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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Prayer for Modern Understanding

“The Way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.”-Poor Richard’s Almanac

I’ll begin this review by recounting my encounter with that group of Bible study kids that meets in the cafeteria every so often. Last year while I was just sitting around the campus trying to blend in with the concrete, two kids came up to me and asked me if I would like to go study the Bible with them sometime. I said yes, after explaining my disenchanted leanings, under the naiveté that they were part of some start-up club desperate for members.

You probably have seen these guys. They’ll come up to you while you’re eating and try to convert you. I did go to a couple meetings – one in which they mused the philosophical quandary of what they’d ask God if they ran into him on the street. One kid (who shall remain nameless for the simple fact that I’ve forgotten his name) seriously wanted to ask God – this one question of all questions that’s been plaguing his existence, that he would ask the Creator of the universe – if certain people were born gay or just tacked on to it for the fad.

And that’s basically the thesis behind Religulous, starring Bill Maher and directed by that guy who did Borat, Larry Charles. Bill Maher, fervent atheist that he is, is on a zealous mission to save the United States from what he deems to be the “United Stupid of America.” If you don’t like Bill Maher, you won’t like this movie.

But I think Maher is funny, and I’m similarly disturbed about this whole “religion craze.” There’s a clear bias in this movie against organized religion, so if you’re into that kinda thing, you won’t be into this kinda thing. But this movie was made for a definite group – it’s ultimately a call to arms for the skeptics out there who are suffering while the religious fanatics hijack the political machine.

He points out very interesting facts, like many of our founding fathers were outspoken atheists, for instance, especially Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. He attacks the three major religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – as well as a host of cults and sects, such as Scientology, Mormonism, and some weird Amsterdam marijuana based religion.

Though the movie may not be fair, it sure is funny. But, in the end, it is a solemn prayer for a world that could be the Utopia, free of war and violence that religion was once upon a time guiding toward. Without religion, he surmises, we’d not have these religious crusades and jihads; we’d be more accepting of one another, and learn to treat each other like neighbors.

He opens and closes the film on a mount at Megiddo (Armageddon), describing the theory of the coming of the antichrist and the rapture that destroys the world. His warnings about the further interference of politics by religious fanatics is over spun with images of exploding nuclear weapons of mass destruction, surmising that religion and the modern age can hardly mingle. The year 2012 is often cited as the final year of humanity by religions, Nostradamus, the Mayan calendar – and, of course, with the recent surge in violence and the surge of nuclear arms, it certainly is possible. “The one thing I hate more than prophecy,” explains Maher, “is self-fulfilling prophecy.”