Christian Cruelty

The other day while at church I began to wonder about other cultures. What would someone that has no clue about Christianity think if they walked into my church?

The church I attend is a very beautiful old-fashioned Catholic church. It has beautiful stained glass and paintings depicting Christ stations before the crucifixion. It also has a medium size (I have seen a lot bigger) Crucifix hanging before the pulpit.

If I had no idea what Christianity was about and I entered a place that has pictures of torture and a human nailed to a cross I would be pretty shaken up. I also began to think about Ty and how those pictures are interpreted inside of his head. We are exposing our kids to all of these pictures and while it is our duty as parents to explain all of it, some of it should be left for a later age.

The Passion of the Christ is another example of a movie that I think is a little to harsh for the non Christian or young viewer. I know lots of Churches of all denomination endorsed the film and had even had some of their young people go see it. What would someone that knows nothing about Christianity think of a film depicting such cruelty to a human being?

I have gone to some protestant churches where there might be a cross but not a crucifix. Some of them don’t even have crosses behind the pulpit. I wonder if Christians of other denomination ever went to a Catholic church they would be shocked by some of the imagery.

I grew up Catholic, I even went to a Catholic high school so I really have no way of knowing if it is as shocking as might imagine. I am still curious to see if anyone out there has felt shocked by some of the imagery either in the movie or a church.

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15 comments on “Christian Cruelty

  1. My father was born Roman Catholic and raised in a Catholic school run by nuns down in Detroit. He really didn’t enjoy it he said because it was more or less forced instead of easing into it and understanding at one’s own pace. I have been to a Catholic church before. We used to take my grandma to Mass once in awhile even when she declined in health. I was far too young to understand most of it but I always thought there was a lot to look at, people smelled funny and the stained glass windows seemed to hypnotize me into staring at them. They almost seemed to come alive with the reflection of candlelight. I’ve been to many other churches as well.. Mormon, Baptist, Methodist, Christian and even a synogauge. I’m not religious myself.. God has just been understood in our house since we were young. I’ve never been shocked myself though.. to anything that has been seen or gone on in a church.

  2. The Passion of the Christ was intense, that’s for sure. But I don’t think it could have been done any other way. Whether you believe that Jesus was really the son of God, or just another man claiming to be a prophet, you cannot come away from that movie without a new understanding and sympathy for anyone that was crucified in the days of the Romans. We know for a fact that crucifixtion was around much earlier than Jesus so if anything, the movie was a good historical visualization of that barbaric practice.

    As far as the stereotypical Christian symbol of Jesus hanging from the cross, i do think that for those not accustomed to the religion would be struck back by it. By the same token, i remember being at my best friend’s house when we were kids (he was a Jehova’s Witness) looking through his religious books and seeing pictures of head men on horses wielding what I think were swords. I don’t recall what context they were in or anything, but I remember thinking how strange it was. I guess it all comes down to being exposed to something new, especially when you’re under the impression that what your philosophies are the only correct ones.

  3. I thought Passion was very harsh and brutal (but truthful) and it was somewhat surprising even though I am a semi-practising Catholic who attended Catholic school for much of his life and loved every minute of his catholic high school education. Some people/denomination take too soft or romantic of a view on religion and Christ in my opinion and it just isn’t as simple as they prtray it. I can’t give any specific examples but its something I have observed. Also I think you’ll find it interesting that it wasn’t until I was like 15 that I found out that to most people “Catholic” and “Christian” weren’t the same thing. In fact until I was like 13 I just assumed everybody was Catholic (hey I’m from New Orleans).

  4. I’m Eastern Orthodox and our churches (typically) lack graphic imagery of the crucifixion. There are images of the cruxifixion, but they aren’t so graphic (example.) The Eastern Orthodox churches put a much greater emphasis on the resurrected Christ instead of the suffering Christ, and you see a lot more of this type of thing (example.)

    They don’t downplay or negate the fact of the crucifixion at all, but the general outlook is more towards the hope of the Resurrection not the misery of the Crucifixion.

    As far as Gibson’s movie, it was intense, and I’m glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t necessarily let my young children watch it. I was much more fond of the film The Gospel of John that came out around the same time as the Gibson movie, but got lost in the hype. The first few minutes of it aren’t so great, but then it gets really good.

  5. I have to admit, that I was extremely shocked when I saw the Passion of the Christ. I mean, I loved the movie, it touched my heart deeply, and I cried my eyes out like you wouldn’t believe. A fellow Catholic friend of mine ended up saying that the movie didn’t shock her at all. I am a Lutheran, and so . . . yes, I was definately shocked.

  6. I grew up in a Catholic household, but have not practiced as an adult. However, I have yet to bring myself to watch Passion because I didn’t think I could bear watching the torture for two hours.

  7. If you see someone go into a bar, they’re probably lost. Not the kind of lost that relates to a lack of salvation, but the kind of lost that makes it so you can’t find them, because some bars are really big and are full of a lot of people, and the loud music makes it hard to hear if someone yells their name. But they’d probably be the first kind of lost, too.

  8. I always wondered having a person going from one conservative church to a extreme open church. Last year I was saved and became a born-again Christian. I was going from a conservative Catholic church and when i went to check out a Christian Pentacostal church i was amazed. I never new that people can get up anytime they want and just dance or wave flags and banners to waive off the demons. It was definately a experience. I enjoyed the service but i ended up going to a more conservative Christain church. So, i think when someone is accustomed to a particular setting they get so complacent and when they witness a church that is not conservative it might turn them off. However, God stated never to become to comfortable where you are, if you are going there because it is convenient for you, it doesnt mean it is convenient for God.

  9. I think catholic iconography can be shocking for children, I still remenber that I was so scared of the crucifix that was hanging on the wall of my grandma’s room, I just couldn’t understand why she has that toy so sad, paint in red and almost naked. It was so misterious for me but I was scared enough to ask. Now I have some religios images in my home but not a crucifix.

    I saw the Passion one day of the Holy Week last year, I felt shock and sad becuase of the human condition. The scene that I remember the most is that one in which Virgin Mary sees Jesus fail and remember when he fail when he was a child. It was so clear showing the pain of a mother for the pain of her son. After that I feel my sense of the Holly Week changed and I try to be more respectfull.

  10. I would certainly think that from a Non-Catholic perspective, people would view all the iconography as being rather dramatic and torturing. Every religion has their own way of displaying their figures and to be honest I never really thought about it too much because I was raised as a Catholic myself. Good point though.

  11. I like to think “What would Jesus say if he walked into my church? Would he approve of what my church approves of?” People tend to serve God how they want, we need to serve Jehovah the way he wants us to. And yes, God does have a name (ps.83:18 New world translation). Here’s something to think about. Why did god bring the flood and why were only Noah and his family saved? The answer. The world was “bad in Jehovah’s sight” and Noah did as god told him to do, not how he thought it should be done. What about today? Is our world any better than in Noahs Day? How can we survive the coming day of Armagedon? By serving god his way and following the example his son, Jesus left for us to follow.

  12. Some shocking imagery I saw the other day involved a Russian catholic church. Most of the interior was decorated with skulls. I guess the story goes that there were a lot of people dying during a harsh winter and no room left in the graveyard so the head of the church called a local artist and he designed decorations and columns and friezes of human bones and skulls. It was creepy. Talk about imagery. Here is a link on it. Sedlec Ossuary

  13. I am a Buddhist monk. I can tell you that Buddhists are amazed and horrified by the violent grusome imagery of Christianity, not only Catholicism but also protestantism. In Asian Buddhist countries, missionaries have learned to hide crucifixes, because Buddhists suspect the missionaries of practicing sorcery and black magic, when they see these horrifying “voo-doo” dolls.

    I myself stopped in a public square in Seattle to listen to a large Christian choir was singing Christian music, and I felt dizzy and nearly fainted when they started singing about “bathing and washing in the blood” of Christ.

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