Saturday, December 29, 2007
A couple of days ago I linked to documentary about Jesus made by theologian Robert Beckwith. The central thrust of the film was that the teachings attributed to Jesus are universal and perfectly compatible with other belief systems across the globe.
I liked the film a lot because, for a welcome change, someone actually got to put up an intelligent show on mainstream TV which attempted to explore the similarities between people of different faiths, or absence of faiths. In the process the film also tried to demonstrate that being a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean being an intolerant nutcase and that, shock horror, Christianity really should be about being nice to people and doing the decent thing for its own sake
And whilst Beckwith didn’t explicitly state it, one of implied conclusions of the film was that the problem with many Christians is not that they’re Christians, it’s the fact that they’re shit Christians.
Gandhi probably put it better and without reverting to any swears…
Sure, belief in a Sky God is a bit silly but it’s no sillier than, say, believing that life spontaneously sprung up out of sludge after being struck by lightning a few times
And if secular polemicists such as Richard Dawkins serve no other useful purpose it is to prove that people with religious faith do not hold the monopoly on being intolerant, and plain fucking ignorant, dicks
The reason why I mention all this is because someone has just left me a link (thanks btw) to an internet movie called Zeigeist which attempts to make a connection between religious faith, especially Christianity, the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror, the global banking system and elitist control of our world...
The film includes little original material and is basically a mash-up of information and clips that are freely available on the web and already well-known to people who are into that sort of thing. The most interesting part is the first third of the film which covers similar ground to Beckwith’s C4 documentary and makes a strong case that Christianity was itself a mash-up of pre-existing material and ideas.
A mash-up criticising a mash-up – oooh, the irony
FWIW my opinion of the film is that whilst it contains some very good and potentially startling factual content some of the conclusions woven around that content are totally misleading
My biggest issue is with the claim made by the film that monotheistic religion and the mindset it encourages has been the driving force for getting on for most of the Evil in the world over the last 2,000 years
Sure religion has often been subverted for Evil ends, but so has environmentalism, humanism, marxism, darwinism and lots of other initially well-intentioned isms I could name
If you could somehow abolish all organised religion tomorrow it wouldn't change a thing
Because people would still want to steal things off each other
And some people, the most wicked and most conniving of people, will continue to be very good at stealing - regardless of whether everyone else believes in a Sky God or not
The payload of Zeitgeist is the assertion that religion, not theft, is driving the bad things that are happening in the world. In that respect, whilst Zeitgeist purports to be a radical ‘Truth’ video, its message is absolutely no different to the Islamofascist bullshit that the Conservative Neocons and their puppet-masters are using as an excuse to rape the world
If I could be bothered I could sit down tomorrow and make my own competing film which highlights all the awful things that have been carried out in the name of atheistic secularism. The 19th and 20th centuries are littered bounteous quantities of source material. Sauce for the goose and all that...
But I won't because I think that would be a distraction.
The world’s problems don’t stem from religion, or lack of religion. They have come about because of greed and the inability of the majority of people to adequately comprehend and deal with the machinations of a ruthless, amoral minority.
When most people, Americans certainly, talk about Christianity they have one specific form of Christianity uppermost in mind - US style Christian Fundamentalism which is both intolerant and just about the least Christ-like belief system anyone could come up with.
I'd maintain that Christian Fundamentalism was created and is promoted, as with the Catholic Church, by very earthly interests. I can understand why people get wound up about religion but they are focusing on the weapon rather than the creature wielding it.
And if people keep swallowing the same old bait, crafted to divide and distract us, nothing will change
In short, whilst I think movies like Zeitgest contain a lot of interesting material and are worth watching with an open but sceptical mind, the film I’d really like to see made is the one that doesn’t fuel the eternally fruitless, divisive conflict between Christians and secular humanists but rather the film which shames the daft fucks who think they are Christians into behaving a bit more like the guy they claim to revere.