"That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have touched... declare we unto you."
I John 1:1-3
I have had my ticket for days. Good thing. Our youth minister had hardly purchased a large block of tickets for the movie, The Passion of the Christ, before they were gone. And ours is but one of thousands of churches across the country with the same, sold-out story to tell. Advance ticket sales alone broke film industry records.
Hollywood is stunned. The pundits are stunned. And I'll be stunned if the following "expert's" prediction comes true: "This film may gross $30 million, but not much more. Mel Gibson may at least get his money back."
The words "preconception" and "prejudice" each assume a pre-existing opinion, but there's a significant difference in their meanings. Both assume limited knowledge or experience, but the latter is driven by emotion and negativity.
I'd like to think all my opinions begin as preconceptions, change or become stronger with time, and stop before they cross the prejudicial line. But that would be a presumption, another kind of prior opinion bordering on arrogance and weak in evidence or fact. The point I'm trying to make, however, is that I've based my life on a number of preconceptions I not only thought were absolutes, but wondered why they were not the absolutes of everyone else.
My opinionated self probably emerged in kindergarten, that first foray outside my sheltered, straight-line home. I remember well the day my teacher grew tired of listening to my runny-nose sniffles and offered me a Kleenex. Since the only "paper handkerchiefs" I'd ever seen were home on our kitchen table, I assumed she had stolen hers from us and told her so in front of the whole class. Around that time I also announced that "Mother's Day" was named for my grandmother, the only person I had ever heard anyone called "Mother."
I soon saw the error of my misconceptual ways, but there was another early idea I still hold, despite the onslaught of counter opinions I had no idea existed. The Bible, which my church taught me "endures forever" (I Peter 1:25), reveals that Jesus was a Jew who descended from a long line of Jewish leaders to become their Messiah, yet "he came unto his own and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Though I believe Jesus was that Messiah and have claimed him as my own, I'm not surprised at those who still "receive him not." The Bible itself speaks of "a narrow way... and few there are who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). My surprise is that, in the context of the Mel Gibson film, the facts of Jesus' ethnicity, his life and his well-publicized death are under so much scrutiny today.
I suppose it was inevitable. Given the near wipe-out of solid news reporting today, and the coup of critics who took their place, I have difficulty listening to someone speak in that same critical, news-analysis way about whether a historical Jesus really lived, and really offered himself as a savior to the whole world, not just the Jews. Predictably, the next subject for debate is the preposterous claim that the "whole world," or anyone in it, needs a savior. For what? No one but a few fanatics believes in sin anymore.
Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, wonders if the Mel Gibson film could be "a new Great Awakening." In his recent article, "Orthodoxy's Revenge," he writes of the "bemused astonishment" of those who thought "all these (orthodox) people slunk away in embarrassment forevermore after the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925."
I guess these critics and I have the same problem. We thought what we think is what everyone thinks.
How sad if only the unorthodox took to the microphone and the printed page. Thanks to an orthodox man with an almost un-orthodox zeal, for the next few days and weeks, those things which we have heard, seen and believed in our hearts declare we now, loud and clear, to a skeptical world.
Reminder: By this time next week, many of you and I will have seen, The Passion of the Christ. Please share your reaction in a letter to the editor, or to me at the address listed below.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@aol. com.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.