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Saw “Religulous”—Review
Posted: 04 October 2008 01:04 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Well, tonight I saw “Religulous” and it was a strange mixture of unbelievable hilarity and horrifying sadness. 

The film travels around the world from dumpy little podunk “truckers churches” of the American South, to the Middle East (Israel and Jerusalem in particular), to Amsterdam and London.  Maher is quintessential Maher, being able to easily illustrate the irrationality of religious beliefs, and to strike out with incredibly witty comments that may or may not be off-the-cuff (I think they are off the cuff).

The film does precisely what we expect it to do.  It exposes the delusional thinking of theists, and its greatest strength is actually to let the theists speak for themselves, thereby getting hoisted on their own petard.

Critics and believers will clearly think Maher is being condescending and mocking.  This is a reaction to be expected, because the fact is, such beliefs are literally ridiculous, and shining a light on such beliefs underscores their lunacy.

But Maher scores some excellent points throughout.  In response to an enormous and clearly threatened (and threatening) trucker who states clearly, “You question my religion, and you’ve got a problem”, Maher says calmly, “I’m just asking questions.”  After the hostile trucker stomps away, he continues to talk with the others who are much more open to at least listen.  At the end, one of them says, during the laying on hands and asking Jesus to come into Maher’s heart farewell (it’s a prayer), “Lord help give the answers to this man who asked questions we cannot answer…”  I found that to be a plaintive moment of honesty.  Maher thanks them for being “Christlike” rather than “Christian”.  It’s a good moment.

Other moments are somewhat stranger, and there are too many to enumerate.  But one of the finest is when he speaks with Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor about some of these beliefs, and how as a leader, it’s frightening to think that people close to power are believing in what amount to fairy tales, and Pryor states, “Well, there’s no IQ test you have to take to be a Senator” (and, thinking it’s funny, looks with a grin to Maher, who is clearly unimpressed with the comment—maybe outright stunned by it—and Pryor’s face drops the grin like a light-switch was thrown).

Other memorable moments:

Maher doing the Hyde Park soap box thing and playing out Scientology tenets in public (and in disguise). 

Discussing Islam’s claim to be a “religion of peace” juxtaposed with footage of a clear lack of peaceful behavior (this has been done before, but where this becomes memorable is when Maher discusses a theory that the Muslims know they are lying about this “peace” nonsense, but will not discuss it with “outsiders”).

The discussion with Jesus at… “Holy Land Theme Park”.  It’s priceless as Maher keeps saying, “But Jesus, tell me this…”

Confronting Ken Ham at the Creationist Museum in Kentucky—and pointing out that nothing resembles this perspective of theism so much as an episode of the Flintstones.

And my favorite sequence, a discussion with a hilarious Senior Priest of the Vatican who literally ridicules every major tenet of Catholicism, and of core Christian values and beliefs, such as the existence of Hell.  this one will be on Youtube in the very near future, I’m sure.

Underneath this all is a sense of utter dread.  It seems hopeless.  People are so deeply infected and/or intrinsically married to these beliefs that it’s hard to see how they will stop and analyze what they believe.  It’s horrifying how many people of influence are not only believers of a “coming soon” Armageddon, but are looking forward to it.  It is nothing less than a global epidemic, and it’s hard to see what the cure might be.

What’s great about the film and what reasonists and non-believers will be relieved to hear, is that the questions themselves are actually being raised, and not only are they being raised, but they are done so in the spirit of inquiry, and it’s in a major motion picture that’s released around the country.  There’s a sense of amazement that this film even got made at all, but people of our stripe will be overjoyed that those obvious questions are actually being asked

On a side note, the theater I went to in Burbank CA was filled to capacity, and the responses ranged from appreciative laughter, to gasps of shock at some of the things being exposed.  Some people left, but those were very few, and at the end, the applause was loud and sustained for quite a bit of time.

Finally—the ending is poignant and scary.  It’s simply a recap, with Maher sermonizing about religion’s impact; and where we are headed.  It is opinion, but it’s well reasoned, solid and in the end, very scary opinion.  I doubt too many here would disagree with it, and indeed, I’ll bet theists won’t disagree with it as far as they can accuse other religions of being a part of the problem, while at the same time they absolve their own theism from being a part of the problem.

Go see it.

[ Edited: 07 October 2008 03:39 PM by Aaron]
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Posted: 04 October 2008 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Religulous

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 04 October 2008 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I saw it on Friday in Chicago and the theatre was only 20 % full.
Not very impressive for opening day.
I like Maher’s style.
He is able to make fun of religion without being mean-spirited or very confrontational.

The Jesus Theme Park was nausiating.
Even I thought it balsphimous.

Although there is nothing new for the veteran atheists here it is worth the 8 bucks.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I plan on seeing it this week. Good review KTR. I’ve seen the part with Senator Pryor. Funny and disturbing at the same time.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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SkepticX - 04 October 2008 06:14 AM

Religulous

Late night.  Typo.  Thanks for the head’s up.  Can’t change the topic title that I know of.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Sander - 04 October 2008 09:59 AM

The Jesus Theme Park was nausiating.
Even I thought it balsphimous.

Hmmm—not sure what you mean by blasphemous.  The theme park or Maher? 

A truly bizarre aspect of it was the tourists snapping pictures so matter-of-factly of the whipped and beaten Jesus as he was being punched and whipped on the road to Calgary part.  As he stumbles around, coated in blood, some guy in Bermuda shorts with socks and sandals on runs up and squeezes off a few shots.

Also… like kids getting Mickey Mouse ears @ Disneyworld, kids here were able to get (lol) Roman helmets and stunted swords.  Maybe I laughed inordinately loud over something that went by really quickly (and I forgot about it until this morning), but the absurdity of it really hit me.  I mean, come on, Roman helmets?  Aren’t they the guys who killed him??

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Posted: 04 October 2008 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Keep The Reason - 04 October 2008 12:19 PM
Sander - 04 October 2008 09:59 AM

The Jesus Theme Park was nausiating.
Even I thought it balsphimous.

Hmmm—not sure what you mean by blasphemous.  The theme park or Maher? 

A truly bizarre aspect of it was the tourists snapping pictures so matter-of-factly of the whipped and beaten Jesus as he was being punched and whipped on the road to Calgary part.  As he stumbles around, coated in blood, some guy in Bermuda shorts with socks and sandals on runs up and squeezes off a few shots.

The road to CALGARY?????  That truly is bizarre!  I’ve driven along that road (or at least a number of the roads to Calgary) and never seen this.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I would be curious to know how many cities/towns this film actually plays in. I would be willing to bet, in my state (NE) maybe two cities at the most. (There are only 2 cities in the whole state with over 100,000 people—Omaha and Lincoln.) 

When Fahrenheit 9-11  was released my town (25,000 population)  refused to show it.  The local theater owner said it was “offensive” and “unpatriotic”.  It came to the next largest town close by (population 40,000) but it was only there for three days, a Friday , Sat and Sun.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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lindajean - 04 October 2008 01:07 PM

I would be curious to know how many cities/towns this film actually plays in. I would be willing to bet, in my state (NE) maybe two cities at the most. (There are only 2 cities in the whole state with over 100,000 people—Omaha and Lincoln.)

Opening Weekend:    n/a
(502 theaters)
Widest Release:    502 theaters
In Release:    2 days / 0.3 weeks

When Fahrenheit 9-11  was released my town (25,000 population)  refused to show it.  The local theater owner said it was “offensive” and “unpatriotic”.  It came to the next largest town close by (population 40,000) but it was only there for three days, a Friday , Sat and Sun.

Sadly, you live in Hell.

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Posted: 06 October 2008 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Opening Weekend numbers:

DOMESTIC SUMMARY
Opening Weekend:  $3,409,643
(502 theaters, $6,792 average)
% of Total Gross:  99.4%

Widest Release:  502 theaters

In Release:  5 days / 0.7 weeks

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Posted: 07 October 2008 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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I saw it this afternoon and I enjoyed it. The confrontations were actually a bit less heated than I expected.  Maybe that’s because Maher seems like a like-able guy.

Does anybody have a transcript of the last monologue that Maher made to the music at the end, which ends “...grow up or die.” ?

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Posted: 07 October 2008 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Aaron - 07 October 2008 07:46 PM

I saw it this afternoon and I enjoyed it. The confrontations were actually a bit less heated than I expected.  Maybe that’s because Maher seems like a like-able guy.

Does anybody have a transcript of the last monologue that Maher made to the music at the end, which ends “...grow up or die.” ?

I’d like to get my hands on that monologue too. It was the best part of the film. I saw it last night.

I thought Maher was a bit of a dick sometimes, but that’s Bill. He did a great job showing the absurdity of it all. And that scene with Jesus at the theme park carrying his cross was shown without comment, which I found interesting.

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Posted: 07 October 2008 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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rab - 07 October 2008 07:52 PM

I thought Maher was a bit of a dick sometimes,

Oh Rab,
You are such a sensitive girl.
Just be glad it wasn’t me making the documentary.
I would have tried my best to make the crucifixion of the faux Jesus in the Biblical amusement park a lot more authentic.

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Posted: 07 October 2008 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Critics and believers will clearly think Maher is being condescending and mocking.  This is a reaction to be expected, because the fact is…

...Maher is condescending and mocking. 

Other memorable moments:

The real sad part about this film is that critics of religion will actually take it pretty seriously and use it to paint a picture of religion as a whole…when even Maher says his primary purpose is to MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH, not to mention that its A MOVIE designed for ENTERTAINMENT.   

Remember, it’s pretty easy to be a critic of just about everything.  That’s why we have shows like Saturday Night Live. 

What’s great about the film and what reasonists and non-believers will be relieved to hear, is that the questions themselves are actually being raised, and not only are they being raised, but they are done so in the spirit of inquiry, and it’s in a major motion picture that’s released around the country.

I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve watched several trailers, previews and interviews with Maher.  Do you really think Maher is just “asking questions”?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Maher just “ask questions” in the “spirit of inquiry”  He’s always making a point - his point.  He’s not generally interested in how people explain their seemingly irrational beliefs, he’s already decided that their answers (and probably the people themselves) are “religulous”!  I mean come on…if I wanted ridiculous answers about religion I would have gone to the Vatican and Christian theme parks too!  It is religulous! 

But maybe you’re right…maybe before Maher set out to make this film, he was totally oblivious to religious belief and practice.  Maybe he was just trying to check things out and really understand the world religious climate.

Underneath this all is a sense of utter dread.  It seems hopeless.  People are so deeply infected and/or intrinsically married to these beliefs that it’s hard to see how they will stop and analyze what they believe.  It’s horrifying how many people of influence are not only believers of a “coming soon” Armageddon, but are looking forward to it.  It is nothing less than a global epidemic, and it’s hard to see what the cure might be.

 

It’s kind of funny how you (and probably Maher too) act as if this is some new widespread disease.  If anything, its an age-old widespread disease that modernists predicted would have cleared up on its on in an age of science and technology…oops, they were wrong.  Why talk about it as if its a big surprise?  I’m not sure I want to know what your “cures” might be.

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Posted: 07 October 2008 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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clayforHim648 - 07 October 2008 09:48 PM

...Maher is condescending and mocking.

What? You don’t think your ridiculous system of malevolent and ancient beliefs and superstitions is a legitimate target for condescension and mockery by rational human beings? What a surprise. For an encore, you can tell us why you think so. Remember, you’re not allowed to use the Bible to demonstrate the validity of Biblical claims to its own validity. Furthermore, your claims of sincerity with respect to the benevolence of your particular interpretation of the ancient myth, plus a shiny coin, will buy you a big wad of chewing gum rather resembling the mass between your ears.

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Posted: 07 October 2008 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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But it’s OK for Ben Stein to be condescending and mocking. And propagandist, and untruthful, and manipulative and, and..

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