‘The Last Temptation of Christ’…redux

TECHNICALLY, we’re still officially in Holy Week or Semana Santa yet we’re already on the verge of having a hangover from it.

I suppose all the perceived holiness, the processions, the Visita Iglesia, and the passion plays are too heady and overwhelming, perhaps a case of “too much heaven on their minds.”

The images of dismissed “I Am Iloilo City” mayor Jed Mabilog carrying a humongous cross during the procession of Molo Parish ala JC are still there and the question “Was Jed ever scourged at the pillar?” remains unanswered.

All that and more makes this redux totally de rigueur…

Call this column a hangover from Semana Santa, perhaps a protest against the hypocrisy of most of the Catholic Church’s high priests in the Philippines or maybe it’s just about a really controversial film.

It is quite ironic that the Catholic Church, particularly in the Philippines, has turned out to be the tyrannical monolith that Jesus Christ fought and wanted to change during his time.

The Philippines is now the only country in the world that denies divorce to the majority of its citizens; it is the last holdout among a group of staunchly Catholic countries where the church has fought hard to enforce its views on the sanctity of marriage. Pope Francis, who has visited the Philippines, urged his bishops to take a more forgiving stance toward divorced Catholics, but this is a moot point in the Philippines: There is no such thing as a divorced Catholic.

Yes folks, the Philippine Catholic Church clings like a barnacle to archaic and obsolete dogmas despite Vatican II and even Italy, perhaps more Catholic than the Philippines, and where the Vatican (the seat of the Catholic Religion) is located has divorce.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or CBCP is more popish than the pope.

Of course we should not be surprised as it is the same Filipino priests that want to make Cory Aquino a saint, God forbid! (pun intended)

Without further ado here is the…

The Last Temptation of Christ is a 1988 American epic drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Paul Schrader with uncredited rewrites from Scorsese and Jay Cocks, the film is an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis‘ controversial 1955 novel of the same name.

Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. This result in the book and film depicting Christ being tempted by imagining himself engaged in sexual activities, a notion that has caused outrage from some Christians. The film includes a disclaimer explaining that it departs from the commonly accepted biblical portrayal of Jesus’ life and is not based on the Gospels.

In some countries, including Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, the film was banned or censored for several years. As of July 2010, the film continues to be banned in the Philippines and Singapore.

We all know why it is banned in the Philippines yet not a sound from the CBCP against Leila “frailties of a woman” de Lima and Andy “angry bird” Bautista.

And this is probably the reason why up to now the Philippine Catholic Church is fighting “tooth and nail” against the film.

The Last Temptation of Christ’s eponymous final sequence depicts the crucified Jesus — tempted by what turns out to be Satan in the form of a beautiful child — experiencing a dream or alternative reality where he comes down from the cross, marries Mary Magdalene (and later Mary and Martha), and lives out his life as a full mortal man. He learns on his deathbed that he was deceived by Satan and begs God to let him “be [God’s] son,””at which point he finds himself once again on the cross. At other points in the film, Jesus is depicted as building crosses for the Romans, being tormented by the voice of God, and lamenting the many sins he believes he has committed.

Because of these departures from the gospel narratives — and especially a brief scene wherein Jesus and Mary Magdalene consummate their marriage — several Christian groups organized vocal protests and boycotts of the film prior to and upon its release. 

Moi supposes the Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy just can’t accept the fact that Jesus is a man had sex with several women and sired children.

I remember when this whole thing began
No talk of God then, we called you a man
And believe me
My admiration for you hasn’t died
But every word you say today
Gets twisted ’round some other way…

Looking at the film as art minus the religious biases, Martin Scorsese received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.  Barbara Hershey’s performance as Mary Magdalene earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting ActressPeter Gabriel’s music score also received acclaim, including a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

In a four-out-of-four star review for the Chicago Sun-TimesRoger Ebert, who later included the film in his list of “Great Movies”, wrote that Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schraderpaid Christ the compliment of taking him and his message seriously, and they have made a film that does not turn him into a garish, emasculated image from a religious postcard. Here he is flesh and blood, struggling, questioning, and asking himself and his father which is the right way, and finally, after great suffering, earning the right to say, on the cross, ‘It is accomplished.’”

You know God gave us “free will.” We should just respect that./PN


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