Christian & Jewish
"Passion" film threatens to put dialogue back into the dark ages
The portrayal of Jesus Christ's final 12 hours in the about-to-be released Mel Gibson film "The Passion" has already caused controversy among groups representing evangelical interests and those more concerned with righting the wrongs of religious teachings over the past centuries.
One leading academic has already warned that the film could provoke "one
of the great crises in Christian-Jewish relations" in the US.
A panel of three Jewish and six Catholic scholars – ICCJ International President, Dr. John Pawlikowski among them – who have studied a draft script have concluded that the film, if indeed produced according to that draft script, will contribute to furthering antisemitism and theological misunderstandings through its historical inaccuracies and unequivocal bias against Jews.
The draft portrays the Jews of the day as bloodthirsty and vengeful. It threatens to revive the worst traditions of the Passion plays which have caused cauldrons of deadly harm to the Jewish communities of Europe throughout the ages. (According to the draft script, for example, Jews are seen constructing the cross on which Jesus was to be crucified in the synagogue!)
The panel of reviewers concluded that the film's effect would represent a dramatic negation of the work of reconciliation and understanding of the past three or four decades.
Gibson claims he is not anti-semitic. He has been quoted as saying that antisemitism is contrary to his personal beliefs. At the same time he is the major supporter of a "traditionalist" Catholic church in Los Angeles, a spinoff from mainstream Catholicism which rejects the Second Vatican Council that, among
other statements, clearly absolved the Jews of being collectively responsible for Christ's death. He maintains the film is not meant to upset Jewish people. "I think it's just meant to tell the truth" he claimed. At the same time he expressed the hope that the film has the power to evangelise!
Issues go beyond the film
Dean and founder of the Los Angeles based Wiesenthal Centre, Rabbi Marvin
Hier is adamant the ramifications of the issue go far beyond the film itself.
"We have a right to be concerned", Rabbi Hier told a media conference.
Shiboleths of bias
The message for those equally concerned in Australia is equally clear. While
the scope of the film in its present form – its sound track is in Latin and
Aramaic and as yet there are no subtitles – may be limited, there is no question
that it will serve the cause of those who propel the power to evangelise and
those for whom antisemitism is endemic to their make up.
What's on . . .
The month of August witnessed a whirlwind itinerary propel the International President of the Council to five Australian capital cities in less than two weeks. His gruelling schedule saw Dr. John Pawlikowksi jet into Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and then undertake the sleep-preventing Perth?Sydney?Chicago flights in order to keep abreast of a program of engagements and academic responsibilities which would easily exhaust a man half his age.
Giving to the Australian CCJ a prodigious proportion of his time in what was
in fact a private visit to this country, Dr. Pawlikowski was acclaimed by his
audiences for his erudite addresses, discussions with the media and during a
number of private meetings which were arranged with church and synagogue
leaders. His contribution during the briefest of visits provided inspiration to
local CCJ executive members. As a result it is to be expected that efforts
throughout Australia will now be renewed for people of goodwill to put their
shoulders disproportionately to the wheel of the work to generate, propagate and
generally to elevate inter-denominational understanding on the part of the most
widespread constituency possible.
It is incumbent on all right thinking people to disown this outrageous
distortion of known history. They must speak out to neoate any influence it may
have in reversing the specific achievements of the past 3 decades which have
brought to the same table and to common understanding the Jewish communities
throughout the world and their Christian counterparts.
ICCJ Conference, Utrecht
Dr. Marianne Dacy, Fr. Pawlikowski and Sr. Trish Madigan
Forthcoming functions by CCJ Victoria include a talk by Dr. Marianne Dacy on
September 11 entitled "Imagining the Other", an overview of the ICCJ 2003 Conference in Utrecht, Holland and the launch of Gesher by Archbishop Dennis Hart, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne on October 30.
NEW SOUTH WALES:
September 3: While the Annual General Meeting of the NSW CCJ is planned for St. Andrews House in Sydney's CBD, the Council is also finalising plans for a 3-Choir musical afternoon to be held at St. John's College, University of Sydney on
October 26. The concert will feature the Jewish Choral Society, the Jacobean Singers and the BizanTine Choir.
November 7: The annual Kristallnacht (Night of broken glass) commemoration will again be held in Sydney's Martin Place. Later in the month a symposium will take place, again at St. John's College in which a conversation on interfaith relations will take place between Cardinal Cassidy and Rabbi Dr. John Levi. The event is to be moderated by the ABC's John Crittenden and broadcast on ABC Radio National.
The CCJWA Annual General Meeting for this year is set for Sunday
October 26. This will be followed by the Council's annual Kristallnacht service which this year will be held on
November 9 at St Gerard's Catholic Church in Westminster.
Seasons of Song in Church and Synagogue . . .
at Melbourne's Temple Beth Israel a resounding (in more sense than one) success
The three choirs were at their top form during an afternoon of inspiration in music – The Choir of Temple Beth Israel, incorporating the Wedding Singers, The Choir of Auburn Uniting Church and The Choir of St. Aidan's Uniting Church of North Balwyn provided the Slome Hall audience with a varying program from the liturgy and folklore of the three denominations.
The afternoon began with the chanting of an excerpt from the Torah by Temple
Beth Israel senior minister, Rabbi Fred Morgan.
Throughout each of the Choir's renditions, the audience was enthralled by psalms, hymns and anthems from their respective repertoires.
As a bonus to the concert, the audience was hosted to afternoon tea and the opportunity to inspect an Art Exhibition entitled "Images of the Holy Land" by well-known Melbourne artist, Donald Cameron.
Proceeds from the sale of his works were donated to support the work of the Working Group on Christian Jewish Relations of the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, the organisation responsible for the organising and sponsorship of "Seasons of Song in Church and Synagogue".
The international President's visit
|CCJ President, Fr. Prof. John
Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen
outside the Sydney Jewish Museum
News from around the States . . .
Cardinal Kasper's conversation with Professor Waller
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper recently visited Melbourne under the auspices of the Marist Brothers. Cardinal Kasper gave an overview of the current situation in the relationship between the faiths around the world during a spirited presentation at Temple Beth Israel in conversation with Emeritus Professor Louis Waller AO. The issue of antisemitism which has increased in the past 2-3 years was discussed at considerable length, with the Cardinal assuring members of the Jewish community that the Church strongly deplores antisemitism in any form. Educational programs, particularly arranged for the younger generation, he said, is one means of countering this scourge.
Visit of Dr. Pawlikowski to Melbourne
An audience in excess of 250 gathered at Gazzano College recently for the Robert Anderson Oration by Fr. Dr. Pawlikowski. The ICCJ President gave an extensive picture of the current world of dialogue between the two faiths with a range of objectives for those involved in this work. Professor Anderson responded warmly to the Oration given in his honour.
The Adelaide theme: What Challenges does the Holocaust pose for Global
Morality and Christian Self-Understanding?
According to Fr. Pawlikowski the callous attitude to life shown by the Nazis extends to the mistreatment not only of Jews or other groups generally who differ but even applies to our entire ecosystem, life itself on our planet. A caring attitude to this is one of the deepest lessons of the Holocaust, Fr. Pawlikowski said. He placed particular stress on the importance of terminology in creating better inter-group dialogue during the well-attended CCJSA function in Adelaide.
Fr. Pawlikowski also addressed issues specifically relating to Jewish-Christian dialogue, suggesting that a reappraisal of traditional Christian exegesis of the New Testament, of traditional views that God's grace and salvation does not work through Judaism, and similar views must be adjusted to the reality of the continuing and experiential Jewish covenantal bond to God.
Co-Chair of the SACCJ, Rev. Margaret Polkinghorne, gave the thanks of the audience to Fr. Pawlikowski
News from around The first half of 2003 has seen considerable programming
beginning with the Pesach/Easter season. It was felt that it would be helpful
for Perth's Jewish and
Christian communities to explore the meanings of the Passover and Easter in a workshop situation during which lay people of both faith communities explained the meanings of these festivals to them personally, followed by group discussions. It is quite evident that workshops such as these are valuable tools in promoting the education of Christians and Jews so as to appreciate each other's distinctive beliefs and practices and their common ground.
The year's second event for 2003 was the Murdoch University lecture by Dr David Gilad who was brought to Australia by the University's Department of Theology as a visiting scholar in Hebrew Bible Studies. Jointly organised by CCJWA and the University's Theological Department the lecture presented a scholarly overview of the historical and ideological roots of orthodoxy and the issues of the day. Dr Gilad went on to explain there was not one monolithic orthodox view of the modern State of Israel but many. He then concluded his talk by acknowledging that there are deep underlying theological problems in Israel today and though he conceded that the modern State is an advance on the old messianism, he left his audience with the question as to how the old and new might be reconciled. "Only Elijah the Prophet can tell", was his answer.
Highlight of the year was ICCJ President, Fr. Dr. John Pawlikowski's talk, again at Murdoch University, on the topic of Re-imaging Christian Jewish Relations: Implications for Christian and Jewish Identity.
CCJWA's AGM for this year is set for Sunday 26 October. Kristallnacht service is to be held on November 9 at St Gerard's Catholic Church in Westminster.
In the ACT…
Rev Prof Pawlikowski delivered the Ray Brown Memorial Lecture in honour of Ray Brown, a Catholic layman who founded the ACT Christian Jewish Dialogue in 1987, at Canberra's Centre for Christianity and Culture.
|The ICCJ President presented the Ray Brown Memorial Lecture at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra. Seen above with Gary Fellman (left), President of the ACT Jewish Community and Terry Craig, Convenor of the ACT Christian Jewish Dialogue and CCJ Branch in the ACT
The culture of forgetting
I was ten years old when I saw the tattooed number on the arm of an
ashen-faced man serving behind the counter of our local milk bar in West
Brunswick. He did not answer me when I asked him to explain this mark. I think I
learned about the Holocaust from my mother. More than forty years later,
including fifteen years as a Catholic nun, I continue to be deeply distressed by
repress a capacity for violence, and to scapegoat perceived enemies? Reflections on this latter question are for another time. As to the former one, the following thoughts are offered, as a small part of the answer.
The Truth about the Pharisees
Rabbi Raymond Apple AM RFD
The Pharisees have had a bad press for centuries. Despite their proven
humanity, sincerity and piety, they have been constantly excoriated as a
reprehensible group of egalistic, selfrighteous hypocrites who symbolise all
that is worst in the religious character. The New Testament gives the impression
that Jesus was adamantly opposed to the movement and all it stood for; Jews who
know the real worth of the Pharisees understand how the gospel writers got it so
wrong. Christian scholarship – Travers Herford, George Foot Moore, James W.
Parkes and E. P. Sanders in particular – has attempted to rehabilitate the
movement but much more needs to be done to put the record straight.
name Pharisee is not always used in the same sense. Sometimes it indicates
Pharisee as against Sadducee. Sometimes it denotes separatists (from a Hebrew
root that means to separate oneself), because the movement urged separation from
transgression. At times it even means "heretic", understanding the
same root as suggesting "outsider" – in this sense it is a mocking
criticism of them by their opponents. So we need to check the word Pharisee
against its various contexts.
Mel Gibson suspects that a
Jew Named Jesus was killed by Jews and
LOS ANGELES ? Mel Gibson and his parents are under fire today from a leading Jewish group for reportedly anti-semitic impulses in the former's new film and the latter's denial that Al Qaeda executed the Sept. 11 attacks.
The actor's father, Hutton Gibson, told The New York Times he flatly rejected that the terrorist group led by Usama bin Laden had any role in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11. "Anybody can put out a passenger list," the elder Gibson told The Times. "So what happened? They were crashed by remote control." He and the actor's mother, Joye Gibson, also told The Times that the Holocaust was a fabrication manufactured to hide an arrangement between Adolf Hitler and "financiers" to move Jews out of Germany to the Middle East to fight Arabs.
"Go and ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body," Hutton Gibson told The Times. "It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now six million?" Said Joye Gibson: "That weren't even that many Jews in all of Europe."
Rabbi Marvin Hier, head