Why You Must See Religulous

If you expect a fair and balanced look at religion, you should not see Religulous. If you want to protect your careful shell of beliefs, look away. If, however, you've got the balls to take a square look at the role of religion in culture and politics, then put your dogma aside for 101 minutes and travel with Bill Maher down the Halls of Arbritrary Rules in the Name of God.

In this documentary, which he has created as an attempt to understand why people cling so stubbornly to religion, he visits with emissaries from the four world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Mormonism. (See: Bill getting tossed off the grounds of the Mormon Temple and forcibly removed from the Vatican.) In the process, he interviews both laymen and high rollers from each of the religious groups, and peppers the interviews with movie clips that are so hilarious you forget he's absolutely skewering these folks (see: Jesus as the awkward teen).

Here's the thrust of his message: religion is a closed box. Blindly living by the dictates of long-dead prophets discourages us from thinking creatively and using all our resources to connect with one another. Worse, as we all know, religion remains not a vehicle for peace, but war. We are literally blowing one another up for not reading the right book. It becomes justification for the wicked and an excuse for the lazy. And really, if you're going to swallow most religions whole, you'd better have a pretty deep throat.

I'll admit that even I found myself squirming--and I surrendered religion long ago. He ran up against my own set of Arbitrary Rules by not clarifying that there's a difference between religion and spirituality, and by outright denying there's a God of any kind. But even as I stiffened, I could see that this was my box he was messing with now. Mine! And if you don't like it I'll take an AK-47 to your ass!

He concludes with the very salient point that the one place religion absolutely does not belong is in politics (where it is rife). It is a prism that distorts otherwise clear thinking. This is a mirror we can look into a little more easily now that we don't have an apocalyptic fundamentalist as President, but still, it's best to stay focused. Religion by its very nature is crazy. Some folks like it and they can keep it...to themselves.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Thank you Robin for critiquing this movie so well! Could I have said it better I certainly would have. I LOVED the movie and was happy for the discomfort that followed as I observed how closed I am to others' way of making sense of life--that my spiritual beliefs are no more preposterous and superstitious than others. I still espouse judgment far more than I'd like and this movie helped bring home the error in that.