Well, not exactly. Jim Caviezel isn’t Jesus. But he plays One (or should I say “Him”) on film. Jesus, or I should say Jim, wants you to know that He (or I should say “he”) doesn’t cotton to all this do-goody stuff about stem cell research saving lives. He wants you to focus on the strict morality of the issue (his particular Roman Catholic-Opus Dei style moral code though not necessarily the one shared by the rest of us) and forget everything else. As for the Aramaic thing, that’s really true. Read on for more on that.
So how did Jesus get enlisted in the stem cell wars? It all goes back to Michael J. Fox, who never played Jesus on TV or anywhere else, but has some serious street cred as a victim of MS [correction: an intrepid reader corrects me noting he suffers from Parkinson’s]. He filmed a compelling political ad attacking Republican candidates for Congress who oppose stem cell research. Fox’s testimony is so compelling that Republican admeisters decided they must respond. That’s how they came upon the idea of casting Jesus as the champion of the anti-stem cell movement:
Republicans cobbled together a response ad that did not mention Mr. Fox but attacked the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. It included testimonials by the actress Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and James Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.” At least in the advance version shown on YouTube last night, Mr. Caviezel’s introduction seemed either garbled or to be in Aramaic.
That last comment made me laugh. But then I actually watched the ad at YouTube and folks, the idiots who made this ad do have him speaking in pigdin Aramaic (it’s not ‘garbled’ Allessandra, that’s a genuine attempt at speaking Aramaic). The only thing I can make of this is that the creators of the ad must’ve either been going for the votes of all those Aramaic-speakers in Missouri; or else they’re going for the conservative evangelical crowd who will presumably be impressed at hearing a vague attempt at speaking the language Jesus spoke on a political ad.
By the way, I studied Talmud and read its Aramaic text for many years. I don’t pretend to be the world’s expert on the language, but whatever “Jesus” was speaking in that commercial didn’t come across as a convincing rendition of Aramaic to me. But we’d have to have a professor of Talmud weigh in on this one to get a more precise judgment.
Just to be fair, at the ad’s end they do allow Jesus to speak to you in plain English and he says simply: “Don’t do it [vote in favor of stem cell research].” The real Jesus was far more articulate in communicating his moral values. I’d like to think the real Jesus would support stem cell research were he alive today. In my humble opinion, he showed infinitely more compassion for the sick like Michael J. Fox in his day than Jim Caviezel does in ours.
Just as an aside, isn’t it odd that Gibson made his last movie in Aramaic and his upcoming one, Apocalypto, will be in Mayan (or at least Mel Gibson’s reimagining of what this dead language might sound like). What’s this thing he’s got for dead languages?? I bet Gibson wishes he’d thought to conduct that drunken conversation with the L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy in one of those languages rather than English. Would’ve saved him a load of trouble.
Don’t you wonder whether Gibson believes that his treatment in that episode resembles Christ’s crucifixion? Course, he’d never admit that publicly ’cause it’d be bad for his ‘reformed’ image. But I hope some journalist interviewing him will ask him that question. Maybe they’ll get a rise out of him and he’ll flash those true colors once again.
Michael Fox has Parkinsons, not MS. But that’s a minor quibble, my understanding is that stem cell research could eventually help people with either condition.
Richard Silverstein says
B: Right you are. I stand corrected. Thanks.
Tony: Terrific find. Thanks for that link. I have to blog about that story it’s simply wild. Plus they’re absolutely wrong about what the phrase he says in Aramaic actually means when translated. More later.