Insult My God, I’ll Blow Your Head Off!

Two programs with strong religious connotations served as entertainment for the Adams household this weekend. The first was Bill Maher’s documentary, “Religulous”, (available for rental download from, and the second was “Bill Moyers Journal”, which this week was devoted to the religious expert and copious writer, Karen Armstrong.

These two offerings were as different as Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ. Bill Maher was most enjoyable. He survived making this film without, apparently, being punched on the nose, or shot by obese, right-wing Republican, fundamentalist truck drivers – though once or twice it seemed he came too close for comfort.

Maher’s efforts came across, to me at least, as an attempt to ridicule religion as a bundle of old myths successfully repackaged by various conmen for the purpose of making big bucks out of the guileless and unwitting. Needless to say, as much of it was set in America, the film succeeded in achieving that aim beyond its wildest dreams.

In contrast, Karen Armstrong expressed the deepest respect for the historical roots of all mankind’s major religions, and talked at length of the “The Golden Rule” and how man has conveniently allowed his ego to obliterate it, both from his religion and his everyday life.

True compassion, she states, has been swept away in a tide of egotism and greed. The concept of “The Golden Rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is the chain that binds all religions together. Unless we bring compassion for others back into our everyday lives, we, as a species, are dooming ourselves.

Unlike Bill Maher, who condemns religion for the ills of the world, Armstrong recognizes the beneficial roots from which all religions sprang, and accepts man as the perverter and corrupter of those benevolent universal truths, for the sole purpose of furthering the greed of his ego-driven self.

Both programs served as excellent entertainment, though Bill Moyers Journal went one step further by educating, as well as entertaining.

Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s great experts on the history of religions and their impact around the globe. She left me realizing that it’s not religion, whether Christian, Islam, Hindu, or whatever, that is to blame for the world’s ills, but those who purport to preach its tenets and communicate with its spirit, while growing fat from the contributions of its faithful, and drunk on the power of its conveniently corrupted messages.

This weekend’s episode of Bill Moyers Journal, featuring Karen Armstrong, is available both as a transcript and in video, from the link below. I heartily recommend it as compulsive viewing.[1]

[1] “Bill Moyers Journal” March 13th 2009

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5 Replies to “Insult My God, I’ll Blow Your Head Off!”

  1. I enjoyed Bill Maher’s film a lot. I haven’t seen the other programme yet, but I can imagine the gist of its content.

    Whilst I agree that religion seems like a necessary evil whose raison d’etre was meant to keep the human animal from destroying itself, it has, by the 21st century managed to catch itself by the tail and the human animal will destroy itself anyway. I’d rather go down laughing with Bill, never mind the history and philosophy of it all – it’s too late for that. 😉

  2. Personally I think tasers are much more appropriate for church-goers. Being that they tend to be less lethal it comes closer to that whole “turn the other cheek” thing. I’m pretty sure Jesus would agree with me on that.

  3. WWW – ah, yes, I’d forgotten it was your busy time of year.

    Anne Gibert – welcome to Sparrow Chat. This was never intended to be a political blog, it just drifted inevitably in that direction. I do make a serious effort to diversify matters from time to time, but always seem to flutter back, like a moth to a candle flame – and frequently with similar catastrophic result!

    Twilight – now then, remember, it’s never too late to tango. We don’t all have tickets to ride, come Armageddon. Karen Armstrong was making the point that religion isn’t the cause of our ills, merely the excuse. If we’d never had religion in the world, something else would have been used to justify the vileness we perpetrate on others. Indeed, it often is: nationalism, race, etc..
    Getting rid of religion would still leave human beings greedy for power. Really, we should get rid of the people and keep the religion. 😉

    Alison – I believe it says somewhere in the Bible that He used a taser to drive the moneychangers from the Temple. If you look closely on the handles they are all inscribed: “By appt to J.Christ, Esq., King of Kings.” 😉

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