- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Pervasive ‘Passion’

“Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was seen by many believers as the most important religious event of 2004. On that, Catholics, evangelical Christians and even some moderate Muslims will agree. …

“‘The Passion’ was a hit even in some strict Islamic countries, where hawkers made instant small fortunes by selling pirated DVD’s from the trunks of their cars. Sneered at by many, and booed at a recent Hollywood viewing of films that might be candidates for Academy Awards, this movie contributed to a spectacular development unique in the half-millennium since the Reformation.

“It helped cement the alliance between evangelicals and faithful Roman Catholics that was started 20 years ago, says Richard Cizik, vice president and spokesman of the National Association of Evangelicals. ‘Together, they have become the center of gravity of America today.’”

Uwe Siemon-Netto, in “Yearend: ‘The Passion’ top religion event,” for United Press International on Friday.

Tyrannical impulse

“‘The Soviet government does not punish, it reforms’ was a classic slogan [under the gulag prison camp system]; a famous sign over the entrance to one of the Vorkuta camps read ‘Work in the USSR is a Matter of Honor and Glory.’ Germany’s labor camps … also exhorted prisoners to work on behalf of the Fatherland; the sign over the entrance to Auschwitz read ‘Work Makes You Free.’ This impulse to make your enemies celebrate their own repression also has contemporary echoes, as the recent testimony of a North Korean defector, a former camp inmate, illustrates: ‘The prisoners are instructed to memorize 15 officially designated songs praising Kim Jong Il and sing the songs on the way to work, and while working.’”

Anne Applebaum, writing on “How Evil Works,” in the Dec. 27 issue of the New Republic

The Rev. Reggie

“Professional football has achieved such popularity that its greatest players all become cultural figures of sorts. … Yet for a football player to achieve something more — to exert a true and lasting impact on American culture and spirituality — is so rare that arguably only one man can rightly claim such a legacy: Reggie White. His death on Dec. 26 at the young age of 43 is accordingly an occasion that deserves more than the normal recitation of his achievements on the gridiron, immense though these were. …

“Because of his religiosity and status as an ordained Christian minister, Reggie earned the nickname ‘The Minister of Defense.’ His sacks came to be known as ‘baptisms.’ …

“An ordained minister since the age of 17, Reggie limited his ‘trash talk’ to telling opposing players, ‘Jesus is coming.’ … He and a handful of other NFL players commenced the practice, now common, of kneeling in prayer at the 50-yard line after the game, with players from both teams participating. …

“As the apostle Paul speaks of his coming death, he summed up his life: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’

“So did Reggie. The world is a better and nobler place because he did.”

Andrew Peyton Thomas, writing on “A Race Well Run,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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