Posted by: Jim | October 6, 2008

Maher and Harris

I just took the kids to see Bill Maher’s “Religulous.” And I have to say, this is an excellent movie with a message that is exactly right for Americans to hear. His message is basically a lift from half of Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith.” Sam Harris’s book, being a bit dryer and more scholarly, doesn’t have the same appeal as Maher, who was once a stand-up comic.

Maher is half Jewish and half catholic. Interestingly, the only interview he walked out on was with a hardcore fundamentalist Jewish rabbi. But he skewers them all, from Christianity to Mormonism, to Islam. In the end, his message is extremely poignant. I recommend the movie (and the book) to all.

The book, for me, is a far more humbling experience. Sam Harris really makes a great case that I’ve been wrong in some of my criticisms of the Iraq War. Not all of them, mind you, but if conservatives would read Harris’s book, they would get a lot better arsenal to defend our presence in Iraq. However, most conservatives won’t be able to get to that part of the book before burning it as blasphemous. It’s kinda funny.

The book presents Islam as a very daunting threat to the West. For example, he shows that polls taken in the Middle East indicate that a vast majority of Muslims actually do believe that suicide bombings in the name of Islam are justified. So all this talk about how most Muslims are “moderate” must define a moderate Muslim as one who thinks suicide bombing is okay. People are led slowly and carefully down a primrose path to this type of irrational, preposterous and violent moral system when they adhere blindly to ridiculous beliefs. We cannot be victorious over that morality if we as a nation also embraces an irrational set of preposterous, blindly held beliefs.

The last line in the movie says it all. We need to grow up, or die.



  1. Ah, but the Baby Jeebus will save us! Bring on Armageddon! Prayze thuh lawrd, doggone it! You betcha!

    * * *

  2. I fail to see how the collective faith (or lack thereof) of the West has anything to do with whether or not Muslims approve or disapprove of suicide bombings. Suicide bombings and similar terror have prevailed in that region since before we were there.Their faith is their own, be it in their native land or as a legal (or illegal) immigrant in our land. My faith is also my own, as is your freedom to believe in nothing. I see no issue with that. Why Maher or Harris feel it necessary to crusade against organized religion is an attack on a fundamental freedom which this country was based upon.

    For every zealot, regardless of faith, there are people such as Maher and Harris (whose book I am reading per Jim’s recommendation) who feel the need to eradicate faith in general from existence. To me, this is no different than those who crusade in the name of their God. I respect your right to claim your own faith (again, or lack thereof), but for God’s sake, lighten up 😉

  3. I object to the word “crusade” when used in that manner. We’re not going to have a pogrom here, we’re just trying to talk some sense into y’all.

    Lighten up? Why don’t you darken down instead. This blog is going to start focusing a lot more on why religious whackos AND moderates, including Todd, are leading us to a very dangerous place. You’re going to read a lot about it, and I’m not going to be nice about it. Deal with it.

  4. I am leading someone somewhere? Jim, that statement doesn’t make enough sense to take umbrage with. If I’m reading you right, you think that because of my beliefs that you can lump me in with people from this Harris book (or at least a similar philosphy)? My faith is my own. I don’t push my faith on anyone, or deny anyone else their faith. People and societies have tried to oppress others with differing beliefs for millenia, and according to your own words, this is what you are attempting to do. You will not be successful – no one will. Not because I am actively fighting you, but because it is so woven into the fabric of humanity.

    I’m sorry that the fact that I believe differently than you makes you so upset, but you’re going to have to deal with it as well. I have agreed to read this book to see your side of the story, and I’m open to new ideas, but jeez, Jim. Not everyone who believes in something is against you.

    And yes, I see what you are doing as a crusade. Angry. Militant. A bit blind. Look, I’m not asking you to share my beliefs, and I’m not even trying to convince you to try. Attack people whom you can prove cause these so-called rifts in global society, but leave me out of it, sir. At least I am trying to see your side.

    Detente, buddy.

  5. One question to cut right to the heart of Toad’s obfuscation: Toad, do you think the 10 Commandments should be displayed in a courtroom or on government property?

  6. Hmmm…silence from the lilypad. How unusual. Not much useful when asked a direct question, are ya Toadie?

    Actually on this one — and this is rare, so someone might wanna make a note of it — I’m somewhat understanding of Toad’s position on this. I didn’t say I agreed, but I DO get it.

    Assuming he honestly is NOT a hellfire-and-brimstone proselytizer who believes that Armageddon is at hand and that’s a good thing because of the ever-so-Christian delight in the thought of the rest of us suffering interminably after ol’ Jeebus saves the so-called faithful — then from his perspective, he’s just being a good citizen and exercising his right to believe in whatever fairy tale he chooses without being bothered by meddlers.

    And until recently, that was all well and good for me. Live and let live, I say — no matter how completely irrational I think one’s beliefs might be, they have every right to believe them (just like actual homosexuality, for example, is a mystery to me, but if it works for others, then cool).

    The problem is that fundamentalist Christianity has infiltrated the political spectrum in an attempt to gain real power — including MILITARY power. And to a large and alarming level, they’ve succeeded. And how have they succeeded? Through the support of mild-mannered masses of good people just following their faith, swelling church ranks, voting for candidates based solely on their religious fervor and attachment to pet religious-based oversimplified issues, and contributing vast amounts of cumulative wealth to psychos like Falwell and Robertson and others, to the point where they are able to buy and wedge and crowbar and threaten their way into positions of authority that men of their caliber could get no other way.

    And their influence has severely damaged our country. To the point where both candidates of our already pathetic two-party system are forced to pander to the Jeezuz contingent in order to get anywhere.

    Anybody with half a brain knows that theocracy, or even a hint of it, is a bad idea even for the followers of the prevailing sect. Why? Because as has been shown in every theocracy ever, not only is it unconscionable that one particular dogma could dictate the rights of sovereign individuals through coercion or governmental law, but quite simply, setting a precedent of theocracy means that at any given moment, a different sect could grab the reins, and suddenly all those who followed the dogma of the previous theocratic power structure are suddenly heathens. And make no mistake, history shows us what happens when you give the self-righteous ‘god on our side’ theocrats of ANY religion access to military power, what once may have been petty ecumenical differences will surely turn into a bloodbath. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    So after they imprison and/or kill all us ‘unbelievers’, guess who’s next?

    So, Toddie, while you personally can claim innocence the same way the average German or Cambodian or Spaniard or Byzantine, the fact is you are a moral and financial supply line to a system that produces megalomaniacs hell-bent on supergluing the church to the state, with all the bloody consequences that your history books should have warned you about.

    Got it?
    OK, probably not. But I tried.

    * * *

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