated Mel with the horrendous Smoke of Satan and Louis XIV’s France. This is bias in the extreme, but it gets worse.
Mr. Noxon then turns to smearing Mel’s 84 year-old father, Hutton, whom he calls “a well-known author and activist who has railed against the Vatican for more than 30 years.” His most scathing attack on Mel’s elderly father was noting that Hutton Gibson dismisses “historical accounts that six million Jews were exterminated.” Of course, Noxon quotes Hunter Gibson's views without providing any evidence that Mel Gibson shares them.
Finally, Mr. Noxon turns to Mel’s movie project The Passion and suggests that it will inflame anti-Semitic feelings. Mr. Noxon “reports” that “a friend of the Gibson family has his own ideas about how traditionalist thought is informing The Passion . Gary Giuffre, a founder of the traditionalist St. Jude Chapel in Texas, says Gibson told him about his plans for The Passion on a recent visit. ‘It will graphically portray the intense suffering of Christ, perhaps as no film has done before.’ Most important, he says, the film will lay the blame for the death of Christ where it belongs – which some traditionalists believe means the Jewish authorities who presided over his trial and delivered him to the Romans to be crucified.”
After insinuating that the movie is anti-Semitic, Mr. Noxon admits in a nod to civility that shows how unbalanced his writing is, “In his conversation with Bill O'Reilly. . ., Gibson was asked whether his account might particularly upset Jews. ‘It may,’ he said. ‘It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible. But when you look at the reasons why Christ came, why He was crucified – He died for all mankind and He suffered for all mankind. So that, really, anyone who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability.’” Mr. Noxon may not understand what Mel is saying, but all of us bear the responsibility for the death of Jesus since He died for our sins and was resurrected to guarantee us eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Noxon sets Mel’s fellow Catholics against him by reporting “that Gibson made a ‘scathing attack against the Vatican, calling it a ‘wolf in sheep's clothing,’” even though Mr. Gibson has consulted the Vatican about the movie of Jesus Christ and travels frequently to Rome to confer on theological details.
Fox News concluded on its website, “Sunday's New York Times Magazine didn't do a heck of a lot for Mel Gibson. In fact, there's a good chance it may have wiped out his career.”
However, the words of Gamaliel two thousand years ago in Acts 5:38-39 (NIV) sound more accurate when he stood up in the Sanhedrin and said, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Mr. Noxon may want to consider the words of Gamaliel as he rails against Mr. Gibson, The Passion, and the other Christians who have the courage to proclaim their beliefs in the mass media of entertainment. Moreover, he may want to consider that the world needs more movies about Jesus Christ who loved mankind so much that he was willing to die for those who set themselves against him as his enemies.
The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. © 2003