- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 28, 2004

Sin, spin and Him

As a Christian who saw Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” on Ash Wednesday, I must take strong exception to Andrew Sullivan’s view that the movie is motivated by “psychotic sadomasochism.” (“Pornographic religion,” the Weekly Dish, Friday.) Having read and listened to many reviews of the movie’s violence before seeing it, I reread the four Gospel passages pertaining to the Passion of Christ. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John, the word scourged is found. Luke says “the Son of Man must suffer greatly.”

Watching the movie, I was not troubled so much by the brutality being depicted, but because Christ had to endure so much pain and affliction for my sins so that I might have eternal life. It also is very clear in the movie that despite the hate and infliction of unmerciful pain Christ endures, He responds with love and compassion. Mr. Gibson should be applauded for his courage and conviction in making this movie, not unfairly criticized for it.

CARMEN D. VILLANI JR.

Chantilly

I was very disappointed to read the hypercritical and unfair article by Gary Arnold about Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in the Arts section (“Brutal ‘Passion,’” Wednesday). Though I have never been impressed with Mr. Arnold’s critiques and usually disagree with him, I was dismayed by this particular one and found it offensive.

Mr. Gibson’s movie was a beautiful portrayal and exploration of the love of God for us sinners, and it moved me very deeply. Mr. Arnold’s article was full of suspicion, skepticism, innuendo and nastiness.

WENDY KREHBIEL

Laurel

It seems that Gary Arnold has forgotten the movie critics’ creed: to judge a film based on what the filmmaker was trying to achieve. Andrew Sullivan also ventured forth on the thin ice of expressing vehement opinion on something about which he apparently has little understanding.

Neither made any meaningful reference to the purpose of Jesus’ suffering and death, or how that relates to the purpose of our own lives. Those are good things to have in mind when viewing a movie that has been called “in every way that matters, perfect.” (Orson Scott Card, the Ornery American).

DAVID Y. CHIU

Annandale

Say what?

In his entertaining treatment of “At War” by Flann O’Brien, edited by John Wyse Jackson (“Reveling in the japeries of Irish wit Flann O’Brien,” Books, Feb. 22) reviewer Jack Matthews gags on Mr. O’Brien’s other pseudonym, Myles na gCopaleen. “And who among you can pronounce the last?” he queries. “(Let me know if recognizably human sounds can be made of it.)”

IcanonlysaytoMr. Matthews that he shouldn’t let such a little thing as Myles na gCopaleen throw him. It could be worse — much worse. It could, for instance, have been written in modern Irish, in which case it would have been spelled “na gCapaillin.” But in either case, the pronunciation is the same, na GAH-puh-leen, really quite easy when one realizes that the g in Irish eclipses the C that follows it. But why must there be a g in front of the C? Because it denotes the genitive case. Capall means horse in Irish (harking back to the Celts association with the Greeks (or maybe vice versa), cf. kaballos); capaill is the plural, and capaillin is the diminutive, thus, Myles of the Ponies.

For the reader who is not a native Irish speaker, the main difficulty in discerning the pronunciation of Irish is that it appears in English clothing. That is, although the Latin alphabet is used by both languages, the phonetic significance of the letters — and especially the combinations of letters — in the two languages is in many cases quite different. So, the eye used to English spelling and pronunciation sees combinations of letters in Irish that make no sense and seem to be unpronounceable.

Na gCopaleen is an anglicization that, like that of most Irish names, occurred before and/or aside from current standardized Irish spelling and isn’t really so bad, given that (except for the pesky gC) it is at least phonetically recognizable to the reader of English.

I said it could be worse. Try the modern Ui Laoghaire for O’Leary, Mac an tSaoire for McIntyre or Giolla Easpag for Gillespie. Then there’s O Thoirdealbhaigh for… but why go there? Count your blessings, Mr. Matthews.

J. GRIFFIN CRUMP

Alexandria

Wanting justice

The purpose of this letter is to inform and update those concerned that a grave injustice is threatening the liberties and livelihood of our son, an American fighter pilot, Maj. Harry M. Schmidt, and his family (“Dishonoring the National Guard,” Letters, Feb. 20). Maj. Schmidt is on trial for an April 17, 2002, friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan that ended in the deaths of several Canadian soldiers.

At a hearing Jan. 26, eight motions were presented to Judge Col. Mary Boone. She denied all eight motions — most without explanation or legal substantiation.

One of the denied motions concerns a most disturbing issue — Maj. Schmidt’s lead defense counsel, Charles W. Gittins (a former Marine Corps aviator who previously held a top-secret security clearance), has been denied a security clearance by the Air Force.

Another alarming issue is the care the government has taken to close the hearing to everyone — regardless of his or her security clearance. There are pilots in the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army with top clearance who want to sit in the courtroom.

In our view, both these issues threaten Maj. Schmidt’s Sixth Amendment due-process rights.

Another court hearing is scheduled for Monday at BarksdaleAirForceBasein Louisiana.

Maj. Schmidt has lost his effective assistance of counsel for his defense in another way as well. His military counsel, Maj. James Key, is committed in March to a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, spy-case hearing and cannot participate in preparing for Maj. Schmidt’s April trial.

We believe the issue at hand has staggering implications for the national security of the United States and its allies in war. We want justice for our son.

HARRY SCHMIDT

JOAN SCHMIDT

St. Louis

The clear choice

If opponents of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, just passed by the House of Representatives 254-163, “claim that it would restrict abortion rights” by conferring personhood on the unborn (“Protecting the unborn,” Editorial, Thursday), how is it that back in 2000 many of them voted for another bill that prohibited executing any pregnant prisoner? That bill defined the unborn as “a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb” — the exact same words in the bill named after Laci and Conner Peterson.

Their compassion is reserved for the unborn children of murderers, but not for the unborn children of the murdered. One would think that even those who are pro-choice would support the bill, for even if you do not believe in the humanity of the unborn, the murder of a pregnant woman and/or her fetus is the ultimate denial of choice.

Pro-abortionists prattle on about “unwanted” children, but clearly Conner was wanted. Mrs. Peterson even had named her son. Her “choice” would have been to give birth to him and love him through infancy, childhood and adulthood. If the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn child helps codify into law the humanity of the unborn, then her death, and that of her child, will not have been in vain.

DANIEL SOBIESKI

Chicago

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