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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
        Wednesday, March 24 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Fascism and the Gospel

Stories in yesterday's papers said the head of a large movie theater chain in France has declared Mel Gibson's blockbuster The Passion of the Christ "fascist" and vowed it will not play in his theaters. At least two other critics of the movie, self-described atheist-essayist Christopher Hitchens (best known in some circles for his book attacking Mother Teresa as a self-serving phony) and "ex-Catholic" actor Jon Voight, have used the word fascist in their reactions to Gibson's film.

So I decided to try to uncover what they may mean. According to an online dictionary, "fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition; a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control." How can this possibly relate to the movie which, from everything I've read, is an exceptionally faithful rendering of the self-emptying of Christ as reported in the Gospels?

Now the French government's recent ban of Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses in public schools is fascistic by the dictionary definition above. Also, I believe a Virginia's school administration that tried to deprive a student of his right to wear a pro-life shirt in a school that has encouraged inviduality in dress and tolerates everything from booze to personal politics on other students' shirts was surely fascistic, trying to force the one student in the lot who dared express a Christian sentiment on his body to conform to their own narrow definition of what's politically correct.

Such cases are fascistic because they attempt to force those who don't adhere to their line to accept a common value system or, if you will, a religious ideal that melds everyone into a secularized civil religion or approved set of cultural ideals. It's a first step toward Hitlerian/Mussolinian and Stalinist repression. But certainly Christianity and Christian political movements are neither autocratic, dictatorial, or elevating the state over the individual. The spiritual kingdom of Christ, which I've discussed previously in these Jonals, is first and foremost a rule of love and putting others ahead of self, which is the revolutionary kernal of Christ's Gospel, where "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11 ). And I still haven't seen the movie (but hope to do so before Easter), but I've read enough from enough points of view about it to believe it is supremely a movie about the ultimate act of self-sacrifice for others, rather than trying to coerce anyone to believe anything not in their own hearts.

I think the key is in the fear of such critics that the movie may in fact spark a new "great awakening," as one Jewish rabbi prophesied, a great revival of Christian devotion. That would unite a great many people in Christ, but in the view of those who hate Christ, would also unite them in causes inimical to the leftists' brave new world. That, to them, is "fascism," even though all the real fascist states in the past century were led by people like themselves who denied and hated the liberating Gospel and its Lord.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Color co-ordination

Why does the bride always wear white? Because it's good for the dishwasher to match the stove and refrigerator.

—Sent by Jules Nagy 

Lenten thought for today

Hold fast to the blessed and joyful sorrow of holy compunction* and do not cease laboring for it until it lifts you high above the things of the world to present you, a cleansed offering, to Christ.

— St. John Climacus, c 525-c. 610,
The Ladder of Divine Ascent

*Compunction: pangs or promptings of conscience; leanings toward repentance. 

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