Beliefnet
The Bible and Culture

Well friends it only took thirty years but we now have the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy out on film, and an entertaining film it is, full of adventure and whimsy, and also the odd comment on origins and religion. I do mean odd. We have a particularly peculiar scene on a foreign planet where noses and sneezing are part of a religious ritual— apparently religion is something to sneeze at. And then of course there is the larger lurking theory in the movie that the earth was eliminated quite by accident (the mistake of the President) in order to make way for a galactic superhighway.

But perhaps we should go sit at the cafe at the end of the universe and have a think about how satirical views of Christianity or other monotheistic religions get slipped into a comedy like this. Is this just farce played out on the big screen or should we see this as serious comment? Should we lighten up and laugh at all this, or should we be concerned? From a rhetorical point of view, one of the things in a culture based on entertainment that most shapes worldviews is comedy. Humor causes people to drop their defenses and let all kinds of ideas into their cerebral cortex, and if the humor is effective enough it can lead to joining in the ridicule of things one may have previously treated with respect.

It is an interesting exercise to go to a movie and see which bits make people laugh. Almost no scene in Hitchhiker’s Guide got more laughs than the worship scene. Perhaps Christians do need to lighten up, but perhaps as well this is a telltale sign that our culture is drifting further and further away from its ultimate source of being.

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