Repentance or Catharsis

Brian McLaren's piece on the Passion of Hotel Rwanda raises a disturbing question. Did seeing the Passion of the Christ lead to catharsis, (or emotional release) or repentance? Did the Passion change Christians who saw it--making us more willing to love God and our neighbors--or was it simply a good cry?

He suggests seeing Hotel Rwanda, the story of Paul Rusesabagina, who turned the hotel he managed in to a refuge for Tutsis during the genocide in 1994.

A few of McLaren's responses:

I wonder why so few of us see our neighbors in the Christian faith in anything close to a similar way, not to mention our non-Christian neighbors who may also be modern-day prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans. I wonder what kind of tragedy it would take to bring us to the insight gained by that hotel manager.

Then I realize that's why Hotel Rwanda seemed to me an even more Christian film than The Passion of the Christ. Forgive me if this sounds crazy to you, but try to understand; it evoked in me a wave of compassion for my neighbors around the world, whatever their color or tribe, whatever their religion or politics. And I hear our Lord saying, "As you have done it to the least of these … you have done it to me."

One last thought: Hotel Rwanda is also a reminder that the real moral failing of the Clinton administration had nothing to do with blue dresses, cigars, or young interns.


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