The Bible and Culture

The Bible and Culture

Hitchhiker’s Guide

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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posted May 3, 2005 at 12:15 pm

Dr. Ben! Welcome to the blogosphere. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.Matthew Johnson

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posted May 3, 2005 at 8:18 pm

Ben,Welcome aboard. Ebert and Roper trashed the film, but now that we have your endorsement, I’m going.Blessings.Michael+Rev. Michael J. Pahls, Obl.S.B.Pastor, Peace Reformed

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Joshua Hynes

posted May 5, 2005 at 9:55 am

Dr. Ben,I was given your book “The Gospel Code” to read in response to my reading of the Da Vinci Code from my father-in-law. I’ve been highly impressed with the book, and have been recommending it to others.I look forward to your future comment on other culture happenings.Responding to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, another telling portion I feel is people accept in a movie. While many you might press retort it is merely fiction or a joke, my father always said within every joke there’s alittle truth. I thought the same thing about sneezing “worship service.” Also did you find it interesting that the “leader” of the church wanted the point-of-view weapon. Another slight against established religion (or even the Catholic Church)? Possibly.

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J. Michael Matkin

posted May 7, 2005 at 6:40 pm

Actually, I thought the expanded role for Humma Kavula was directed as much at the Religious Right as anything else. You’ve gotta admit, it was pretty effective satire — almost Pythonesque. I’ll confess, Dr. Ben, I was laughing pretty hard myself, but it also gave me a great way of bringing up the topic of worship and faith with all sorts of people this past week. People do drop their defenses when they’re laughing at the scene, but they also tend to drop their defenses when talking about the scene.On the other hand, there was a woman just a couple of seats away from me who was laughing so hard at the opening dolphin number that I thought she was going to burst a blood vessel. Personally, the sperm whale scene remains my all-time most hysterical moment (in both mediums).Anyway, so long…and thanks for all the fish.

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Jeremy Pierce

posted June 24, 2005 at 12:59 pm

It’s not as if Christians didn’t put this on themselves. After all, how different is ritual sneezing from Spirit-filled animal noises?

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