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Randall to discuss ‘The Passion of the Christ' April 4

Without doubt, The Passion of the Christ, produced by Mel Gibson and released just a few weeks prior to Easter, is the most polarizing film of 2003-04.

Some Hollywood insiders have tried to blacklist Gibson from the movie industry. Some say his film blames the Jews for Jesus death. Others commend Gibson for his steely-jawed determination to depict the horrors of the crucifixion without any sugarcoating.
Without doubt, “The Passion of the Christ,” produced by Mel Gibson and released just a few weeks prior to Easter, is the most polarizing film of 2003-04.

Some Hollywood insiders have tried to blacklist Gibson from the movie industry. Some say his film blames the Jews for Jesus' death. Others commend Gibson for his steely-jawed determination to depict the horrors of the crucifixion without any sugarcoating.

“The Passion of the Christ” broke all kinds of box-office records during its opening weekend, with both believers and skeptics rushing to see it. Some viewers swear the movie was the beginning of a spiritual transformation for them. Others were disgusted by the relentless scenes of violence. Few, if any, took a middle ground in their response to the movie and its producer.

Finding a middle ground seems to fall most easily to academicians, especially philosophers, who tend to be more analytical and less emotional in their assessment and who question everything.

Dr. Bert Randall, a professor of philosophy at Austin Peay, will lead a discussion of Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ,” from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sunday, April 4, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hopkinsville, Ky., at the corner of 3rd and Main streets.

To better understand Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ,” Randall's talk and audience discussion will examine:

•The nature and role of Passion Plays in the history of Christianity.
•The historical and religious significance of the massacre of Husayn and his family at Karbala, Iraq, in 680 A.D.the Shi'ites' Passion Play.
•The similarities and differences in what the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) say about the Passion of the Christ.
•Two often-asked questions about Gibson's play: “Is it Biblical, and is it historical?”
•What Gibson added to the canonical stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Randall's April 4 talk at the Hopkinsville Unitarian Universalist Church is one of many he has given at the invitation of this group, which seems to have embraced him. Within the past few months, he has led them in discussions of “The History of Satan” and “The World's Three Great Monotheisms: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.”

Why is this particular group so receptive to Randall's analysis and worldview of religion?
He says, “Unitarian Universalists require no creedal acceptance other than the individual responsibility to seek the truth, an open-mindedness and a moral commitment to the human community. They are intellectually curious and morally committed to bettering human lives and encouraging compassion and toleration in human communities.”
—Dennie Burke