So.  My husband and I watched Religulous, Bill Maher’s controversial documentary blasting organized religion.

Here’s my humble hypothesis.  You will emerge during the credits with one of two attitudes: indignant rage or well-yeah-that’s-kind-of-how-it-is.

Dan and I felt the latter, and Dan and I consider ourselves Christians (or Jesus followers, because that says who we really are…cutting out all the other baggage that comes with saying we’re Christians!).

I mean, despite Maher’s smugness toward and the needling of his interviewees, he has a point.  An excellent point.  I only wish he had found smarter people to interview–people who actually knew why they believed what they did.  Maher’s subjects looked ridiculous (which, by the way, the title suggests, if you haven’t noticed already…the title is derived from “religious” and “ridiculous”).

Of course, Maher had the upper-hand.  He lied about who he was going into the interviews, and told them a different movie title than the one he eventually chose.  No one was supposed to know he was going to make fun of them on the big screen.

If you choose to watch it, and I suggest you do, no matter if you have a faith, be aware of your emotions, for this will tell you where, possibly, you need some personal research (if you’re offended that he’s ripping on your religion).  It might even alert you to some hate in your heart.  Beware.

I have my own personal homework cut out for me.  Maher claims that only two gospels mention “virgin birth.”  Really?  I didn’t know that.  So, back to the Bible I go.  [And is this even important?]  He mentions that Horus the Egyptian god (who was worshiped many years before Christ) had many similarities to Christ–virgin birth, 12 disciples, tempted in the desert, crown of thorns, walked on water, crucified and raised on the third day.  This is the first I’ve heard of any such thing, and I can’t say I trust the sources on the internet, so off I go to the library!

Here is Maher’s final monologue to give you a taste.  Again, don’t be offended as much as saddened that, still, we have not reached a generous and loving place of religious charity.  I don’t care if you are a believer or a nonbeliever.  Although Maher correctly nails the hypocrisies of organized religion, he misses the opportunity to invite people of different faiths to dialogue about them and change what they’re doing.  This is where you and I come in.  We view the film and start a discussion.  We begin with ourselves.

Maher’s Final Monologue in Religulous (from Lowell Ballard’s site here):

“Plain fact is religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state, not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn’t learn a lot about it.

“Faith means making a virtue out of non-thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slave holders keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacies and destruction.

“Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful if someone says, “I’m willing Lord.  I’ll do whatever You want me to do.”  Except that, since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas.

“And, anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you they don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.  The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble. And that’s what man needs to be considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.

“This is why rational people–anti-religionists–must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And, those that consider themselves only moderately religious, really need to look in the mirror and realize the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

“If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest.

“To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy of their billions of their fellow travelers.

“If the world does come to an end here or wherever, it lives into the future, decimated by the effects of a religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let’s remember what the real problem was. That we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it.

“That’s it. Grow up or die.”

So.  He suggests we rid the world entirely of religion, because only stupid people are religious.  He suggests that thinking people stand up and re-evaluate, which is what I’m trying to do with this blog.

I think his words are sobering, and that we must take note, because this is how nonbelievers view us believers.  Like it or not, it’s a fact, and I’m here to tell you that you have to know why you believe what you do; otherwise, it’s absolutely meaningless.

Think about it at least.  And watch the movie.

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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