Laryingitis sucks if you're an english teacher. It would have been difficult otherwise but i happened to have my most talking intensive class this morning. It is my top level class, both of the women in fact are or were english teachers. Weekly we pick a topic article from Newsweek and we discuss it for 70 minutes or so. This week's topic at my urging was a really good article about the Passion of Christ movie by Mel Gibson. I thought that the article provided a really insightful view of the cultural context around the bible, a topic that i haven't really done any research on. This was by far the longest article we've discussed in a class. Generally speaking, we can do about a 3 page article in an hour and this one was 7. It would have been a stretch under normal conditions.
Two problems for today's class: I had no voice and my students were not christian.
Basically, it was a lecture class. Japanese people in general, and my a-religious students in particular are not so well versed in the bible, something that I kind of take for granted. I don't consider myself particularly knowledgeable on matters of the bible or anything. It's not like i really paid any attention in gradeschool to the bible, but i did sit through a bazillion masses, lessons, classes and the general christian osmosis of American society at large (which i heard is the most religious in the developed world, as much good as that does for our foreign and domestic policy) and i have seemingly come away a genious on christianity. In this respect i must pay tribute to my father, the master at pontificating on rock hard opinion and a little logic. It's pretty great what one can get away with when there's no one there to call you on it. It's not like these two Japanese women, however fiesty they may be, can call my bluff on the exact date of Vatican II (1956 I told them) when it actually appears to have been from about 1963-1965 or so.
The movie itself is a hot button topic because of percieved anti-semitism in the film. Through reading the article, i'm much less worried about the anti-semitism present in the film than the anti-semitism thats present in the idiots, bigots and fruitcakes who go to watch it. It's not like the bible itself is anti semitic--the writers were all jews, for christ-sake (i'm gonna let that one slide), but wouldn't you guess what document has been used over and over to persecute all sorts of politcal undesirables like jews and homosexuals for example.
I'll personally wait to pass judgement of the film until i've actually seen it. Some reviews i've read are unflinchingly favorable, but those are unfailingly from a christian perspective. I have to wonder what my students will think.