What is blasphemy, and is it worth it? Questions about life, faith and meaning on International Blasphemy Day
I started this blog about a decade ago, when I was young and bold and idealistic.
I believed that everything should be challenged: especially beliefs that we hold dear, because they can be dangerous. Every idea, belief, and concept should be tested and either found strong and valuable, or weak and useless. Nothing should be prioritized over reason, pursuit of knowledge, Truth.
But I’ve mellowed. Or you could say, I’ve been distracted.
I still research and write what interests me, and I’ll probably continue publishing books that many will view as blasphemous (although I’m rethinking my whole strategy now, from being bold and abrasive to being simple and inclusive).
I still believe that blasphemy is, at its core, simply the defense in our abilities to think and speak freely.
It is our right to congregate, to question, to challenge. If you take away our basic rights of dissent, freedom will absolutely disappear. We will be living with a corrupt, totalitarian government, and – if it’s a religious regime – will probably face unconscionable violence, persecution, racism and worse.
We are living in an age where rebellion is applauded on the surface: the Arab Spring; the Occupy Movement; Wikileaks. We love the idea of standing up in … Read More »
Vin Diesel’s new Riddick movie (2013) is just the type of movie I don’t like: a sequel with no plot where nothing happens.
He wakes up on an abandoned planet, and finds a way to get off it. That’s it. The whole thing could have been accomplished in 3 minutes, but then the writers would have come up with something else. So it’s a 1hr 59minute stall.
It’s watchable, because there’s lots of action and cool stuff happening. But many parts are still pretty stupid: melodrama and rising tension and sound effects to keep you on the edge of your seat when nothing’s happening. And if were just a bad movie, I wouldn’t write about it.
But there’s actually some really interesting stuff going on – stuff that can serve as commentary about the state of our culture’s perceptions of women, gender bias, homosexuality, religious faith and prayer. So let’s dive in.
There are only two female characters in the story.
The first is Keri Hilson. She’s the smoking hot prisoner/love slave; the typical captured princess role. In a normal movie, the hero would come and rescue her. But Riddick is going to bypass all that typical hero stuff and go to something meatier.
So Keri Hilson … Read More »
One of the reasons I’ve always loved “True Blood” is that – rather than ignoring the obvious religious associations in vampire and supernatural mythology – it plays them up and includes them into the diverse mix of plot and characters.
But it’s gotten a little ridiculous now, in Season 6, Episode 9.
First there was Lilith, the originator of all vampire, whose sacred blood makes vampires impervious to light (just like Fairy blood does).
Bill Compton, who can now see the future, sees a bunch of his friends meeting the light in a circular room.
So he decides to save them.
Not by breaking in and releasing them (which he could easily do, being near omnipotent now). Instead he thinks he needs to drink more fairy blood and then have all his friends drink from him, so they will be light-proof also.
This bizarre savior complex is never questioned.
Eric Northman also drinks fairy blood, breaks in, kills everybody… but somehow Bill beats him into the room first. The crazy thing is, once Bill has opened the door for everybody, he convinces all the other vampires to drink his blood and wait around for the light, just to prove his own power.
Nobody says “Screw you!” and leaves … Read More »
Since it’s been a couple years since I put out my own book on historical-mythical Jesus Christ research I haven’t been paying much attention to what’s going on in the field. But I just caught a bit of Chris Hayes’ interview with Reza Aslan, the author of a new book on Jesus called “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”
On an interview with the author a couple days ago, Fox News interviewer Lauren Green gets straight to the point:
“I just want to be clear, you’re a MUSLIM, why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity.”
The interview turns awkward, and a little ugly. (Watch it below).
The issue at stake is, “Who is allowed to speak about Jesus?”
The majority of New Testament scholars are Christian: they are a tight knit group. Nobody else is allowed to comment on the historical Jesus unless they believe in him.
People with PhD’s in religion, literature, history, mythology, who are too outside the traditional and orthodox views of the historical Jesus are quickly criticized as quacks. If they’d have written about anything else, their book would go unnoticed. But the censors of Bible Scholarship are quick to protect their reputations and censor … Read More »
There’s always been a little bit of Jesus in Superman.
The story of a man from one world going to another and finding himself with supernatural powers with which to lead a revolution against evil is ancient, but in 1912 with John Carter of Mars, elements of mythology, science fiction and technology begin to blend in new ways, eventually becoming the modern comic superhero.
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children describes the process of how a historical spiritual guru can be based on a comic book and vice versa.
All of our stories are converging; Hollywood has discovered the “film-by-numbers” calculation resulting in the best, more emotionally triggering plot elements and they make sure to put them everywhere. Matt Damon’s new Elysium looks to be about the same story as John Carter, and very similar to Superman.
Except - although Superman has been around for a long time and keeps coming out with brand new revisions, 2013 Man of Steel seemed more Christian than the others. Possibly this is because there was no dramatic tension, clever dialogue or conversations longer than 1 or 2 blunt sentences. Each word carefully chosen for maximum impact, which felt like a choreographed Maoist propaganda campaign in which actors give lip service … Read More »
I’m watching the movie version of Odd Thomas, directed by Stephen Sommers, based on the novel by Dean Koontz.
Pretty exciting. Ghosts and demons, psychics and seers, Bodachs… evil spirits drawn to death and mayhem.
But who are the mass-murdering evil-doers? Why, devil worshipers, of course.
They have a tattoo that reads “POD” – Prince of Darkness.
Neat. They kill lots and lots of people because they believe in Satan, and Satan is evil, and without God’s righteous moral compass there’s no reason NOT to massacre a bunch of people, so… it’s just plain natural that that’s what they do.
They don’t need real motivation. They’re nuts. There’s no reason, they’re Satanic.
The entire backstory, given at the ending, is: “They started a Satanic cult as teenagers. One night they killed a man and found they enjoyed it. They met some other Satanists and decided to infiltrate a small town and slowly kill it.”
Devil worshipers can be ANYONE. Even cops. They seem totally normal, functional and social. They’re even handsome and young and well-dressed. But secretly they are plotting mass murder.
Satanists are everybody’s worst fear. And they don’t exist.
When in human history have these so-called devil-worshipers EVER killed ANYONE?
Somebody show me the data and research if … Read More »
I’m loving DaVinci’s Demons – a new TV series about the life of the young Leonardo Da Vinci. From the first episode they managed to throw in a ton of intrigue and character twists.
The only thing is, this brash and daring, charming and handsome, half-insane genius almost certainly didn’t exist.
It’s hard to know what DaVinci believed, because he had to be secretive his whole life (hence his language codes and secret notebooks, etc.) This was a period when blasphemers and heretics could be locked up, tortured or executed. It’s doubtful that DaVinci would ever openly defy the church.
This is especially true, because he was employed by many churches to paint religious art.
Riaro, the agent of the Pope, confronts DaVinci and asks him to join the church’s cause.
“What’s NEXT?” (the desire for knowledge) is the question all men ask, says Riaro…
“Between the base animal and the enlightened man’s reach for God lies knowledge. You just want to know what’s next. I do to.”
“That’s not what you want,” says DaVinci, “You want to SUPPRESS knowledge.”
“No… I want to administer it. Someone has to. Why not an agent of God?”
“Well if God exists, surely he intends his knowledge to be shared by all.” … Read More »