It did not occur to me that Gibson's The Passion was something I would need to recover from until I began preparing my sermon for this coming Sunday. First, I sat down and read the 23rd chapter of Luke. All the way through I was comparing notes with the movie. Then I pulled out Guardini, who I've been reading during Lent, and read the following chapters:
11. The Sacerdotal Prayer
13. The Trial
14. Jesus' Death
I recommend them to anyone who is preparing to preach this Passion Sunday. They are an excellent textual icon that will have the net effect of drawing you back and away from the over-visualization of the movie. Guardini, in chapter 14, also recommends re-reading the passion narratives of each of the gospels- Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
It is at this point that the struggle is engaged. My imagination has been charged up by viewing the movie, even though my analysis is largely negative. I despise some of the historical conflations and insertions. I detest some of the racial stereotyping of the movie. On the other hand, Gibson's portrayal of Gethsemene and the calm there followed by the storm is an excellent cinematic interpretation of the gospel content, IMHO.
The struggle is also engaged because so many of my parishioners have viewed the movie and have discussed it with me. So should or shouldn't mention of it make it into Sunday's sermon? Should we take this opportunity to truly preach the gospel, a gospel that is about more than blood and gore? Or should we go the route of apologetics, weaving our own preaching into the context of the lived experience of a culture that consumes and swallows wholesale such im-media-te extravaganzas?
I know this much. I have my work cut out for me- but the work is rich, because the rich's of Christ are immense.