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Bible Studies?

Crank Call


Published March 10, 2004 at 5:00 p.m.

"The sad truth is that nobody listens to people who speak quietly and rationally… You can not, and will not, be heard if you whisper into the teeth of this idiot wind."

-- Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate

Just imagine my delight on Friday afternoon when, after a long day stringing words and sentences together, I opened my email and saw the following "breaking news alert" from "Attorney General John Ashcroft in ICU."

My heart skipped a beat. "A car wreck?" I wondered. "A pulmonary embolism? Or did somebody knock him senseless with a Bible?"

Well, it was none of these things. No sooner had Ashcroft finished subpoenaing the private medical records of hundreds of abortion patients around the country than God, working mysteriously as always, struck him down with "a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis." It's a painful condition, to be sure, but one that "usually clears up with treatment," according to reports.

I'm sorry, but this news isn't "breaking" enough for me. It'll need to start breaking some heads before I take it seriously, and those heads had better be Christian. Ashcroft -- the only man in history to lose his Senate seat to a deceased opponent -- is a lifelong member of the Assemblies of God, a Christian cultist and pious windbag who thinks "the dead will rise from their graves and meet the Lord in the air" on Judgment Day, and who dares to remark of another faith: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you."

You or Mel Gibson, let's be clear. I was fed up to here with the Bible-thumpers even before The Passion of the Christ sent half the nation into swooning fits. If you're dumb enough to go see it -- if your standards are that low and your gullibility that high -- I'd advise you to look for wet spots before taking your seats. "Kee-reist!" is more like it.

As of Monday morning, Gibson's vulgar, adolescent, homoerotic wet dream about Jesus had already earned $212 million at the box office, every penny of which I expect to see donated to the lame, the halt and the blind in the kind of selfless, "faith-based" gesture President Weasel is always touting as the future of democracy.

Yeah, right. There's something in the Bible about false prophets, wealthy men and camels through the eye of a needle. At Christmas, I staggered out of The Lord of the Rings, part three, duly impressed by its technical wizardry but utterly fearful about the mind of the nation. "If people start thinking this stuff is real," I said to my sister, who years ago turned me on to Tolkien's books, "we're really in trouble." Then, I had no idea what was waiting for us down the road -- a road once made of yellow brick, but now perverted by Mad Max himself into a sick and twisted Via Dolorosa, the kind of thing Goebbels or Mengele might have ordered up as post-prandial entertainment for the guards at Auschwitz.

I'll skip right over the phony debate as to whether The Passion of the Christ is or isn't "anti-Semitic." If it's not, nothing ever was. In telling the story of Christ's "demise," Gibson insists that all he's done is "interpret" the evidence. He doesn't bother to add that there isn't any -- nothing reliable, that is, nothing that isn't fitted to his sadistic purpose from some general knowledge of life around the Mediterranean in the first century A.D.

"Critics who have a problem with me don't really have a problem with me in this film," says Gibson in an interview with Diane Sawyer. "They have a problem with the four Gospels. That's where their problem is." Thus the question is supposed to be settled. Asked directly, "Who killed Jesus?" a shameless and repulsive movie star tells a shameless and repulsive TV star, "We all did." And even then he can't disguise what he really thinks.

"Jesus was a child of Israel," Gibson adds, "among other children of Israel. There were Jews and Romans in Israel. There were no Norwegians there." Cut to Diane with her soppy smile and moistened eyes. "Blood libel" is right.

In truth, Gibson has based his film on The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the collected ravings of an 18th-century nun, Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, whom even the current Pope, who'll canonize anybody, has seen fit to ignore in the interest of peace. As a masochistic, Jew-hating, self-mortifying bigot -- she would be German, wouldn't she? -- Venerable Anne Catherine has no equal, and if you don't believe me, you can read her book. Many are, to the merry sound of money in the till.

Finished? Not quite. I don't expect a lot of Bush-loving, bad-haired born-agains to know the difference between history and the Bible. I don't expect them to know the Bible at all, as they prove to me every day by their selective and wholly prejudiced use of its contents. But I do know this: There's only one message in the Christian Bible that we need to hear right now, one commandment from the Lord of Hosts. Love one another and quit worrying. That's it. Everything else is embellishment -- if you prefer, "interpretation" -- a luxury we can't afford.

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