Paula Fredericksen, one of the strongest critics of Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, is a living embodiment of everything, which is wrong with this society's spiritual and moral foundation. In her attacks upon Mel and his artistic work we find the arrogant, intolerant, biased, ignorant ramblings of a self-appointed spiritual, theological, and scriptural guru. Alas, one of the perfect examples of the Pharisees of Christ's time is manifested in this modern 'scholar' from Boston University.
Despite her calls and those of other ignorant bigots, Mel's masterpiece rolls on toward its transcendent and historic destiny.
Writing with An Axe to Grind
Fredericksen's writings clearly demonstrate a denial of Christ's Divinity and the accuracy and legitimacy of the Gospels. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that she equates traditional Catholic beliefs with Nazism and extreme Anti-Semitism.
Fredericksen views the Gospels and probably the whole Bible as the product of biased human thinking with particular agendas to promote. Her views sound familiar to the kind of claims made in defense of The DaVinci Code and its radical feminist divinity assertions. According to Fredericksen, the Gospel writers were not inspired by the Holy Spirit but were just used car salesmen selling their written wares to push a budding religion. Her belief that Christ's Divinity was not established until the Council of Nicaea in 325 is very similar to the claims made in The DaVinci Code book.
As a member of the group of so-called Catholic and Jewish scholars who evaluated the stolen script of Mel Gibson's movie, Fredericksen embodied their desire to rewrite the Gospels to conform to their opinions based on their historical studies of Christ and His times.
Is it Ignorance or Bias?
Like her co-critics such as Abraham Foxman and Rabbi Marvin Hier and the notorious ex-priest John Dominic Crossan and the rest of that ilk who call themselves the 'experts scholars,' Fredericksen accuses Mel's movie of being Anti-Semitic and a danger to the delicate balance which has been established between Christians and Jews over the past 40 years. She wonders why Gibson would want to open healing wounds just to get his ideas across. Those who have seen the movie and declare that it is in no way Anti-Semitic point to the fact that the Hero, His Mother, and His associates are all Jewish. They note that various scenes clearly show that Jesus was killed by a combination of conspiracy by jealous and threatened Jewish leaders and Roman indifference or cowardice. At no point is this murder ascribed to the general Jewish population. In one scene we see Simon, a Jew, sharing Christ's cross in symbolic union.
It is clear that anyone, especially anyone with enough supposed intelligence to be a so-called scriptural scholar, would see these elements which run counter to such idiotic claims of Anti-Semitism. Experience, however, tell us that intelligence can often be clouded by bias and personal agendas, and that is what appears to be at play here.
If one wants to tear something down no matter what, then one will see and interpret what is consistent with one's predisposed bias. Fredericksen does not approach Mel's work as an unbiased observer and evaluator, but as a philosophical assassin out to kill the validity of what Mel portrays in his movie. Given the stupidity and arrogant nature of her attacks on this movie, one wonders how we could sink so low as to have even allowed her to comment on this masterpiece. However, in a society so full of places and people who detest much if not all of what this movie is about, it is not hard to see how this woman's arrogant ignorance could be given the light of day. Yes, it is possible to be intelligent enough to reach a position of professor yet ignorant enough to imagine that one's view is tantamount to truth and certainty to the exclusion of all else, which is the height of arrogance often associated with tenure.
That ignorance can also be seen in Fredericksen's bubbling approval of The Last Temptation of Christ in a 1998 Boston Globe Magazine interview, in which she said she "loved" it! That a supposed serious historical scholar would espouse such a view of trash speaks for itself. That same interview, by the way, also reveals an additional bias.
It seems Fredericksen always wanted to do a movie on Christ as well, which she dreamed would have an Italian-looking Christ and would develop within the context of "magical powers and demons" amid arguing Jews. Perhaps our profound scholar was insulted that Mel Gibson did not hire her as a consultant or casting director? How could Mel have been so negligent as to forget to consult with this vision of intellectual power before daring to create a movie without her divine, profound, and tenured input?
History will Ultimately Judge
Fredericksen worries that The Passion will cause great violence and upheaval.
She claims to "shudder" at the thought of its possible effect, adding, "when violence breaks out, Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority than professors and bishops to answer to."
First of all, I did not realize that professors were much of an authority on almost anything. I merely knew that they usually perceive themselves as being such authorities. Secondly, what I have seen from bishops in this country does not exactly inspire me to see them as authority figures either!
Lastly, I think that Mr. Gibson is quite comfortable answering to God for his work in this movie. The humility he exhibited in his interview with Diane Sawyer this past Monday night shows he has gone through the trials nobly and, as Ecclesiasticus 2: 5, states "for in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation." Mel has been tested and continues to be tested as God allows evil in many forms, just as Mel depicts so brilliantly in his film with the image of the slithering serpent and the asexual hooded figure, to skewer Mel and the truths of the Word in the 'crucible of humiliation.' Why? Let me answer it with another question for you to ponder when you see the movie: Is there a greater crucible than the cross?
One wonders how comfortable Fredericksen will be answering that question as well as how she will account to a 'higher authority.' Given the transcendent, artistic masterpiece which Mel has created and the arrogant, hypocritical, biased dribble which Fredericksen has spilled on our defenseless eyes, I think history will remember the actor far longer than it will the pretender. By the way, we wish to beg Fredericksen to refrain from inflicting her artistic vision on us lest we are overwhelmed by her creative genius!
In the final analysis, this professor steeped in arrogant bias cannot hold a candle to the great actor and artist filled with grace and faith. Christ has His Antichrist and Mel has his AntiMel! We know from Church teaching that there are many minor antichrists before the final major Antichrist. Let us all be forewarned.