Religion

Passion Play or Gwar Show? You Decide.

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From the exotic land of Tennessee comes word that local church Passion plays have become gory affairs.

A few quotes for the flavor:

"At Halloween, we sell blood by the ounce. At Easter, we sell blood by the gallon," says Gary Broadrick, owner of Performance Studios.

The churches that do Passion plays depicting Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection come in search of biblical attire and stage makeup, including plenty of stage blood. The blood, church officials say, is necessary to truly bring home the message of Jesus' sacrifice.

"To see that blood makes it very real," said Sheri Simpson, drama ministry coordinator at Two Rivers Baptist Church, known for its large-scale Easter production. "It wasn't just a small slap on the hand. He was really tortured." …

"It's almost like drug use," said Paul Prill, a professor of communications at Lipscomb University. "After a while, it doesn't affect us as much anymore." …

"I knew it had to be real," said Bob Shupe, church choir director and the person who authored the long-running play 16 years ago. "So much is false today. People are suspect of everything—in particular, the church."

Why, yes. The whole Resurrection thing is so much more convincing with more fake blood.

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  1. There’s always the option of actually crucifying the actors.

  2. PL,
    Trey Parker & Matt Stone would like to produce your passion play.

  3. Hopefully they pelt the congregation with raw meat while they’re at it. Personally, I’m all for it–I’d have much more interest in mainstream religion were they to throw in all sorts of heavy metal theatrics. How about this–instead of saying that Christ has been “resurrected” say that he’s “back from the dead”. Then use a big oversized Christ prop a la Iron Maiden’s “Eddie” to hammer that point home. If Christ can soak the audience with blood spurting out of his nail wounds, so much the better….

  4. This doesn’t surprise me. I caught a few minutes of the Passion of the Christ last week, and it was worse than I expected-truly the product of a diseased mind. Among some sects of Christianity, there seems to be a genuinely sick and morbid fascination with the gory details of Jesus’ suffering. Although they try to excuse that obsession as demonstrating Christ’s love (Or the father’s cruelty. But they don’t talk about that part.) it looks more like they enjoy dwelling on the torture. It’s blood porn with a pious patina.

  5. It’s blood porn with a pious patina.

    Silly Christians…everyone knows that blood porn needs a bitchin’ heavy metal soundtrack and not a pious patina. Though, come to think of it, “Pious Patina” *would* be a great name for a band….

  6. In the RC Church, the role of the mob (ie, the Jews) is given to the congregation. Nothing like seeing an 8 year old girl dressed up for mass reciting, “Crucify him! Crucifiy him! Let Jesus die!”

    This was a very deliberate decision made in the 1960s, to try to take some of the anti-semitism out of the story, and drive home the point that We the People, and not They the Jews, are responsible for Christ’s crucification.

    I wonder how evangelical churches handle that?

  7. Those silly flatlanders are always adopting the worst art forms from New York.

  8. This was a very deliberate decision made in the 1960s, to try to take some of the anti-semitism out of the story, and drive home the point that We the People, and not They the Jews, are responsible for Christ’s crucification.

    I wonder how evangelical churches handle that?

    My guess is by emphasizing the anti-semitism by having the actors wear yamakules, Brandeis sweatshirts, saying “Oy” a lot and any other Jewish stereotype they can come up with?

    That and having them spurt blood and throw raw meat, of course…

  9. So blood, torture, and snuff films are okay, but chocolate is EEEEEEvil?

  10. You can’t really compare it to a GWAR show unless there was fake semen involved too.

  11. Jim Murphy- Just remember that if you see the Jew coming, you must be careful of his teeth.

  12. Check out the new Pious Patina CD: “Bloodletting for the Lord” now at your local Sam Goody store!

  13. joe,

    I just printed the program for an ecumenical Easter service (a Catholic church combining with a Presbyterian church for a one-night only gala celebration) and they continuing the Catholic tradition of which you speak.

    I always felt guilty growing up demanding the crucifixion of Christ, while wondering why I was asking for Barabbas to be freed. Recently, I learned that some scholars believe Jesus and Barabbas were the same person, and it was a re-writing of the Gospels in order to make the Romans look better for Constantine that led to the inclusion of the character Barabbas.

  14. Just remember that if you see the Jew coming, you must be careful of his teeth.

    Obviously I need to study my Judaism in greater depth…I thought the “Jew claw” was the primary threat?

  15. I just printed the program for an ecumenical Easter service (a Catholic church combining with a Presbyterian church for a one-night only gala celebration) and they continuing the Catholic tradition of which you speak.

    I hope the event was called “Passion-palooza” ; )

    Thank you, thank you…I’ll be here all week….

  16. People are suspect of everything – in particular, the church.

    Gosh, I wonder why?

  17. Jim Murphy- Yes, the Jew claw is dangerous, but if you can get past the claw and the teeth, you get to take his bag of Jew gold.

  18. There’s always the option of actually crucifying the actors.

    Well, you should catch the passion plays in the Philipines. Every year, some guys allow themselves to be crucified either out of extreme devotion to Christ or a misreading of their method acting manuals.

  19. Just like that Anti-Christ/Devil’s Children rock band said in a popular lyric: If you want blood, you got it.

  20. Just like that Anti-Christ/Devil’s Children rock band said in a popular lyric: If you want blood, you got it.

    Did I say that?

  21. There’s always the option of actually crucifying the actors.

    Another twist on “who wants to die for art”?

  22. Bon Scott | April 5, 2007, 10:24am | #
    Just like that Anti-Christ/Devil’s Children rock band said in a popular lyric: If you want blood, you got it.

    Did I say that?

    Yes, at about the same time you said you were on a highway to hell.

  23. “Pro Libertate | April 5, 2007, 9:53am | #
    There’s always the option of actually crucifying the actors.”

    they actually did/do in the Philippines!
    (in my mid eng lit class we read the York and bath (?) cycle plays, and we actually talked about that. interesting stuff!

    aw krap. Abdul beat me to it.

    What Abdul said.

  24. Crucified as in nailed up and allowed to slowly die? Egad.

  25. Just two shopping days ’til Zombie Jesus Day!

  26. Pro Lib,

    Crucified as in nailed up, left there for a couple hours, then taken down and brought to the doctor’s.

  27. Timothy – I love those gag boulders you can get.
    “Free yourself from your own cave! Amaze your friends”.

    Just that the hovercraft makes too much noise, so that part ruins the joke.

    hrumph.

  28. I wonder what Sheri Simpson’s opinion is on extraordinary rendition.

    I’m all in favor of demonstrating what torture looks like, if it gets people thinking about real people being tortured.

  29. These are the same lying self-righteous hypocrites who think that a mammary gland leads to the ruination of society and have no problem with the FCC expanding their power-grab to include determining what is or is not “too violent”, but they will flock to a glorified snuff film or try to recreate it themselves because it “glorifies” their beliefs.

    If the blatant double-standard wasn’t laughable I’d be throwing up all over them.

  30. joe,

    I guess that beats letting him die, though I think it may violate Actors’ Equity Association rules.

  31. Pro lib,

    I think a few die every once in a while. It’s not like they’re doing this under the controlled conditions of a David Blaine stunt. . . it’s more like Johnny Knoxville meets Bill Donahue.

  32. Abdul,

    I suppose that’s okay, so long as they don’t have speaking parts. Extras are expendable under the rules.

    Of course, a passion play with a non-speaking Jesus seems unlikely. . . .

  33. “To see that blood makes it very real,” said Sheri Simpson, drama ministry coordinator at Two Rivers Baptist Church, known for its large-scale Easter production. “It wasn’t just a small slap on the hand. He was really tortured.” …

    The thing is, the blood is incidental. A crucifixion is a long, slow, excruciating death. Breathing becomes painful and the victim slowly asphyxiates. It really is torture, but there’s no way to recreate it if you’re doing three shows a day.

  34. Do they make their bloody Jesuses wear boxer shorts or something? Seeing the panic a boob or two causes this crowd I’d hate to see the reaction if the lil Savior made an appearance.

  35. jf,

    That is definately one of the weaker aspects of the story. Pilate let a known killer of Romans go? I don’t think so.

  36. Warren,

    Depends on how you are crucified actually. Death can come very quickly (in a few minutes) depending on the position one is erected in.

  37. depending on the position one is erected in.

    Speaking of snuff / p0rn films…

  38. jimmydageek,

    If I recall correctly from some reading I did on this a few years ago, some of the folks held by the Nazis in WWII were crucified and at least some of these died within minutes from asphyxiation.

  39. What a belief system. Praise and celebrate the horrible torture of a man. Smile. Feel Good. Tell People.

    religous people suck.

  40. Passion Play or Gwar Show? You Decide.

    Are you talking about plans for the weekend? You mean, like, a date? Truly, I’m flattered.

    And, to answer your question: um, neither. My Gwar t-shirt started to stink and fester years ago. And I’m not up for crucifying Jesus this weekend. (Hopefully I’ll be busy shoving my piehole with Cadbury eggs.) Maybe some other time, though.

  41. Blasphemers! We’re all going to Hell.
    Never quite could figure out Jesus’ sacrifice:
    He presumably knew he was going to be resurrected in three days. So why is his sacrifice so much more important than, say, a Marine who jumps on a live grenade to save his platoon? I’ll bet we could find a number of libertarians who would gladly undergo crucifixion/resurrection if it would put an end to Bushitlary and their friends.

  42. “I wonder how evangelical churches handle that?”

    The Passion Play I attended years ago (before Mel’s snuff flick) was a completely passive experience from the audience perspective.

  43. PL,
    Werner Herzog has also been calling for you.

  44. As has been the standard for executions for all of human history, a healthy tip goes a long way towards getting good service from the executioner–whether it means an accurate axe stroke, prompt spear in the side or a skullfull of opium before leng t’che

  45. Pro Libertate,

    I thought you were talking about the Phillipines.

    AFAIK, no churches in the U.S. actually put nails into anybody during their Good Friday services.

  46. [olly’s_axl_rose_impression]
    Fake blooooood
    you scare me like the real thing
    but if you were the real thing
    you’d scare me mo-ow-orrrre
    [/olly’s_axl_rose_impression]

    kinda sorta safe for work, if it’s ok to be goofing off watching videos at work.
    http://tinyurl.com/2rttxt

  47. highnumber,

    Nah, Kinski’s dead, so Herzog wouldn’t know who to cast in the Jesus role.

  48. I ? Klaus Kinski.

  49. Nastassja Kinski!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. Damn you, naughty Moose! You beat me by a minute!

  51. *brays happily. ambles off, back into the forest

  52. It’s blood porn with a pious patina

    I read that as pious pi?ata. Arguably in poorer taste, it would certainly be a better band name.

  53. Taste the fake blood. If it tastes like watermelon, it’s a GWAR show. Also, if it’s sprayed across the audience out of an enormous penis attachment to Oderus’s costume.

    No enormous penis attachment? It’s probably not GWAR.

  54. What a bunch of pussys!

    If they had real balls they’d have themselves crucified like they do in the Philippines.

  55. I have a prediction to make. Sometime in the near future, Christians will follow Gibson’s lead and begin crucifying family members as part of the Easter ritual.

    Heck, I think my family may start this weekend!

  56. Sam Raimi filmed The Evil Dead in Tennessee, and the crew famously ran into a shortage of fake blood.

    At one point in early January, 1980, filming was interrupted by a shortage of Karo syrup, red food coloring and marshmallows, the components of the film’s guts. All of the stores in a 20 mile radius had been bought out of these ingredients.

    So, are the stand-in actors who only hang on the cross Shemping for the Lord?

    Kevin

  57. Kevrob:

    I hereby reject those wild claims about filming. It sounds like you’re a shill for BIG KORN SYRUP!

    (and maybe big railroad tie)

  58. When did libertarianism become obsessed with religion? There’s a significant number of stories here poking fun at religion. Why? Libertarians are supposed to be for voluntary economic exchange, and that’s what these passion plays are: free market goods. I see no indication here that government or coercion is in any way involved.

  59. “At Halloween, we sell blood by the ounce. At Easter, we sell blood by the gallon,”

    I swear that I once watched an interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis in which he described using a nearly exact formula to determine how much fake blood he’d use in his films based on what he thought to be the average used in horror films at the time.

  60. He presumably knew he was going to be resurrected in three days. So why is his sacrifice so much more important than, say, a Marine who jumps on a live grenade to save his platoon?

    According to tradition, he spent those three days in sunny Hell, so it’s a bit more than dying, chilling in Acapulco for a few days, then coming back.

    There’s a significant number of stories here poking fun at religion. Why? Libertarians are supposed to be for voluntary economic exchange, and that’s what these passion plays are: free market goods. I see no indication here that government or coercion is in any way involved.

    Because we enjoy talking about them. Unlike you, we’re not entirely defined by our economic beliefs. We have lives and interests outside of economic concerns, and I”ll suggest that if you get some too, then you’ll be a happier, more well-rounded person. Unless of course, you’re just irritated at what’s being said, in which case I’d recommend that you, I dunno, not read the threads? This place has had religion threads since it’s inception; you have to have known what you were in for when you started reading.

  61. Were through being cool.
    Eliminate the ninnies and the twits.

  62. Caveat: I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion, so there may be stuff in there that would knock my comments into a cocked hat.

    But in comprehending the gore and brutality in these depictions, you have to understand that they are intended to depict (what the portrayers believe was) an actual event. This isn’t a fictional horror movie for pure entertainment, it’s supposed to be more like an instructive documentary, or at least a historical drama.

    It’s my undestanding that getting a Roman flogging and then getting crucified was, in fact, a pretty horrific and nasty and painful experience. There was a book out, some years or decades ago, that described all the details; I forget the title.

    You wouldn’t watch a movie about the Holocaust and complain, “Wow, they really made that Holocaust seem brutal, didn’t they? Like, they really pumped up the violence quotient and dwelled on the horrific aspects, didn’t they?”

    How did you feel about the violence in Saving Private Ryan? Too warlike?

    When you’re up late at night channel-surfing and you run across one of those infomercials for raising money to aid starving kids in Africa, and they show you images of dying little African toddlers with painfully swollen bellies and limbs as thin as your finger and crawling with flies, it may turn your stomach, but do you think, “Oh wow, yuck, it was really in bad taste for them to show me that; shame on them!”?

    (Yeah, the starving African videos are actual images while the Passion depictions are only recreations at best, but they didn’t have camcorders back then.)

    And the intent of the Passion recreations and the starving African infomercials is the same: to guilt you up (Jesus suffered because of your sins! African kids are starving because you won’t help!) and motivate you to change your behavior (Be a better Christian! Get off the sofa and write a check!).

  63. Stevo-It’s a good deal more complex than that. One of the major “gore” issues is the fact that the movie launches into a 12 minute long flogging session, in slow motion and heavy, heavy detail. This is based on one single verse in John, which doesn’t appear in any of the other Gospels. What’s more, no human could possibly have survived the flogging that Mel had Christ put through; we’re talking gallons of blood here, and there simply wouldn’t have been anything left the crucify. It’s just designed to shock people, not to reflect what happened.

    That was never really my problem with the movie, and with passion plays in general, though. My problem with the passion is the fact that the story melds all three accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection into one single narrative, as if it were just some sort of puzzle instead of the supposed accounts of eyewitnesses, eyewitnesses that contradict each other and need to be considered in terms of how reliable they were. There’s just no way that all three can be absolutely correct, and pretending that they can be is just pushing the problem under the rug.

  64. Could it be exaggeration for effect, to reach an audience desensitized by movies were guys run barefoot through broken glass and are hardly slowed up, or routinely shot in the shoulder and not affected at all?

    Albeit that’s a pretty dodgy approach for a movie that wants to say, “This was real.”

    But the question I really want to ask is:

    Is the flogging conducted by John Goodman yelling, “D’YA SEE WHAT HAPPENS, JESUS? D’YA SEE WHAT HAPPENS? D’YA SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FUCK A WORLD EMPIRE AND THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN THE ASS?”

  65. Could it be exaggeration for effect, to reach an audience desensitized by movies were guys run barefoot through broken glass and are hardly slowed up, or routinely shot in the shoulder and not affected at all?

    No, because Mel Gibson lifted the plotline directly from medieval passion plays, which were also heavy on the flogging issue, though they couldn’t show it for obvious reasons. If they could have, though, they would have done just exactly what Mel Gibson did. The Passion is an artifact of a savage age, and it’s not something that should be held up as worthy entertainment.

    Is the flogging conducted by John Goodman yelling,

    Nah, dude’s a pederast.

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