03 October 2009

The Invention of Religion

Last night my wife and I watched Ricky Gervais' new film, The Invention of Lying. It's set in an alternate universe where humans haven't evolved the ability to lie, and absolutely everyone is not only completely honest but also brutally frank in every situation. Gervais' character, Mark Bellison, is the first person on the planet who can tell an untruth, and he uses it to his advantage since people apparently also lack the ability to doubt anyone's veracity and believe whatever he says immediately and unquestioningly.

Using his unique skill, while trying to do something nice for his mother, Mark inadvertently creates the first religion in this world, focused on the “invisible man in the sky.” Though Mark actively seeks out opportunities to lie to get what he wants in other areas of his life, he's very reluctant to take on the role of prophet and does his best to create a reasonably fair and peaceful religion when he's forced to at the behest of the entire world. This is when the film becomes a true religious satire. Though it wasn't quite as funny as the best in this genre, I appreciated the humor. I don't want to give much away, but there are references to Moses, Jesus and even Joseph Smith. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops rates the film “O” for “morally offensive.” Its official review contains some of the following phrases: “venomous supposed comedy,” “all-out sneering assault,” “despicably belittling,” “pervasive blasphemy,” “fashionable new atheism,” “slithers,” and “calculated cinematic insult.” Those words are like music to my ears, especially considering the source!

I'd give the film a rating of 9 out 10. I enjoyed the novelty of the concept, and any film in which someone exclaims, “@#$* the invisible man in the sky!” and a large crowd cheers in agreement automatically gets an elevated rating in my book. There were, however, a few disappointments. We never really see how perfect honesty would make society radically different from our own except that there's no fiction and they don't have the words true or false. It also seemed that people couldn't even imagine that someone could simply say something mistaken. At the end, I wanted to see more of what happened to his religion, but without the ability to lie, no one else could expand his revelation, so I have no real objection. And, of course, a world without any religion whatsoever would be so different, but I don't think Gervais could have pulled that off without being boring and preachy. This film does a fine job of approaching the concept, and I recommend it to everyone.

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6 comments:

constant gina said...

I figured this movie had some religious propaganda involved.

party said...

yesterday, i saw it and i can say i never waste my Sunday..

Anonymous said...

What I gathered from this movie is that believing in just the one big man and doing just enough good to get the mansion in the sky will not transform you.

True transformation comes from faith deep within that is not measured by earthly standards (no three strikes and you are out here)

The allegoric use of Mark looking like Jesus was that although he came with a message of hope he looked too ordinary to have a transforming message of love.

Anonymous said...

It is most unusual for a Catholic to consider carefully the basic question. He should considr it again, this time taking into account his former belief in the 'Maker of all things visible AND invisible.' Techie Worlds, writen for mechanically minded and logical people looks at exactly that.
Written for people with a mechanistic understanding of our world, it looks at ridiculous Christian teachings, such as Trinity, soul, resurrection and judgment. In so doing, 'Techie Worlds' follows science's lead in examining phenomena in the light of theory. Contiguous dimensional worlds provide a logical, mechanical explanation for those phenomena.
So an intelligent, intellectually honest and open-minded person has excellent reason to hold religious views. In the light of Pascal's wager, people would be foolish to deny the Christian teaching of love or to hold Moslem or pagan beliefs.
'Techie Worlds, Visible & Invisible' is available from amazon.com. It completely reformats all discussions about God and where He is.
GeorgeRic

limo hire said...

Creepy stuff............

s0l0m0n said...

There's GOD.