Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly reporting from California. Thanks for watching us tonight.
"The Passion of the Christ" is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." Mel Gibson's movie, which opens next week, is a faithful daptation of the execution of Jesus, according to the four gospels. Only twice does Gibson stray from the scripture.
First, he creates a Satan character who encourages the catastrophe. And secondly, Gibson expands the role of Simon of Syrene (search), the Jew forced by the Romans to carry the cross Jesus could no longer bear. Simon is portrayed as a hero and is given a definition far beyond his appearance in the Gospel. This is an obvious attempt by Gibson to show Jewish heroism during the execution of Jesus.
There are Jewish villains as well. According to the gospels and most historians, some powerful Jews resented the popularity of Jesus. Is that a shock? Of course not. Any preacher straying from orthodoxy will bevilified, then and now.
Is it a shock that some Jews behaved badly? Come on. As the Islamic killers on 9/11 and the Catholic priest scandal have proven, people of any religion are capable of evil.
Mr. Gibson portrays the Romans as the true killers of Jesus, althoughhe does go a bit soft on Pontius Pilate (search). I would have been tougher. The movie is ultra-intense and violent. To me, the violence became numbing. But the suffering of Jesus, the suffering that he endured is important tounderstand because despite all that was done to him, he still forgave his brutalizers.
"The Passion of the Christ" (search) is certainly not an anti-Semitic film. And those who say it is are to be pitied. I saw the movie with a Jewishfriend who believes the danger of possible resentment against Jews overrides the worthiness of the film.
Now I don't believe that. Hateful people will find a reason to hate. This film is not anti-Jewish. It is an exposition of how good triumphs over evil. Mel Gibson (search) wanted people to know how Jesus suffered. He has succeeded in doing that. It would be unfair to deny the world this movie because of what some nut might do.
Americans who do not believe there is a struggle between good and evil in this world will not like the movie. People who have no spirituality intheir lives will find the film confusing and off putting because of the violence. It'll be completely out of context to them.
But for the rest of us, "The Passion of the Christ" drives home this singular point. We must all make a choice. Do we throw in with the Romans, who brutally murdered an innocent man? Or do we forgive our enemies and devote our lives to helping others as Jesus did?
Gibson's movie is not for everybody. But if you see it, you may wonder why Gibson himself has been so brutally attacked. His apparent sin is being faithful to the gospels and wanting people to imitate the compassionate philosophy of Jesus. Now if that's a bad thing, we have truly lost our way.
And that's "The Memo."
One reminder, long before "The Passion" was put in motion, Mel Gibson bought my novel "Those Who Trespass" for his movie company. In the interest of full disclosure, I always mention that. OK?
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."
It is day six of the gay marriage fiasco in the People's Republic of San Francisco. Obviously, that city has seceded from the union. And what does the governor of California think about it? Well, six days after anarchy broke out in the city by the bay, Arnold Schwarzenegger still has no comment.
And that is "the "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."