The elitist snit over The Passion
has everything with anti-theism and nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Once
Hollywood -- Old Hollywood -- produced films which exalted the gentle role
of faith in our lives and that decried the consequence of people rejecting
the principles of their faith.
Fiddler on the Roof is a poignant story of Jewish survival
in Tsarist Russia; the villains are Christians who ignore Christian ethics
by mistreating Jews for being Jews. Exodus shows how Christians ignored
Christ’s injunction to care for others by their indifference to the plight
of post-Holocaust Jewry. Gentleman’s Agreement is a commentary on bigoted Christians sneering at people who entered the world, like Jesus, as Jews.
Faithless Christians, not the Christian faith, are the problem in the films.
Why did these films not offend Christians? Because recognition of sin and
repentance of sin is a central theme of Christianity. Persecution of Jews
was never a precept of Christian faith, and America -- the best replication
of the diversity of Christian faith -- is the best example of Christian sympathy
for Jews. The lyrics to Exodus were written by a devout Christian and a patriotic American, Pat Boone.
Jews also celebrated the goodness of faithful Christians. The studio
system of Old Hollywood was dominated by Jews. These men produced films
like The Bells of St. Mary, Angels in the Outfield, The Sound of Music, Going My Way and Boy’s Town.
Sympathy toward good Christians was reciprocated by these and many other
grateful and patriotic Jews. Honest appreciation of goodness of Christians
was never considered to be a betrayal of Judaism.
Indeed, when Old Hollywood was flourishing (and when good films were being
produced) Reform Judaism was being conformed into a noble attempt to reconcile
the manifest goodness of both Judaism and Christianity. The greatest
Jewish theologian of the last century considered Christianity to be the Judaism
of non-Jews -- the best path to God for those not of the Jewish faith.
American Jews not only appreciated the decency of American Christians, when
they acted like Christians, but the Old Hollywood presented Jewishness in
film. One of the first talking films, The Jazz Singer, showed
the tension between modernity and traditional Judaism, and showed a resolution
to those conflicts. Other films, like the Benny Goodman Story,
showed Jews could be as bigoted toward Christians as Christians toward Jews.
These films treated faith faithfully. People made moral choices, and
those choices made with the knowledge of a loving God worked out best.
These moral ideas were perfected in Chariots of Fire, the story of
a brave Jew overcoming the prejudices of un-Christian Christians and of a
pious Christian overcoming equally daunting obstacles of deep piety for the
Glory of God in a world that, after the horror of the Great War, turned away
from God. Without pulling punches, Chariots of Fire celebrates the Judeo-Christian heritage.
Why did Hollywood come to hate religion? Marx replaced God. Marxists
replaced faithful people. This new and dreadful Hollywood sought to divide
us from God and from our common humanity as creatures of God. Because God
trumps every petty nastiness of life, He became the principal foe of New
New Hollywood began to produce films like Agnes of God and The Last Temptation of Christ,
which mocked Christianity with the venom no different from the treatment
Jews received in Nazi propaganda films. No goodness was allowed serious
Christians and no accusation was too vile to make against Christianity.
New Hollywood also mocked Judaism. King David showed Richard Gere degenerating into a bitter agonistic by the end of his life, and even nice productions like The Prince of Egypt
reduced God to a bit player. Nominal Jews like Woody Allen made films
that were sentimental toward Jewishness, but coldly indifferent toward Judaism.
As Michael Medved, film critic and observant Jew, notes in his documentary Hollywood Hates Religion, even remakes of old classics like Cape Fear and We’re No Angels were edited to introduce anti-theistic themes which were absent from the original version or to remove God from the remake.
The Passion does not portray Jews as bad. It portrays
some Jews as good and some Jews as bad. Other noble films have portrayed
some Christians as good and some Christians as bad. This is consistent
with both Christian and Jewish theology. Indeed, it is in many ways the salient
characteristic of Judeo-Christian faith.
Stories in which God is present require moral judgments. The Judeo-Christian
tradition is based upon the pivotal role of God in our decisions. The Passion,
Torah, Jesus and the Blessed Creator of the Universe are not the cause of
misery in the world. The Christian who does not believe in Christ and the
Jew who does not believe in Torah are the shadows of evil in the world.
Those who embrace anti-theism like secular JINOs (Jews in name only) have
leveraged one of the worst crimes of the Twentieth Century -- that part of
Nazi democide which murdered six million innocent Jews -- into a voodoo hex
on Christianity and into an attempted transformation of Judaism from a great
faith into a Holocaust cult.
Others who embrace anti-theism like CINOs (Christians in name only) have
diluted Christian theology into weak broth drained of divine purpose. Jesus,
God Incarnate to Christians, is infinitely malleable to CINOs. The Passion
offends self-deified CINOs and JINOs, and like Torah, it proposes evidence
of something vastly greater than them in human affairs.
CINOs and JINOs find God inconvenient. They wish Him to vanish. If
He did, if we forgot Him, then these CINOs and JINOs would act as if nothing
was more important than them. Torah and Christ, however, have not vanished
just because secular elites have willed it so.
New Hollywood does not care if faith dies or if America disintegrates
or if paganism and tribalism swallow mankind. New Hollywood fears only
a living God who will make a reckoning of those who sought Him and with those
who have rejected Him. God forgives the repentant, but the unrepentant
-- the CINOs and JINOs who deplore the existence of a Blessed Creator --
place themselves beyond His love, and place themselves beyond redemption.
Bruce Walker's articles can be found at the Conservative Truth.