Maher vs. Religion

8 11 2008


“Religulous” 2008

Starring: Bill Maher

Religion is one thing. Faith is something that is extremely personal, and equally hard to define. Faith gives people hope. A specific religion is, ideally, a community of people united in their faith. It is, for all of these reasons, very difficult to condemn, though Bill Maher takes numerous cracks at it in his comic documentary “Religulous.” He attacks the tenets of three major world religions, particularly Christianity, citing fanaticism and nonsensical, impossible legends as being the foundations upon which believers build their delusions. He accuses these religious followers of vicious self-righteousness, and does so in a hypocritically sanctimonious tone.

Maher presents many legitimate points about the absurdity and destructiveness of Christianity. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really fight fair. Maher builds a solid case for his argument only by presenting the most ridiculous representatives of the religions he targets. He interviews “experts” who represent the worst (and, I would argue, the minority) of the multi-billion member Christianity. One example: an Evangelical minister who appears to wear approximately 95 percent of the donations he collects in gold jewelry. (The other five percent he saves for his pinstripe designer suits). A second example: A U.S. Senator who refuses to commit to a belief in either evolution or creationism, and willingly (almost proudly) admits that entry into the Senate does not require an IQ test.

Two of Maher’s subjects were Roman Catholic Priests. The first undoubtedly had a better argument for his case than Maher and his fellow filmmakers allowed in the final cut (for it might have too strongly disputed the point Maher was trying to make). The second priest, cornered outside of the Vatican in Rome, never became defensive but radiated kindness and sincerity, and clearly had a more liberal read on Catholicism than Maher’s intended targets. Both priests seemed to demonstrate the idea of the fluidity of faith, the adaptation to time and change, the acceptance of science, even of those discoveries that absolutely refute tales included in the Bible.

I am Catholic, though I am neither a Bible literalist nor overly sensitive about the skepticism of others. For those who are, this is certainly not a movie I would recommend.

This film did not sway my convictions. I believe that most Christian communities are based in unity, hope, service, and integrity. Some members take advantage, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
But Maher’s mistake is that he fails to acknowledge the rest of the Christian population. Good people with good intentions who try to make the world a better place based on a message they choose to believe began with a man who lived a couple thousand years ago under extraordinary and, yes, admittedly improbable circumstances. It is not important that the legend make sense. It is only important that it inspires so many to engage in simple acts of kindness, each and every day.

Though they may not agree with Maher’s suggestions, I am confident that viewers will find it impossible to keep from laughing through the foolishness. But his suggestion that organized religion will systematically lead us to an Armageddon in which members simultaneously destroy each other and themselves is overdramatic, and unfair. Christianity (the only belief system for which I feel I can make an educated argument), like Democracy, is good at its core. And like any institution with an administration composed of human beings, it is vulnerable to corruption and fraudulence. As in any democratic system of government (which Americans declare is the most just of all forms), we are bound to find radicalism, fanaticism, and affiliates intent on exploiting the system for personal gain.

It is obvious, throughout this film, that Maher’s mind was made up long before the cameras began to roll. His opinion about religion was long-formed, and with this film, he set out to prove himself right rather than to entertain any diversity of beliefs. But to prove his point, he interviews fools, and succeeds only in making himself look foolish.





2 responses

8 11 2008
insurancesitesfind » Blog Archive » Maher vs. Religion

[…] He interviews “experts” who represent the worst (and, I would argue, the minority) of the multi-billion member Christianity. One example: an Evangelical minister who appears to wear approximately 95 percent of the donations he collects … Read more […]

20 11 2008
Pablo Gebauer

try your spanish:

Lo cierto es que muchas veces la religion se aparta de sus origenes, por ejemplo el Cristianismo se ha a partado bastante de lo que predicaba Cristo, quien solia perdonar a las prostitutas y ladrones siendo que hoy muchos “cristianos” los discriminan o hacen una vida en torno al dinero cosa que era lo opuesto que predicaba Cristo.

by the way add me in facebook ;D

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