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Author Topic: Bill Maher new film documentary Religulous  (Read 5516 times) Average Rating: 5
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spiltteeth
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« on: March 06, 2009, 04:09:30 PM »

                                Is Bill Maher Literally Wrong?
                          The Ridiculous Wrongheadedness of Religulous                                     
                                                        by   
                                          Jonathan McCormack
                                         
       

      Bill Maher joins the ranks of the ‘new atheist’ crowd by attacking the Christian right in his new documentary Religulous, just out on DVD. He also joins Chris Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris as being stupid, literally speaking; particularly in his simple minded devotion to acknowledging reality only in its most pared down anemic ideology of literal-minded rationality. There are intelligent atheists, many prominent philosophers and cultural critics, who correctly set their claims in the realms of meaning and symbolic knowledge. They dismiss Maher and Co’s sophomoric atheism because it actually pushes the same ideological framework as the people on the Christian right who believe in talking snakes.
     First off, Maher confuses categories of knowledge. You can say “a flower is a plant” and this belongs to ‘positive knowledge’ since it is empirical. Another category of knowledge is to say “flowers are beautiful.” The fundamentalist Christian, confusing the two modes of knowing, might say it is a scientific FACT that flowers are pretty. Then Bill Maher would come along and say, “We’ve dissected the flower and have found no ‘beauty cells’ or ‘beauty structures’, therefore flowers are not beautiful and furthermore beauty does not exist.” Both Maher and religious fundamentalists deny all modalities of knowing except for the scientific one and in so doing diminish what it means to be human.
      You don’t need philosophy to understand this. I once read about a Christian holy man who spoke about how silly it was to look for God using rationality. It’s the wrong tool, he said. It would be just as silly to use a telescope to look for God. If you want to make any statement on God you must first clear your heart of illusions, treachery, and passions, since the heart is the true instrument with which to seek God, only then can you say weather God exists or not.
    Many Christians understand this perfectly well. Maher spoke primarily to those Christians most easy to mock in order to push his own point. Here, however, are two quotes from typical priests of the third largest Christian denomination, Orthodox Christianity, Fr. Andrew Anglorus and Fr. Stephen Freeman:
…lack[ing] a Patristic understanding of the Scriptures…they do not understand the Scriptures spiritually, ascetically, allegorically, poetically, but only literally. We call such an understanding 'fundamentalist' (1).


Genesis, properly read, is not a science text book. It is about Christ and reveals Him as the very meaning and purpose of creation - as well as explicating His Pascha. If you don’t see that when you read the first chapter of Genesis, then no one ever taught you how to read Scripture as the primitive Church read Scripture….Scripture functions as a verbal icon - and like an icon requires an understanding of its spiritual grammar to see it correctly (2).
Nor is this simply a way for modern Christians to excuse obviously unscientific biblical passages. St. Maximus the Confessor, living in 500-600 A.D. wrote, “Ignorance, in other words, Hades, dominates those who understand Scripture in a fleshly (literal) way” (3).  Maher purposefully avoids this type of true Christian faith because it does not fit in with his simplified one dimensional view of black and white reality.
     Finally, here are some words from Slavoj Zizek, a modern philosopher/cultural critic who is a die-hard atheist. He has written many books on Christianity, including one recently where he debates with Christian theologian John Milbank, who happens to have a PHD and a firm grasp of postmodern philosophy, unlike the people Maher approaches who are either uninformed or incapable of defending themselves intellectually or dismissed out of hand. The italics are mine.

“Both liberal-skeptical cynics and fundamentalists share a basic underlying feature: the loss of the ability to believe, in the proper sense of the term. What is unthinkable for them is the groundless decision which installs every authentic belief, a decision which cannot be grounded in the chain of reasons, in positive knowledge. …the status of universal human rights is that of a pure belief: they cannot be grounded in our knowledge of human nature, they are an axiom posited by our decision. (The moment one tries to ground universal human rights in our knowledge of humanity, the inevitable conclusion will be that men are fundamentally different, that some have more dignity and wisdom than others.) At its most fundamental, authentic belief does not concern facts, but gives expression to an unconditional ethical commitment. 
For both liberal cynics and religious fundamentalists, religious statements are quasi-empirical statements of direct knowledge: fundamentalists accept them as such, while skeptical cynics mock them.
… its [religious fundamentalism’s] true danger does not reside in the fact that it poses a threat to secular scientific knowledge, but in the fact that it poses a threat to authentic belief itself” (4).
       In other words, by disregarding any symbolic mediation between humanity and a reality transcendent of logical apprehension both Maher and the Christian right are on the same team, since both equally undermine true belief and reject those more rarified modalities of understanding and being.

                                                          Work Cited

1) Anglorus, Fr. Andrew, “Towards an Orthodox View of Creation     
      And Evolution.” [Weblog entry.] Orthodox England on the ‘Net. Aug 2006.     
      (http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/towardso.htm)  03 March 2009.

2) Freeman, Fr. Stephen, “The Meaning of Scripture.” [Weblog entry.] Glory to God for           
     All Things. 26 Oct. 2008. (http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/the-
     meaning-of-scripture/) 03 March 2009.

3) Berthold, George, Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings. Paulist Press, 1985.


4) Zizek, Slavoj. How to read Lacan. W. W. Norton, 2007.
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 04:26:05 PM »

That's quite a first post here. Where did McCormack publish this?

and...Welcome to the forum.
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 04:32:03 PM »

A bit heavy-handed in parts (e.g. calling them stupid), but an interesting opinion piece by this Mr. McCormack. Welcome to the forum Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 04:43:10 PM »

Quite an interesting article.  Welcome, "splitteeth."
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2009, 04:48:45 PM »

                                Is Bill Maher Literally Wrong?
                          The Ridiculous Wrongheadedness of Religulous                                     
                                                        by   
                                          Jonathan McCormack
                                         
       

      Bill Maher joins the ranks of the ‘new atheist’ crowd by attacking the Christian right in his new documentary Religulous, just out on DVD. He also joins Chris Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris as being stupid, literally speaking; particularly in his simple minded devotion to acknowledging reality only in its most pared down anemic ideology of literal-minded rationality. There are intelligent atheists, many prominent philosophers and cultural critics, who correctly set their claims in the realms of meaning and symbolic knowledge. They dismiss Maher and Co’s sophomoric atheism because it actually pushes the same ideological framework as the people on the Christian right who believe in talking snakes.
     First off, Maher confuses categories of knowledge. You can say “a flower is a plant” and this belongs to ‘positive knowledge’ since it is empirical. Another category of knowledge is to say “flowers are beautiful.” The fundamentalist Christian, confusing the two modes of knowing, might say it is a scientific FACT that flowers are pretty. Then Bill Maher would come along and say, “We’ve dissected the flower and have found no ‘beauty cells’ or ‘beauty structures’, therefore flowers are not beautiful and furthermore beauty does not exist.” Both Maher and religious fundamentalists deny all modalities of knowing except for the scientific one and in so doing diminish what it means to be human.
      You don’t need philosophy to understand this. I once read about a Christian holy man who spoke about how silly it was to look for God using rationality. It’s the wrong tool, he said. It would be just as silly to use a telescope to look for God. If you want to make any statement on God you must first clear your heart of illusions, treachery, and passions, since the heart is the true instrument with which to seek God, only then can you say weather God exists or not.
    Many Christians understand this perfectly well. Maher spoke primarily to those Christians most easy to mock in order to push his own point. Here, however, are two quotes from typical priests of the third largest Christian denomination, Orthodox Christianity, Fr. Andrew Anglorus and Fr. Stephen Freeman:
…lack[ing] a Patristic understanding of the Scriptures…they do not understand the Scriptures spiritually, ascetically, allegorically, poetically, but only literally. We call such an understanding 'fundamentalist' (1).


Genesis, properly read, is not a science text book. It is about Christ and reveals Him as the very meaning and purpose of creation - as well as explicating His Pascha. If you don’t see that when you read the first chapter of Genesis, then no one ever taught you how to read Scripture as the primitive Church read Scripture….Scripture functions as a verbal icon - and like an icon requires an understanding of its spiritual grammar to see it correctly (2).
Nor is this simply a way for modern Christians to excuse obviously unscientific biblical passages. St. Maximus the Confessor, living in 500-600 A.D. wrote, “Ignorance, in other words, Hades, dominates those who understand Scripture in a fleshly (literal) way” (3).  Maher purposefully avoids this type of true Christian faith because it does not fit in with his simplified one dimensional view of black and white reality.
     Finally, here are some words from Slavoj Zizek, a modern philosopher/cultural critic who is a die-hard atheist. He has written many books on Christianity, including one recently where he debates with Christian theologian John Milbank, who happens to have a PHD and a firm grasp of postmodern philosophy, unlike the people Maher approaches who are either uninformed or incapable of defending themselves intellectually or dismissed out of hand. The italics are mine.

“Both liberal-skeptical cynics and fundamentalists share a basic underlying feature: the loss of the ability to believe, in the proper sense of the term. What is unthinkable for them is the groundless decision which installs every authentic belief, a decision which cannot be grounded in the chain of reasons, in positive knowledge. …the status of universal human rights is that of a pure belief: they cannot be grounded in our knowledge of human nature, they are an axiom posited by our decision. (The moment one tries to ground universal human rights in our knowledge of humanity, the inevitable conclusion will be that men are fundamentally different, that some have more dignity and wisdom than others.) At its most fundamental, authentic belief does not concern facts, but gives expression to an unconditional ethical commitment. 
For both liberal cynics and religious fundamentalists, religious statements are quasi-empirical statements of direct knowledge: fundamentalists accept them as such, while skeptical cynics mock them.
… its [religious fundamentalism’s] true danger does not reside in the fact that it poses a threat to secular scientific knowledge, but in the fact that it poses a threat to authentic belief itself” (4).
       In other words, by disregarding any symbolic mediation between humanity and a reality transcendent of logical apprehension both Maher and the Christian right are on the same team, since both equally undermine true belief and reject those more rarified modalities of understanding and being.

                                                          Work Cited

1) Anglorus, Fr. Andrew, “Towards an Orthodox View of Creation     
      And Evolution.” [Weblog entry.] Orthodox England on the ‘Net. Aug 2006.     
      (http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/towardso.htm)  03 March 2009.

2) Freeman, Fr. Stephen, “The Meaning of Scripture.” [Weblog entry.] Glory to God for           
     All Things. 26 Oct. 2008. (http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/the-
     meaning-of-scripture/) 03 March 2009.

3) Berthold, George, Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings. Paulist Press, 1985.


4) Zizek, Slavoj. How to read Lacan. W. W. Norton, 2007.


Excellent first post. Welcome.
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2009, 06:01:47 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am not sure I will even bother.Smiley I love Bill Maher, I consider him absolutely brilliant, probably the best political analyst and comedian. However, there are two things in him that I will never understand: his love for Israel and his silly phobia of religion...
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2009, 07:53:06 PM »

An excellent first post indeed.  I especially like the reference to understanding "beauty".  It's an excellent analogy for understanding God, not by science, but by the heart.  Very enlightening.  Deserves a requote:

Quote
First off, Maher confuses categories of knowledge. You can say “a flower is a plant” and this belongs to ‘positive knowledge’ since it is empirical. Another category of knowledge is to say “flowers are beautiful.” The fundamentalist Christian, confusing the two modes of knowing, might say it is a scientific FACT that flowers are pretty. Then Bill Maher would come along and say, “We’ve dissected the flower and have found no ‘beauty cells’ or ‘beauty structures’, therefore flowers are not beautiful and furthermore beauty does not exist.” Both Maher and religious fundamentalists deny all modalities of knowing except for the scientific one and in so doing diminish what it means to be human.

The last sentence in this quote I would change...Maher is the one who denies all modalities except science, while fundamentalists tend to think any modality is science.

I wouldn't call Bill Maher stupid.  I believe that some fundamentalist Christians are in part responsible for the growing atheism in this world.  Plus, he is half Jewish, half Catholic (whatever that means) and more likely than not, a child of mixed parental religions will end up anti or non-religious more or less.

Who is Jonathan McCormack, and does he have a blog or website or book?

If you are Jonathan McCormack, and this post is only exclusively made at oc.net, this deserves post of the month.
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 09:16:04 PM »

Saw the movie last week. Decent through many parts, there are a couple points were he actually (kind of) defends the truth.

I think I read he is an agnostic because he isn't opposed to the idea of a God, but rejects all major religions.

I think he is accurate though when he says that religion is "bad" because really, Orthodoxy isn't a religion, it's so much more than that.

Very good article above too.
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 10:57:48 PM »

I recently saw the movie and actually enjoyed it.....not that I agree with Bill Mahr on the subject, but I believe he raised some reasonable questions most open minded people might ask or think about. He was obviously rude and offensive to people at times which clearly does not encourage open and positive dialogue, but I think the movie is worth watching. I wish Bill would have talked to a highly educated Orthodox priest or bishop (like mabey Bishop Kalistos Ware?). I am inclined to believe such a conversation would have been pleasant and thoughtful.

The fundamentalist evangelicals in the film were very offensive. I shudder at the fact that I used to be like that. Since I used to be an evangelical fundamentalist, I also felt a level of empathy for those folks because I truly understand how brainwashed and lost they are, yet they believe they are so right on (and I'm not saying that in a judgmental way....I really know what it is like to have been there).

On a related subject, I recently listened to an Orthodox podcast of a conversation between Fr. Andrew Welzig of St. John the Theologian Antiochian Orthodox Church and Hemant Mehta (the author of "I sold my soul on ebay"). The Podcast was called "Interview with an atheist". I felt the conversation was very uplifting. Neither side ever got heated and they were genuine and friendly with each other.

Here is the link if any of you want to listen to it

http://iconnewmedianetwork.com/2008/01/11/the-man-in-black-orthodox-podcast-interview-with-an-atheist/
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 11:16:38 PM »

I saw the movie too...loved it! He mostly poked fun at the evangelical religious right. Also had a conversation with a representative from the 'religion of peace,' which Islam is affectionately coined by Michael Savage... Grin He cleverly allowed them to dig their own ditch which they couldn't get out of. It was pretty funny stuff. I plan on buying it so I can show it to some fundies that I know.
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 11:35:57 PM »

It looks like there are a lot of snippets on Google Video.  I'll check it out.
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 12:46:06 AM »

There are a lot of trailers of his movie on YouTube as well.  In addition, there are many interviews of him explaining his views which basically boil down to this: all members of organized religion are crazies.  And sure enough, the people in this movie tend to prove his assertion only because he interviews not educated mainstream thinkers, but the fringe elements of religion and good-hearted people with a limited understanding of their religion.  While watching fringe element crazies is always humorous, his supposed critique is neither rational nor scientific; two views he claims to be a proponent of.  After all, the title is a combination of Religion and Ridiculous which should tip off and warn any thinking person that straw man arguments are forthcoming.  It's interesting to note that some posters mentioned how some of the Christian's are brainwashed... It should be noted that Mr. Maher views all Christians as being brainwashed.  Anyone hoping to see a fair yet critical expose of religion will be disappointed, but if you're in the mood for a rude and offensive simpleton's look at other simpleton's- this is your movie.  If you're not in the mood to check your brain at the door (or fill it up with rude and crass goofiness), here's a 9+ minute interview with Mr. Maher and Mr. Larry Charles (the director who brought us another wonderful low-brow production- Borat).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbA16i1gENA&feature=related


Also!  Great article Splitteeth!  Welcome to the forum.  I hope to see more insightful and intelligent posts in the future. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 01:44:35 AM »

If 5% of posts were like splitteeth's initial post, there would be more harmony on the forum.   angel

Welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 02:27:08 AM »

I think he is accurate though when he says that religion is "bad" because really, Orthodoxy isn't a religion, it's so much more than that.

Yikes.  Sounds a bit like "It's not a religion, it's a relationship."

NEWSFLASH: It's a religion.
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2009, 02:38:30 AM »

I LOVE Slavoj Zizek!

“Who, in fact, are fundamentalists? To put it simply, a fundamentalist does not believe in something, but rather knows it directly. In other words, both liberal-sceptical cynicism and fundamentalism share a basic underlying feature: the loss of the ability to believe in the proper sense of the term. For both of them, religious statements are quasi-empirical statements of direct knowledge: fundamentalists accept these statements as such, while sceptics mock them. What is unthinkable for both is the ‘absurd’ act of a decision which installs every authentic belief, a decision that cannot be grounded in the chain of ‘reason’, in positive knowledge.” —Slavoj Žižek


In regards to Maher, he really needs to stick to political commentary and sex jokes. When he strays to philosophy and religion, he really does come off sounding as much as a ignoramus as those he condemns.
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2009, 07:43:17 AM »

Yikes.  Sounds a bit like "It's not a religion, it's a relationship."

Well?  While I'd hate to defend a tired cliche like "it's not a religion," it happens to be a cliche begun by Fr. George Romanides,  a theologian whom I respect.

NEWSFLASH: It's a religion.

Well, it's a religion to everyone else. 

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion
Quote from: dictionary.com
re⋅li⋅gion
   /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
–noun
1.    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2.    a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3.    the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4.    the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5.    the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6.    something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7.    religions, Archaic. religious rites.
8.    Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.
—Idiom
9.    get religion, Informal.
a.    to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
b.    to resolve to mend one's errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.
Origin:
1150–1200; ME religioun (< OF religion) < L religiōn- (s. of religiō) conscientiousness, piety, equiv. to relig(āre) to tie, fasten (re- re- + ligāre to bind, tie; cf. ligament ) + -iōn- -ion; cf. rely

Related forms:
re⋅li⋅gion⋅less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

But if it's just a religion to you, that's ok.  It's designed, however, to be a way of life; a mode of thinking; a way of loving our fellow human beings and our God; Orthodoxy, while having rules, codes, writings, and the like, is a communion of Saints and saints and sinners with their God, a mystical relationship between the Divine and the created.  Treat it as you wish, but realize that your approach to Orthodoxy may indeed affect how it interacts with your life.
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2009, 10:13:33 AM »

^^After reading this discussion, I changed my mind: I think I will go and see "Religilous" after all.  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2009, 11:09:27 AM »

Yeah, my statement was meant to be that it is a way of life... Orthopraxis and Orthodoxy. I just believe that calling it a religion is putting it on the same plane as everything else whether it be Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam etc...
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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2009, 12:05:29 PM »

I think he is accurate though when he says that religion is "bad" because really, Orthodoxy isn't a religion, it's so much more than that.

Yikes.  Sounds a bit like "It's not a religion, it's a relationship."

NEWSFLASH: It's a religion.
Hey brother, not trying to be argumentative or anything, but here's a quote from a very respected priest that Cleveland was speaking about.

"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

It might be worth your time to read his book The ANCESTRAL SIN

 In Christ,

 Gabriel
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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2009, 01:10:59 PM »

^^After reading this discussion, I changed my mind: I think I will go and see "Religilous" after all.  Grin

Why not.  He's a funny and witty satirist.  Just wish he'd choose some boundaries...
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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2009, 01:24:02 PM »

I think he is accurate though when he says that religion is "bad" because really, Orthodoxy isn't a religion, it's so much more than that.

Yikes.  Sounds a bit like "It's not a religion, it's a relationship."

NEWSFLASH: It's a religion.
Hey brother, not trying to be argumentative or anything, but here's a quote from a very respected priest that Cleveland was speaking about.

"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides

It might be worth your time to read his book The ANCESTRAL SIN

 In Christ,

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I do think we as Orthodox can learn something from the evangelicals and their emphasis on relationship with God-maybe we are lacking in this area-maybe we need to humble ourselves and think about the importance of relationship too...

I do agree, Orthodoxy is not merely a religion, it is a way of life...

Great thread, btw! I've been thinking about this film for some time, as I do find Maher clever and entertaining-albeit "slightly" arrogant...
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« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2009, 02:36:42 PM »

This isn't the first time we've had a go around on whether Orthodoxy is a religion... and I don't really see what the big deal is in saying that Orthodoxy is a religion. I think it's silly to say otherwise.
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« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2009, 02:53:40 PM »

This isn't the first time we've had a go around on whether Orthodoxy is a religion... and I don't really see what the big deal is in saying that Orthodoxy is a religion. I think it's silly to say otherwise.

There isn't a big deal, unless one wants to be argumentative (like I did, in this case).  What would be great is if Orthodox Christians would live their lives in such a way that others would not clump us into a group with the other organized religions, but would see us for the special Faith that we have.
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« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2009, 04:04:50 PM »

^^After reading this discussion, I changed my mind: I think I will go and see "Religilous" after all.  Grin

Why not.  He's a funny and witty satirist.  Just wish he'd choose some boundaries...

Oh yes, as far as his talent goes, like I said, I love him, he is great. And his political views are very close to my own - I fully support his sarcasm about the American "right wing." But it always made me uncomfortable when I listened to his "pot shots" on God, theism. That, and his weird attachment to Israel (well... he is half-Jewish, but look at John Stewart...)...
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« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2009, 04:27:36 PM »

Well, I guess I just think that it is a religion for many reasons.  I am in a secular Religious Studies department at a state university, and so I have read numerous books over how people even attempt to define what religion actually is.  So a lexical definition certainly will not suffice.

For me, a religion IS a way of life.  As such, Judaisms are a way of life (Halakha - the way of walking).  Buddhisms are a way of life.  Taoisms are a way (as Tao = Way or Path).  Islam is a way of life, literally meaning to live in submission to God.  So the whole "institutional religion" versus "the authentic experience of MY tradition" which is not a "religion" simply seems ridiculous to me.

It is fine for us to say that Orthodoxy is the fullness of faith; the Church of Christ.  But religions are Ways, and I am not saying that they are all the same way or acceptable ways, but I think that the notion of a religious institution inherently being bad is just silly.  Christ established His Church, which is an institution of sorts.
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« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2009, 04:35:07 PM »

As much as we believe Orthodoxy is a way of life, not a religion, or not merely a religion depending on how you define it, to say it to others like Bill Maher is like selling a product and say that it's not merely a helpful product, but will change your life (leading to rolling eyes).  We're not the only "religion" that says this, and certainly a lot of us don't even act like it, and this latter part is what hurts us the most.  We're just talk, fluff.  Superficially, we are a religion, and the way most of us act act as it is a religion.

Action speaks louder than words.  So I think we should stop talking and start teaching our congregants to be "non-religious" Orthodox Christians.  Then and only then will our Light so shine before them, that they will cease to curse or to mock at our heavenly Father, but glorify Him.  We can't just sit here and wish or hope Bill Maher see HE Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.  Why don't you be more like him?  We can't blame Bill Maher for the way he thinks.  We have to blame ourselves as well.

Well, I guess I just think that it is a religion for many reasons.  I am in a secular Religious Studies department at a state university, and so I have read numerous books over how people even attempt to define what religion actually is.  So a lexical definition certainly will not suffice.

For me, a religion IS a way of life.  As such, Judaisms are a way of life (Halakha - the way of walking).  Buddhisms are a way of life.  Taoisms are a way (as Tao = Way or Path).  Islam is a way of life, literally meaning to live in submission to God.  So the whole "institutional religion" versus "the authentic experience of MY tradition" which is not a "religion" simply seems ridiculous to me.

It is fine for us to say that Orthodoxy is the fullness of faith; the Church of Christ.  But religions are Ways, and I am not saying that they are all the same way or acceptable ways, but I think that the notion of a religious institution inherently being bad is just silly.  Christ established His Church, which is an institution of sorts.

You make a good point.

I personally think it's just a matter of semantics.  So to say everything else is a religion while we are not is no different than someone else saying everything else is false religion while we are the True religion.  It's a way of affirming exclusivity, and it's understandable.  But employing different words does not change the way our congregants behave unfortunately, nor will it change the minds of non-believers, but actually would make us look even worse.  We look like marketers of products, changing names hoping to sell more, but we don't walk the talk.
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« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2009, 04:41:46 PM »

I agree with you, Alveus! I've noticed amongst my evangelical friends that it's very trendy to knock the "institutional church" (which that evil Constantine started... Roll Eyes), and I feel it shows a degree of pride and immaturity in so doing. However, in other ways, maybe they are right, as in their emphasis on the importance of maintaining a real relationship with God, something which often is lacking in say, mainstream judaism, eastern orthodoxy and other such religions. I'm not trying to be critical, but objective.
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« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2009, 05:09:56 PM »

I agree with you, Alveus! I've noticed amongst my evangelical friends that it's very trendy to knock the "institutional church" (which that evil Constantine started... Roll Eyes), and I feel it shows a degree of pride and immaturity in so doing. However, in other ways, maybe they are right, as in their emphasis on the importance of maintaining a real relationship with God, something which often is lacking in say, mainstream judaism, eastern orthodoxy and other such religions. I'm not trying to be critical, but objective.

I just cannot stand it when Evangelicals acts as though they are completely free of ritual and tradition, and that those things are the products of "religion", which is always used in the pejorative.

They meet in the same places and do the exact same things every week.  The billowing crescendo of the rock and roll praise band comes at the same time weekly, after the same sequence of up-beat starters to somber and slow wind-downs.  The tears usually come down the cheeks at the same time, and the hands go up on cue.  Now I am not criticizing the sincerity of those participants or the validity of their worship, but rather the notion they they are not engaging in ritual behavior.  Even the more "spontaneous" charismatic groups are bound into certain established conventions and codes of conduct.  Run around and scream, and then eventually sit down and listen to a lecture for 45 minutes, then scream a little more, then go out for lunch at IHOP.  We all have our rituals, it's just that some are in denial about their own.

By the way, a "relationship" with God is pretty vague language, as everyone has SOME relationship to God, even the damned.  Do they mean that they "relate well" with God?  Do they mean that they interact with God frequently?  The fact is that many of them simply have a vague idea of what they mean.

Some mean that they are "best friends" with God, and that He "tells them things" on a regular basis.  I read prayers almost every day.  So I am in a "relationship with God" because I am proactively petitioning Him, but at this point I do not claim to know His mind or ways.  The whole condescending and ignorant tone of many Evangelicals is very frustrating to me in many ways.  And yes, to a degree there is some self-loathing involved, because I myself was once one of those people.

People need to be engaging God in a sincere way, but my time in Orthodoxy is the first time that I have learned true reverence in prayer.  The degree of familiarity with God encouraged in many Protestant sects actually unhealthily diminishes God's sovereignty and holiness.  It is true that we are friends of God, but we are still to fear and respect God, and I think that the balance between those is seldom met.  Perhaps Orthodoxy leans a bit too far onto mystery, distance, and respect when it comes to God, but I suppose I feel as though overall it is a more beneficial route.
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« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2009, 05:51:36 PM »

I just realized that the OP's poster is "spiltteeth" not "splitteeth"

I like how we who wrote his name all made that mistake  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2009, 11:11:36 PM »

Spiltteeth,
Welcome to the forum! An excellent post.

In regards to Maher, he really needs to stick to political commentary and sex jokes. When he strays to philosophy and religion, he really does come off sounding as much as a ignoramus as those he condemns.

Ditto.

Jonathan McCormack gave an excellent observation.

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« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2009, 12:06:01 AM »

I just cannot stand it when Evangelicals acts as though they are completely free of ritual and tradition, and that those things are the products of "religion", which is always used in the pejorative.

You might want to amend that to "charismatics," which is pretty much what you described.  Classical evangelicals -- most of whom were and are creedal and liturgical to varying degrees to this day -- are little of what you were referring to or likely came out of.

The Evangelical idea of "God has no grandkids" is something I think Orthodox -- and all Christians who baptize infants and (rightly) count them as Christians -- could learn from.  Metr. JONAH has recently said that all adult Orthodox are converts; we all had to decide, regardless of where we spent our childhood, to be Orthodox as adults, so having our children grow up with an understanding that you have to learn to appropriate the Faith within your own, personal life so that you choose to love God and love mankind according to this tradition is paramount.

Anyway.

Yawn.  I will not see this movie.  Apparently Bill just needed something provocative in order to rake in some more money.  Honestly, I do not see what the big deal is about Bill Maher.  Really.  Why this movie has been noticed as much as it has is beyond me.  Maybe some higher-ups in a production studio are pseudo-intellectual agnostics/atheists with axes to grind and decided to give him high billing.  He's certainly not anyone that a thinking man would care about, either in a believer's camp or a non-believer's.

Sigh...yawn...  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2009, 08:22:46 AM »

In regards to Maher, he really needs to stick to political commentary and sex jokes. When he strays to philosophy and religion, he really does come off sounding as much as a ignoramus as those he condemns.


Ditto.

Jonathan McCormack gave an excellent observation.



In his book titled, "history of Philosophy," its author, Julian Marias, makes a similar comment about Voltaire. Isn't that a pattern... Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2009, 04:04:37 PM »

Companies pay a lot of money to get marketing research, and here we are being given it for free.  Some very valid points are made in many anti-clericalist rants about corruption and hypocrisy within the the Church.  And those of us that keep going back every Sunday without doing something about it and then not positively reflecting the light of Christ in our daily lives are to blame.  People are like Bill Maher are only reporting their observations. 
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« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2009, 05:16:49 PM »

I didn't like the documentary at all....he essentially interviewed the groups of people that would make theists look like raving space loons.
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« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2009, 05:21:37 PM »

I agree with Ukiemeister. Although I only saw the preview, it looks like he just goes to the religious nuts, argues with them in a rather offensive way, and uses their silly reaction to represent all organized religion. It's simply unfair and cowardly.
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« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2009, 05:25:54 PM »

I agree with Ukiemeister. Although I only saw the preview, it looks like he just goes to the religious nuts, argues with them in a rather offensive way, and uses their silly reaction to represent all organized religion. It's simply unfair and cowardly.

And the ones he did interview that were relatively sane (like a rabbi from Neturei Karta) he constantly interrupted. It was annoying to say the least.
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« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2009, 10:58:24 PM »

Companies pay a lot of money to get marketing research, and here we are being given it for free.
Eastern Christianity isn't getting any publicity from Mr. Maher.   And I've never subscribed to the idea that any publicity is good publicity.  I doubt that's what you meant, but that's the crux of your argument.

  Some very valid points are made in many anti-clericalist rants about corruption and hypocrisy within the the Church.  And those of us that keep going back every Sunday without doing something about it and then not positively reflecting the light of Christ in our daily lives are to blame.
I'm not sure how many valid points were made.  But the hypocrisy argument is for lazy cop-outs.  As far as doing anything, sure, there's always ways to get involved.  And let's not forget that as for us Christians, the main thing is to always be praying.

  People are like Bill Maher are only reporting their observations. 
I don't see it as simply observations.  Honest observations are followed by questions, not attacks and ad hominems.  I guess I can't elucidate any more on the subject than Mr. McCormack has already done.
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« Reply #37 on: March 09, 2009, 02:10:36 PM »

I'm not saying this film is advertising, rather that anti-clericalist, anti-Orthodox material can serve as great marketing research in order to understand why people reject something.  If you are eventually going to reach out to a group of people, you really do need to understand where they are coming from.  Thus, you see some groups in Orthodoxy have made great efforts to reach out to Catholics and Evangelicals - but there is almost no outreach to atheists, secularists and people who are religiously more moderate.  I think it is very important to understand why the people around you think the way they do. 
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« Reply #38 on: March 09, 2009, 09:08:28 PM »

Eastern Christianity isn't getting any publicity from Mr. Maher.   And I've never subscribed to the idea that any publicity is good publicity.  I doubt that's what you meant, but that's the crux of your argument.

Actually, I think it did get one scene.  The scene where he talks about how religious leaders where weird clothing to stand out, and he showed a quick screenshot of Orthodox bishops in the black cloaks and hats (along with other religions, including Catholicism).
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« Reply #39 on: March 09, 2009, 09:49:07 PM »

Quote
Actually, I think it did get one scene.  The scene where he talks about how religious leaders where weird clothing to stand out, and he showed a quick screenshot of Orthodox bishops in the black cloaks and hats (along with other religions, including Catholicism).

Well, I think our clergy would definitely stand out in this category! (I don't mean that in a bad way either)
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