Monday, October 13, 2008

Religulous and wedding dress shopping

Me and B went to see Religulous this past Saturday. We got there for a 3:30 showing, but according to the box office person, even though all the websites on the internets had said it was showing at 3:30, and the box office itself had a sign that said it was showing at 3:30, this was all a lie and it really wasn't showing until 6:30. I was vaguely suspicious that she was religious and trying to stop people from seeing the movie.

Anyway, we had driven about 45 minutes to get to this movie, so we decided to go to the nearbye mall to kill time until the 6:30 showing. We had a lovely (very) late lunch at the cheesecake factory, and then walked around the mall. B graciously humored me in dress shopping, which I'm sure wasn't fun for him. We checked out two stores- Macy's (where all the dresses were basically short cocktail dresses) and this "formal dress and prom" store that had all sorts of prom dresses and a bunch of wedding dresses hidden in the back. Since I don't think I want a big poofy white wedding dress, I was mostly looking at the prom dresses.

From this trip I have successfully concluded that a) all wedding and prom dresses come in size 6 or 8 only, which i will never fit into and b) there is no way in hell I am getting any sort of dress that looks like a prom dress. Everything there was poofy and glittery and shiny...after looking around for a while and trying to picture myself in a big glittery poofy dress, I've decided there's definitely no way I can wear anything like that and not feel like a complete fool. So I'm back to square one on the wedding dress front...although I have a new idea of going to an indian clothes store and getting a Ghagra Choli or something, as I always love indian embroidery and styles...

After the mall we went to see religulous. First of all, we were the youngest people there by at least 15 years. Apparently young folk arn't down with Bill Maher or Atheism? I'm pretty sure 90% of the audience were Jewish, since they laughed the hardest at all the jewish jokes. Also they all looked like old Jewish couples.

The movie was mostly focused on Christianity, had a tiny bit about Jews and Mormans and Scientologists, and a little more about Muslims. Like anything having to do with Christianity, I was a bit alienated and couldn't relate to some of what they were saying, since I didn't grow up in that belief system. This movie is definitely not going to change any religious people's minds, and will probably just anger them. But I don't think it's aimed at changing people's mind, I think it's aimed at the 15% of Americans who are not affiliated with any type of organized religion. Preaching to the choir mostly.

Then again, I am the choir, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Three things really stuck out for me:

1) When Bill Maher met with this Jewish guy (I think in Israel) who ran a shop of devices that could be used on shabbas through religious loopholes. Basically, this dude was an inventor, with all sorts of things that let you use electricity on Shabbas, but not actually break shabbas- like a phone you could dial somehow without breaking shabbas, an oven timer, a shabbas elevator, and a wheelchair that you could move with air pressure.

Back when I was orthodox, that stuff never sat right with me. It was all exploiting loopholes, but seemed to violate the spirit of the religion. Maybe that's because I grew up thinking electricity was a horrible thing to use on Saturdays, but I have a clear memory of taking a Shabbas elevator once (an elevator that stops and opens on every floor, so you can use it without pressing the buttons) and even though I was going to the 20th floor of some building, and even though my parents said it was ok, I felt very very uncomfortable using it. It seemed hypocritical in some way, like so much of judaism does to me know- that people are following the letter of the law so closely that they forget the big picture.

2) When he was talking to 2 ex-mormons, Maher asked them why more people didn't leave the religion. They talked about how it was social suicide, that if you left your parents and family wouldn't talk to you, and none of your friends would talk to you. I was reminded once more of how much I feel I have in common with ex-mormons, and how much judaism and mormonism has in common, at least socially- although the message differs, the method of enforcing it is the same.

3) When he met up with this guy who 'used to be gay' and is now married with 3 children, and runs one of those places where gay people who want to be straight go to fix themselves or whatever. Those people make me so sad...can you imagine hating yourself so much that you would willingly go to a place to 'fix' you of yourself? I guess if you are of the opinion that gayness is wrong (like alcoholism or something) this seems like a good solution, but from my more liberal position, the people who go to these types of places are the ones who have deep psychological problems. I know some people are forced there by their parents...but I know of someone like this who went voluntarily..he dated a (male) friend of mine for several months, and then after he broke up with my friend he became a born again christian, and went to one of those anti-gay brainwashing places. All I can feel in these situations is pity.

Meanwhile, some religious people on some other blogs I read were deeply offended by this movie. And it is probably deeply offensive. But if you think about it, religious beliefs ARE ridiculous. That doesn't mean that religion isn't helpful to people, and doesn't enrich a lot of people's lives. But the two are not mutually exclusive, and just because you don't like someone pointing out the ridiculousness of your religion, doesn't mean they are wrong.

My (blogging) friend's reaction to this movie, which was mostly anger, reminded me of a friend I had in college who took a bible studies class. The class talked about the documentary hypothesis (the hypothesis that the bible was compiled from 4 different sources). My friend, who was an orthodox jew, and had taken this class in the hebrew department assuming that it would agree with his viewpoint, was very angry about this hypothesis. So angry that he was talking about organizing some type of protest against the professor. And I think that is a common response to your fundemental life views being challenged by scientific have to either reject the views on which you have built your entire life, or accept that those views are wrong. Faced with that decision, I think most people would get angry at the person who callanges their views, because that anger protects them.

Anyways, I have some more to say about my personal life- including talking with my mom around 2 weeks ago after I wrote that long blog post about it- but I think I'll save that for another post.


  1. I probably won't see this movie. I'm not a big fan of Bill Maher, I think he's a big jerk. Movies like this play for a certain audience - those under 55 or 60 (fans of Bill Maher, mostly men, I don't think he has much of a fan base in the Social Security crowd) & those people don't go to early movies. I don't think it was a religious conspiracy.
    Have you checked out the picture of Terry & Magda on my blog - second post from the top? How would you feel about a dress like the one she wore to her wedding? They'll be back from their honeymoon by the end of the month, and if you like it, you could contact her and ask her where she found it.

  2. u should check with bayla about wedding dresses!!

  3. I don't really like Bill Maher that much, he just rubs me the wrong way. And he seems to be trying too hard to be controversial.

  4. Hi Eden,

    While I don't think religious beliefs are ridiculous, I did see Religilous and laughed my tush off! Like you, I never felt things like setting the tv on a timer for those shabbos ballgames was right.
    I think people who are getting all bent out of shape about this movie really need to relax! Bill Mahr is first and foremost a comedian, not a theologian.

    I also think it is very sad when gay people go to these places and people who promise to "fix" them.

    Anyway-take care!

  5. I saw that movie last week and loved it. I have to say that I do NOT like Bill Maher but found the movie to be both funny and on the mark. My husband and I laughed so hard, as did everyone in the mostly empty theater. What I would love to do is organize a group of people across the religious spectrum, see the movie together, and follow it with a discussion.

    As far as details of the movie go, ITA about the Shabbos thing, I always felt a little funny about circumventing halacha with modern inventions, but to each his or her own. As far as the gay guy goes, yes, that was very sad, I can't imagine disliking your fundamental self so much that you try to change your essence. Living like that must be hellish. On a lighter note, did you not laugh your ass off when they did that little text message on the screen when he was sitting with the Muslim? (Not to mention his ringtone which was brilliant!)

    As far as dresses go, I'm an evening wear designer, if you want some (semi) professional advice about what would be right for your style, body shape, and budget, feel free to email me.

  6. I don't know. I'm not afraid of being ridiculous. So if people think that I am ridiculous in my religious beliefs or practice, let them think. I think I could even laugh along. Anyway it's not good to take yourself too seriously.

    I suppose that people who feel terribly hurt at these kinds of movies take themselves far too serious,

  7. i'm not fan of media that's just there to poke fun at people. wasn't interested in seeing Borat, either.

  8. Love the blog, and I really enjoyed Religulous. One of my favorite parts about the reaction to the movie has been the very distinct comments coming from the religious moderates, indicating that they are DISOWNING the religious moderates. I've heard MANY religious moderates, while bashing Bill Maher, also bash the subject of his movie. Words like stupid, ignorant, brainwashed and angry, are all being used by RELIGIOUS folks towards the people who are really taking the dogma literally. I love it, because it's putting the dogma into quesion even more. It is necessarily creating a gap between the literalists, and the rest.

    If you're interested, I'd like to trade permanent links on our blogs. Mine is at and if you're interested, contact me on the comment lines.

    Take care, and keep up the good work.


  9. oops, I meant "DISOWNING religious extremists". My bad. :)

  10. I definitely want to go check out Religulous, I don't love Bill Maher but do enjoy movies that shake up people with extreme religious beliefs. They get so angry when you burst their bubble and make them realize there are other ways of thinking and living.
    On the wedding dress topic, wondering if you are interested in borrowing my dress. I got married 2 years ago, and don't want to get rid of my dress or sell it, but would be happy to lend it to someone that can have as much joy wearing it as I did. It's not stark white, but ivory, no beading. I'm also a size 16. I'm located in Brooklyn, NY. I was so taken by your blog and would love to contribute in helping you have a great wedding day. If you are interested and want to discuss, see some pics, etc. just email me.
    All the best!

  11. "And I think that is a common response to your fundemental life views being challenged by scientific have to either reject the views on which you have built your entire life, or accept that those views are wrong"

    Wow, you didn't come across that many complex people in your life, huh? Some of us are okay with having our beliefs challenged. Have you read Christopher Hitchens? Brilliant guy.
    Also, Bill Maher is a funny man. I have always thought so. His penchant for bimbos and caricature-like anger/self-importance can be grating. His comedy, though, is good stuff.

  12. Macy's is a nice option for dress shopping within our budget.


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