An opinion column assessing the Jewish-Christian controversy over “The Passion,” Mel Gibson’s new film about the final hours of Jesus’ life, is today’s lead topic. Readers also write in about articles on the damage wrought by Hurricane Isabel and on the richest people in America.

BEARING THE CROSS

Re: “Crucifying the messenger,” by Steven Waldman:

God Bless you. You spelled it out wonderfully! Your article is clear, concise and very accurate. The most profound two words, “Who Cares,” are certainly appropriate in this case. Christ died for ALL people, races and religions. It was his destiny to die on the cross and he knew it.

More importantly, the fact that he was crucified is what sets us all free, including the Jews. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but his ultimate sacrifice was gift from God to mankind.
Sally
Phoenix, AZ

You got it right. Thank you.

I am Christian but I believe it would be an injustice to my faith to deny rationality and say that the New Testament was not influenced by later events.

The fact is, recorded in the New Testament as well as an external source, Jesus was crucified. That is the central point of our faith and to be bitter about who is responsible for that death misses the entire point of his crucifixion.
Tim Heaney
Monterrey, Mexico

Mr. Waldman brings up some good points to ponder, the most important being at the end stating that it is neither the Jews nor the Romans who should be blamed for crucifying Jesus. If anything, we should ALL blame ourselves, since Jesus died for your sins as well as mine regardless if we are Jew or Gentile.

One oversight on the article that most readers may not be aware of is that all the authors of the New Testament with the exception of Luke were in fact Jews themselves. Why then would all of them endorse a belief that put shame on their own race, speak out to their fellow Jews on the need for trusting Jesus (who by the way was also a Jew), and by many historical accounts died for a lie when being a Christian in that day had no immediate advantages?
Michael T.
Las Vegas, NV

Thank you for publishing this article. Mr. Waldman is right on with his proposal that it doesn’t matter who killed Jesus. I can certainly understand why Jewish people would be sensitive on this issue, historically speaking, but, as a Christian, my perspective on Jesus’ death is that I played just as much of a role as any Jew did. The Jewish people may have been given the credit/blame, but my sin and the sins of the world is ultimately what put Jesus on the cross. The fact that sick people have used and probably will continue to use the Bible as a basis to commit genocide of the Jewish people is all the more a case for why Jesus had to die and be resurrected. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. So one person’s little white lie equates with someone else committing murder in God’s view.

Jesus’ sacrifice was not only for people who “deserve it,” but for people who have done terrible things, things we can’t imagine someone being forgiven for ... unjustified murder comes to mind. What non-Christians need to keep in mind is that the whole purpose of Jesus is not to condemn but to give life. Human beings can continue to use Jesus and the Bible as a justification to evil deeds, but when it comes down to it, they will have to face judgment someday and those who have willingly misled people to hatred through words intended for love will have a price to pay. This isn’t a threat, it’s just fact.
Nicki S.
St. Paul, MN

Waldman’s piece on causation in the death of Jesus Christ did make the crucial point, “While the Crucifixion in itself wasn’t a good thing, it was, according to much Christian doctrine, an entirely necessary and pre-ordained thing. Without it, Christianity as we know it wouldn’t exist.” However, the way the issue was phrased and the conclusion trivialize an important historical and religious event. I would agree though that any Christian should not point fingers on causation, because his or her own sin made Jesus’ sacrifice necessary and beneficial for their forgiveness.
Dave Haigler
Abilene, TX

Sorry, you didn’t insult me (Jewish). A couple of facts though you should keep in mind regard who exactly was in charge of Judea at the time of Jesus. The king was a Roman (Herod and his sons) and was not Jewish. Herod appointed only Sadducees and occasionally non-Jewish priests to the Temple. Modern Jews largely derive from the Pharisees who were, by and large, not included in the Judean administration of the time. Most Sadducees eventually assimilated into Christian or Gnostic sects.

Jesus came to the Temple in Jerusalem during the Passover holiday, which was an even bigger celebration then than now, and denounced the faith, which might understandably upset the crowd of Jews who were there at the time. Imagine someone denouncing the Pope during his Easter Mass or denouncing the Koran during the hajj; that’s probably the sort of reception Jesus received.

So where there Jews involved in the crucifixion? Undoubtedly. Did the Jews play a significant role in his crucifixion? Probably not. Do Modern Jews whose authority stems from the Rabbis at the time as opposed to the priests bear any blame? None at all.
Stan Konar
Valley Village, CA

As with all biblical debates, once again, one verse from the Bible is taken out of context and exploited. Yes, Jews were involved in the killing of Jesus. Duh. Most of Jesus’ followers and ridiculers were Jewish, as was Jesus himself. Do Christians hate Jews because of it? No.

The New Testament must be read in its entirety to understand the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I also believe that anti-Semitism is, once again, being blown out of proportion on BOTH sides. Some Jews think everything is anti-Semitism, which is just plain silly. I suggest everyone look it up in the dictionary before throwing the word around. You might also want to look up anti-Judaism. Christians and Jews both believe in the same God. We just have different opinions about whether or not Jesus is the Savior that was prophesized about in the Old Testament.

We are nitpicking the Bible, just like we nitpick the Constitution. We have extended and useless debates on things like; “It depends on what you mean by the word “is”. One thing is for sure, we will all know the truth — eventually.
RC
Phoenix


WEATHERING THE STORM

On the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel:

I agree with many other callers and writers that current-day hurricane coverage is ridiculous. Seeing people getting soaked to the skin and sandblasted is not interesting or informative. Today I heard two of your correspondents defending the practice. One of them said that the hope was that by showing how severe the storm was, people might be more likely to take shelter or move inland. Then she admitted that there were all sorts of people out on the beach even after the police had abandoned the area.

And why not, I ask? After all, she was still there along with dozens of other reporters. Why shouldn’t ordinary thrill-seekers, especially in this day of shock TV, go out to have the same excitement the reporters were having? If the media thinks it is OK to have reporters out on the beach, why shouldn’t other people willing to take a risk be out there too? In fact, I think this overkill reporting probably ENCOURAGES people to come out and join the fun.

In short, you should lead the way in the future for responsible reporting and get your people into safety and then trumpet how important being safe is.
Sandra Schroeder
Renton, WA

Is it unreasonable to consider declaring the southeastern portions of the United States as Hurricane Zones in the light of recent destruction levied upon North Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey this week? When it’s all said and done, FEMA will distribute billions in federal aid to rebuild those areas hardest hit. Ultimately the American taxpayer will foot the bill. Would it be more practical to prevent people, businesses and municipalities from locating in those areas that are more likely to get be affected by these horrific storms?
Jim Kovic

Let’s not blame Isabel for “erosion.” Seems like the erosion is a problem when we see ourselves as above, or able to control, the natural cycles that occur to sustain all life. Pushing sand around, building sea walls or homes on sides of mountains that will have mudslides is erosion. Our attitude is costing us more than dollars. It is time to be honest with our planet, we aren’t in control.
Judy Richmond
Aledo, Illinois

RICH GET RICHER

Thank you for the article titled ”America’s richest people get more.” It truly warms my heart to read that “After two years of declines, the total net worth of America’s richest people rose 10 percent to $955 billion this year from 2002”. Having lost my own job early in 2002 due to a work-force reduction by my employer, I believe I can empathize with Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Warren Buffett, and friends, who like myself, saw their “collective net worth” decline these past two years. I suppose Mr.’s Gates, Allen, and Buffett must have clipped coupons, purchased lesser than “Choice” cuts of meat, and scoured the discount stores for bargains in order to make ends meet. Today, the perseverance and fortitude of individuals like Gates, Allen, Buffett, and others is finally rewarded. They serve as an inspiration to all Americans who have suffered, and a few who continue to suffer, through the economic tumult and turmoil of the past two years. MSNBC News: Thank You, Thank You, Thank you!
Chris Doherty

I find it distressing that a few individuals in our country hold such enormous wealth while so many are unable to find work in the areas in which they were trained. We have become a nation obsessed with stocks and their values to the point that companies downsize and outsource for greater profit to satisfy our obsession. People who spend years and thousands of dollars to get a degree find the job market shriveling. Ironically, college graduates who cannot find a job to make ends meet (underemployed; working poor) get harassed to repay their student loans. What about our investment in the future of this generation and those to come?
Linda Robinson
Greenville, NC

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