Along with other folks at the Christian Century, I saw The Passion of the Christ at a special screening hosted by the Chicago branch of the American Jewish Committee, whose offices are in the building next to ours in Chicago. In light of the profound concerns about the film being expressed by the Jewish community, it was important to see it with our Jewish neighbors, both groups, insofar as possible, seeing and feeling what the other saw and felt. I concluded that you can’t know much about the dreadful history of Christian anti-Semitism and feel very good about Mel Gibson’s movie.
It is a Passion play in the ancient tradition, with the enhancements of modern cinema—lots of slow-motion footage to record every blow and every fall, and with high-tech sound to punctuate every lash. The movie is a visceral experience. Some people around me covered their eyes during much of it.