Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Two Gibsons - Two Passions

My wifely unit and I went with a couple of friends and viewed the Passion of the Christ last Saturday.

I went into it with a couple of expectations:

1.) I'm an emotional sap, and Christ's finished work on the Cross is very meaningful to me as a core event of this universe and the key to my spiritual redemption, so I would be an emotional wreck during and after the movie.

2.) I would pick out all the little Catholic-specific traditions and find myself transported in and out of the immersion I always hope overtakes me during a movie.

I also went into it with one main concern/fear. I can't stand blood n' gore. Icky. Didn't see Saving Private Ryan or Braveheart for that reason. Sad, I know, but... well, Ick. I was afraid the bloody brutality would distract me from experiencing the deeper meaning of the Passion play.

I had to fight off other expectations that my errant and willful mind tried to foist upon my psyche with the hopes of going in with a clean slate and allowing the movie to just be a movie about something I consider very important.

Well, shoot, I couldn't help #1. Not at all. Sob-sob-sob. Sorry for all you manly fellas, but I'm a slob even for shallow sentiment sometimes, so when the meaning was deeper, well, no hope. And I forgot Kleenex.

Don't do that. Really. Very unpleasant.


On item #2, I found the traditions placed in such a way that not only did they flow seamlessly, and not only did they honor the Catholic tradition to which Mel adheres, but they were presented so skillfully that I found myself understanding how, being traditions, they may have their roots in truth. They could have happened. How do I know Veronica didn't offer her veil to Jesus? Sure, it's not gospel, and sure, it's not necessary to a redemptive belief in Jesus Christ, but it was beautiful and moving, a little vignette of kindness on an otherwise brutal day.

Also, I found the whole thing to be more, erm, Hollywood than I expected. Less like a boring History Channel doc and more like a dramatic blockbuster. At very first, I thought it might hamper the message by concentrating on the style, but the effect was quite they opposite. I was sucked in. I wasn't watching a movie about Jesus' crucifixion, I was there, sucked in, experiencing with Mary and with His disciples. Mel and his crew used cinematic effect to enhance the personal, human suffering Christ endured for the sins of the world. The little directorial license taken in depicting a couple of events prior to Jesus' earthly ministry, though completely speculative, were powerful reminders that, from a Christian perspective, Jesus was not only God, but He was in every way a man, a man who bled and suffered untold pain.

About the blood. Oy vey, it is a bloody movie. It is also the very first depiction I have ever seen to even come close to the picture I have always had in my own head of what His suffering was really like, in light of my own reading of the scriptures. Perhaps the most terrifying scene is his scourging. After beating him with reeds for a little while, hard enough to watch in its own way, the Roman soldiers pull out the scourge, a cat o' nine-tails type device with bone and metal spurs set in the thongs. The first swipe of those across his back, the way the flesh tears open, made me and everyone I could see jump clear out of their seats. Yet, I believe it was close to the truth, according to scripture as well as contemporary non-biblical accounts. By His stripes we are healed, the prophet said.

Anyone who went away from this movie feeling it was anti-semitic forgot to open their eyes and see what Mel was trying to say. I put Him on the cross. I subjected Him to His scourging. By His stripes I am healed. And He went willingly, out of love for me, to save me from that kind of punishment in eternity.

That's what I came away with. I came away sad, introspective, but hopeful, that glimpse of Him exiting the tomb to put a seal on His time on earth and prepare His believers for the Holy Spirit and the age to come...

Well, sorry if that's all a little too, erm, dogmatic for you, but it's the truth as I see it, and at least I'm being honest with you :-)

So, that said, what did I mean about two Gibson's?

Well, I've given my friendly musical instrument rep a list of my desired specs on, yep, a custom Les Paul.

Now, I'm an okay guitarist at best. I have a good workhorse of an ax, an Ibanez Talman with good tone, good intonation, rock solid bridge and tuning, good action, etc. Cost me around $550 when I bought the thing.

But I've always had a jones for a really, really, really good guitar. A Les Paul, to be exact.

If I'm to tell the truth, I fell in love with Les Pauls watching (mostly listening, actually) Ace Frehley flail his into submission in Love Gun, Deuce, Cold Gin, etc... It's the quintessential Rock n' Roll guitar. Forget what all those strat-heads tell you... well, okay, I have to give a nod to Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, but don't push it.

So now I'm in love with a guitar, a Les Paul, with ebony fretboard and washed white figured top. Custom only, can't get it off the line.

Does it make sense for a guy whose chops are middling at best to blow $4000 on a guitar? Probably not, but I'm blowing $8000 on my wife's horse, so I gotta get mine, right?

And I don't have to shovel it's pooples, either.

Human that I am, I've quickly sunk from the heights of religious fervor to base materialism. I know I'm supposed to store up my treasures in heaven, but I keep thinking that, hey, I can use this guitar to make music that will hopefully encourage peeps to get in touch with God. But that's just rationalization. Best to just admit that, hey, I really want a really nice guitar, and if I can afford, I'll do it, and I'll do my best to just enjoy it and not let it own me. When I finally get it, I'll post a pic.

If you want a pic from the Passion of the Christ, go see the movie. Don't have room for it all here.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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