You can't beat a good chariot race

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The Independent Online

Yesterday I brought you part of the minutes of a recent meeting of the United Deities, the celestial all-god review group which monitors our doings down here. As we left them in full swing, I thought we might have another extract today.

Yesterday I brought you part of the minutes of a recent meeting of the United Deities, the celestial all-god review group which monitors our doings down here. As we left them in full swing, I thought we might have another extract today.

1. The Chairgod said that there had been a report from the arts sub-committee of the gods requesting discussion at this general meeting of the gods of the controversial new film by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ. This new film, which told the story of the Crucifixion, had been accused of anti-Semitism, in that the Jews were fully blamed for the brutal treatment of Jesus, and also of sadism, in that it was sadistic.

2. The Chairgod wondered what the Jewish God thought of the film.

3. The Jewish God said that if the film was anti-Semitic, it certainly destroyed the commonly held opinion that Hollywood was dominated by the Jewish lobby. If Jewish money and Jewish influence ruled the roost, he said, then how come a film like Mel Gibson's could be made? If a secret Jewish conspiracy pulled all the strings, why had it not pulled Mel Gibson's strings and stopped it being made? Could someone answer that?

4. The Chairgod said that was all very interesting, but it did not quite answer his question, which was what the Jewish God has thought of the film.

5. The Jewish God said he inclined to the view that it was anti-Semitic. He had not actually seen the film himself.

6. The Chairgod said that the Christian God should be asked for his views on the film, as in a sense he was the star of the film.

7. The Christian God said that this period of his life was not one he cared to dwell on as it brought back unpleasant memories. Churches on Earth certainly glorified that period, and they were welcome, but he had other priorities. He had not actually seen the film himself.

8. The Chairgod asked if any other gods cared to comment on the film, especially if they were involved.

9. Jupiter, head Roman god, said he felt that he ought to comment, as it was he and his gods who were, historically, to be ousted by the new Christian gods at the period portrayed by the film. He said he felt aggrieved that Hollywood over the years had lavished so much money on Biblical stories to so little effect.

10. Indeed, he said, the stories of the Bible were so colourless compared to Latin and Greek legends that Hollywood constantly had to import other stories to make up for their failings, such as Ben Hur, and The Robe. Not that it had worked exactly. The only thing that anyone ever remembered about Ben Hur was the chariot race.

11. If people wanted to have exciting races and battles, they only had to film the doings of the Roman gods, he said. But would this ever happen? Not while Hollywood was dominated by the Christians. Forget the Jewish conspiracy, he said; it was the Christian one that worried him.

12. And what of the Mel Gibson film itself, the Chairgod wanted to know.

13. Jupiter said he had not as yet seen the film.

14. The Chairgod asked if any of the gods present had actually seen the film under discussion.

15. No god present having seen Mel Gibson's film, Loki, the Norse god of mischief, said he had recently viewed a revival of The War of the Worlds, which he had much enjoyed, as it involved the near-destruction of everything, and he would be prepared to discuss that instead.

16. The Chairgod said that they were not a film appreciation society. They could only discuss films with divine subject matter, which enlightened them about human reaction to the gods.

17. Preferably not starring Russell Crowe, said Jupiter.

18. Or Jim Carrey, said a Mayan god.

19. The Chairgod hastily said that that was enough of that, and passed on to the next item, the proposed reactivation of Vesuvius.

More of this some other time.

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