Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
March 3, 2004

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Here is this week's WINNING WAYS . . . .

“Experiencing the Passion of the Christ”
by Tom Goodman

“It’s visceral. . . .  It will leave you with a set of images or an experience or a feeling that may make you want to look further. . . .  The film is just a jumping-off point.”

That’s what Mel Gibson said when an interviewer asked him about his new film, The Passion of the Christ.

In the first week of the film’s release, a whole lot of people have been left with “a set of images or an experience or a feeling.”  The film opened on an astonishing 4,643 screens and dominated all other films at the box office in the first five days.

The responses of movie critics and audiences fall into three groups:  moved, disturbed, and confused.  Many were moved at the portrayal of Jesus—human but more than human—facing down satanic temptation to accept his Father’s plan to carry away the sin of the world.  I am haunted by Gibson’s vision of an androgynous Satan relentlessly calling into question why a Father would will his Son to bear this brutality.  From the opening scene in Gesthemane to that creepy image of Satan mocking Mary by holding a perverse caricature of the Christ Child, Gibson’s Satan constantly exploited the suffering to call into question God’s love.

Other viewers, however, left the film disturbed or confused.  Some were disturbed at perceived anti-Semitism or the unremitting brutality.  Others were confused by characters whose names, actions, and motivations were unfamiliar to them.

Art is meant to stir, provoke, and impress, but there’s one thing art is not meant to do:  explain.  As Gibson said, “The film is just a jumping-off point.”

We are planning a special event for you—whether you left the film moved, disturbed, or confused.  Starting this Sunday night, we’ll begin a series of evening meetings called Experiencing the Passion of the Christ.  Through music, drama, and Bible study, we’ll get a better understanding of the real story behind the film everyone’s talking about.  We begin this week, March 7, at 6:30 p.m.  We’ll ask the question “Who killed Jesus?”  The evening has a surprise ending that will drive home the real answer to this question.

Spread the word about our special Sunday night meetings.  Forward this edition of Winning Ways to someone you’d like to have with you during the series.  Also, at our website ( you will find an Acrobat version of our promotional flyer and an attractive e-card for you to send to friends.  You can also pick up as many flyers as you need from the church office.


Important Notes:

•  As I’ve mentioned before, if you go see the film, mind the “R” rating; I’d recommend that no one under 13 be brought to the film, and use your discretion in bringing younger teens.
•  The Gibson quote in today’s Winning Ways can be found at
•  This past Sunday David Kemerling announced his upcoming departure from our church staff.  It was a sweet report and response on Sunday night.  If you need more information about David’s plans and the future of our singles ministry, go to where we’ve posted last week’s edition of LeaderLines.



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