Paul, Apostle of Christ

Both dull and plodding, it gives Christianity a bad name.

Paul Apostle of ChristTo begin with, I expected very little from Paul, Apostle of Christ. I fully anticipated that it would remind me of the intense boredom that I felt while attending Mass every day before class while attending St. Louis Catholic Grade School in Batesville, Indiana in the 1950s.

I remember sitting in church with one reaction, namely the hope that services would end as quickly as possible. I added to my baseball card collection with a supply of what I called Martyr cards. I brought them to church with me so that I could read the many ghastly accounts of how reknown Catholic saints were put to death.

On top of that, I have had occasion to read enough about St. Paul to know that he was a profound sexist. Unfortunately, his writings have found their way into Catholic dogma that has resulted in positions banning women from becoming priests, contraceptives and divorce.

However, St. Paul found a way to strike back at me, and this occurred when Mo and I were married in St. Kitts in 1988. When we met the “minister” at the car dealership he managed several days before the ceremony, I asked him to refrain from referring to St. Paul given my opposition to many of his opinions. He clearly was not pleased, and he struck back during the wedding.

Despite that I had the ceremony filmed on our limited budget, The Reverend Gumbs (his real name) had us sit down after the ceremony and thereafter went into a lengthy defense of St. Paul. Though his lecture began with the camera showing Mo and me sitting closely holding hands, it ended with Mo scooted to the end of her seat, her arms folded with a nasty glance towards me with her eyes saying, “Christ, Hammerle, can’t you keep your big mouth shut!”

In any event, I challenged myself to see this film to see if it would change any of my opinions. It did not. It simply shows an aging Paul (James Faulkner) being held captive in a Roman dungeon as he awaited his execution. The Roman Emperor Nero, who never appears on screen, was determined to eliminate all Christian as he chose to blame a recent fire that destroyed much of Rome on Christ’s followers.

Luke (Jim Caviezel) sneaks into Rome and visits Paul, writing down much of what Paul says that will appear in his later literary work. However, despite the knowledge that Paul will eventually be beheaded, you gradually lose your interest in the movie as it does little more than follow Luke’s relationship with Paul, the hidden Christian community and the Roman soldier in charge of the prison.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Caviezel follows up his early portrayal of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s forgettable The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection (2004) with his role here as Luke. As I left the theater, I was wondering what role Caviezel could next embrace surrounding the life and death of Christ.

At the risk of possibly offending some of you with deep religious beliefs, I thought that it would be very creative for him to play a transgender version of Mary, the mother of God. After all, if the Lord could impregnate a virgin, how much more difficult would it have been to transform Mary from a man to a woman centuries before the medical industry developed that talent?

Just a thought from a guy who still can’t keep my “big mouth shut.”