truth or consequences…

ReligulousI wanted to finish off the recent spate of documentaries with the high point of the series… One that we’ve been wanting to see ever since it came out. Of course I am speaking of Religulous! This movie is Bill Maher’s attempt to understand how people of faith can be people of faith (basically). In it he goes around the world to ask various people of faith to ask them how/why they believe the things that they do. Though he is focused on people who follow the various Abrahamic religions, the ground that he covers is quite wide-ranging. It includes: a trucker’s chapel (yes, at a truck stop), a holy land amusement park in Florida, a mosque in Jerusalem, a Moslem gay bar, an orthodox rabbi, some ex-Mormon’s in Salt Lake City, the Vatican and a U.S. congressman!

He makes it quite clear to these folks that he doesn’t for a minute believe that any of it is true and that he is just dying to know why it is that they do. This tact leads to quite a varied group of responses, though except for one of the “worshipers” at the truck stop, most of them do earnestly try to explain the foundations of their faith. These responses vary from interesting (in a somewhat startling fashion), entertaining, befuddling and downright insulting and scary (in the case of the congressman when he suggests that if it weren’t for the ten commandments that people might not have come to the conclusion that it is bad to kill each other).

Some of the most outstanding bits are the earnest attempts at explanation from the fellow who portrays Jesus at the amusement park, the woman at the amusement park who says that when Armageddon comes she’ll be flying through the sky on a big white horse, the bit about it being a miracle if it starts raining when you want it to and, my favorite, the priests at the Vatican who don’t seem to think that anything in the bible is meant literally.

While you could say that he is trying to be objective, I think that in a situation like this you can only be so objective… For a person not-of-faith to have a conversation with someone who is of-faith about their beliefs can be interesting, but having those conversations with dozens of people who all firmly believe in ultimate truths that contradict the other peoples ultimate truths, well, I think you would have to take most of they people say with a big grain of salt. Of course, as Maher has to have a point that isn’t just his opinion but also of greater import, he covers the dangers of faith… Specifically the danger inherent in people who actually want the end of the world to arrive because they believe that something better will come for them after that. Not really the safest way to think considering what kinds of weaponry modern civilization has at its disposal… Even if it were true, it still wouldn’t be a good thing for anyone whose belief system didn’t happen to be the correct one.


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