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 evidence..you 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.