religion, Skepticism

If you only see one movie this year…

…make it Religulous!

A review (from Variety)

In a string of frank, often hilarious but always well-considered conversations with various Christians, Maher incisively asks them what skeptics always ponder about religion in general and Christianity in particular. To John Westcott of Exchange Ministries, which tries to “convert” gay men, Maher asks, given that Jesus never once talked about homosexuality, why is it such an issue for New Testament Christians? To churchgoers in Raleigh, N.C., he notes there’s no firm proof that Jesus Christ ever actually lived. Perhaps most profoundly, he asks Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), a devout evangelical, “Why is faith good?”

To the film’s credit, Maher never engages in Michael Moore-style gotcha tactics, but rather asks questions that raise more questions, in the form of a Socratic dialogue. To believers expecting a blind hatchet job, this will prove both thought-provoking and a bit disarming; skeptics may be surprised (as Maher is) by the occasionally smart replies to his queries.

While he examines the Big Three religions of the West at length (Eastern faiths get a pass in “Religulous”), Maher even gets in some choice stabs at Mormonism (whose tenets may astound those not in the know) and Scientology.

Ending minutes, though, will catch auds up short: Suddenly, the laughs die down, and as in his closing monologues on “Real Time,” Maher turns deadly serious with a final statement that will stir raging arguments in theater lobbies.

Actually, make it The Dark Knight. Make this number two.

update (from kevvyd): Here’s the trailer:

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10 thoughts on “If you only see one movie this year…

  1. A couple of minor quibbles:

    a. Haven’t seen the film myself, and the review is second or third hand, so I’m not sure why Bill Maher means by firm proof that Jesus existed, but there is some evidence from non-Christian sources for the existance of someone named Jesus Christ – I’ll grant you, it merely indicates his historical existence and doesn’t speak to the truth of the gospels.

    b. Sorry, but I will not be seeing this film anyway – given Maher’s opinions on vaccinations, Germ Theory, and his unwavering support of PETA, I vaue his opinions on anything as much as I do Tom Cruise’s opinions on modern medicine – he’s an entertainer, granted he is funny, but outside of that – he’s a fucking loon….

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  2. I don’t know much about Maher’s views on other topics, but I trust his political acumen and he’s a fellow atheist, so this movie should play from his strength. Just because he’s got weird views on some topics doesn’t mean he’s to be ignored outright.

    From my admittedly scant reading on the topic of first-century Jews (I’ve read Josephus and a fair bit on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the name Jesus does appear around the time in Jerusalem. I expect a stronger argument would be to argue against his divinity; aside from the unlikelihood of the divinity of anyone, he was most likely an apocalyptic Jew of some note who developed a following after his death owing to the hand (and pen) of Paul and others. From my reading, he probably existed, but would not be recognizable by modern-day Christians.

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  3. Actually, from looking at the sites I linked to, and reading the transcript, I’m of the opinion that he’s a Fundamentalist Maherian – he’s so firmly convinced that he’s doing The Right Thing that the possibility that other peoples’ viewpoint might have some validity doesn’t occur to him. As for his political viewpoints – meh, a broken clock is right twice a day, doesn’t mean I have any obligation to spend 10 bucks for a movie ticket to see it.

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  4. Haven’t heard of the Maherians, but if being firmly convicted of doing the right thing is part of it, most Bible thumpers are Maherians. And no, noone is telling you that you have to spend ten dollars.

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  5. Actually, the title of the blogpost is telling me to spend ten dollars, I quote ‘If you only see one movie this year’..

    I meant Maherian in a sarcastic sense, as one of the other posts I linked to (which I’m wondering if you read) said, Maher has a smug, self-worshipping way about him.

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  6. You know what, Kev – forget it – you and Bri are absolutely right, Bill Maher is infallible and critical thinking is not supposed to be used on anything he says. You know, for a supposed “ex-Catholic” you really haven’t moved too far from it, you’ve just shifted your focus of worship….

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  7. Boys, boys – neutral corners, both of you.

    Dan, just because he has some crackpot ideas on other topics doesn’t mean he’s incapable of asking relevant and insightful questions on others. An ignorance of microbiology doesn’t disqualify anyone from having perfectly valid views on politics, religion, etc., etc.

    Hell, I’m in that boat, as regards to microbiology… Although I would certainly not emphatically disagree with the weight of scientific opinion – I have too much respect for the practice of science to do that.

    My (admittedly slight) difficulty would stem from the fact that Mr. Maher was a celebrity-type comedian before he discovered that people would listen to him if he expressed a meaningful opinion. There is a pervasive air of the showman about him, which is why, although I respect him, and will listen to him to a point, I don’t accept his views without a healthy dose of sodium chloride. The flip side is Dennis Miller – a person I used to respect, but who has morphed into an apologist for a clearly broken political perspective. Bill Maher may have a modicum of ignorance, but Dennis Miller is engaging in willful blindness.

    Still, I’d see it just for the insight into the religious mind-set. It’s a perspective I have never shared, so anything I can learn is helpful in understanding the social psychology of belief. I wouldn’t give it the same weight as Dawkins’ “The Root of All Evil”, but there’s always a chance I could learn something. I hate to pass up an opportunity like that.

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