Sunday, March 08, 2009
40 Days of Lent: Day Twelve
It's my favorite scene from Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion of the Christ, a movie that, surprisingly, I liked, perhaps because I saw it in terms of the traditional passion play rather than anything contemporary. My favorite scene exists as its own little mystery. Jesus the carpenter shows His mother His new innovation. The Son of God has created the first kitchen dining set: a table and long legged chairs so that you no longer have to sit or kneel on the ground to eat. Mary slowly, cautiously sits in one of the chairs, as if it is going to collapse beneath her. Soon she is excited about Jesus' new idea, which eventually gets forgotten in the course of later events. On the way to His death, Christ is mocked as "The King of the Jews" not "Inventor of Really Tall Chairs."
It's a funny scene in and of itself and one of the few moments of levity in the film. I'm not entirely sure what it it trying to say, except perhaps that Jesus of Nazareth would have changed the world even if he hadn't be divine? Was saving humanity's lower backs as well as their souls part of His mission? A nice kitchen set is a gift from God? Or that perhaps certain ideas get lost in the sweep of historical events and because the world is not ready for them, only to re-emerge when the people are ready? But this last interpretation is close to Gnostic teaching. Is Gibson parodying Gnostic ideas, saying that forgotten or lost knowledge is no more significant than a comfy place to park your *ss?