Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest in Durham, NC, who now works as a computer consultant and writes a column for the Religious News Service, has finally done it. He has bitten the bullet and written a brave piece in the Charlotte Observer telling the world: "Why I won't go to 'The Passion.'" His piece is subtitled: "Faith is a matter of yearning, not an appeal to base emotions or groupthink." He insists that he "didn't question the sincerity of those who do see it and find it meaningful," but his subtitle clearly suggests that he thinks them pathetic victims "base emotions" and mindless groupthink. Not only does this smell like an ingenuous and self-congratulatory stab at being fashionably "different" from those masses of Fundamentalists and Catholics confounded by Gibson's "groupthink." It looks suspiciously ignorant of the meaning of Christ's passion to say that "faith is a matter of yearning," as opposed to "100 minutes of cinematic torture." What is the centerpiece of the Christian Faith if not human sacrifice? Yes, folks, human blood sacrifice. Nothing more primitive and barbaric than that, is there! But that's what we celebrate upon every Catholic altar throughout the world every time the sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated.
Ehrich doesn't care "whether Mel Gibson strikes it rich with his cleverly marketed film," though he "found it sad that Gibson couldn't allow his film to make its own way, but had to dangle the bait of anti-Semitism, as if he had a loser on his hands and had to play the Hollywood game of rescuing a dog by promising something dirty." (And this, after assuring us that he "didn't question the sincerity of those who do see [the film] and find it meaningful"?!) Ehrich sees "two worrisome undercurrents, which will outlive Gibson's dash to the bank"-- namely, that "Christians are spoiling for a fight," and that the "Passion" is reduced to a momentary and narrow "religious adventure."
So what's the full Gospel that folks should be hearing, in that case? Ehrich: "Faith is a matter of yearning" and "we who claim faith have a responsibility to treat that yearning with respect." Say what? So what's this piece about, Mr. Ehrich? Is this how you demonstrate your respect for the yearnings of the millions of your fellow American Christians who flocked to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to weep for love of the Savior who loved them and gave Himself for them? Huh?