The Catholic Thing
HOME        ARCHIVES        IN THE NEWS        COMMENTARY        NOTABLE        DONATE
People v. Mel Gibson Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Sunday, 07 June 2009

 

Thinking about Mel Gibson, his trials and tribulations, one recalls Ernest Hemingway’s quip about his sometime friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. After describing all the things that made Scott handsome, especially his “delicate long-lipped Irish mouth,” Hemingway adds his usual ironic twist: “This should not have added up to a pretty face, but that came from the coloring, the very fair hair and the mouth. The mouth worried you until you got to know him and then it worried you more.”

With Mel Gibson it’s his eyes. There has always been something wild and sad in his eyes, especially in his mug shots.

One hoped at the time of his 2006 DUI arrest, during which he went into an f-bomb-laced rant about how Jews “are responsible for all the wars in the world,” that the inebriated director was simply venting frustration at some of those who had accused his 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” of being anti-Semitic. That was Mr. Gibson’s own rationalization. After apologizing for his drunken outburst, he told a TV interviewer:

Now even before anyone saw a frame of film, for an entire year, I was subjected to a pretty brutal sort of public beating. And during the course of that, I think I probably had my rights violated in many different ways as an American, as an artist, as a Christian, just as a human being.

And at the time this seemed almost credible, especially in an artist of Gibson’s caliber, known to be, as they say, “wound tight,” and given his ongoing problems with booze, and most especially given the daring, brutal, powerful orthodoxy of the film’s portrayal of Jesus Christ dying for our sins, which set the worldly seething. One wished to forgive Mel Gibson’s own disordered passions, especially when commentators such as Bill Maher insisted that Gibson’s “disease isn’t alcoholism, the disease is religion.”

Of course, it is also true that Mel Gibson has built his own “traditionalist” church, Holy Family, near Malibu, California and true too that he seems to some degree to follow the sedevacantist views of his father, Hutton Gibson. Sedevacantism, if you don’t know, comes from the Latin, sede vacante (“the see being vacant”), meaning Gibson père believes the Holy See – the seat of papal authority – has actually been “empty” since Vatican II, which he has called “a Masonic plot backed by the Jews.” (The elder Gibson also says the Holocaust is a myth and that the planes on 9/11 weren’t hijacked but operated by remote control. By whom, he doesn’t say.) Mel’s refusal to condemn his father’s wacky worldview, one hoped, was simply an expression of filial piety.

Alas, it’s no longer possible to make excuses for Mel Gibson. According to that well-known catechetical organ, People magazine, Gibson recently “asked his fellow parishioners at . . . Holy Family . . . not to gossip about him,” which means not to speak to the media about his impending divorce from his wife of twenty-nine years (the mother of his seven children) or his extra-marital affair with a much younger Russian musician, who is pregnant with Mel’s eighth (and her second out-of-wedlock) child. Says a witness: “He tried to intimidate the parishioners by staring at everyone with his angry eyes. Mel even threatened to shut down the church if people kept gossiping about him.” Mel’s eyes used to worry us; now we know him better and we’re really worried.

People goes on to pose some moral-theological questions and provides the answers. Can Mel take Communion? No. Can he get an annulment? Probably not. Can he marry a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic church? Well . . . People offers standard answers, but, honestly, do we think there are now any impediments to the juggernaut that is Mel Gibson’s ego?

People’s last, touching point:

Can the child of an unmarried couple be baptized in the traditionalist Catholic Church? A child is not considered at fault for the circumstances of his or her birth. The child could be baptized and brought up in the church.

This is People magazine, so I suspect there’s some confusion about the modifier “traditionalist,” but apparently one of the priests formerly on staff at Holy Family has stated there will be no remarriage even there.
 

It is bitterly ironic to read a statement Gibson made nearly a decade ago:

There is nothing more important than your family. If you ruin that part of your life, what’s left? Work? Money? Screwing around? I see a lot of people living like that tell themselves they’re having a good time, but if you look under the surface you see lots of corpses masquerading as human beings.

It’s a mistake ever to count celebrity heads, seeking affirmation of our values, religious or political, among the beautiful, the talented, and the successful. Still, it’s sad to see People’s former “most-beautiful person” (1996) and, now, former Catholic plunge so far, but I guess we should have seen it coming. “Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Brad Miner, a former literary editor of National Review, is senior editor of The Catholic Thing.

© 2009 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info at thecatholicthing dot org

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Rules for Commenting

The Catholic Thing welcomes comments, which should reflect a sense of brevity and a spirit of Christian civility, and which, as discretion indicates, we reserve the right to publish or not. And, please, do not include links to other websites; we simply haven't time to check them all.

Comments (25)Add Comment
0
Sed libera nos a malo
written by Willie, June 08, 2009
"There but for the grace of God go I." Mel Gibson is the victim of the manipulations of the world, flesh and the devil. Pride has been responsable for the fall of the greatest of angels to the sin of our first parents. Anyone who would deny the existence of evil, need only review the history of the 20th century. It is with us today to the point that it has diminished the sense of sin to the point of moral relatavism. This article frames well a universal disease. God spare me! It's time for Lauds.
0
prayed for Mel for years
written by debby, June 08, 2009
years & years before The Passion, i prayed for mel's only daughter, hannah, to have a true conversion hoping she might be a key to his heart & influence him. now i pray to the Good Thief for him, that maybe in his last moments, the grace of final repentance will be his. whenever we separate ourselves from the Whole Truth of our Faith,our heart grows stingy, narrow-minded, Self righteous, & less & less room is made for God.
how sad. but let's not give up on God's mercy & desire for his soul.
0
...
written by Joe, June 08, 2009
Over the weekend SIGNS was on again and Mel playes a minister that is on the brink of losing hiis faith. At the end, He is wearing a Roman Collar. I couldnt stop laughing !!
0
...
written by Susan, June 08, 2009
Well said. Willie. We all need reminding.
0
...
written by Kevin J Jones, June 08, 2009
I'm curious about that "former Catholic" line. Is there any evidence Gibson has renounced his faith? He's schismatic and adulterous, but not an apostate, yes?
0
To Kevin J. Jones
written by Brad Miner, June 08, 2009
I can't answer your question, of course--not anyway on the evidence at hand. But I think you know what I meant. And, in any case, "apostate" (your word) is defined as "one who has renounced or forsaken his religious faith or given up his moral allegiance." I'd say that that last part qualifies Gibson as an apostate, no? Of course, I'm with Debby and hope he finds a way (how I don't know) to return to Communion.
0
...
written by Daniel, June 08, 2009
It is amazing reading this; both in vile hateful word and stupid deed Mel Gibson is engaging in behavior that should bring the wrath of William Donahue. However, Donahue choses to focus on a film which in the end, portrays with reverence the conclave of Cardinals and the struggle to address sede vacante, vacant by death of the pontif, not a plot by Jews and Masons. Give me a break, Mel and Hunter.
0
Mr.
written by Bert Queen, June 08, 2009
One thing we can be grateful for is Mel Gibson's film on the Passion of the Christ, the best to date!
0
...
written by Bob Cheeks, June 08, 2009
I always thought The Passion of the Christ was the finest film ever made! It sounds like Mel suffers from a pneumpathology...and needs prayer.
0
...
written by Lee Gilbert, June 09, 2009
Well, Brad, I would guess you are a fairly young man, since a similar scene in the gospels has the crowd melting away, beginning with the eldest. I realize that The Catholic Thing is intended as an intellectual endeavor of the first water, but is it considered bad form in this and similar situations to actually do the Catholic thing and beg prayers for a fallen brother and his family? After The Passion, what did you think, that Satan wouldn't bother him? Have mercy on him Lord, and on us all!
0
To Lee Gilbert
written by Brad Miner, June 09, 2009
Actually, I'm young only at heart.
I appreciate the Christian sentiment of course, and Mr. Gibson is certainly in my prayers. But the Flip Wilson, the-devil-made-me-do-it assertion is pure speculation. Let me repeat one phrase: "his wife of twenty-nine years . . ." Seems to me Mr. Gibson's actions arise from his free will.
0
...
written by Beth, June 09, 2009
I guess you haven't followed Mel Gibson. His marriage has been plagued by tabloid divorce rumors for years, partially because he and his wife were rarely seen together. Clearly it was his Catholic belief in the indissolvability of marriage plus the 7 kids that helped to keep them married for so long. While Mel has committed adultery, it's worth noting that he and his wife have been separated for 3 years. And he’s still going to mass, so he’s not a FORMER Catholic.
0
Mr.
written by Charles Lisa, June 09, 2009
The closer you come to Jesus, the greater the attack by Satan. I believe that Mel Gibson when he made that movie the passion was filled with the Holy Spirit. I don't know him but I believe he had a strong prayer life.The devil always hits you in your weakest point. Family was important to him, and so was love. If love wains in the family life the devil attacks and on the scene comes the achillies heal. I will pray for him Yes I see in his eyes a twinkle of God .
0
...
written by Randy, June 09, 2009
I think basically Mel is a good guy. Look at the film Passion of Christ he made. There was a lot of ugly things that were said about him and the film but he did anyway. That took guts in Hollywood now days. He's human and the devil is really after him. Does he have faults....yes, but don't we all. I think he & his family needs our prayers & privacy now. Sometimes when I see pictures of him I see saddness in his eyes. I'm sure he wants to do what is right but we all fall sometimes.
0
...
written by Lee Gilbert, June 09, 2009
With the release of The Passion of Christ, Mel Gibson involved himself in spiritual warfare all unwittingly. He heeded to be living the life of a saint- a great saint- to sustain the hellish backlash from that movie, but he wasn't. Free will, sure. But there is such a thing as the wickedness and snares of the enemy. And besides, how free is a will in the throes of addiction? We owe him a great deal and should be praying down his conversion and the healing and reconciliation of his famiily.
0
...
written by Fenton, June 09, 2009
Hmmmm...


"A child is not considered at fault for the circumstances of his or her birth."

I wonder if People Magazine would ever apply this same logic to abortion...

I think not.
0
...
written by joe, June 09, 2009
"Former Catholic"? How about willfully sinning Catholic? While Gibson is obv. guilty, "People" is hardly a credible source from which to quote other parishoners. This piece has lots truth to it, but writes off MG with too much finality.
0
...
written by joe, June 09, 2009
1. Stop laughing. In"Signs" is is an Anglican collar.

2. Maybe the marriage has lasted because of the wife refusing to let go until faced with a pregnancy of a girlfriend. Who knows?

3. King David did much worse and we have The Psalms.
0
Everyone LOVES Mel
written by debby, June 09, 2009
no matter what his actions are....is it those same eyes? how hard must he be to live with? the Passion was amazing, but 1 Corinth 13 says you can give your body to be burned but w/out love, it profits you nothing. do we love him becuz he's a beautiful manly man? what if he were ugly & soft? would we care so much? lets all pray for his repentance. he's never been a Saint. he's an actor we gush over for the wrong reasons. his wife & now 8 eternal souls deserve our prayers. think of their pain.
0
...
written by Tom, June 10, 2009
With great power (wealth, notoriety, or access to the media) comes great responsibility. I understand that I can never know how hard it is for someone else to quit smoking, stop yelling, or stop coveting, but how hard can it be for the multi-millionaire actor to avoid keeping a mistress and fathering children outside of his marriage?

When you are the most recognizable lay Catholic on the planet and at least a fair actor, you ought be able to play the part better than that.
0
music teacher
written by Irene, June 10, 2009
Having been married to an alcholic for 15 years until he died at the age of 53, I would conclude that Mel's "juggernaut" is not his ego but his addiiction. Mr. Gibson's work reveals his profound understanding of the human heart and also clearly exhibits a deep spiritual kowledge. Alcoholism is both a choice and a disease, a life long struggle and cross for the one who bares it. Mel is a confused man looking for truth. People have judged his actions, but only God can judge his motives.
0
Mr.
written by Darragh J. Gibbons, June 11, 2009
Mr. Miner should be ashamed of himself for authoring such an uncharitable article.

I agree very much with Lee Gilbert's comment: Mr. Gibson is under attack from satan and his legions of all-too-willing servants. How would Mr. Miner fare should he incur the evil one's wrath?

I will pray for Mr. Gibson, as should all Christians.

Sed libera nos a malo.
0
...
written by John R. Dunlap, June 12, 2009
Among all the responses so far, I find the solicitousness for Gibson preposterous. Does anyone give a hoot about Gibson's wife and seven children? Christians are called to a particularly difficult juggling act: we dare not judge the person, but we dare not fail to judge the person's actions. What Gibson has done is objectively and unspeakably vile, and Gibson himself will be long dead when others are still suffering the consequences.
0
...
written by rosebud51, June 15, 2009
At Mass today I noticed it's Jesus on the cross, not Mel Gibson. My trust is in Christ, who died for me, Mel, and everyone else. We have to look at Christ as our example - human beings are fragile and imperfect, even the rich and famous who are so easily admired for the wrong reasons. Passion of the Christ is an awesome film, Mel's failings don't change that. Keep him and his family in your prayers, they have a lot to work through.
0
...
written by Diana, February 15, 2010
Well....."we are all but filthy rags" and therefore, to think otherwise would indicate a very obvious fall is ahead...and that brings scripture that "Pride goes before disaster and a haughty spirit before a fall"...a full circle warning. I think you should be careful about such condemnation of another human being. Forget the success, the eyes, the weak character, pray for him and encourage him to get back to God...leave the woman, support the child and return to his Savior. Where hope abounds.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
 

Other Articles By This Author

CONTACT US FOR ADVERTISERS ABOUT US
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner