Saturday, April 15, 2006

The War on Easter

Although the Colbert Report has been joshing about this in the run-up to Easter, some are taking it semi-seriously. I just got done watching The God Who Wasn't There, and in turn of serendepity, I listened to a podcast from RU Sirius in which they interview the director, Brian Flemming.

I can understand and sympathize with the arguments put forward by Sam Harris and the director. I've done (and do) the same thing that these two talk about - when people say that they are doing something because of what the Bible tells them, or what God tells them, in my mind, I'm always substituting $GOD in for "God" and $MYTHICAL_TEXT in for "Bible". So "God" can become "Zeus" and "The Bible" can become "The Iliad". Why should I take a currently-accepted set of myths any more seriously than the myths that people took so seriously in the past?

I also agree that elected criminals, I mean elected officials need to be grilled by people when they say that they speak to God, or that the Bible guides their lives, or that God blesses America. Anyone saying that they speak to aliens, or that the Necronomicon guides their lives or "Aphrodite Bless America" would be. Why make exceptions for certain myths and superstitions?

Now, on the other hand, I heard the director say that some are actually going to Easter egg hunts and placing notes in the eggs directed at kids. Something along the lines of "hey kids, ask your Mom & Dad if the Easter bunny, Santa Claus and Jesus are real." I think this a bit toxic, and going over the line, and is the sort of thing to get conservative blowhards like O'Reilly all torqued up. I don't really see what it can accomplish, since a great many "secular" folks go do things like Easter egg hunts, anyway. In fact, I just got back from one that the neighborhood HOA put on. As the movie points out, Easter is something that was possibly celebrated as early as 4000 BC anyway, so if the Christians want to pretend it's not a pagan holiday that they co-opted, let them. And certainly leave the tykes out of it. Ruining something that is pretty fun at that age is just uncool.

That being said, I do think the movie itself is something that any "intellectually honest" (I hate that phrase. I may write more about that later.) Christian should watch. Some points are rather weak, and I do think the movie was way too short, and at times a bit too much about the director. But it's worth it for some of the sound bites he has found from some of the Christian leaders. It's also worth it for the presentation of the theory that early Christians didn't believe in AN ACTUAL MAN. It's also worth it for those who have never been exposed to all the dying-and-rising gods of other myths. Parts are really alarming - some people are still walking around that think that homosexuals should literally be stoned to death - and at the community level, because it'd make a nice activity? Apparently, they are believing their own hype and not evolving, because that sounds like real knuckle-dragger type of thinking to me.

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