Advertisement

Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

‘Religulous': Are Faith, Religion, Extremism All the Same?

billmaherpic.jpgI’m not a Bill Maher fan, nor am I really one of his detractors. His demeanor has never appealed to me, but it has also not appalled me. He pushes envelopes, and I support that within my appreciation for free speech and comedy. But I’d seen enough of the trailers for “Religulous” to know that the movie was important for me, as someone who writes often about religion, to see for myself.
The film, as others have noted, is not about religion. It’s about religion gone wrong, or religion as excuse for violent (or materialistic) extremism. Maher shows the violence, and derides the religionists, out of a hatred for religion, without caring to see the more compassionate side of faith. He blames religion for the world’s troubles, which is part-right. But whether you believe in predestiny or free will, the religion itself doesn’t kill people…people kill people.


A friend of mine–a rabbinical student, as it happens–pointed out that the two most murderous regimes were actually not based in religion: communism and Nazism. (Beliefnet founder Steve Waldman makes a similar point by citing Rabbi David Wolpe in a post about the film… ) But what these systems share with violence that results from religious extremism is a clear demarcation of lines between “us” and “them,” with the “us” being the group that is elite, just, or morally superior, and the “them” being everyone else.
This may or may not have anything to do with religion, or even with religious faith. It has everything to do with egomania, elitism, and most disturbingly, the commitment to one’s superiority over another that might, indeed, be part of practicing a religion. If you don’t believe that your religion (or your belief system) is the best, then why believe it at all? Is it all ego, or is there a mission involved? And does a mission always have to demonize and persecute the other?
In the Huffington Post, LA-based rabbi Sharon Brous (from the newish synagogue/community known as IKAR-LA) shares her Yom Kippur sermon from this year, which jumps off from “Religulous” to speak about religion, and how the things that both hurt and thrill us, and why we do them, are often beyond rational explanation.
In her examination of faith as a concept and belief system, Rabbi Brous also speaks about Judaism as an “exodus” religion, not a “genesis” religion: that it’s not about perfection, but a quest for “ascent, redemption” and a “carving a path toward light”– she doesn’t see faith in extremism. She sees faith as a body of strength to pull from in hardship, and as something that encourages us to take responsibility for the things that happen to us and how we handle them.

Why have we allowed the most extreme, most narrow-minded interpreters, the most violent forces to define faith and religious life? Faith is not about hatred and exclusion — those are perversions of the deepest religious truths. The religious life is not about pretending to know with certainty; it is about living with deep humility. It is not about harnessing forces to restrict other people’s freedom, it is about showing up at someone’s home with dinner when you know she is suffering. The religious life is about saying to every mother of a sick kid: don’t give up. To every lonely person: I know your heart hurts, but love might still be possible. It is about praying, singing, crying, and working with all our hearts to bring holiness into our world. It is about seeing every person, in every generation, as a potential agent of transformation.

Can any religion serve as a solely positive force within the world, without fringe elements venturing into extremism? And is it extremist to be exclusive with your message?
Bill-Maher at LocateTV.com

Previous Posts

Academy Award Nominated Film Unbroken Releases on DVD
The highly acclaimed film Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie that tells the inspirational story of Louis Zamperini hits DVD on March 24, 2015. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Louis Zamperini won a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler, who complimented his fast finish. In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in

posted 9:19:32am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Self/Less: 'God Created Man, Man Created Immortality'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71fWtJXEI0Q What would it really feel like to feel immortal and you know longer had to worry about failing health? Phoenix Biogenic offers this once in a lifetime offer where the new body will be genetically mastered to perfection. Only a select few are chosen to

posted 10:57:15am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

The New Trailer for CW’s ‘The Messengers’ Is Here, And It’s Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
[youtube]https://youtu.be/61AfGNlXf9M [/youtube] CW’s “The Messengers”, starring Diogo Morgado from the hit series “Son of God”, centers around five individuals who die as a result of an earthly phenomenon. When they return to earth as Angels with unique abilities, they must band together

posted 11:13:54am Mar. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Open Letters to Oscar Night Standouts
The following is a guest post from one of our Entertainment contributors, Malayna Dawn. Enjoy! Dear John Travolta: We know you are multi-talented and have played many characters, but lately it seems like you may be having trouble expressing your true self – at least in ways that the public ca

posted 10:46:28am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

We Bid Farewell to Leonard Nimoy
Friday, February 27th Leonard Nimoy, famously known for his role as Spock in the infamous Star Trek series, passed away at the age of 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, stating that the cause was the end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy publicly announced last

posted 2:25:26pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.