Well, I saw THE MOVIE! Saturday, along with a "lapsed Catholic" gal pal.

The verdict - two thumbs up! It's great!

After we got out of the theater, we turned to each other and said, "What in the world was all that hysteria about?" Because the violence, though certainly graphic, was not gratuitious at all - it was there for a reason.

As for "anti-Semitism," please! give me a break! My impression is that it's not anti-Jewish but anti-religious authorities -- it's the high priests who are pushing for Christ's crucifixion.

In fact, the ordinary Jewish people on the streets - especially the characters of "Veronica" (the woman who wipes Jesus' face) and "Simon of Cyrene" (who is forced to help Jesus carry His cross) - are really heroic in their efforts to protect Jesus from the Roman soldiers' brutality.

And as for Mary - ah! Mother Mary ...

Well, in the movie, as well as in real life, she's the bridge that helps us understand what is really going on.

There is one scene that still brings me to tears when I remember it. Jesus is making His way to Calvary, and falls. Mary, watching from the sidelines, flashes back to a time when the child Jesus, just learning to walk, fell, and she ran to pick Him up and comfort Him. Flash forward, and she runs to try and do the same now, but there just isn't much she's allowed to do - the Roman soldiers push her out of the way, as does Jesus Himself, gently reminding her that He has chosen this: "See, Mother, I make all things new.

Now -- even though I think it's a GREAT movie and I totally recommend it, and even though think the violence has really been overemphasized -- and the charges of anti-Semitism are just pure out-and-out lies --

I would like to add that I also think that the movie is perhaps being a little over-hyped by its proponents. It is a great movie, but I never forgot for one second that it WAS a movie. It's not a sacrament, and it's not a sin if you don't see it!

Though I personally will probably go to see it at least one more time in the theater, in addition to buying the DVD. Mainly because I think it's a good idea to "vote with our pocketbooks" and let Hollywood know that this is the kind of movie we want to see more of - movies that take our Christian beliefs seriously.

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