Category: Articles

Is Kevin Costner an Atheist? The Religious Implications of the History Channel’s “Hatfields and McCoys”

Posted on October 23rd, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 1 Comment

Is Kevin Costner an Atheist? This thought crossed my mind a few times while watching the History Channel’s 3 part special “Hatfields and McCoys”.

While based on a historical family feud, a few key themes in the plot and dialogue seemed specifically focused on the relationship between violence and religion. So what exactly does the mini-series have to say about religious belief? Let’s find out.

Kevin Costner plays Anse Hatfield, opposite Bill Paxton who plays Randall McCoy.

The crucial break between the two men, who had been friends, comes when Hatfield decides to quit the battlefield and become a deserter during the civil war. The battle lines are drawn between familiar sources of conflict between the religious and irreligious: Hatfield represents freedom, business, progress, expansion. He makes his own rational choices, forges the land with his will power and hard work. He’s the entrepreneur.

McCoy symbolizes duty, devotion to God. He stays to fight the war till the final end, coming home a much changed man. Interestingly, the law is on McCoy’s side – a relative lawyer is stereotypically cast as a sneaky, evil, pasty son of a bitch (who tries to cheat Hatfield out of his property).

Although both families have jerks and idiots … Read More »

Guy Fawkes is Satan: The Truth About Anonymous and the Digital Revolution

Posted on October 4th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 2 comments

I’m surprised I didn’t see it before. I’ve been working on a research book about Satan as a revolutionary hero: a tradition of liberal rebellion against totalizing and corrupt government, starting from Prometheus, going through Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, the Modernist and Romantic Movements, ending in today’s Super Heroes.

I’ve already considered contemporary revolutions as part of this same tradition: I can prove that The American Revolution, the Free Rights, Gender Equality, Racial Tolerance and all other movements of liberation and progress are indebted to the Satanic tradition, rather than a religious one.

Hackers shutting down websites and taking on huge corporations, using technical skills, and organizing mass protests are also firmly on Satan’s side of the line. (Technology has always been associated with Prometheus and Satan – who give humans these skills and knowledge against God’s wishes).

But for some reason, I hadn’t until today recognize the importance of the Guy Fawkes mask, which was used in the movie “V for Vendetta” and has since become a symbol of rebellion and revolution – something for protesters to wear into battle to protect their identities from the persecution of authorities.

Guy Fawkes is Satan

I don’t need a whole entire book to prove this point … Read More »

The Poetry of Atheism: Emily Dickinson Celebrates International Blasphemy Day

Posted on September 30th, by Derek Murphy in Bible Blasphemy, Modern Culture. No Comments

Oops, it’s 2:56AM here in Taiwan and I was just reminded that September 30th is International Blasphemy Day. Luckily, since most of the world is half a day behind, I still have time. I decided to celebrate by dusting off this post about Emily Dickinson I’ve been meaning to publish for about a year.

It vexes me to see Christians and other religious people quote Emily Dickinson’s Poetry in support of their faith, when she spent so much time, irony and wit mocking her religious contemporaries with blasphemous poetry. She refused evangelical conversion point-blank, and denied Christianity in favor of a naturalistic (Pagan) spirituality. Some may claim that she is not “an Atheist” but rather deeply devote – but this trespasses over her very cutting criticisms and mockery of Jesus and the Christian God, whom she saw as a cruel tyrant. There is also a tendency in literature studies to avoid the straight-forward anti-religious tone of the poems and interpret Dickinson’s poetry more imaginatively.

Dickinson is actually pretty easy to understand and appreciate – unless you disagree with her. Then suddenly she becomes “cryptic” and “mysterious” and “difficult”. Giant edifices of literary theory have been constructed around the idea that Emily is hiding … Read More »

Red Lights Review 2012: Simon Magus confronts Doubting Thomas about Paranormal Phenomenon

Posted on September 26th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 1 Comment

“I just need to know how he does it.”

This is the consuming passion of Psychologist Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) as she investigates a world-renowned blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who has resurfaced after decades for a final appearance.

The movie builds and builds, with supernatural attacks leading up to the death of Margaret. Her partner Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) takes over the case, determined to solve the mystery.

“Forget about Silver, there are certain things it’s better not to know,” says his girlfriend Sally (Elizabeth Olsen).

“I just need to know,” Tom responds.

At this point in the movie, the implied moral seems to be this: that rigorous skeptics and scientists will be destroyed and their skepticism will consume them; they will break like waves against the paranormal rocks of our mysterious universe.

Margaret and Tom seem to be the fanatics, trying to use logic to solve the incredible paranormal power that they can’t accept as real.

Silver, meanwhile, has come back to prove to the world that his powers are real:

“It’s a matter of absolute priority that science begin to learn all it can about these forces. We can’t wait any longer. The aim of my public appearance is just to generate … Read More »

Sound of my Voice 2012: Christianity is a Cult, is Jesus a Fraud?

Posted on September 26th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 2 comments

If you need a mystery to solve itself by wrapping up all loose ends, you might not like Sound of my Voice, the new movie directed by Britt Marling, who also plays the main role as Maggie — a time traveler from the future sent back to save the ones she loves from the coming economic and ecological collapse.

The plot follows Lorna and Peter, a young couple determined to do something important with their lives, as they infiltrate the cult and try  to record video of Maggie. First they have to learn the rules, the complex secret handshake, and ‘train’ in an isolated location, before finally being allowed to meet the enigmatic time-traveler.

But as Maggie winds her powerful personality deeper and deeper into the psyche of both Peter and Lorna, and eventually drives them apart, they start to question. Is she a fraud? Is she lying? Or is she really who she says she is?

Maggie has cult leadership down pat – she gives then she takes, praises then insults. She can be cold and mean, but then loving and forgiving. When asked a direct question about herself or the future she comes from, she stalls, evades, reacts in anger, or … Read More »

Why the End of the World Makes us Feel So Good: Revolution Season Premiere vs Hunger Games

Posted on September 13th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 1 Comment

Procrastinating from work (which I always feel to be a colossal waste of my life, yet necessary to prolong it in comfort) I downloaded the Series Premiere of a new TV show called “Revolution”. It’s just beginning. It shows a modern family: toddler playing with an Ipad, daughter zoned out watching cartoons on a plasma screen, mother on her phone with daddy, and another pair of guys driving and sexting someone.

Suddenly, all the power goes out – and it won’t ever come back on.

I watch the globe-map of the USA becoming dark as all electricity fueling our modern life dries up, and I’m thinking, “AWESOME.”

Why is this so thrilling to me? Why are our favorite fictional beings – zombies and vampires – slowly giving way to End of the World Scenarios that lead to a Post-Apocalypse setting? Specifically, about Revolution, or Massive Social and Political Upheaval?

“Governments fell. Militias rose up. People starved. Sickness, without medicine, fires, without firetrucks. If you were smart, you left the city. If not, you died there.”

And then suddenly, after probably 90% of the population of the human race has died in the violent upheaval, a small portion of survivors are living an idyllic Medieval lifestyle … Read More »

The Other Side of Evil: The Truth about the Fall of Lucifer and the Tyranny of Heaven

Posted on September 12th, by Derek Murphy in Modern Culture. 2 comments

Several months ago I stumbled across a book on Amazon. A mediocre cover, no reviews, but I flipped through it and it caught my interest: speeches by Satan defending himself, a topic close to my heart (and my research). This week, stalling on some other projects and feeling inexplicably lazy, I spent most of my time on my antique oriental couch absorbed in what turned out to be one of the greatest books I’ve read, possibly ever.

This is the review I posted on Amazon:

If you want to learn about the fall of Lucifer, the creation of mankind, and the war in heaven, you have three main sources: The Bible, Paradise Lost, and The Other Side of Evil. It is not lightly that I compare this new book with these two classics; this massive achievement is a retelling of Satan’s biography, given in first-person, explaining as it were “the ways of Satan to Men.”

Already open to the idea that Satan’s backstory needs to be fleshed out and that in Satan’s rebellion hides the truth and epicenter of the entire Christian edifice, I’ve read countless attempts to justify Satan’s rebellion and highlight the cruel tyranny of God – but most fail.

The reason … Read More »