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In the Bible, he points out, it is God alone who can destroy the earth, but now, with powerful weapons in the hands of religious fanatics (and Mher might lump George W. Bush in with the worst of the president's foes), those who believe in "the end of days" or other such apocalyptic notions may be able to fulfill such prophecies. [...] or so Maher says, he and his director, Larry Charles, traveled around the world with a camera crew for the sake of talking with, and understanding, those who are ridiculous enough to be religious.
Screen Richard Alleva The People in Darkness ‘RElIGulouS’ & ‘BlINdNESS’ So far this has been an ex- cellent decade for village explainers, that tribe that eternally strives to get the rest of us to understand, among other things, that if religion does not answer to logic and physical science, it does not deserve to exist—that it is, in fact, the root of most man-made evil. If the twentieth century, with its atheistic mass murderers, was a bad time for the explainers, 9/11 and the mutual devasta- tions of Sunni and Shiites gave them a fresh claim on the public forum. Religulous may make Bill Maher the best-known village explainer on the planet. Its opening scene clearly sums up the comedian’s fears about organized religion. In the Bible, he points out, it Merry ex-mass is God alone who can destroy the earth, but now, with powerful weapons in the inaccuracies, and even errors in diction. and Larry Charles records faithfully, even hands of religious fanatics (and Maher So there’s no real inquiry here, just mock- though what Coyne has to say blows the might lump George W. Bush in with the ery of the most ham-fisted sort. Religulous project to pieces. worst of the president’s foes), those who To be fair to the unfair, there’s a streak T believe in “the end of days” or other such of honesty in Maher that competes with o sketch the plot of Blindness is apocalyptic notions may be able to fulfill his smugness. Although he despises his to evoke the portentous word such prophecies. Therefore, or so Maher childhood religion, Roman Catholicism, “allegory.” A bustling, nameless says, he and his director, Larry Charles, as much as other faiths, he includes two city populated by bustling, nameless peo- traveled around the world with a camera interviews that at least allow viewers to ple (doesn’t all this namelessness guar- crew for the sake of talking with, and see that some believers aren’t “religu- antee that we are looking at an allego- understanding, those who are ridiculous lous.” Fr. Reginald Foster, a senior Vati- ry?) is stricken with a plague: sudden, enough to be religious. can scholar, has the gusto of a Falstaff as random sightlessness. Even though the Actually, Maher makes no attempt he distinguishes the essentials of his faith victims are beginning to outnumber the whatsoever to understand the grounds from the inessentials (prophets swallowed spared, the government herds the blind of religious belief. He simply seeks out by fish, December 25 being passed off as into squalid detention centers to isolate . November 7, 2008 (mostly) ridiculous people (creation- the birth date of Christ). The astonished the infection (but is it an infection?). ists, some guy claiming to be the direct (and perhaps delighted) Maher tries to Guarded by panicky soldiers, and de- descendant of Christ, another trying to call Foster a “maverick,” but the priest moralized by filth, most of the inmates “cure” homosexuals with Scripture) who good-naturedly blows the label off. in one building try to maintain a sem- have some hand in a religious enterprise I particularly admire Maher for includ- blance of civilization but are undermined (I use the word deliberately since some ing the interview with George Coyne, by others who turn to thievery, rape, are making money out of re
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