Saturday, March 04, 2006

The McPassion

Warning: some of you won't like this. Some may go so far to call it blasphemous and sacrilegious.

Rik Swartzwelder is a filmmaker. He didn't like the way The Passion of The Christ was pitched from pulpits a couple of years ago. He thinks the church has gotten way too cozy with the idea of marketing Hollywood movies. So he responded the best way he knows how: He made a movie about it.

Swartzwelder, a Christian, wrote and co-produced The McPassion, a four-minute satire about the way Mel Gibson's film—and others since—became fodder for the marketing machine, which, to Swartzwelder, included churches and pastors making their own sales pitches. Swartzwelder's friend Benjamin Hershleder directed and co-produced The McPassion, described on the back of the DVD cover as, "The greatest story ever told and a fast-food giant unite to deliver the tie-in of tie-ins. While supplies last."

Brian Godawa apparently digs it. Godawa, author (Hollywood Worldviews) and screenwriter (To End All Wars), says, "The McPassion is a New Testament equivalent of an Old Testament prophecy challenging the idolatry of the church in embracing the world in its commercialization. For those who would be offended, The McPassion is tame compared to Ezekiel's sarcastic 'short film' of Israel whoring away like a prostitute in heat in Ezekiel 23. Exegete that!"

You can decide for yourself: The McPassion is available via streaming video at the official website, now, throughout Lent. Yes, the timing is intentionally ironic, says Swartzwelder, who recently talked with Christianity Today about the project.

Whether you like his satire or not is not the issue.
Whether you think it's an appropriate film is not the issue.
Swartzwelder raises the more important issue of how does the church speak into the world, without being of the world? How do we exegete film? How does the church support filmmaking (should it?) without getting commercialized? Do we really need all the "Jesus Junk" tie-ins?

Watch the clip and let the conversation begin.


Anonymous said...

The McPassion is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. How could a Christian leader even suggest that fellow Christians watch this sacreligious film?

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that you should keep your thoughts on our Lord and Savior, not on these films. Open your Bible and read Philippians 4:8 & 9.

pastor mike said...

I warned you both at the beginning & end of the posting that many wouldn't like it. But that is not the issue. The issue - which this short raises quite well - is the north american churches preoccupation with certain films, while ignoring other films which can possibly open the door to gospel sharing conversations.

As a more recent example - i think of the hype over narnia (which incidently i thought was a pretty good film) there was all sorts of related bible studies and door knockers and sermon notes built around the story.

I wonder how much study will be taking place around the Da Vinci Code (which is a very flawed story apart from the obviously flawed theology) and yet, i think going to see this film can create more opportunities to enter into real discussion about truth and the gospel than Narnia did.

I fear that much of the time we evangelicals have a difficult time understanding how to watch film, how to use film, how to comprehend that we are living in an age that is very much visually driven. I wonder if the filmmaker is the equivalent to the storyteller of the 1st C.

Just some thoughts

Anonymous said...

These verses are good. But do you mean to say ignore all film?

The Righteousness of God said...

Couple of thoughts:

I have not seen the clip...yet. But, I have to back P*Mike. Having just finished Tyndale Seminary (Masters)I want share something very important that I learnt while in my Missions and Apologetic Courses.

It is EXTREMELY important that we engage our culture around us. Several of the courses had us renting secular films and listening to secular music. Why? To know what our culture values and is expressing in order that we can bridge the good, rather, great news of the gospel with them.

Jesus did this...very well. We cannot hide our heads like ostriches in a world that is hurting so badly. Jesus did not sit and make up his directives from the temple. He engaged the culture around him. He loved the sick, the pukey and the course.

Da Vinci - if you want to cut to the chase while talking to someone who trying to rattle your to ask the book Fiction or Non-fiction. They will affirm the latter. much reality is in fiction?

Scott said...

I must say I totally agree with the point he's trying to make, however I think it could have been done in a much more tasteful way. In my opinion,the satire is just taken too far.

To sum it up, I don't believe the ends justify the means.

pastor mike said...

Filmmakers, from the few that I know, tend to push the envelope, because that seems to be the only way they get noticed