Eastwood's "Million Dollar Passion"
Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson may be best of friends. Who knows? Yet the film "Million Dollar Baby" could give some the idea that Eastwood has a "passion" to kick Gibson in the shins. Roman Catholic Gibson's unorthodox-to-Hollywood's "Passion of the Christ" was seemingly a little more than fundamentalist-Hollywood-make-my-day Eastwood could take.
In Eastwood's new work of art do we have a "Million Dollar Passion?" Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" projects the rock solid eternal truth of the sacrifice of God Himself on the Cross of Christ, bringing the passionate love of God down to His creation. Eastwood's message, displayed in artistic form rivaling Gibson's, seems to reach out with pugilistic wrath against the values precious to Gibson.
Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" stirs the heart of any struggling viewer who has suffered the frustrating inertia of life. His heroine has risen from obscurity; against a stream of negativity no muscular man could expect to overcome, she excels at her unlikely career choice, only to find herself powerless after her final fight leaves her paralyzed with a broken spine.
Gibson's message shows life springing from death. Eastwood's message offers death as a solution to life's struggles. How were we to know before entering the theater that Eastwood was going to present a polemic supporting euthanasia? The previews gave no hint.
Eastwood's Roman Catholic priest captures the dreadful message of the film by condemning the boxing coach, telling him that the coach attends mass daily only because he is carrying a load of guilt impossible to shed. Lacking good news, Eastwood's character reaches a logical conclusion: he has sinned beyond redemption. Thus, ending the life of his suffering client can add no additional eternal punishment than he already has coming.
Gibson's message resounds with Good News bursting out of the bad news of the Cross. Eastwood's message echoes with Bad News falling with dull pessimism from an all-too-common misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ.
Instead of telling his faithful daily Mass-attender that his sins are washed away, gone forever, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has freed him from guilt, the priest in the "Million Dollar Baby" projects a pessimism all too common in many Protestant and Catholic churches today. The Good News is that you can look toward a bright future of victorious living, with Jesus Himself living in your life, through the power of God's Holy Spirit. That's the central message of the Passion of the Christ. It is the message even a "Million Dollars" of human effort can never produce.
Whether or not Eastwood and Gibson are having a feud one thing is certain, their artistry has placed in bold perspective the eternal struggle of man and when the Oscars are awarded Hollywood is sure to vote for the Bad News. Where will your vote go: for bad news, or good?
-- Richard Palmquist
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