In Mere Christianity, Christian thinker C.S. Lewis argued that you cannot regard Jesus as a moral teacher if you deny his divinity.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. [Emphasis added]
Informed by Lewis’ so-called “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord” trilemma, atheist filmmaker Peter Breinholt produced a short documentary “Madman or Something Worse.” Breinholt contends that most of Jesus’ moral contributions were not original, and that most of his original contributions were not moral.
Derren Brown, British magician and skeptic, takes on the faith healing ministry industry in his new special “Miracles for Sale.”
From Channel 4:
With the cameras in hot pursuit, Derren faces his toughest project yet, going in search of an unsuspecting member of the British public prepared to adopt the guise of a pastor and miracle worker.
His chosen one then has six months to learn the trade and flourish across the pond as a convincing pastor.
The final phase of the volunteer’s extraordinary challenge sees them attempt to perform faith healing miracles live in Texas, but will Derren’s new recruit be accepted as a faith healer or cast away as fake healer?
Check out Derren Brown’s other specials; you’ll find some of them on YouTube. He’s pulled of some impressive stunts, like converting a room full of atheists.
Nearly a year ago, I blogged about a fairly humanizing documentary of the Westboro Baptists done by BBC’s Louis Theroux. His2007 documentary, “The Most Hated Family in America”, was a huge hit. You can watch it here.
Four years later, Theroux returned to WBC to do a follow-up documentary, “America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis”. A lot has happened since 2007. Just last month, the Supreme Court ruled in the Westboro Baptists favor to protect their First Amendment rights to protest military funerals and express hateful anti-gay rhetoric. Despite that decision, however, the church still has challenges. Its numbers are dwindling, with several young people having recently left the group, and the members confront steeper opposition wherever they picket. But the effect of these challenges, as the documentary shows, has been to make the believers more determined and dogmatic.
One of the most anticipated films to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year was Kevin Smith’s Red State. The plot of Red State isn’t overtly political (it’s a horror film), but its portrayal of small town America and conservative Christians is pretty unflattering.
The film drew protests from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, whose leader, Pastor Fred Phelps, was the inspiration for one of Red State‘s characters. The liberal Sundance goers enjoyed sparring with and ridiculing the group. And all this played to Red State’s advantage, as I’m sure many people (wrongly) saw the Westboro Baptists as representative of Christian fundamentalism and American conservatism.
It’s easy to identify the crazy in other people, especially when those ‘other people’ are the Westboro Baptists. But I also identified another kind of crazy at Sundance.
I’d be remiss not to pass along the videos below. They each deserve their own post and discussion, but that would frankly be quite the chore. So, being the lazy blogger I sometimes am, I’m just throwing them all into one ‘video bomb’ post.
The first video argues that Christian philosopher William Lane Craig’s arguments for theism commit circular reasoning. Craig is no intellectual lightweight; it’d be extremely naive to disregard him after only a seven minute YouTube clip. But still, I think there is something to this criticism.
At the beginning of this year, SHAFT watched the critically-acclaimed BBC television play “God on Trial.” The play takes place at Auschwitz during WWII. Some Jews in the camp convene a trial against God, charging him with breaking his covenant with the Jewish people by allowing the Holocaust. In this scene, the guilty verdict is announced.
There will be a screening of 8: The Mormon Proposition on USU’s campus this Thursday, Oct 21st. It will be screened at 7pm in the Eccles Conference Center auditorium by the Department of Journalism & Communication. There has been a lot of interest expressed in seeing this movie in meetings, so here is your chance!
This screening happens to be during a regular meeting week and several people will be going to the screening after the meeting if you’d like to join us. We’ll be leading a discussion on how we each deal with our atheism and the weird reactions we sometimes get from others. We’re planning on talking about different coping strategies you can use when talking to family members, etc. We’ll talk about work, family, and friends. You can come and not say a thing, or you can yak it up, but this is not a philosophical discussion so please do not treat it as such. This meeting is an attempt to make SHAFT more personal for those who feel that that touch is lacking. (We’re not the Religious Studies club.)
PBS and Frontline produce some of the best documentaries, and tomorrow is the premiere of the highly-anticipated documentary series “God in America.” The six-hour series will span 400 years of America’s religious history. Early reviews are heralding the series as a must-see. It will air October 11th at 9 PM EST (so 7 PM for those of us in Utah).
Utah’s local PBS affiliate, KUED, will also air the documentary “God in Utah” tomorrow night at 10 PM.
The other day, I stumbled upon this video about a young woman who was kicked out of the Westboro Baptist Church and her family for asking too many questions. Very heartbreaking. (The WBC is probably familiar to most of you. Its members protest soldiers’ funerals and preach that “God hates fags” and, well, everyone else who doesn’t belong to their church.)