Monday, July 31, 2006

Mel Gibson may outwit the "evangelicals," but he don't scare me none!

Here's the way the Hebrew scriptures describe a certain spokesman for God:

"The vice-regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel's life that they could use against him, but they couldn't dig up anything. He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. So they gave up..." (Daniel 6:4-5).

I have one observation about Mel Gibson: When church people and others (Jews in particular) were gnashing teeth and arguing over whether or not The Passion According to Mel Gibson was a) great art, b) going to usher in a great revival of christianity in this country, or c) anti-Semitic, I let it be known that I thought God would not be likely to use the egomaniacal money-making venture of one man for God's work. Mel Gibson just doesn't fit the Biblical description of someone God might rely on to advance God's purposes.

"Never mind," the "evangelical" churches said, and they went to work to make more money for him. Has a revival ensued? I don't think so. Is his film great art? I refuse to see it, so I can't say, but I don't know any real critic of the art of film who has praised it. Is dirty Mel anti-Semitic or just a foul-mouthed ruffian? I'm sure I don't know.

What I do know is that, in the scriptures of the Jewish-Christian tradition as nearly as I can tell, the people who advance God's purposes are either remarkably ordinary (take Amos, for example, who said to the King, "I never set up to be a preacher... I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, 'Go preach...'") or remarkably saintly (we all know about Samuel), or remarkably repentant (the Apostle Paul is as good an example as any). Mel Gibson, I think the public record shows, is none of those things.

But this isn't about poor, hapless, drunken Mel. It's about the "evangelicals" who need to "know" what God is up to, who need to help God form her plans, who think they have an "in" with God because they are so righteous (and understand all the hidden meanings of the scriptures). Because they have figured out every little "sign" and "portent" and are God's confidants, they give money to Israeli causes, and they trumpet the "signs" of the last times which they interpret with their nonsensical "rapture" pseudo-theology, and they offer the world their vision of christian piety summed up in a film by a man who acts like a drunken, racist egomaniac. I'm not saying a film can't have positive effect simply because its maker is a scoundrel. All I'm saying is that, an "evangelical" or anyone else who sets up an idol is guilty of idolatry, and may well find out, as Nebuchadnezzar did, that their idol has clay feet.

Where is that revival The Passion According to Mel was supposed to usher in?