Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So... I watched Bill Maher's docu-comedy "Religulous" with the wife last night. She is an agnostic, so the film was good fun for her; Maher is heavy on the "doubt," rather than being a declared unbeliever or atheist.

It was all right. Maher stole some of the film's approach from the good short film "The God Who Wasn't There," which is a more informative and less hyped movie. Maher has the benefit of a bigger bankroll, and it shows, since he goes all over the place -- Israel, the Vatican, Grand Central Station, er... North Carolina. It's all good fun, but it is less effective than it could be. About halfway through, it begins to lose some focus, and skips around a lot, so that even were one not smoking pot (which we see Maher and some Dutchman doing, which does little to move the film along), one begins to wish one were. Near the end of the movie, Maher suddenly cranks up the seriousness, and hard. By then, unfortunately, we are too bewildered by the heavy editing to want to be bothered by the thought of radical Muslims going nu-cu-lar.

Whatever its flaws, "Religulous" is a necessary film. He correctly connects religion to many of society's evils. I doubt it changes the mind of one single religious devotee, but my hope is that it may give the millions of agnostics out there -- who outnumber the zealots many times over -- the push they need to keep the nutjobs where they belong: on the fringe.

It is odd, how religion dulls people. I have lost a few friends to it. At first, it seems they become simply less interesting people. They lose a spark of life, a vital part of themselves, when they submit to a collective faith. It's no less than a bit of a hive mentality, not to mention a cult mentality. One person in particular stands out in my mind: a person brimming with life, with curiousity, with humanity. That person couldn't have given a damn what people thought; that person had the power to change lives. That person lost all that when religion became paramount, for whatever reason it was allowed to do so. It is very sad. I miss that person, sometimes, and wonder: what if the cult of religion had not taken hold?

I say "cult of religion" because that's how it seems to me, when a friend goes that route. They suddenly are not themselves. They are detached from reality, disengaged from society. They become very insular, and slowly, surely, less... intelligent, for lack of a better word. They let the doctrine and dogma do their thinking for them. Now they will deny that, and try to prove they are perfectly rational, because they cannot, cannot be wrong. If they are, their lives mean nothing -- at least in their minds.

But "Religulous" is not for them. They are beyond saving, pardon the pun. But hopefully it will let the logical, the intelligent, the rational folk out there know that they are not alone. And that is a comfort. It is for me.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. Pretty sure I'm not the friend you were referring to. I want to see this film as well, just not sure what good it will do for me, seeing as how I am already an avowed disbeliever (unbeliever?)and have crusaded vehemently against organized religion in all its myriad forms. Not that I have anything against the Christians - the lions seem to love them - it's just that I have noticed the same dumbing down effect in some of my friends and family members. It seems that when those eternal questions get too tough, it's easier to just throw your hands up and "give it all over to God." I don't know if I will ever figure it all out, but I have come to a sort of peace with the not knowing. Of course, I am at my best when surrounded by chaos, so I don't really mind not being in control of my afterlife, if their is one.
    Funny thing is, here in the south, the fringe seems to make up the middle and force those of us who choose to use our minds out to the edges. It never fails to amaze me how seemingly intelligent people can look at all the evidence for evolution and say that it is a fantasy while telling you that the world and all in it were created by a great and all powerful being that lives in the heavens. And they do it with a straight face! Oh well. You know you can always talk to me, and I promise you will never hear me tell you that it is wrong to question anything, unless of course you question my unerring views.


Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"