This is one of the best "meta-reviews" I've read regarding how the film has been viewed and reviewed over the past week. I live in France, and according to Drudge, we will have to wait a month before we can see the film. Though, I tend to think the reasoning given makes sense.
Sounds like you go see about as many movies in the theater as I do. I suspect I will go see The Passion. I just don't know when. Maybe I'll go see it on April 9. Seems more fitting then. I may be going alone to see it. I don't plan to bring my kids (oldest is 13) and my wife told me recently that she is not sure she wants to watch The Passion. It wasn't so much the graphic violence or any of the other criticisms that is making her apprehensive about seeing it, (she also recognizes the absurdity in much of the current criticism). She is expecting the movie to be well made and it is the thought of seeing a vivid, realistic portrayal of Mary watch her Son suffer and die that has her apprehensive.
Good post. I scanned the review links you included and I have to restate what I've said earlier. Andrew Sullivan has become unreadable. I think Sullivan is still a self professed Christian (Catholic) but I have serious doubts that he grasps the point of it anymore. Catholic theology, with its vast store of spiritual wisdom encoded into impenetrable jargon, puts it this way: "concupiscence darkens the intellect." Sounds to me like the Church still understands Mr. Sullivan even if the reverse is no longer true.
I actually didn't find the violence as bad as I thought it was going to be. During the scourging, Gibson does cut away quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, it's still tough to watch. Sometimes you'll jump and your head will jerk away whether you intend it to or not.
But this movie did something that I can't remember another movie doing nearly as well. As one example, the walk toward Calvary seems to go on forever and I remember thinking, "This is way too long and it needs to stop now." Then it occurred to me that Jesus probably wished the same thing. That's when I realized that I wasn't watching The Passion, I was in it.