“In 2004, a soap-opera film about the death of Jesus was produced by an Australian Fascist ham actor named Mel Gibson.
At one of the ecumenical prepublicity events which he sponsored, Mr. Gibson defended his filmic farrago – which is also an exercise in sadomasochistic homoeroticism starring a talentless lead actor who was apparently born in Iceland or Minnesota - as being based on the reports of 'eyewitnesses.'”
- Christopher Hitchens
When I was a kid, playground arguments were not uncommon. Was Mickey Mantle the best baseball player ever or was Roger Maris? Were the Rolling Stones cooler than the Beatles? Most of these arguments started off calmly, but were lacking in evidence and logic. So, to win, the volume rose – as though loud arguments were more compelling than those spoken in a normal tone. When all logic was expended and volume failed to prevail, the retorts became, “Oh, yeah?” with “Yeah!” as the reply. Then, as a final response, someone would say something unflattering about the other person’s sister and quickly storm away – because getting in the last loud word meant you had won.
It seems the late Christopher Hitchens used this approach in his case against religion. He somehow considered the acting abilities of Mel Gibson and Jim Caviezel to be relevant to his argument – a strange approach for an Oxford-educated journalist.
The truth of the 1st century accounts of Jesus’ life and death does not rest on a movie, on the film making or acting abilities of Mel Gibson, or on the acting ability of Jim Caviezel. It doesn’t even rest on their own personal moral character. To seek to minimize the life of Jesus based upon a movie that was made about him is an odd approach. To then resort to calling the producer and lead actor of the movie names is even stranger. If religious beliefs or the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life are to be established as true or false, history is a reasonable medium to use – not the movies.
Mr. Hitchens’ approach destroys his own credibility. Mel Gibson is not an Australian Fascist; he’s an American actor who lived in Australia during his youth. Jim Caviezel is not from Iceland or Minnesota; he’s from Washington state. It also appears that a lot of people actually do like the film making and acting abilities of Mel Gibson. He won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Movie, Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Actor and has also been nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor. And, the Passion of the Christ – the movie Mr. Hitchens didn’t like – earned over $600 million at the box office.
It makes no sense for Mr. Hitchens to resort to insults in his effort to win an argument – unless his evidence was weak and his logic lacking.
 Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great, (New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2007), 110-111.
Blog copyright by Patrick Prill, 2020.
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