Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Gospel of I Don't Know

God, Bill Maher, and the director of Borat walk into a church ... No, that's not the setup for a joke, it's the basic premise of Religulous, a documentary in which Maher goes in search of answers to the question of Is religion good or bad for society? He travels to Israel, to a truckstop church in North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Amsterdam, and other places, and talks to members of most of the world's more popular organized religions. Suffice it to say, everyone gets skewered. Maher pokes all the expected holes in the idea of faith, in the double-standard that says God loves but he hates gay people, in the sexism that is so common, in the obsessiveness of some people, and then some. Much of the movie is quite funny — dare I say it's funny as hell? — and director Larry Charles makes great use of archival and related film clips to enhance the humor. Ultimately, though, Religulous is tainted by Maher's negative attitude. Healthy skepticism is good, and some aspects of religion are certainly ripe for questioning. But Maher doesn't really seem to have a point here, other than saying religion is bad, and the film's last five minutes leave the viewer with such a bad taste that it corrupts the humor that previously was so engaging. I was tempted to give Religulous a higher grade, but ultimately I'm going to stick with a B. If you're looking for a warmer look at religion's place in modern society, may I highly recommend A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically.



Blogger zach said...

i hate to say this - but there have been so many wars on this subject. Making out religion to be downright comical is a seriously bad Idea i think. Personally, I believe religion is stupid. Why set yourself up for rules and regulations when you dont need to? Once you take on a real transformation, things become a WHOLE lot clearer, and simpler.

February 18, 2009 1:39 AM  

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