Bill Maher v Jesus Christ: Religulous #2

090401billmaherandjesusWell, I did it. After my earlier post I bought an enormous bar of chocolate and settled into a big, comfy  cinema seat to watch Bill Maher take on Jesus Christ.

I have to tell you I was disappointed.  

I’ll say this for Maher – he is a funny guy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh – a lot. But despite setting himself up as honestly investigating God, a major strategy Maher employs is to ask people hard questions, to expect eloquent one line replies, to laugh at their absence, and to intersperse them with footage of material deliberately intended to undermine and ridicule them.

Predictably, he focuses on easy pickings, examining the controversial edges rather than the core foundations of faith. Creationism, homosexuality, and Islamic fundamentalism are come under scrutiny in favour, for example, of asking people about the basis and values of their faith. We come away knowing the ways in which it’s possible to ridicule religions but without the balance of counter-arguments.

So first and foremost, sadly, Religulous is a rant. That said, it’s also thought provoking. 

First, I was struck how frighteningly easy it is for christians to be way out of touch with people who don’t believe the same things they do, and to be unable to relate to them.

Second, I was reminded sharply religion can be ugly, has a great deal to answer for, and that  as a church we face a huge challenge in disentangling our mistreatment of God and His people from the truth of His message.  We have a lot of work to do to re-introduce our society to who Jesus is and his cultural relevance. 

Third, I the film was a reminder that what a person of faith says and does is watched, and it’s judged, and will be viewed through filter of: “this is what God stands for”. Scary. How we choose to present ourselves and our faith –  whether we’re thoughtful, balanced and equipped to discuss intelligently and honestly with other, matters.

Fourth, as I blogged previously, even without the help of satire, it’s easy to see how faith can seem to be crazy. We need to recognise that. However, the fact is that people continue to want to investigate Christianity. We also need a space where people can really consider life’s big questions and make their own informed decisions. Gordon Brown (reportedly) recently said he intended to do just that  attending an Alpha course. It was on April 1st (shame – I thought it might be for real – my innocence made me giggle when it was pointed out to me!) Whatever, having skirted the edges, maybe Maher should consider it. 

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8 responses to “Bill Maher v Jesus Christ: Religulous #2

  1. Pingback: Bill Maher v Jesus Christ: Religulous #2

  2. Pingback: Bill Maher v Jesus Christ: Religulous #2 « M is for Media

  3. Awesome post! I do get cross at Christians rather too often for being un-Christ-like. But then I think of people like Mike Yaconelli, Rowan Williams and Norman Kember and I calm down a bit.

    I was ready to get all excited about Gordon Brown doing an Alpha Course but then I clicked through to the post. And noticed the date. Have we been had?

  4. Haha!! I do believe you’re right! *chuckles*. Me? Naive and duped?! Ah well… I’d better put it right…

  5. The Church Mouse strikes again!

  6. Thanks for the update. It sounds like watching the film may have made it a little harder for you to be out of touch with people who aren’t Christians. Let’s hope we all learn that lesson.

  7. I agree with Bill.
    That said, I still see the value of religious figures in our society. The growth and fragmentation of the Church from the crusades to the founding of America explains much of what is going on in current events and in the middle East. Understanding Islamic perspective also illuminates how religion impacts all of us in America and overseas. But that doesn’t make me believe any of it, just appreciate all religions in the historical and cultural contexts of which they take place.
    And kind of makes me wish they’d stay in those historical contexts as well.

    • Liz, thanks for your comment.

      I agree with you that a lot of harmful things in the world have been and continue to be done in the name of religion. I think that the Christian church (and probably others too, but I don’t know so much about them so I won’t wade in…) has things to answer for – things they ought openly to say they have got wrong and for which publicly to say sorry. But then it’s not the case that the church claims to be perfect. I once heard someone say that church isn’t a place full of people who get it right, but people who know they get it wrong and want to get better, and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. If we judge christians by whether they’re as good as Jesus we miss the point.

      It’s interesting that you begin by saying you can see the value of religious figures in our society. What is this good stuff that you see? I think Jesus is an extraordinary example of a religious figure. Whether you believe he’s real (and that’s a whole different question that you can only answer by inquiring for yourself) or not, he’s been hugely influential in over 2000 years of history, and huge positivity has resulted. One of my bones with Religulous is that it doesn’t genuinely address that.

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