08 March 2009

Thoughts on Bill Maher's RELIGULOUS

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Tonight Megan and I watched Bill Maher's (REAL TIME w/ Bill Maher) film on religion called RELIGULOUS. You might find this odd, but I've been looking forward to this film since I first heard about it almost a year ago. Why? I have found that often Bill's critics are a little more unfair towards Bill's witty criticisms rationality than Bill is when he gets off track. Oh you bet he gets a little over the top but what do you expect, he's an comedic entertainer but a thought provoking one for sure. Perhaps that is why he is so demonized . Do you remember in the weeks after 9/11 when he set the record straight on people calling the terrorists directly responsible for the attacks "cowards"? Bill was right, their acts were heanous but they certainly weren't cowardly. Bill's show at the time, POLITICALLY INCORRECT, was ultimately cancelled because of that statement and the advertising withdrawal that followed. So, it is true, I like Bill Maher's rationalism even if I don't always think the often mocking icing on the cake is helpful.

RELIGULOUS did a good job of making fun of fundamentalist religion in many of its forms. Bill often made valid observations regarding the absurdity of doctrines and the way in which the religions' followers alternately have attempted to follow teachings as close as possible and skimp on the really hard stuff. Unfortunately the amount of theatrical editing-in of religious reenactment footage into interviews and other scenes made Bill's reasonable points come off as snobby and sensationalist.

Megan pointed out that he spent very little time with religious moderates who, I think, may have enlightened Bill's understanding of certain theology with yet others which can and do support more rational, and yet no less spiritual or Jesus-centered in my case, points of view. I say "Jesus-centered" because more time is spent in the film talking about the religions of the of the Bible than any others and because Bill's knowledge of Jesus' teachings seem to better than my own growing up going to church at least twice a week, on youth group leadership teams, and playing in the worship music band.

I recommend the film as entertainment and hope that those of serious faith might also thoughtfully consider Bill's, and many other's like him, relevant questions concerning what we proclaim as irrefutable and essential in our faiths. What things truly are at the centers of our walks? Are they the correct things?

Three out of five stars.

Available now on DVD.

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