Tuesday, January 4, 2011
So, I watched this movie, "Agora". It gave me a lot to think about. My friend, Ish, at The Cahokian, wrote about the movie. I liked what he had to say.
I am an occasional communicant in the Episcopal Church. I don't talk about my religion much. I figure my behavior will say more than my words. Besides, I don't feel like answering a bunch of questions. I don't have good answers for all of them. I don't believe Jesus rode dinosaurs. I do think evolution is a perfectly sound scientific idea. I don't think it's a very good creation myth. I do believe women have every right to choose in matters concerning their own bodies. I can't justify the Spanish Inquisition. I don't think there's an invisible old white man in the sky who hates us and punishes us. I do favor secular society and the separation of church and state. I am afraid of the Christian Right. I do think they are fascists.
As usual, I save my best stuff for other people's blogs. Here's my first impressions after reading Ish's comments on "Agora":
"I'm familiar with Hypatia's story and I want to see this film. As one of your Christian friends I do have to jump in with something. I wasn't in Alexandria so I don't know for sure, but Roman Paganism was not kind, open minded or nature loving. I think Alexandria's brutal Christian mobs had more in common with Paris's brutal mobs during the French Revolution than with the mobs that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are threatening to unleash. I think many of the violent and intolerant Christians imagined, falsely, that they had been empowered by Rome's decision to make Christianity the state religion. I think it was Reinhold Niebhur who said "Religion is very good in the hands of good people and very bad in the hands of bad people."
Still trying to take in the history of Christianity and relate it to Christ's ministry. I haven't gotten very far."
So, I was happy when I got ahold of a rental copy of "Agora". Here's what I wrote to Ish after seeing the film:
"I got a chance to see Agora. Wow. A great film that asks more questions than it answers. Here's a question for you. Haven't you ever wanted to smash all of their idols? Haven't you ever despised the long thoughtful moments that make up the life of Hypatia, knowing that every leisurely moment was purchased with years of suffering by a slave? Haven't you ever been willing to see the whole body of their knowledge smashed and burned, knowing that their universities are monuments to oppression and cruelty?
I know I've felt that way more than a few times. What would it look like if I was allowed to act on my anger? Could I stop myself at some decent moment and only destroy what needs to be destroyed?
I know that I pray in a church that was built by former Confederate generals who were hoping to recreate the decadent morality of the southern elite in a California valley. I know that the head of my church, The Archbishop Of Canterbury, presides over the church from Lambeth Palace, a palace built with profits made in the gigantic slave plantations of the Caribbean. I know that millions of young women were worked to early deaths to pay for that splendid building.
How much of this am I willing to see destroyed? If I was given free rein to destroy all that I despise what would prevent me from becoming a monster?
I suppose the good news is that I am not likely to have to answer those questions in real life. I lead a quiet, pleasant life paid for, in part, by the suffering of countless others.
I remember when we were young radicals, people from other tendencies would criticize us for refusing to compromise with reformists and labor bureaucrats. We were afraid to dirty our hands is what they said. Is that idealistic avoidance nothing more than privilege? What if saving your soul is the best you can hope for; knowing that you've betrayed your ideals in the endless battles of life?
Damn, too much to think about. I've got errands to run."
Poetry is for assholes and I know I'm one. Who the fuck can afford the luxury of philosophy? Who the fuck can do without it? Please, no glib replies.
I know I've worked up a pretty good ukulele version of "There Ain't Nothin' To Do" by The Dead Boys.
Posted by Your driver at 1:07 PM