Ok, But What Do You Do for a Sequel?

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Given the miraculous B.O. of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ–which pulled in a reported weekend haul of $51.4 million–the inevitable question arises like the cock's crow at dawn: What does the Damascus Road Warrior do for a sequel?

Unfortunately, there are at least two such cautionary examples from Gibson's filmography, each of which inspires hope that the Rapture is just around the corner. The Lethal Weapon franchise degenerated into a privately funded workfare program for Gone Fishing sinners Danny Glover and Joe Pesci (to paraphrase Jefferson, we tremble for them when we realize there is a God in heaven). The other Gibson franchise involves the Mad Max character, who last appearance had audiences rooting that the post-apocalyptic warrior would never make it Beyond Thunderdome (thanks be to God and tempermental superstars, a fourth Mad Max flick is apparently dead).

The Passion–or more accurately, its immense popularity and its generally (though not universally) contemptuous reception by elites remains a fascinating cultural episode. Not long ago, Reason toured the Christian subculture and the what the magazine found there is worth thinking over as The Passion racks up more dollars in theaters everywhere.

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  1. Probably a prequel.

  2. I wonder if Cleanflicks.com will edit The Passion?

  3. Oh this is a nobrainer (even for a studio exec).

    He died for your sins, but now he’s back…
    WITH A VENGANCE

    Christ 2: Judgement Day

  4. Oh this is a nobrainer (even for a studio exec).

    He died for your sins, but now he’s back…
    WITH A VENGANCE

    Christ 2: Judgement Day

  5. May I suggest

    The Passion: Resurrection

    This time its personal!

  6. It never ceases to amaze me that those who do not subscribe to Evangelical principles assume that Evangelical Protestant Christianity can only be pure if it ascribes to some sort of Eastern Mystical Aescetism. They point to two instances in the New Testament to support the idea that Christians should necessarily be anti-capitalistic, and anti-materialistic.

    1) The story of the Rich Young Ruler who having been told to give away all he has, departed discouraged because he was unwilling to give up his possessions.

    2) The story of Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple.

    3) The story in Acts of people selling all they had and giving to all according to their need.

    Of course, those who push aesceticism on Christians fail to mention the other teachings of Jesus concerning the evil servant who failed to invest his master’s money properly, the parable of laborers who were all paid equally even though some worked 12 hours while others worked only 1 hour, and the fact the in Acts, when Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, it was not for failing to give all they had, but for attempting to deceive others into believing that they had given all while in fact holding some back.

    On the first issue of the Rich Young Ruler: Jesus commented that it was difficult for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. The point of Jesus is one of control. Did the Rich young Ruler have ownership of his possessions, or did his possessions have ownership of him? The young man was asking what was required to enter the kingdom. Jesus’ answer struck right at the heart of the matter – did the man put his trust in God, or in his things? This of course is the eternal question.

    2) On the second point, the issue was one of curruption. And on this point, Christians do need to be wary. The point of the moneychangers in the temple was originally to provide animals to sacrifice for those who had travelled too far to practically bring their own sacrifices with them. But those selling animals were selling “impure” animals, and otherwise taking advantage of those who came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice. The priests were in cahoots, illegitimately “blessing” the sacrifice of impure animals in direct contradiction to the requirements set out in Leviticus. Also, the merchants had set up shop in the courtyard specifically reserved for foreigners, showing a bigotry against believers in foreign lands.

    3) As mentioned above, the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira was not caused by their unwillingness to selflessly give all they had, but for their attempt to be seen as selfless by people while hiding their dishonesty. Peter specifically addresses this saying,

    “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land. While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.”

    Peter specifically endorsed the concept of private ownership twice. The punishment was for the attempted deception, not for failing to be sufficiently aescetic.

    Christians are indeed at risk when they place their physical comfort above the purposes of the kingdom of God. But the Bible is full of rich men and women who God calls blessed. Job was tested, and after passing the test, his wealth was doubled. So obviously the issue is not one of wealth, but one of control.

    It is the same with drunkeness and gluttony. It is not a matter of foreswearing the use of alcohol, or drugs, or food. Indeed all three can be used for beneficial use. The issue is one of self-control and obedience to, reliance upon, and trust in God.

    It is correct to say that it is easy to become captured by physical urges, and pride of ownership, position, wealth, etc. And if Christians do succumb to these temptations, then they are at risk.

    But it is not a sin in itself to desire success and wealth. The classic passage of the Bible that elevates the principle of tithing specifically promises greater wealth, prosperity, and success for those who are obedient to tithe and give offerings.

    In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasts two principles. 1) You cannot serve God and money, and 2) Ask and it shall be given unto you. The point is to free Christians from worrying about money. Those who are poor can obsess over money as much as those who are rich.

    We are told as Christians to give, because giving reveals the character of God in us. But it is an obvious fact that in order to give, one must first have something worth giving. God promises that those who do give will be given more, so that they can freely give without concern that their giving will result in their own poverty. And conversely those who refuse to give will not receive the blessings of God. So poverty, unlike the aescetic ideal, is actually evidence of the lack of God’s blessing, not his approval.

    I do not think it is an accident that the United States of America, a bastion of Protestant Christian belief, is both the richest nation on the earth, and the one that gives the most money away to others. There is no dishonor in being wealthy or managing our finances properly. The dishonor comes in seeking “financial security” apart from God, and in hoarding wealth to ourselves. Above all else the two main issues are TRUST, and OBEDIENCE.

    “When you walk with the Lord,
    in the light of His Word,
    What a glory he shed’s on our way.”

    “What He says we will do,
    Where he sends we will go.
    It is ours but to trust and obey.”

    “Trust and obey.
    There is no other way,
    To be happy in Jesus,
    But to Trust and Obey.”

    For some, trust and obedience will lead to great wealth, and for others not. Certainly there are some who may not be able to handle great wealth without it possessing them in the same manner as the Rich Young Ruler. Would a kind God allow us to be thus ensnared. Great Wealth is not evidence of holiness in and of itself. But neither is poverty.

    By world standards, even the poorest of Americans would rightly be considered wealthy. Christians believe this wealth has both a reason and a purpose. The reason is the blessing of God because of past obedience, and the purpose is to bless others in current odedience. The promise is future blessing as we continue to obey.

    To reject the blessings of God is to simultaneously reject the responsibility to bless others. The danger is believing that the blessings are entirely for our own benefit. If the Christian sub-culture raises wealth as an end in itself, then it is corrupt. But denouncing wealth itself without any context is not “Christian” in any way.

  7. I was listening to an artist on the radio over the weekend,(For now, the FCC has decided to let us do that.), and he was talking about looking at a Renaissance painting with an atheist.

    The atheist painter made a comment that Christian artists of the period had a huge advantage over secular artists of today because they had such a great story.

    Christian viewers already have this huge reservoir of images in their minds for visual artists to play with, and I find it astounding that Hollywood hasn’t gone to that well for so long, just for the sake of profit.

    If Mel wants to do the same thing with the Christmas Story that he did with “The Passion” and then release it during the holiday season, well, I’d like to be an equity partner.

    I would also like a piece of the action if he options the Resurection Story as well. Then we can do the Life of Paul.

    The DVD sales are going to be outrageous for “The Passion” without the prequals and sequals already, but, Mel, we can get in on some of that Box Set money too.

    Come on Mel (And I call you Mel ’cause I think we’re gonna be friends), I’ve got a few bucks lying around, and I’m a sincere Christian too!

    We’ll make Lucas and those guys at Dreamworks cry.

  8. Scott,

    There’s virtue in brevity.

  9. Oh, but Critic, be charitable. Wasn’t that one of the better sermons you’ve ever suffered through?

  10. I’ll wait for the Reader’s Digest version.

  11. If Mel wants to do the same thing with the Christmas Story that he did with “The Passion” and then release it during the holiday season, well, I’d like to be an equity partner.

    I shudder to think what Gibson would do with the scene where Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole.

  12. Beyond Thunderdome is the best of the series. Plot doesn’t make much sense, but style/action wise it’s the best one, and also better cinematography.

    P.s. – you’d think Reason of all people would not require an email on comments, or find a service that doesn’t require it.

  13. I found a cache of “Passion” reviews on the ‘net (something called Rotten Tomatoes. About a hundred reviews, running about 60/40 in favor.

    I observed an interesting corollary: nearly all the favorable reviews were penned by professional film reviewers– people who love cinema, and make a living handi-capping films; nearly all the unfavorable reviews came form commentator/columnist types, tut-tutting about the “cultural” implications of Gibson’s masterpiece.

    So funny, that Reason tends to side with the culture-critic nannies and scolds, rather than the true afficianadoes.

    Passion is a great movie!

  14. The Lethal Weapon and Mad Max franchises may have degenerated over time, but they both boast second entries that are better than the first. So I’m looking forward to Gibson’s initial sequel — The Acts of the Apostles, I guess, though maybe he’ll surprise us and make The Movie of Mormon.

  15. The sequel will deal with the Second Coming. Its release, however, will be delayed indefinitely.

  16. If Passion has racked in $200 million, let it not be said that Wal-mart doesn’t pay a living wage.

    Will

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