Category Archives: Religion

Maher Takes on Religion in New Film

Bill Maher, a man who I firmly believe is moving comedy forward by sucking it dry of all funniness, has a new film coming out in which he engages religious people all over the world on the subject of whether or not what they believe is ridiculous.

Director Larry Charles (also directed Borat) describes the project:

What do you believe, why do you believe it, and why do you need to believe it? Can we be good without God? Is religion a calling or a mental illness? Were Jesus, Moses and Mohammed prophets and visionaries, or crackpot nut cases who today would be put away? Is religion an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Comedian, acerbic commentator, raconteur, skeptic, seeker Bill Maher and I set off in search of answers to these questions in a raunchy, rude, irreverent, outrageous, and shocking nonfiction film about the greatest fiction ever told.

I have long been disappointed by the exemplars of atheism and agnosticism in our society. Some of the most famous doubters are complete douches. Maher on the other hand is firm in his beliefs and, though he has at times been rather dismissive of people of faith, he’s not unable to have a real conversation and he seems capable of seeing people of faith as human beings.

My friend Seamus O’Rourke and I had an interesting conversation about documentaries the other day. We agreed that for the most part they give people the impression that they’re watching something truthful and on the level, when most of them have obvious biases they’re not owning up to.

I think that the approach that Maher is taking here, however, is obviously not a documentary. We do need a new genre term for these personality driven non-fiction films, but I like this approach because Maher is so far out in front of it that it can’t be mistaken for anything other than something, which may or may not be interesting, that a comedian is doing.

Don’t Mess With Texas

Just a word about the standoff at polygamist Warren Jeffs’ ranch in Eldorado Texas

Leaving Jeffs' Ranch - Tony Gutierrez (AP)Texans fancy themselves to be the guardians of the morals of little girls. I remember my days at University of Texas where, if you were a young lady attending the University as a new freshman, your parents got to designate what kind of living arrangements you had, despite your supposedly being an adult. All girls floor? Sure. All girls dorm? No problem. All girls dorm with monitors who had veto power on your comings and goings? Indeed!

The upshot being, you don’t move your incestuous little band of baby-makers from the Arizona/Utah border to the Lone Star State without a few consequences. I mean hell…this is a state that maintains its own paramilitary police force just so they can f*ck with people they don’t like.

So Mr. Jeffs…are you a moron, or are you trying to get your FLDS followers killed?

Outrage at N.Y. Governor – Republicans say Spitzer forgot to apologize to Jesus

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer yesterday admitted he had been caught by a federal investigation into an international prostitution ring.

“I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better,” Spitzer said Monday in a brief appearance at his Manhattan office. “I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

However, prominent Republican critics say Spitzer forgot someone important in his apology.

“Who cares about family, the public and his standards — Jesus is the one deserving an apology. And he’s still waiting,” said Francis F. “Fifi” Frandle, GOP image consultant and ethics guru.

“Just call me the right wing’s little moral compass,” jokes Frandle.

“Whether a Republican is caught with an escort, chasing Congressional pages around a desk, tap dancing in an airport men’s room, or leaking the name of a CIA agent, the first person he seeks forgiveness from is Jesus,” said Frandle. “This is because when someone takes the oath of office, your hand is on the Bible and you swear to god, Jesus’ dad, who gave Moses the Constitution on stone tablets.”

“After Jesus, the big Kahuna, you don’t need to apologize to anyone else. Which is important, because apologizing to ordinary people undermines a Republican’s natural position as a leader,” he said.

“If someone still gives you a hard time, you tell them Jesus has already given you a pass, and it’s none of their business.”

And if the controversy still won’t go away? Frandle says there is a standard hierarchy that can be blamed: “alcoholism, chemical dependency, dehydration, secular progressives, George Soros, the designated hitter rule, and, finally, Satan.”

At the White House, a gleeful President Bush said the fact that Spitzer was caught as the result of intercepted communications proves the effectiveness of the government’s warrantless wiretapping program. “If the terrorists try to hire high-priced call girls, we’ll get ’em,” Bush said.

A Baptist Environmental About Face

New York (f-A-ke. P.) –

Vowing never to, “…let those damned Papists get the upper hand on the environment,” leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention announced today that they had been ‘too timid’ on environmental issues and that Baptists have a biblical duty to stop global warming.

Well, I was passing under the fluorescent lights at our headquarters and the voice of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, told me that the Earth was getting a little on the hot side—even without the benefit of hell-fire and brimstone. It was then that I realized that we Baptists have a duty to save the planet.

The Reverend Horace Buefort

When asked why the Lord didn’t appear as a burning bush, Pastor Buefort responded, “Are you kidding?! A burning bush would put pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.”

Fresh new sins brought to you by the Catholic Church

Concerned that the original seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride), just weren’t enough for modern life, the Catholic Church has rolled out a list of 5 new sinful behaviors. They are (1) genetic manipulation; (2) drugs; (3) pollution; (4) social injustice; and (5) economic injustice. Missing something? I thought so too. They go on to note that they are also concerned by pedophilia (though they think it’s exaggerated by the media), and oh yeah, abortion ~ still bad.

Sins, both venial and mortal, have historically been the purview of the individual. The things you did hurt you and the sometimes the ones you loved. Because of globalization, the Catholic Church now believes that your sins are hurting society and they must be delineated, so they can be avoided. It’s not clear if any of the “new sins” are venial (small and forgivable) or mortal (you’re going to burn in Hell for this one). More information is expected when Pope Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations later this year.

In the meantime, I’d recommend 5 Hail Mary’s and a new recycling bin.