Saturday, September 18, 2004

Thank you, Mr. Gibson.

Mr. Mel Gibson
Icon Productions
808 Wilshire Blvd., 4th Floor
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Dear Mr. Gibson,

Just a note to express my admiration and thanks for your willingness to lay so much on the line in your commitment to produce The Passion of the Christ. It has been gratifying to see how this film has defied all predictions of doom and failure to break box office records and prove your critics wrong. Still, it is even more gratifying to know that you would have stood by your magnum opus even if it had fallen stillborn from the editing room.

It has meant the world to me, as a college professor, to see a contemporary icon of manliness and courage such as you throw his whole heart and life into a production honoring Jesus Christ. I know you caught a lot of animosity and derision for this. But in a society that has been stripped of genuine heroes and saturated with postmodern anti-heroes, your example has been more than welcome. One of my great disappointments over the course of my academic career has been to see students trying to make their way in a world where Hollywood and Madison Avenue are telling them, at every turn, that the purpose of their lives is to be found in grasping at money, power, and pleasure. How far the world has fallen from a time in which people held aloft the virtues of voluntary poverty, obedience, and chastity. Young people were made, not for hedonism and selfishness, but for heroism and sacrifice. Deep in their hearts I think they know this. But there is little in their social environment, even in Church these days, to support such counter-intuitive insights. In such a milieu as this, your own life and example, as well as those of the icons you have brought to the screen, have been singularly exceptional; and for this I am most grateful.

On a personal note, I am also grateful for your stalwart resistance to contemporary trends in the Church. Here again, young people sense that little of any substance is to be found to sustain them in forms of religion inspired by current social trends, and you have pointed young people towards the oasis of Catholic tradition amidst the spiritual desert. For this, too, I express my gratitude.

Thanks, Mr. Gibson.

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