I suppose there is something right about being keenly aware of humankind’s capacity for inhumanity at this season of the church year, as we walk the last steps of the Lenten journey to the events in Jerusalem. I find myself grieving over the images of violence that are part of our everyday lives. I wonder about The Passion of the Christ. There was a story about a murderer who confessed his crime after seeing the movie. Will seeing those images of violence against Jesus really turn people toward gentleness and regret for their own bad actions? In this case apparently it did. But I would wonder whether it won’t just contribute to our desensitization to violence. Mutilated charred bodies being carried around and hung from wires…isn’t this deeply horrifying? I read a comment on Usenet this morning about the desirability of bombing, killing, destroying the people of Fallujah. A representative of our military said the people of Fallujah don’t “get it.” On the contrary, I think they do get it. They know that the more violent their behavior the more helpless we feel and the more escalated the conflict becomes. Honestly, are we numb to the deaths occuring day after day?
One of the things that troubled me about the movie was the response of viewers who said, “Oh, wow, I’m really affected by what Jesus did for me! He went through all that for me!” No. He went through that because of us, he went through that because humankind, on the whole, could not see that God was present. And guess what? We still don’t. It’s no better to mutilate, invade, assault, vivisect any person. It’s no better. Our self-proclaimed Christian president doesn’t get it. The people around him don’t get it.