NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

"the BBC famously televised a debate ... Each side totally failed to understand the other"

Hardly. Palin and Cleese seemed to perfectly understand the ridiculous childishness of the comically pompous bishop and Muggeridge who both repeatedly avoided engaging and simply derided the film as "tenth rate" etc.

A curiously empty article about a film, which like Holy Grail has barely dated in the intervening decades.

For a more interesting take on Life of Brian at 40, see yesterday's "How we made": https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/apr/16/how-we-made-mon...

  • dalbasal 7 days ago

    For me, that interview symbolizes a certain turning point in the political/cultural role of bishops and the church.

    There is such an obvious dichotomy between the authority the clerics expected to be regarded with and the realilty. They looked and sounded so anachronistic. The moral authority just seemed gone. They just looked like python caricatures, robes, misplaced pomp and all.

    Meanwhile, these comedians were winning at the philosophical sparring.

    I'm from the next island over. We trailed the UK by 10-20 years, in terms of secularism and church authority. But, starting from a much more religious/clerical point and reaching and arguably more secular one very fast.

    There have been several key referendums recently, and the church simply failed to mount an opposition. Appearing in regalia and demanding the moral authority because "I am a bishop of the church" would have been a ridiculous spectacle. That element of power was long gone. In my symbolic narration of the story, Cleese and Palin did that in that interview.

    • TheOperator 7 days ago

      It really amazes me to even say it but I've always seen comedy guiding morality for as long as I've been alive.

      I noticed during the Iraq War how much INSANELY quicker the comedians turned against the war compared to the mainstream and self-proclaimed moral authorities like journos. Institutionalized stupidity tends to be really funny to make fun of and really lame to defend.

      It seems like a stupid idea for comedians to be moral arbiters when comedians themselves hardly seem like particularly moral people and comedy is such an informal thing. Yet there is this skeptical contarian spirit so fundamentally baked into the medium. Which consistently leads to Comedians being one step ahead of their moral betters.

      • freeflight 7 days ago

        Reminds me about the role of the Court Jester in monarchies; to speak the truth when no one else will.

        Tho I wonder how much of this actually translates to modern times, as in: How much impact do these "political comedians" actually have?

        Case in point: German political satire has a very long tradition, but when looked at it bluntly it's pretty much just "comedians" telling people about the roots of problems, and all kinds of corruption, and people mostly just laugh at it, while nothing actually changes, it's all kind of absurd.

        In that context, it often feels much more like an "overpressure steam valve", giving people at least the impression of awareness, while nothing is actually done about the issues themselves.

      • sonnyblarney 7 days ago

        Comedians are not remotely arbiters of morality - they are antagonists.

        What they do is spend most of their time thinking about society, and then pointing out hypocrisy.

        So it's no surprise that they're quick to point out failings.

        But 99% of civil society is not mired in moral controversy, and the daily grind of regular people, public servants, bureaucrats, functionaries and workers is where the material artifacts of morality play out. And of course legally.

        It's hard to make a career in comedy, like it's hard to have a career being a movie critic - but to any thinking person, being an antagonist or critic is easy. Heck, we do it all day on HN.

        Comedians are not moral arbiters. They are just outside opinions.

      • humanrebar 7 days ago

        I'd agree except that the popular comedians tend to have the same points of view as major multinational corporations and billionaires.

        Want to lambaste the rich? You and Buffett both. Make fun of racist white people? Who doesn't? Healthcare is a mess? A long line of CEOs parrot that line, too.

        Nobody is sitting around making fun of overreach for a good cause. Nobody is making fun of the absurd political mathematics thrown around by favored political movements.

        To be fair, it's more work to actually push against the grain of the culture you live in. It's easier to be make the millionth dig at the orange skinned jackass.

        • PhasmaFelis 7 days ago

          Are you saying that Warren Buffett's opinions are typical of the super-rich? I'd like to see a source on that.

          Lots of people from every walk of life lambast the US health care system, because the US health care system is objectively terrible, in terms of positive outcomes vs. money spent.

          Making these out to be rich-people opinions is really reaching.

          • humanrebar 6 days ago

            I was just saying it's not particularly brave to side with Zuckerberg and Gates on immigration or Buffett on tax reform. I wasn't commenting on the merits of the positions.

        • TheOperator 5 days ago

          The big comedians backed by the big networks in the prime time slots I don't watch. It's not really the Jay Lenos of the world I'm talking about when I say this stuff. It's the sort of comedians which have picket lines outside their shows and get kicked out of town.

          Comedians like the Python Troupe.

        • mr_overalls 7 days ago

          > Want to lambaste the rich? You and Buffett both. Make fun of racist white people? Who doesn't? Healthcare is a mess? A long line of CEOs parrot that line, too.

          These are popular positions (at least in the US) only among the Left.

          The Republican party - including its poorest members - lauds the most greedy billionaires as "job creators" and the pinnacle of achievement for Americans.

          Conservatives believe that straight, Christian whites are just as discriminated against - if not more so - than racial, religious, or gender/sexual minorities.

          Republicans decry almost any attempt to provide affordable health care to the American masses as "socialism."

          The positions you describe are most definitely "against the grain" for half of the US. And they are important positions to take, for the future health and wealth of the country. And I'm not sure why you're focusing on the difficulty/popularity of espousing certain positions on social issues, rather than the correctness of the positions taken.

          • humanrebar 7 days ago

            Good point. Clearly comedians should be carefully considering which jokes are "correct" before making people laugh.

            But my real point is that the bubble of most forms of comedy includes powerful people like academics, politicians, executives, and even corporate policies of multinational megacorps.

            It's mostly a myth that comedians mostly contrarians making digs at the powerful. On the contrary, they're living in the same bubbles.

            I'd actual settle for some aggressive criticism of the fairly ludicrous tribalism going on these days. Perhaps the biggest problems these days are a lack of grace and humility, and it should be really easy to make fun of all the small hearted people wrapped up in the modern social moment.

            • libraryatnight 7 days ago

              Is there a myth comedians are contrarians? I don't think so. Rebellious at times, perhaps, but not contrarians since most of the audience that goes to see them already agree with them and the audience seems pretty aware of that to me.

              Also you're really creating a weird situation for yourself if your idea of contrarian is that there can be no overlap with the wealthy or powerful.

            • mr_overalls 7 days ago

              I thought I just provided examples that powerful people hold a wide spectrum of positions on most issues.

              It will be a difficult task for a comedian to identify a position so contrarian that no influential/powerful people or institutions favor it.

              • humanrebar 7 days ago

                Powerful people with no direct influence over their day to day. The Republican party and conservatives broadly defined aren't censoring comedy shows, picking up sitcom pilots, commissioning Netflix specials, etc.

                The people nixing comedians' and other speakers' university events have real power, in contrast.

            • munk-a 7 days ago

              > Perhaps the biggest problems these days are a lack of grace and humility

              I haven't been alive for all that long and mostly came into political awareness when W. Bush was in office, but my impression of the times before based on the political art and documentation that survives is that... it was never really nice and graceful, that's just a rose tinted view of the past.

              • humanrebar 7 days ago

                I didn't mean to imply that the 1960's were full of grace. I was just saying we especially lack those things now.

                And it is true that certain parts of culture at certain times did have a live and let live attitude. Or at least a there-are-more-important-things one.

      • dalbasal 7 days ago

        It's definitely interesting.

        I think one major element is absurdity, which is a big part of humour and of logic... Reductio ad absurdum is a logical negation, and it comes up a lot in sober politcal arguments/rhetoric.

        Another element is taboo. Comedy is edgy, which pretty much means bringing up things you're not supposed to bring up.

        Yet another part is what laughter actually is. We tend to assume it's about humour, but when researchers measure, it turns out that <10% of laughter is directly humour related. Think of how many awkward laughs you get in a board meeting or diplomatic negotiation. Laughter expresses solidarity, subservience, esprrit de corps.. The implications go deep.

      • mindslight 7 days ago

        I think humor has an advantage of not needing to be correct. A joke can be blatantly wrong, but with that freedom it can point out a kernel of truth that would otherwise be rejected.

        Every system of reasoning has intrinsic blindspots, while internally seeming consistent and all-knowing. Corrupting fallacies sneak in, each only off by a little bit, but self-consistent.

        Attempting to directly argue any one conclusion looks wrong, as it disagrees with all the surrounding/supporting points. Only by completely shrugging off that strict logical-progression paradigm can the absurd conclusions be called out.

    • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

      You're spot on. It felt anachronistic at the time - I didn't recognise that world then, and now it's something alien. My parents were religious by baptism only, which may have contributed, and first time around I was still young enough to know relatively little of the religious culture before. Watching it again years later and it's almost unwatchable.

      What was most noticeable seeing it later is how respectful and careful the Pythons were trying to be. Yet met with closed minds, dogma, "it's a terrible film" and "Listen to me, because it's been that way hundreds of years". Ironic that John Cleese was trying to develop a conversation on closed and open minds! There's a few facial expressions that reveal their frustration - there may have been a bit of internal swearing!

      Listening to my kids and their friends, and other younger people, religion is irrelevant in the UK, outside some ethnic communities, nowadays. Ireland seems to have caught up - twenty or thirty years ago even a conversation around the abortion referendum would have seemed impossible. Yet had the church reacted to the 40 years of post-Thatcher society and they might have had as large a place as ever - albeit in a changed role - had they been inclusive, replaced the lost community resources, sense of hope and so on. That they didn't speaks volumes.

      From the perspective of now it does seem to mark the end of an era. Thankfully.

      • majewsky 7 days ago

        > From the perspective of now it does seem to mark the end of an era. Thankfully.

        I'm not sure about "end of an era". People seem to have an intrinsic need for faith. Now that organized religion is playing a less prominent role in their lifes (at least in Western countries), that hole seems to get filled with esoterics and conspiracy theories.

        • dalbasal 7 days ago

          Esoterics and conspiracy theories where pretty strong before british (and elsewhere) decline in church authority.

          It isn't the end of an era in the utopian sense, from now on science and reason. But the era of the church as "1st estate of the realm," the unchallengeable political power & moral authority, ended.

        • amanaplanacanal 7 days ago

          I think what people really have a need for is ritual and community. These needs were filled by the church in the past, but we have lots of social rituals now, including those of esoteric religion. We mostly still love our holiday rituals for instance, even if the religions that spawned them are long dead and gone. And people still love to break bread together, even if they aren't thinking of the last supper when they do so.

        • meheleventyone 7 days ago

          I don't think being religious immunised people against conspiracy theories or esoteric beliefs as if it were only possible to have faith in one thing at a time!

          They seem mostly orthogonal.

        • msla 7 days ago

          > People seem to have an intrinsic need for faith.

          I don't seem to have any, and I don't think I'm alone.

          > Now that organized religion is playing a less prominent role in their lifes (at least in Western countries), that hole seems to get filled with esoterics and conspiracy theories.

          You need only look at the history of antisemitism to see that conspiracy theories can and do flourish among very religious people.

      • sonnyblarney 7 days ago

        "It felt anachronistic at the time "

        The clergyman in the debate, Malcolm Muggeridge, was raised by super communist secularists around the turn of the last century! There's a link below which is a fantastic reference worth repeating [1].

        Hyper secularist ideals are not 'new' - the largest war in history, WW2 was partly based on this (i.e. Germany v. Soviets). (And yes, only partly ... the Germans were super concerned about the Communists at the time, I'm not trying to start a big ideological thing here).

        I doubt that secularists have any advantage on real progress, my take is that the Church of the past was simply a calcified institution, as all institutions are when they have more or less absolute authority and try to protect it. Moreover, most people 'outside' such communities tend not to understand them at all ... to the point of bigotry.

        And yet we have material prosperity and 'freedoms' - we are more depressed and anxious than ever before.

        Our 'national strategies' are fundamentally economic: build more homes, more Starbucks, more IKEA.

        We live in a weirdly intolerant era - consider how many movies 'couldn't be made today' - and I'm not talking about 'mean racist movies', rather even films that tried to have fun with the issue. See: 'Blazing Saddles' one of the funniest and most sincerely topical films ever made about race relations. Could never be made in our new utopia.

        Reform and progress are essential, but I think we're conflating and confusing a lot of institutions and ideas.

        This position hardened for me while visiting the rural areas of a very arab/muslim country with super archaic traditions. We are not as advanced as we think we are.

        [1] https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/08/11/book-review-chronicles...

        • msla 7 days ago

          > We live in a weirdly intolerant era - consider how many movies 'couldn't be made today'

          I think that's a common meme which is spread uncritically by people who want to denigrate the current age.

          • sonnyblarney 7 days ago

            Well both your reply and the above 'replier' have simply attacked my comment ad-hominem, and have not provided any basis for your arguments.

            I don't think it adds anything to the argument to indicate "People who say such and such just want to do this or that"

            That 'a lot of films could not get made' is not a controversial idea - have a listen to Hollywood podcasts. Granted, a lot of the 'can't get made' memes are directed at issues such as 'market size' and geopolitics (i.e. China market), there's no shortage of films that have suffered consequences due to nearly arbitrary issues over race, gender etc. - and these were the films that were approved.

            "Scarlett Johansson is again at the center of a casting controversy, this time for accepting a role to play a transgender man. " [1]

            "Taika Waititi Teases ‘Akira’ Film Adaptation, Says No One Has to Worry About Whitewashing" [2]

            "Cloud Atlas under fire for casting white actors in 'yellowface' makeup" [3]

            Literally a film made by two hyper-progressive transgender women, 'under fire' for casting people of different ethnicities and genders, in different roles entirely to make a point about such things, faces controversy.

            These various movements represent serious restrictions to artistic creativity and freedom of expression in the arts, and it's had a chilling effect on the industry.

            The studios have 'taken note' - and now there are an entire series of stories and characters removed from pop culture reference, due to the antagonizing of a fairly small number of individuals.

            Twitter has become a tool of mass suppression, whereby a few angry people can often dictate 'what cannot be done'.

            The effect is pronounced and significant, affecting casting decisions in most films made in Hollywood.

            Consider that in 2019 there was no host for the Oscars - largely because nobody wants to step up to the plate and undergo the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for presidential candidates. Any public statement ever made, in any context, that runs afoul of one group or another, can have one permanently removed - I'm not defending terrible people like Bryan Singer (X-Men), rather, guys like James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), who made some really tasteless jokes on Twitter and lost his job (though thankfully regained).

            Finally, on a side note, I'll refer to John Cleese himself during a Marc Maron interview (you can search iTunes for it, highly recommended): "You can't make a joke about the French Revolution anymore". I understand this isn't quite a concern over sensitivities, but Cleese himself pokes in this direction in his interviews.

            [1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/07/04/scarle...

            [2] https://www.indiewire.com/2017/10/taika-waititi-akira-film-d...

            [3] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/oct/26/cloud-atlas-und...

            • goto11 3 days ago

              There where also the massive nerd-rage directed towards the Ghostbusters remake with all-female main characters. I don't think this means we won't see gender-flipped remakes ever again. It just shows that with the internet every complainer has a voice.

            • icebraining 7 days ago

              Frankly, I find your evidence that this era is "weirdly intolerant" to be completely lacking. That some random advocacy group managed to get a couple of lines into the Guardian about a movie means nothing; the fact is that it got nominated for a bunch of awards, and the sisters got an even bigger budget for their next one. Talk about a chilling effect!

              As for public statements, we just didn't use to be able to publish whatever crap came to our brains at 3am on the toilet to millions of people. Broadcasting was a Big Deal, only made after careful preparation. The difference is Twitter, not the reactions.

              Yes, there are still taboos and stuff you can't say freely. But worse than before? I'm not seeing it. And Cleese provides no more evidence than you.

        • mr_overalls 7 days ago

          > secularists

          This is one of those words - like "glorious," "pro-abortionist," or "non-Madhayamaka-Tibetan-Buddhist" that lets you know exactly the ideology of the speaker.

          • sonnyblarney 7 days ago

            No, 'secularist' just means 'secularist' because it's the right word.

            It says nothing about 'the commenter' at all.

            As for the word ... the 'old stodgy conservative clergyman' was apparently raised by the furthest thing from that: old-school communists, and since most people don't fully equate communism to secularism (which is effectively the case) - the description is apt, given the whole point of the thread is the nature of this guys religion, and the recent history of secularism.

        • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

          Muggeridge was a very complex one - a serial groper with almost as infamous a reputation as Saville - until he found religion late in life. Another one who it turns out was well-known for it at the BBC. He wasn't ever a clergyman, though he had faith his whole life: pro communism, anti communism, christianity, and was always anti-something. Pot, free love, contraception, swearing, monarchy, Life of Brian, and firmly in the Mary Whitehouse anti-progressive anything camp. Seems it was only his excellent writing that gave him the place as national asset.

          So it wasn't a surprise to read that link and find he disliked most things - that seems to fit very well. SSC's commentary says far more about American attitudes than the actual history in places.

          Anachronistic as even in 1979 nobody seemed that bothered abotu what the church thought of Life of Brian, whether christian or not. The furore was among the great and the good (lol) in the media, with a few town councils banning it, and a fuss on the TV. So the debate was already distinct and disconnected from the regular people and out of time. In those days the media and establishment moved slowly. It was the follow up Not The Nine O'clock News sketch as a reversal of the absurd debate that was the talking point.

          The countless revelations of abuse over the decades since have reinforced the feeling that any place the church still held in society was ill deserved.

          > And yet we have material prosperity and 'freedoms' - we are more depressed and anxious than ever before.

          I see this as likely a symptom of the loss of community for individualism.

          Historically religion and community went together, today they both seem rather lacking, but are separate and distinct. It seems to be the loss of community that is hurting rather than the general decline of faith across Western Europe. As I hinted above, it's that role the churches could have tried to fill, successfully, but chose not to.

          Why couldn't Blazing Saddles be made today? Some of the jokes would be different -- mores have moved in 40 years. There's been racial progress, even in America!

          • sonnyblarney 7 days ago

            Very interesting character indeed.

            And as you point out, the reception of 'The Life of Brian' is almost more interesting than the film itself.

    • petercooper 7 days ago

      I'm watching the debate right now and the bishop says, when explaining why he's not particularly offended by the humour of the film, "I'm also the governor of a mentally-deficient school so I'm on familiar ground this evening". Oh boy, you couldn't get away with saying something like that on TV nowadays :-D

    • zeristor 7 days ago

      Didn’t “the next island over” have Father Ted Crilly at just the right time?

      Sunday opening is still constrained, although seemingly by labour MPs for unions, and Easter Sunday seems to be still betrothed to the church, even though it’s the Celtic festival of spring.

      • dalbasal 7 days ago

        Sure. You can annotate the history however you want. I don't think there's a "truth."

        Various clerical abuses/scandals probably played the real lead role, if you ask most people. You can always convincingly argue for "one damned thing after another" as the real engine of history. There's also the plain fact that the BBC interview involved an entirely different church in a different country, which is points againt my version.

        ..That's why I say symbolic.

        That interview just feels like the magic is gone, curtain is pulled or pick your metaphor. Suddenly (it seemed to take them by surprise) the bishop was just an old man in silly clothes who couldn't make a relevant argument, didn't seem like an authority and wouldn't be taken more seriously than the comedians who's film had interesting commentary, besides being funny and entertaining.

        It captured a moment, imo. I also like python... so bias.

      • dev_north_east 7 days ago

        > Didn’t “the next island over” have Father Ted Crilly at just the right time?

        British produced and made, Irish written and acted. Guess it depends on your defintion of an Irish show but you can be sure that if something is funny, RTE had absolutely nothing to do with it.

      • barrkel 7 days ago

        UK Sunday hours for e.g. supermarkets is much more restricted in UK than in Ireland, something that surprised and annoyed me when I moved to London.

        • dev_north_east 7 days ago

          Ah yes, the SNP voting against the reforms in England and Wales (which they enjoy in Scotland) was hilarious. Nats gonna nat.

      • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

        Don't most of the Christian significant dates originate from earlier festivals from the Celts, Pagans and the rest?

        • coldtea 7 days ago

          Yes, folks were always smart to re-use things such as dates, and even forms of workship etc.

          But the semantics changes substantially with different religions, only dates, abstract motions, and symbols remained (seldom the symbolisms, meanings, etc).

          Which is why pointing that this or that custom was adopted from an earlier religion doesn't say much about it's new role -- some skeptics seem to go like "it was adopted, so it's fake" and can't fathom that it just means it was convenient and served a role for both religions, nor that the role can be completely different, even if the date is the same.

          Like if we replaced Xmas on Dec 25, but kept the date as a new holiday of a new religion, say, "The day of buying gifts". So, instead of the message of god becoming man, redemption, love, etc, it would mean "time to indulge ourselves with crap, and buy some token BS for others to keep the market moving". Hmm, wait, we already did that.

          • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

            Certainly, though they often seem to be some form of melding or merging of the two. There's still plenty of pre-Christian aspects to Easter and Christmas for instance.

            At this remove it seems just about impossible to pick apart, let alone identify the previous significance.

          • Tsubasachan 6 days ago

            Are you admitting religion was thought up by people?

        • NateEag 7 days ago

          I believe Christmas does, falling near enough to midwinter celebrations.

          Easter, however, is conceptually linked to Passover, since it commemorates Christ's death at Passover and subsequent resurrection [1].

          Easter's actual date is highly variable and notoriously aggravating to compute, though [2]. For reasons I do not know, the church did not want to just say "the first Sunday following Passover."

          1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter

          2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computus

          • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

            Easter came from Ēostre that tracks back to German paganism. So it seems to have been some sort of merging of the two as it can be seen in pre-unification England long before the adoption of Christianity.

            If this wikipedia link is to believed she may also have been the origin of Easter hares and rabbits.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ēostre

            • Jtsummers 7 days ago

              I think it's important to make a distinction between the English (and other language) terms for the holiday and the holiday itself. The holiday existed before the religion spread (or fully spread) to those regions and has a different name in Latin with no connection to Eostre (Pascha).

              Now, the hares and rabbits and all, that's obviously not from Christian tradition or the Bible. That's clearly a regional adaptation of adopting a local tradition into the Christian celebration. This is a typical way to assimilate a culture. Reuse their traditions, but rebrand them (change masks of pagan gods or entities to be saints, change the parade to focus on the Christian symbols, etc.).

              • foldr 7 days ago

                I don't think there's really any "rebranding" going on in the case of hares and rabbits. Easter is round about the time when you'll start to see more hares and rabbits outside during the mating season. Hence "mad as a March hare": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_as_a_March_hare

                There's probably a long tradition of people in Europe associating March and April with hares, but I don't think there's anything particularly "pagan" about it.

                • amanaplanacanal 7 days ago

                  Well, yes and no. It all depends on interpretation. Pagan religions typically had their festivals following the cycle of the year, and spring is naturally when all of nature is working towards reproductive success. The rabbits as mentioned, eggs are still big around easter. Planting of crops, etc. So the symbols are older than the paganism of pre-christian Europe, and probably a whole succession of religions have used the same symbols.

                  It wouldn't surprise me if the pre-indo-european cultures of the area also had the same symbols for whatever religions they practiced.

                  The fertility symbols of spring have very little to do with Christianity, and I can't see where they are even made part of the theology. So looking backwards from a thousand years later, it seems like the pagan religions did recognize them as fertility symbols and rites. Even if those symbols have always been there, it feels like the pagans used them to make sense of their world in a way that Christians haven't.

                  • michaelsbradley 7 days ago

                    Well, in Western Christianity there were/are the Rogation Days[1] and Ember Days[2] (and extra-liturgical customs that could vary from place to place), certainly related to "making sense of the world" with respect to cycles of nature.

                    Holy Week (preceding Easter) and Easter itself are full of themes and symbolism, but the focus is different — it's square on the mysteries of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

                    See for example the Exsultet[3] and the Victimae paschali laudes[4]

                    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogation_days

                    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ember_days

                    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exsultet

                    [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victimae_paschali_laudes

                  • foldr 7 days ago

                    Eggs relate to Easter because it's the end of lent (and you can eat eggs again).

                    The Easter bunny has about as much to do with Christianity (or pagan religions) as Santa Claus.

                    So yeah, I'm sure you can loosely trace lots of this stuff back into the distant past. My point was just that this isn't an instance of Christianity taking over or "rebranding" some older pagan tradition.

                    • Jtsummers 7 days ago

                      Eggs can be consumed during Lent (I presume you mean the Catholic tradition of fasting, particularly "no meat", on Fridays during Lent). It's not considered meat.

            • dangerbird2 7 days ago

              "Easter" is just the English name, which is indeed related to the Germanic goddess associated with the Germanic month which the holiday occurs. The Latin and Greek name of the holiday is "Pascha", which is a direct cognate to the Jewish holiday "Pesach", or passover.

        • bluGill 7 days ago

          Depends on which branch of Christianity. Some Christians have nothing to do with Christmas because it is just a pagan celebration with a fake wrapping of Jesus. They might say anniversary of the resurrection instead of Easter (the date is correct if I understand the Hebrew calendar correctly - which I probably don't), and they would object to bunnies and other non-christian symbols of Easter. Those are the major holidays I can think of.

          Most Christians of course don't, which is why we think of the above as Christian holidays even though some Christians find something objectionable.

          • dragonwriter 7 days ago

            > Christmas because it is just a pagan celebration with a fake wrapping of Jesus. They might say anniversary of the resurrection instead of Easter

            The only “Christians” (the application of this label to them is controversial within Christianity) that take this approach are Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and some related groups, who share the trait of rejecting the concept of holidays (with the exception of, or as distinguished from, the regular Sabbath). I know of no Christian group that rejects Christmas for pagan ties and refers to Easter in the way you describe.

            • bluGill 7 days ago

              Historically Boston banned Christmas celebration for a few years in the 1600. https://mentalfloss.com/article/54131/time-boston-banned-chr...

              I know of several other Christian groups today who don't. The ones you mention are the only ones anyone is likely to recognize without personally knowing someone in the church. It isn't only about rejecting holidays.

    • dash_underscore 7 days ago

      Also from that island and I'd like to mention that "Life of Brian" was banned by the film censor there. I only got to see it at a private screening by a college society. That ban was rescinded at some point, I think in the 1990s. It's hard to fathom now, because the film seems so innocuous -- I think it was just a taboo subject at the time.

    • coldtea 7 days ago

      >There is such an obvious dichotomy between the authority the clerics expected to be regarded with and the realilty. They looked and sounded so anachronistic. The moral authority just seemed gone.

      It's also that the Church of England is hardly a church. More like a country/bingo club.

      Where would it find the moral authority?

    • billfruit 7 days ago

      Trollope's novels already had made much fun out of the workings of the Church of England. I doubt if the bishops had moral authority among the public for a quite long time. Perhaps people love the spectacle and the pageantry.

  • JohnBooty 7 days ago

        A curiously empty article about a film, which like 
        Holy Grail has barely dated in the intervening decades.
    
    Personally, I feel Life of Brian has aged infinitely better than Holy Grail, primarily because (my fellow) nerds haven't strip-mined it for "quotes."

    When I first saw Holy Grail, I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Now the mere mention of "it's only a flesh wound" and other such lines makes me want to hurl myself out of a window. I've probably heard that line recited 1,000 times!

        Hardly. Palin and Cleese seemed to perfectly understand 
        the ridiculous childishness of the comically pompous bishop 
        and Muggeridge who both repeatedly avoided engaging and 
        simply derided the film as "tenth rate" etc.
    
    Palin and Cleese were being disingenuous. In a literal sense, Brian is of course not Jesus. However, the film clearly lampoons the arbitrary nature of religion and who gets to be called a messiah and things like that. In that sense it very clearly is a parody of Jesus' life and of religion in general.

    (As an atheist and huge fan of the movie, I certainly don't mind. But Life of Brian most certainly does make light of Christianity, among many other things)

    • MrBuddyCasino 7 days ago

      "I said 42!" He cocked his gun, pointing the barrel at a random nerd in the crowd. "Now LAUGH! Its what you're supposed to do."

  • HenryBemis 7 days ago

    Religion falls under Dogma (the greek word - δόγμα).

    I believe in it because it is right, and it is right because I believe in it.

    Religion doesn't follow logic. It follows belief.

    It is like saying "the team that I support is better than the team that YOU support". Even if "my" team hasn't won anything for the last 100 years. Even if "your" team beats us 100-0 on every game. Just bad luck, the referee didn't see things clearly, the coach made a few untested last minute changes, the list is endless.

    But the dogma remains. MY belief/idea is better then YOUR belief/idea, and that is that. And this is why many people (including me) are rejecting religion/"The Church". I want people to have the freedom to believe whatever they want, but I cannot get into a dialogue on religion.

    I remember from the music video of Van Halen - Right Now [1]: Right Now, god is killing moms and doges because he has to (the clip displays this in all caps, I will respect everyone's eyes)

    [1]: https://youtu.be/rMV-fenGP1g?t=48

    • TheOperator 7 days ago

      Christians have been growing as a movement nearly uninterrupted for 2 millenia. So much for the religious always losing. What I've seen consistently is the ability of the secular to debate and convert is trumped by the ability of the religious to reproduce. Church attendence is going up in many western countries driven by immigration.

      Religion does follow a belief structure that differs from logic but it sure as shit is a robust and resilent belief system.

      • TimTheTinker 7 days ago

        > the ability of the secular to debate and convert is trumped by the ability of the religious to reproduce.

        Perhaps that’s true in a global sense, but that doesn’t mean Christianity is devoid of individuals who can clearly and logically defend their position in debate against secularists and atheists. William Lane Craig comes to mind, among several others. You might not like listening to him, but he certainly doesn’t rest his case on an assumed moral authority or any other fallacious logical grounds.

        • TheOperator 5 days ago

          I'm not saying Christians are dumb but atheist > christian conversions aren't as common as christian > atheists. They aren't the greatest at converting people.

          • TimTheTinker 5 days ago

            Atheism is merely the current world zeitgeist. In a while, maybe a century, it’ll be something else. There have always been people who were “Christians” but who eventually left. The apostle John even wrote about it happening in the 1st century —- so it’s nothing new.

            What matters is whether it’s objectively true. Christians may be failing in certain ways at evangelism, but as scripture says, “The natural man does not understand the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned.”

      • saiya-jin 7 days ago

        Do you have some numbers to back this up? Everywhere in the west I look, christianity is losing grounds. People practice less, they still have the belief on the paper but don't go to church, don't pray, baptize kids only due to pressure from older generations etc.

        Most I know come up with their own version of religion based on christianity - picking up what they like, ignoring rest. Which is a sane and fine solution and practically transition to agnosticism over few generations, but it sure ain't the same christianity branch they claim to adhere to.

        It could be still adding numbers due to remote missionaries wiping out local religions and overall increasing numbers (I sure as hell hope not), but I can't imagine this trend in western democracies. Immigration you mention should be 0-sum game - yes more immigrants in their new home country go into church, but they left their home country.

        Other religions, especially islam might be another story.

        • CelestialTeapot 7 days ago

          In the US, the fastest growing religion is None-of-the-above [1]. Now, that's not to say that people have given up magical thinking and have embraced reality. They still might believe false things. But at the very least, on some level they've realized that (organized) religion and its dogma is poisonous.

          1) http://elm.washcoll.edu/index.php/2018/11/fastest-growing-re...

          • TimTheTinker 7 days ago

            > magical thinking

            Christianity’s main claims revolve around agreeing eyewitness accounts from hundreds of people, set against a backdrop of people in power who had the motivation and opportunity to disprove them if they could (but who opted to kill them instead). You may say those people were lying or call them delusional, but my choice to believe them hardly qualifies as magical thinking.

            And that could easily be lobbed the other direction. To think that a universe, its physical laws, and everything in it can come from nothing might just as well be called magical thinking.

            It might be more helpful to engage the worldview and its arguments than use dismissive phrases.

            • saiya-jin 6 days ago

              Talking about dismissive phrases, you mention hundreds of witnesses. Yet for a son of one and truly god, sorry God, to walk among common folks, not a single roman historian bothered to make even a fleeing mention in their records. The first one happen almost 100 years afterwards [1].

              As we all know, many people are effin' properly weird. They make up stories, believe utter nonsense only because its convenient. But we're led to accept without any question records passed verbally for hundred(s) of years of magical supernatural acts. In fact, whole bible is full of them, somehow universe 2000-3000 years ago was much more magical place where simple laws of physics didn't work if you had the right god on your side.

              Here we come full circle to the fact that most sane christians today don't have answer to this simple logical fallacy (and others). They will tell you that you can't take these things literally, just take the moral values etc. So we end up with some bastardized religion, call it a sect, which picks from Bible what they like, and conveniently ignore the rest.

              With this logic we can turn to old greek/persian/hindu/pagan/etc myths which contain tons of moral lessons too. And being a good moral person doesn't need any fear-of-god pressure, most of us have this thing called moral compass. Those who don't have it can't be saved/turned good by any faith anyway.

              Maybe some older folks from bible belt or some 3rd world country can be still fed this utter nonsense, but anybody with critical thinking has hard time with these topics. You can't be a good citizen and be critical to your government and overall bullshit around us, and in the same time turn this part of your personality off with faith.

              [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

    • garmaine 7 days ago

      That didn't use to be the case historically, for what it's worth. The idea of religion being a matter of faith is only about 150 years old, dating to the time when naturalists put the final nail in the coffin of expectation of science validating religious beliefs.

      • ajuc 7 days ago

        > The idea of religion being a matter of faith is only about 150 years old

        Nah.

        > Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

        John 20:29

        > He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

        Matthew 17:20

        Christianity at least was always about (blind) faith. And I'd argue all abrahamic religions were like that. Let's not forget the start of the all these religions - Abraham blindly believing god so much that he tried to kill his son.

        Or maybe try Hiob's story (I believe in English it's Job?). God killed his family to win a bet with the devil, and Job was supposed to keep his faith because he will get a new better family in the end.

        Or the wife of Lot who was changed into a salt pillar because she dared to look back at the cursed city (damn LGBT, it ruined Sodom ;) ) instead of blindly believing the god and going away.

        There's lots of such stories in the Bible - the message of "shut up and believe what you're told" is clear.

        • humanrebar 7 days ago

          It's worth noting that, at least in the New Testament Greek, "faith" also translates as "trust". It is an emphasis on knowing and trusting God himself, not subscribing to a particular dogma. Jesus clearly ridiculed people who leveraged dogma for the sake of control, vanity, or out of ignorance.

          In other words, Jesus blessed people who trust him though they didn't meet him. He didn't exactly expect people to say "Jesus... nice name. I think I go apologize to my wife now." The expectation was always that Christians would be a people who taught and encouraged each other to understand Jesus and trust him.

          In fact "blind faith" itself is a reference to Jesus mocking folks with ignorant dogma.

        • foldr 7 days ago

          Fideism has been repeatedly condemned by the Catholic church, FWIW.

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06068b.htm

          • ajuc 7 days ago

            > A philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority.

            That's a different position than "religion is a matter of faith". IIUC it's more like "everything is a matter of faith".

            And in matters concerning religion - at least the Catholic church still believes in papal infallibility.

            • foldr 7 days ago

              I think you may have misread. It's clear that fideism is being discussed in the context of Christian belief in the article I linked:

              >... before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

              See e.g. the following for further discussion.

              https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/67580/what-...

              • ajuc 7 days ago

                From your link:

                > All the truths you list above, which are beyond the capabilities of human reason alone to discover, can only be known through faith. See, for example: "Whether the trinity of the divine persons can be known by natural reason?" (Summa Theologica I q. 32 a. 1).

                > Just because there are truths beyond our human natural reason, that doesn't mean faith is not an intellectual virtue grounded in reason.

                This debate seems to be orthogonal to our debate. They are arguing whether faith is a feeling or a thing you can reason about. But they all agree faith is required to believe in catholic dogmas.

                And I fail to imagine how you could think otherwise, religions make lots of assumptions about god, and the proofs of existence of god I've seen were all flawed, and even if they weren't - they would only prove the existence of something, not the existence of a personal god with any particular properties.

                I especially liked the proof that went: "all things are perfect to some degree, therefore there must be a thing that is the most perfect, and that's by definition god" :)

                I was a devout catholic when I heard it the first time, and still it seemed so fishy to me :)

                • foldr 7 days ago

                  It's not in any way an orthogonal debate. The Catholic Church clearly condemns blind faith in the main tenets of Christianity. That is, it condemns the idea that one should believe unreasonable doctrines through faith alone.

                  >Human reason is able to prove with certitude the existence of God; faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation, and therefore cannot be properly used against the atheist to prove the existence of God.

                  >...

                  >Revelation, indeed, is the supreme motive of faith in supernatural truths, yet, the existence of this motive and its validity has to be established by reason.

                  Whether or not certain arguments for God are valid or not is beside the point. The point is that rational grounds for believing in God's existence are regarded as a necessary foundation for faith.

                  Catholicism also condemns Rationalism, so faith is considered essential too, but it's not the blind faith you were referring to in your earlier post. You believe in the trinity through faith but your faith is grounded in a knowledge of the reliability of the relevant revalation(s).

                  • ajuc 7 days ago

                    You are stretching the words to mean what they doesn't mean.

                    > it condemns the idea that one should believe unreasonable doctrines through faith alone.

                    And who decides what is unreasonable :)?

                    Because as a catholic you are required to believe in lots of self-contradictory statements with no proof. Stuff like holy trinity, virginal birth; omnipotence of god; humanity and divinity of messiah; omnipotent, omniscient and loving god creating an universe with evil in it; free will, salvation by good acts, and god's omniscience; impossibility of salvation without sacrifice of Jesus; bread that is a human body as well (in essence not in substance, but the idea of essenece itself is unreasonable and has no basis in reality).

                    All of that with no proof other than scripture and tradition.

                    I was a catholic for 22 years. I was taught by parents, and in school by priests. I took it seriously and fought with these statements for several years before abandoning them altogether.

                    Catholics are required to believe in whatever the pope says is true in the matters of religion. You have to believe Mary was a virgin her whole life and never died, but went straight to heaven. You can have doubts, but the correct reaction is to ignore the doubts and pry for god to give you faith.

                    And it haven't changed in last 150 years - some dogmas were added, but the idea that you have to believe in these things is at least 1600 years old, and probably older.

                    • foldr 7 days ago

                      You're getting side-tracked on the issue of whether or not there are good arguments for the existence of God and other key components of Christian belief.

                      The Catholic position isn't that you should believe every part of Christianity on the basis of blind faith. That's clear from the sources that I linked to.

                      You might think that the arguments are bad. However, believing something on the basis of a bad argument isn't the same thing as believing it on the basis of blind faith.

                      Take the infallibility of the Pope's ex cathedra pronouncements as an example. Yes, you are supposed to believe these as a Catholic. But the doctrine of infallibility rests on reasoned (though not necessarily sound) arguments. Catholics don't say "believe whatever the pope says because blind faith". They say: here is why we believe the Pope's ex cathedra pronouncements are infallible and hence to be assented to.

                      • Quekid5 7 days ago

                        AFAICT this has descended into semantics at this point.

                        The difference between "blind faith" and what the Catholic church would call "reasoned faith" doesn't seem at all relevant if one doesn't accept (logically sound) arguments where there is no demonstrable reason to accept the premises of said argument... is it?

                        Or am I misunderstanding what you're saying?

                        EDIT: To me it's a bit like arguing from a premise of "the Bible is 100% true and infallible". Well that can't be a valid premise because there are contradictory passages... and, anyway, it wasn't written directly by God, so there is already at least 1 layer of interpretation going on. I mean, I can accept that if you believe the premise then you wouldn't want to wear clothes made of mixed fibers, but that's neither here nor there. Likewise, you could argue as long as you like about how many angels fit on the head of a pin, but I don't accept the premise that angels (as described in the bible) exist, so...

                        • astine 7 days ago

                          Well, if you don't believe in the Catholic religion it would be hard to argue that one should assent to its teachings. But Catholics really do believe that their beliefs should be subject to reason. They wouldn't necessarily agree with reasons why their beliefs are wrong, but they would believe that faith must be in accordance with reason.

                          As to why the specific teachings of the Catholic church? It literally comes down to "God said so and God wouldn't lie."

                          "We may point out in this connexion the falsity of the prevalent notion that faith is blind. "We believe", says the Vatican Council (III, iii), "that revelation is true, not indeed because the intrinsic truth of the mysteries is clearly seen by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Who reveals them, for He can neither deceive nor be deceived." Thus, to return to the act of faith which we make in the Holy Trinity, we may formulate it in syllogistic fashion thus: Whatever God reveals is true but God has revealed the mystery of the Holy Trinity therefore this mystery is true." [1]

                          As to the reasons why Catholics believe that one should place one's trust in God, these have to do with a variety of purely rational, if not always convincing arguments. Catholics believe that the existence of God can be proved with reason.

                          "'that God, the first cause (principium) and last end of all things, can, from created things, be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason' (Denz., 1785-old no. 1634)

                          and in the corresponding canon (can. i, De revelat.) it anathematizes anyone who would say

                          'that the one true God our Creator and Lord, cannot, through the things that are made, be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason (Denz., 1806-old no. 1653)." [2]

                          Catholics would not argue that you can logically deduce every tenant of their faith through reason alone, but they do believe that through reason, one can deduce enough to decide to place faith in truth of the religion and then chose to follow the rest of the beliefs.

                          1. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05752c.htm 2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06608b.htm

                          • ajuc 6 days ago

                            > As to why the specific teachings of the Catholic church? It literally comes down to "God said so and God wouldn't lie."

                            How do you know god said so? How do you know there even is a god? How do you know god wouldn't lie?

                            You assumed it (in one way or another). Blind faith.

                            BTW, regarding the whole "god doesn't lie" thing:

                            > O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

                            Jeremiah 20:7

                            > And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

                            Ezekiel 14:9

                            > And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

                            2 Thessalonians 2:11

                            But Bible is full of contradictions, it's not like anybody can be persuaded by pointing them out. Faith doesn't care about contradictions :)

                            > these have to do with a variety of purely rational, if not always convincing arguments.

                            Arguments using circular reasoning are indeed not very convincing :)

                            > that God, the first cause (principium) and last end of all things, can, from created things, be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason

                            There's no way to deduce anything about the first cause. Not the fact that it would also necessarily be the end of all things. Not that it was something conscious with a free will. Much less again that it was a personal god. Much less still that it was the God as Catholics define him.

                            And it's perfectly possible that there was no first cause at all (the chain of causes could be infinite for all we know).

                            > Catholics believe that the existence of God can be proved with reason.

                            And that's blind faith, because they can't actually prove it, they just declare it's possible. You're arguing my point for me here ;)

                            • astine 6 days ago

                              "How do you know god said so? How do you know there even is a god? How do you know god wouldn't lie?"

                              I don't know any of these things. I don't believe in a God. But you're missing the whole point which is that just because you disagree with the reasoning and beliefs of Catholics doesn't mean that you can impose a doctrine upon them which they do not believe.

                              "And that's blind faith, because they can't actually prove it, they just declare it's possible."

                              They believe that they can prove it, and I've met many who will attempt to a do so at the drop of a hat. If you'd read the link I provided you'd actually see some of those attempts. Whether they actually can prove it is beside the issue, however. What matters is whether they believe that their proofs are valid.

                            • foldr 6 days ago

                              Again, you're confusing blind faith with belief on the basis of an argument that you think is bad. We know that you are not convinced by any arguments for the existence of God. But believing that God exists on the basis of a rational argument isn't blind faith.

                              • ajuc 6 days ago

                                You cannot turn irrational belief into rational one just by making a flawed argument about it.

                                Belief: "Earth is flat"

                                Argument: "If earth was flat it would look flat. Earth looks flat therefore it must be flat."

                                It's no longer faith, it's reason now. Doesn't matter that you ignore all the counterarguments.

                                • foldr 6 days ago

                                  Believing that the Earth is flat on the basis of that argument certainly isn't belief on the basis of faith.

                                  Catholics as a group don't "ignore all the counterarguments". So for example, Ed Feser recently published a book presenting five arguments for the existence of God (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Proofs-Existence-Edward-Feser/...). The book responds to the various counterarguments that atheists and agnostics usually make to these arguments. You might not be convinced by the responses, but the counterarguments are not ignored.

                                  Again, I am not trying to argue here that Catholicism can ultimately be rationally justified. I'm not a Catholic, and it's not particularly important to me whether it can or can't be. But it's unfair to caricature Catholics as a group as irrational faith heads (though no doubt some individuals may meet this description).

                                • astine 6 days ago

                                  "Argument: "If earth was flat it would look flat. Earth looks flat therefore it must be flat."

                                  It's no longer faith, it's reason now. Doesn't matter that you ignore all the counterarguments."

                                  Exactly! Otherwise literally everyone on earth could be said to be acting on 'blind faith' because nearly everyone holds at least one or two mistaken beliefs out of some prejudice or unwillingness to examine the counterarguments.

                    • dragonwriter 7 days ago

                      > Catholics are required to believe in whatever the pope says is true in the matters of religion.

                      This is fairly explicitly not true. Most papal statements even on subject matter that could in principal be subject to infallible declaration are not made ex cathedra. There very few even arguably ex cathedra pronouncements (leaving aside the disputed status of canonizations), even though Popes say and write a lot about religion.

                  • mirimir 6 days ago

                    If the validity of any religion were testable, it's arguable that we'd all know by now which one it was. But I'm not aware of any such experimental data. So it's all just speculation.

                    • foldr 6 days ago

                      I don't see how that's relevant to this thread.

                      • mirimir 6 days ago

                        It seems relevant to the faith vs rationality discussion. For me, rationality strongly implies testability. Unless we're talking about mathematics, and not physical reality.

                        • foldr 5 days ago

                          First of all, if there's a special get out clause for mathematics, why shouldn't there be a special get out clause for God? God isn't part of physical reality either.

                          But anyway, the question was whether religious belief was necessarily based on "blind faith", not whether it meets some kind of positivist criterion of ideal rationality. People who believe in God wholly or partly on the basis of arguments aren't believing on the basis of blind faith. You might think the arguments are bad, but you could have a rational discussion with them about that.

            • dragonwriter 7 days ago

              > And in matters concerning religion - at least the Catholic church still believes in papal infallibility

              Papal infallibility is actually a rather new dogma (and, on the age scale of the Catholic Church, even somewhat new as a general belief), and it means a lot less than a lot of people (especially outside the Church) think it means, because it applies only on special circumstances and only on specific subject matter; there's a very small number of pronouncements to which it is generally held to apply (and I believe only two that are absolutely unquestioned), and several more to which it has been argued to apply (as well as one very frequent act to which it has been argued, but is not generally accepted, to apply: canonization of saints.)

        • CelestialTeapot 7 days ago

          "There's lots of such stories in the Bible - the message of "shut up and believe what you're told" is clear. "

          You've picked some of the best stories that illustrate if god existed, he'd be a moral thug and sociopath...

      • cjf4 7 days ago

        The entire Gospel is centered around salvation by faith in Christ, which of course is much older than 150 years.

      • TheOperator 7 days ago

        >The idea of religion being a matter of faith is only about 150 years old

        I think I know what you're driving at but what you literally said is wrong. I've read many Christians from over 150 years ago jawing on anout faith.

        • garmaine 6 days ago

          Yeah I should have said "solely a matter of faith."

          Many early scientists and alchemists were driven by a desire to discover through theory and experiment the mind of god. Archeology as a field was largely formalized by members of christian societies hoping to find the historical sites of miraculous events, to bolster their faith. Even as these searches strike out in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, religion still clung to the near universal belief in material of life being different from inanimate matter. The proof in the existence of god was as simple as looking in a mirror--you were made in his image, and so obviously different from the mechanical substances that made up the rest of the world.

          The discovery of evolution as a mechanism for the explanation of life, and the later elaboration of life's mechanical nature really closed off the final possibility of there being everyday real-world proof for the existence of god. It was then that the philosophy was adopted that ALL of religion was a matter of faith alone, untestable by science.

        • amanaplanacanal 7 days ago

          Faith does seem to be a Judeo-Christian-Moslem thing though, rather than something inherent in religion. As far as I can tell, the Indo-European pagan religions were more about practicing the correct rituals, rather than believing the correct things.

  • irb 7 days ago

    There was quite a good sketch by Not The Nine O'Clock News which reversed that debate, in which the film The Life of Christ is accused of parodying the revered Monty Python.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asUyK6JWt9U

    • sjwright 7 days ago

      I had seen the debate but not that sketch. Utterly brilliant. For reference and completeness, here is the debate it parodies:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku3GcPrW9xg&t=190

      (Brace yourself for a classy joke at 4:50)

      • juhanima 6 days ago

        Thanks for the link! I'm just watching the debate, and it seems both sides kind of got a point for a while. There they are, the sceptics, clowns or rational thinkers on the other side, who I root for instinctively, and the pompous stiffs on the other. But I think the stiffs also had something going on for them with their idea of some awe and humility - and excellent pronounciation. Gotta love the civilized ways of a British debate!

        Seems like it was only after John Cleese made a more seriours thrust that the stiffs got scared and went into a hedgehodge defense and it all turned boring and ridiculous.

        Vintage!

    • Quekid5 7 days ago

      Wow. NTNOCN could be quite hit and miss, but that sketch was absolutely spot on.

  • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

    I can't remember which exactly, though I think it was the bishop, but one of them afterward admitted to have missed the start of the film and therefore didn't know that it was made clear that Brian was not Jesus in the opening scene.

    • simonh 7 days ago

      The thing is the film is nothing but respectful to Jesus, who does make a few brief appearances, and in fact what is presented of Jesus' teachings and example in life is wholly reverent.

      What they do mercilessly lampoon are all the hangers-on, unthinking followers, ungrateful beneficiaries and various religious functionaries that follow rules before they follow principles. Those people get a proper drubbing.

      • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

        That's true and it may more properly explain why it annoyed Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood quite so much.

        I looked it up and apparently it was Muggeridge who had skipped the beginning of the film. Perhaps he had also skipped the bit in the bible about bearing false witness, it is quite a large book after all.

        • Gupie 7 days ago

          Even if he missed the beginning it is clear from other scenes in the film that Brian is not Jesus, e.g. "blessed are the cheese makers". So the story is either apocryphal or Muggeridge only watch clips of the film.

      • saiya-jin 7 days ago

        > What they do mercilessly lampoon are all the hangers-on, unthinking followers, ungrateful beneficiaries and various religious functionaries that follow rules before they follow principles. Those people get a proper drubbing.

        So basically the whole Church Inc. with its highly pyramidal management structure, messy internal politics, hunger for power/money and a history that noone could possibly be proud of.

        • MadcapJake 7 days ago

          I see it more as poking fun at the human desire for some magical silver bullet answer to life's sufferings and the big "why". We cling to random meaningless things so hard that we could easily mess it all up and mistake someone for messiah. On a macro level, sure it says organized religion is no better than a cult that became mainstream. On a subjective level, it says don't spend your days dwelling on snake oil meant to save you from the sufferings of life, just look at the bright side and carry on!

          • HillaryBriss 7 days ago

            > On a subjective level, it says ... just look at the bright side and carry on!

            interesting. i never looked at the film that way.

            i took the message in that scene to be that optimism can be overdone, that maybe the belief in Jesus's death/resurrection was simply optimism taken to a really absurd extreme

  • Joeboy 7 days ago

    I only ever knew Malcolm Muggeridge as the heel in the infamous televised LoB debate, until I read this interesting review of his autobiography: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/08/11/book-review-chronicles...

    • pjc50 7 days ago

      That's quite a read, now I want to read his autobiography too. It does however reveal some places where SSC's thinking and history is a lot thinner than he realises.

  • dqpb 7 days ago

    Here is one of the opening quotes from Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark:

    Here is a question I would ask, What are you really trying to say in this film? I believe you wear on this a wee bit earlier but unfortunately we only got the picture outside, not the voice, which was something that husbands might want of their wives...

    Classy.

lb1lf 7 days ago

This film was initially banned in Norway due to alleged blasphemy (!).

The Swedes loved it; their movie posters dubbed it 'The movie which is so funny, it is banned in Norway!'

  • nintendo95 7 days ago

    /cynical/ So sad that nowadays Swedes can't have a say about radical immams. /cynical/ How cool it is to have fun of Jesus but to have fun of Mahommed? How "far" we have "progressed" ;-) In 40 years from having fun about religious leaders to burning heretics like witches.

    Wouldn't it be fun to watch movie having fun about Mohammed in Sweden? Or we became some kind of cultural caliphat in the mean time? Joking about Jesus respecting Mohammed? There is a reason for which our era is referred to as "new middle-ages" by some philosophers.

    Sad.

    By the way there is much more comedy material in Mohammed case too.

    As we know since Freud hypocrisy is this what makes the best jokes. I.e. saint God messiah who is a war lord and peadophile in the meantime. Try making movie about that.

    • noego 7 days ago

      Sure, people should be able to poke fun at Mohammed, freedom of speech etc etc. But why would you? Life of Brian was a movie about Christianity, made by those born into Christianity, meant to be watched by fellow Christians. Hence why it provided an opportunity for introspection and self-reflection.

      A movie lampooning Mohammed, made by Christians and for the amusement of other Christians, offers no such opportunity for self-reflection or growth. It would be nothing more than 21st century blackface.

      • rohit2412 7 days ago

        It might help a Muslim leave his religion. A religion which ostracizes atheist so much that they are still killed by stoning and decapitation.

        It might appeal to non Christians, ex-hindus like me. Or ex-Christians.

        Should you be part of a group to criticize it? Can only Hitler criticize Nazis?

        • noego 7 days ago

          How many Muslims in Sweden are going to be watching a comedy that lampoons their religion?

          How exactly is lampooning Islam going to help Christians, ex-Christians or ex-Hindus?

    • ddeokbokki 7 days ago

      The prophet Mohammed in Islam is seen with more reverence than Jesus in Christianity, invoking his name is also very delicate in Islam (you are supposed to say a blessing anytime you do and avoid invoking it lightly, there's a lot of rules around it).

      With these religious/cultural differences I can understand how Muslim take greater offence to people making fun of their most prominent prophet as opposed to Christians, but also you have to take into account that because of that, people usually are more provocative with their humour when it comes to Mohammed.

      I can't remember having seen any sexually depraved depiction of Jesus in mainstream media whereas I can clearly remember many that depicted Mohammed.

      IMO it's not as easy to make fun of Islam/Mohammed because people tend to go for the extreme in term of dark humour but also it's not perceived the same way by the religious communities.

      • ThrowawayR2 7 days ago

        > The prophet Mohammed in Islam is seen with more reverence than Jesus in Christianity, invoking his name is also very delicate in Islam...

        Interestingly, the west does not, however, honor similar Jewish reverence towards utterance or the writing of the name of G-d. See, for example, http://www.jewfaq.org/name.htm. I always wondered about the discrepancy.

    • bjourne 7 days ago

      Well, this video was aired a few weeks ago on public television. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFzl4dEBmJE But you are perhaps right that we refrain from making fun of Muslims, Jews, Gypsies, Africans and other minorities. Reason being that they have been persecuted so it's like kicking downwards. We do make fun of Danes, Norweigans and Finns though. :)

    • dvfjsdhgfv 7 days ago

      Nowhere in the world can we have a comedy about Mohammed because the comedians want to live (a funny life), too. In a few progressive countries people tried to make fun of Mohammed and they're, for the most part, dead.

      (And The Life of Brian doesn't make fun of Jesus in any way, that's what people who haven't seen the film think.)

      • pbhjpbhj 7 days ago

        >doesn't make fun of Jesus in any way, //

        Whilst they're careful in the action of the film to make it clear Brian isn't Jesus, surely the central premise is that "Jesus is Brian", that his presentation as Son of God is a [comedic] mishap, or misunderstanding.

        • shapiro92 7 days ago

          IMO the idea was not to make fun of Jesus but the followers of Jesus. This is clearly shown when people start following Brian for no freaking reason and start creating "miracles" just because they want to believe it. The movie lives side-by-side Jesus and criticizes faith in a satire approach by using Brian and his cult followers.

        • dvfjsdhgfv 7 days ago

          That's interesting, it's almost as if we watched two different movies. Actually I was expecting a lot of Jesus and I was a bit disappointed by not seeing him much. On the contrary, I saw a lot of "people and times", portrayed in a comical way.

          • pbhjpbhj 7 days ago

            Like the way the original Terminator wasn't about cyborgs from the future because you never (seldom?) see the future? Or Lord of the Flies wasn't about how civilisation readily devolves, it was just about a group of kids?

            Are you trying to tell me you don't think it is saying 'people are mistaken and Jesus was just a man'? (Or perhaps 'a very naughty boy'!)

            To me it seemed carefully written to maintain deniability and skirt blasphemy regulations.

            FWIW it's a film I've enjoyed watching both as an agnostic and as a Christian.

            • dvfjsdhgfv 6 days ago

              Yes, the film was about the times of Jesus, about groups of people that might have followed him, of people that might have helped to crucify him (for the same reasons - blindly following the crowd), about Romans, about Jews, about Jews hating Romans, about Romans oppressing Jews, about ridiculous laws, but... not really about Jesus. I watched the film again 2 weeks ago, hardly anything about Jesus. I can hardly believe anyone could identify Brian with Jesus, these are two completely different characters.

              • pbhjpbhj 6 days ago

                Then I believe you've missed the central premise.

                And, you're right Brian is not the Messiah (which is just what the Messiah would say!).

                You know Animal Farm isn't about a farmyard, right?

                • dvfjsdhgfv 5 days ago

                  No, I believe we differ in our perception of the role of Brian, and you seem to hold the position that bishops and other offended people held: that the creators of the movie identified brian with Jesus. I agree that if you wanted. you coudl interpret the film in this way. But it's not necessary. You will watch a completely different film then. You will see a Jesus who was ridiculous, cowardly, a bit stupid. But this makes no sense - Jesus is already in the movie and he is a completely different person.

                  There are many examples in literature and film where the creators focus on a personage close to a celebrity and make them the main character. But I guess the film is well done if we can both claim our positions and believe the other person is wrong.

                  • pbhjpbhj 5 days ago

                    I specifically stated, twice, that I didn't believe Brian to be Jesus. I think that's the massive knee-jerk reaction of those who only saw clips at the initial release.

                    I don't think the writers took a post-modernist approach. Indeed, as I tried to explain, the inclusion of Jesus as a character is IMO a clear attempt to say "see, no blasphemy here" for the purposes of publishing the film. (FWIW I don't consider the film blasphemous without the Jesus scenes, not explicitly at least).

                    The intention is pretty clearly to say "Jesus is Brian", ie "he's elevated by the crowd to his position as Messiah, rather than that being an intrinsic part of the man known as Jesus".

    • zaphirplane 7 days ago

      Let us not confuse comedy, freedom of speech, inciting hatred and racism Let’s not confuse the clergy with a religious figure

      I don’t know you or your values, often racists disguise their views as some form of freedom and conflate concepts. I have no strong urge to watch comedies poking fun at other people’s sensitive topics perhaps you should consider why you want to

      • keldaris 7 days ago

        > I don’t know you or your values, often racists disguise their views as some form of freedom and conflate concepts. I have no strong urge to watch comedies poking fun at other people’s sensitive topics perhaps you should consider why you want to

        Well, I for one certainly want to see more comedies poking fun at people's sensitive topics - most of all, my own. If I can't enjoy a well crafted joke about views or subjects I hold dear, I cannot examine them seriously either, at which point I'm just holding on to a dogma. That to me seems far more tragic than feeling offense at the occasional crass or tasteless joke.

        Furthermore, on the broader point about comedy and offense, if you hold freedom of speech in any regard at all, you should fight the most for the right to express the views you find most offensive [1]. Anything less is not a defense of freedom of speech, it's simply defending your preference to be pandered to.

        [1] Yes, there are obvious caveats with actionable incitement to violence. Those are well covered by existing legislation in every developed country and have nothing to do with offending people.

        • zaphirplane 7 days ago

          You can have a civil debate, there is no way you are convincing a person their views are dogmatic and wrong by humiliation.

          Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, stand outside your office (or school) and hurtle abuse towards maligned groups, then in the evening fill your social media with more, a nice mix of racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, have a go at feminism ... etc What stops you ? Or is your moral view only appropriate towards some people

          • cogs 7 days ago

            Actually you can sometimes convince people their ideas are wrong by laughing at their ideas. I'll never forget my Dad's reaction when I bought a magazine about flying saucers.

            Whether or not we can change each others views by laughing at them, it shouldn't be forbidden. In fact it's healthy. All religions, and atheists too, have ideas that should be subjected to the scrutiny of laughter.

            Don't confuse hatred of people with laughing at ridiculous ideas. I 100% support everyone's right to hold ridiculous ideas (as long as they don't impact the rest of us).

            Laugh at the ties people wear to the office, or the suits with tails that people wear to prestigious events; but laugh as well at pompous religious robes.

            Laugh at the belief that flying saucers exist, the belief that fairies exist, the belief that god X Y or Z exists, or at the idea that the universe is just a soup of particles and radiation that cares nothing about us.

            Any worthwhile idea or belief can withstand laughter, and probably did when it was young. The fact that some people cannot, means it's not reasonable to take the piss out of the shy kid in class. Laughing at a vulnerable person or group of people is wrong. But for ideas - especially for ideas that claim justification in mystical personal experience rather than rationality - laughter can be the best argument.

          • keldaris 7 days ago

            I'm not sure what it is that you're arguing against, where did I advocate shouting abuse outside a school as a productive way of doing anything? Perhaps you could clarify your argument somewhat.

            Civil debates are great, I'm happy to have more of them. At the same time, works like the Life of Brian (and many others over the years) sometimes manage to convey more thought-provoking critique per unit time than any civil debate I've ever seen. Having to tune out a measure of tasteless humor is the price we pay for enjoying these brilliant works because there is no more a way of legislating good humor than there is of enforcing quality journalism, good music or any other creative human endeavour.

            • zaphirplane 7 days ago

              > Well, I for one certainly want to see more comedies poking fun at people's sensitive topics

              What stops you from doing that in front of your home or office ? Why don’t you act on your beliefs?

              • keldaris 7 days ago

                Why do you equate comedy production with obnoxious shouting in public? It doesn't even make sense as a strawman. I don't produce comedies because I'm not a filmmaker. I don't shout random insulting things in public because that's just dumb. Neither fact contradicts any of the views and beliefs I've expressed in this thread in any way.

      • rohit2412 7 days ago

        Maybe because atheists like me are beheaded in certain countries. Why would you shut down criticism of the ideology that does that?

      • nintendo95 7 days ago

        Freedom of speech wasn't granted to us to talk about weather while drinking coffee. Freedom of speech was granted to us to talk about difficult topics quite often when we don't like discussing it in the first place.

        This paraphrase of a quote is often attributed to both Churchill and Jefferson.

        The whole idea is that people who you are uncomfortable listening to have the right to speech right in your face even when it makes you extremely uncomfortable. The whole current political system is morally bankrupt when some of us are granted this freedom (radical immams) while others aren't (i.e. racists). Because then regular people on the street stop believing and voting for liberal democrats. Liberal democrats criticizing freedom of speech (not granted to racists would seem to make you happy) and democratic process (i.e. electoral college, brexit) -- they start looking like they don't care about their own values (like freedom of speech and democracy). You can't call yourself liberal and then be anti-free speech to this or another group or perceived group. This makes you look as if you don't understand the words you use to describe ideas you believe in it. You are not liberal if you ban freedom of speech to racist. Period, and of story. Look up liberal in dictionary.

        This is one of the reasons why people vote Trump or AfD or Social Democrats in Sweden. They recognize mainstream political parties as anti-democratic (ignoring EU referendums) and anti-liberal (opposition to freedom of speech). So if all the political spectrum in anti-liberal and anti-democratic why not to vote for a party that at least isn't hypocritical about it?

        • zaphirplane 7 days ago

          Like I said and assuming you are gainfully employed

          Go stand outside your office and holler out some of those uncomfortable topics. Fill your social media using your real name with more of the same. You can’t and don’t unless you associate with some fringe group. So let’s not pretend this is about some freedom that is taken from you. We can have a debate, we can exchange views, we can try to convince each other, all that can be done in a civilized way, with politeness. Why does it have to be rude and hurtful

          • nintendo95 7 days ago

            No, for the same reason I wouldn't go there and say priests are wrong in the middle-ages. I would be be killed by the mob. Burnt like a witch.

            You can't create social environment, like in middle-ages, where discussing certain topis, like racial differences at universities, results in loosing employment, getting "killed by the mob", and then demand I come out. This is crazy! You mr. inquisition are not going to set me up into this trap.

            And, yes, I know you would love to see me burnt at the stake because of my love of science and my scientific believe that there are differences between sexes and there are differences between races. But I will not give you the pleasure mr. grand inquisitor.

            Human genome has been decoded since 2003. This is science. If your ideology destroys it, then you are inquisition. And we are living in new middle-ages. Not to believe in sex differences? Not to believe in race differences? 16 years after the genome has been decoded? Why? Because you have your ideology like some 600 years ago had their religion? And what do I care?

  • basetop 7 days ago

    Doesn't sweden ban "hate speech/blasphemy" today? When conservatives are in power, they love to ban "hate speech". Now that liberals are in power, they also love to ban "hate speech".

    This makes me think that it isn't left or right that loves censorship. It's those with power that love censorship. Seems like the first thing people do when they get power is to tell other people what they can or cannot say.

chriselles 7 days ago

I coincidentally watched it with my two sons(13 & 12) the other night.

They loved it!(thankfully)

Especially, the part where the crowd yells “We’re all individuals!”.

And one lone voice peeps, “I’m not.”

Often silly, frequently smart, and occasionally dark irreverence.

  • KineticLensman 7 days ago

    Somewhat superbly, the “I’m not” line wasn’t actually scripted. It was shouted out by a quick thinking crowd-scene extra. The pythons liked it so much it was kept in and he was mentioned in the credits. Source - memory from reading one of the pythons’ biographies a few years ago.

  • gmueckl 7 days ago

    This is the one moment that contains the whole message of the film condensed into a brief gag that seems so silly on the surface, but goes surprisingly deep. This is easily my most favorite scene of that movie.

    • dwd 7 days ago

      That was the one scene that stuck with me when I first saw it in the early 80s when it came out on video. It's still probably my favourite scene.

  • basetop 7 days ago

    It's funny when you watch it as a youth. It's get even funnier and more poignant and insightful when you watch it as an adult. You catch so many historical, political, cultural, linguistic, etc references that you missed as a kid.

    If you teach your kids latin, they'll appreciate the movie that much more.

  • sundvor 7 days ago

    Thanks for posting that quote, it's one of my all time favourites. "You might all be individuals but I'm not", to quip. It's funny and deep at the same time.

leephillips 7 days ago

This paragraph from the article is odd:

‘Still, as gender transitioning becomes culturally mainstream, the desire of the revolutionary Stan (Eric Idle) to be a woman, to be called “Loretta” and to have babies, will strike a chord.’

In fact, actual the scene from the film will be highly offensive to anyone who has accepted the pro-trans dogma. “Loretta”’s companions point out to him the absurdity of his decision to “be” a woman, and Loretta’s comments could have been transcribed from the Twitter feed of any trans woman yesterday. They are kind to Loretta, and spend the rest of the film trying to treat him as he wants to be treated, and frequently apologizing when they forget. But there is never any doubt that this is the kindness of friends towards one who is just very confused.

  • favorited 7 days ago

    What is "the pro-trans dogma" that you describe?

    • leephillips 7 days ago

      That humans can change their sex.

      Here is the scene, by the way:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PObBA2wH5l0

      • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

        I look at the pace that gene tech and organ printing is going and can't help but think that these discussions will eventually seem embarrassingly obsolete. People will instead be getting outraged about the blue furry winged people with clitoris implants on their earlobes.

juliangamble 7 days ago

I showed my kids the falling from the tower scene, including the commentator on the landing. They cracked up.

rick22 5 days ago

The degree to which the nations majority religion can be criticized is a good indicator of the individual's freedom. UK and US has the most individual freedom then as may be india has a lesser degree and then the middle east has almost zero individual freedom.

brundolf 7 days ago

My favorite bit of commentary was this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka9mfZbTFbk

I was raised protestant and my girlfriend Jewish; after this scene I leaned over and whispered, "this is why there are too many denominations to keep track of".

dekhn 7 days ago

Over time, I've come to like the Holy Grail less and less, and this movie more and more. It's the latin lesson (making fun of schoolteachers in england), the witty banter about the naming of the revolutionary front (sorry, People's Liberation Front of Judea), and a number of other ideas in the movie that were so ahead of their time.

DeveloperMan 7 days ago

I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in Monty Python to watch "Holy Flying Circus". It's a hilarious docudrama about the time leading up to the TV debate.

peter303 7 days ago

Landmark arts chain here is having a showing Holy Thursday April 18.

wallace_f 7 days ago

Great quotes from the article:

>Kant put it in 1784, “‘Have the courage to use your own understanding!’ — that is the motto of enlightenment.”

>The virtue of the film today is its capacity to offend a whole new generation of viewers for different reasons.

I wish that in 2019 we were not so quick to personally attack for unique or politically incorrect ideas.

  • bilbo0s 7 days ago

    >I wish that in 2019 we were not so quick to personally attack for unique or politically incorrect ideas...

    That's the beauty of the film, it deftly illustrates that the vast majority of us don't have any "unique politically incorrect ideas". We're all, kind of, members of the People's Front of Judea. (Except, of course, for those of us who are members of the Judean People's Front.)

    Basically, the movie showed that most of us are "uniquely rebellious" in almost exactly the same way. Same taglines. Same clothes. Same beliefs. Same pass times. Etc etc etc. We've all become the brooding Goth teenager, who believes him or herself to be unique and counter cultural. Yet somehow we still look, sound and dress like every other "uniquely rebellious" Goth teenager on the planet.

    The film makes fun of the fact that there were very few people out there with completely unique and insightful views back when it was made. The reason it resonates today is because this central fact is still true. Not many people with unique ideas out there at all. Most of what we hear, we've already heard before.

    • singingfish 7 days ago

      Whatever happened to the Popular Front?

      • NeedMoreTea 7 days ago

        He's over there.

        • floathub 7 days ago

          No, that's the Popular People's Front.

    • wallace_f 7 days ago

      Actually, I completely agree with you here.

  • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

    >I wish that in 2019 we were not so quick to personally attack for unique or politically incorrect ideas.

    I don't think we do that any more now than we used to, is just that as what is considered politically incorrect changes some people will think that there is an increase due to them personally getting more shit, where there is actually just a change in focus.

    • marcus_holmes 7 days ago

      I think the rise of social media, and its vast ability to strip comments/speech of context and so enable dogpiling/offence/etc, has caused a huge rise in personal attacks for "problematic" statements.

      I have personal conversations offline with people where we can discuss controversial topics without anyone taking offence or "calling out". I have learned to avoid any such topics on social media because of the social consequences. I know many others who do the same: simply avoid certain topics online.

      I'm old enough to remember how we were before the internet, too. It wasn't like this. Discussions were more interesting and less fraught. People had a wider range of opinions on everything. At least, that's how I remember it.

      • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

        There may be an increase in off the cuff rudeness to people you are unlikely to meet, as the internet makes that so much easier with fewer immediate consequences, but (at least here in the UK) we do not have anywhere near the same level of serious personal attacks. You might be more likely to encounter someone on the internet who is willing to be rude to you for your opinion, but you are much less likely to meet someone on the street that is willing to beat you up for it.

      • basetop 7 days ago

        It's not social media per se, it's the authorities or people in power.

        10 or even 5 years ago, you could have debates on every controversial topic online from abortion to atheism to lgbt to healthcare. In comment threads you would literally see every side of the debate. But something happened fairly recently where social media got weaponized for political reasons. And "blasphemy laws" got established on social media platforms. What's interesting is that the same "blasphemy laws" are on every platform as if a pope or an authority figure sent out a decree that everyone had to obey.

        Now there are even well funded "hit squads" to attack or shame people for wrongthink. But I think their time is coming to an end because more and more people are getting tired of censorship.

        • humanrebar 7 days ago

          I think the secular folks in these threads must not see the modern secular analogs to blasphemy, penance, indulgences, and purity. Misguided virtue signalling boycotts and all!

          • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

            As someone who is pretty secular, why do you think we must not?

            I mean, I've posted a couple of John Gray links here and it would be difficult to have read anything of his without having spent at least a little time thinking about the secular analogs to religious practices, as that is one of his major themes.

            • ytNumbers 7 days ago

              Because if you really thought about it, you'd realize that you have so much in common with the religious zealots of old (and be so horrified by this) that you'd have to go home and completely re-think your belief system. In the 21st century, people want to believe that they have nothing in common with the Spanish Inquisition.... "Put her in the comfy chair!".

              • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

                >"Because if you really thought about it, you'd realize that you have so much in common with the religious zealots of old (and be so horrified by this) that you'd have to go home and completely re-think your belief system."

                You've just successfully described one of my main hobbies. As far as any secular tradition goes, I am firmly in the Diogenes camp.

        • HillaryBriss 7 days ago

          i followed your reasoning until you said that you think "their time is coming to an end." IDK. i don't see much evidence of that.

          like elements of the crowd that wants to stone a woman for adultery, we're all itching to chuck a rock or two, not so much because we love violence or hate the woman, but because we're afraid someone more powerful will accuse us of failing to throw a stone and we ourselves will become the next target. i don't see any Jesus on the horizon to stop it.

        • amanaplanacanal 7 days ago

          I think it's caused by the rise of advertising as a funding source for these companies. To maximize profits, they have to make sure that nothing appears on their platforms that will piss off the advertisers. This combined with "engagement" as the metric of success.

          So they want things that will anger as many users as possible, so that they will stay on the platform and share the outrage with their friends, but not so outrageous the advertisers will leave.

          I don't think this is going to end well.

          • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

            >So they want things that will anger as many users as possible, so that they will stay on the platform and share the outrage with their friends, but not so outrageous the advertisers will leave.

            Also known as the 'Daily Mail' strategy. (Which admittedly has had a slight change in tone recently what with the editor being changed for someone very slightly less mental after Lady Rothermere got bored of being teased at parties)

      • fit2rule 7 days ago

        Every salient point concerning social agency and individual responsibility made by Monty Python in "Life of Brian" as well as most of their other films, can be validated by the manifestations of social media.

        We are, literally, living the Monty Python moments which resonate so well.

        All it takes to demonstrate this is a brief moment of pause before you hit the upvote or the downvote button.

        Beyond that point, we are all made of wood and weigh the same as a duck.

        • otaviokz 7 days ago

          > All it takes to demonstrate this is a brief moment of pause before you hit the upvote or the downvote button.

          WOW, that was well phrased.

    • wallace_f 7 days ago

      Yea, I meant we should have made progress, maturing past it, but people are the same as always.

      • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

        As far as progress goes, I kinda agree with John Gray - https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/qbwqem/john-gray-intervie...

        • wallace_f 7 days ago

          Thanks for the link. An on-point article in the context of my comment.

          I liked this quote, even if I'm not 100% in agreement:

          >On the whole, they are older and wiser myths than secular myths like progress

        • acqq 7 days ago

          He has a lot of valid points ("we outsourced the slavery and pollution") but he somehow likes religions more than atheism, which is definitely inconsistent: he recognizes the "false beliefs" in the everyday Western world (keeping the eyes closed about the mentioned "outsourcing"), but then avoids to treat the same the religions which obviously can't all be true. Only atheism is consistent with the existence of all other religions (simply claiming that it's the humans who invented various mutually conflicting stories about one or more "deities"). He also claims that the atheism "is a religion" which is by definition false: "disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods."

          Moreover, the changes brought by enlightenment were actually revolutionary and immense. But what is his correct observation is that no rights are fixed and that the most of the humans who have them now can as well lose them fast.

          • wallace_f 7 days ago

            Religion, in my opinion, is not really about believing in a dude in sandals up in the clouds somewhere. And some large part of it is in fact junk and even sometimes dangerous. But it has value in exploring questions and aspects of humanity that we are not able to understand with reason. Human beings are really bad at reason. Just in my opinion.

            Atheism is an affirmative answer to a question about your faith in the unknown. So I agree with him, again just personally.

            • louisswiss 7 days ago

              > But it has value in exploring questions and aspects of humanity that we are not able to understand with reason.

              I don't think this claim stands up to much scrutiny.

              Sure - religion is interesting from a historical perspective. "Why do we think the way we do" for example. Or "how did we grapple with problem X before we discovered Y..."

              But religion doesn't offer some unique perspective or insight we don't otherwise have access to.

              In fact, it stops us exploring questions we don't yet understand. Because (organised) religion claims to have the answers. That's what makes it so dangerous.

              And, as Christopher Hitchens used to say, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to support them"...

              • wallace_f 7 days ago

                I think a good example is human rights. Remember, these started out as natural, or god-given rights. We all know what the world looks like without them. All the ultra-rational, anti-religious political economies of the first half of 20th century were hells on earth. You cant come to reasonable arguments for human rights without faith in some belief in natural good, dignity or humanity.

                • louisswiss 7 days ago

                  > You cant come to reasonable arguments for human rights without faith in some belief in natural good, dignity or humanity.

                  We can, and we did.

                  The US constitution for example, is explicitly secular.

                  In fact I'd say there's a convincing case to be made that - as soon as faith (in some form) enters the equation - you can no longer have a reasonable argument about human rights, because by definition, a person who believes something 'on faith' cannot be persuaded by logical argument, reason, or evidence. They simply 'know it to be true'.

                  > I think a good example is human rights. Remember, these started out as natural, or god-given rights.

                  The teachings of the most common major religions included some human rights. But also a lot of incitement to commit atrocious acts completely counter to our human rights (for example the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality, the command to commit genocide in several cases, genital mutilation and so on).

                  Sure, you can cherry pick just the 'good' parts of your chosen religion, but if you're doing that, why bother with religion in the first place?

                  If you (or anyone else reading this) genuinely agree with the comment I'm replying to, please, please, please watch this debate with an open mind --> (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJCZKZomtXQ).

                  • CharlesColeman 7 days ago

                    >> You cant come to reasonable arguments for human rights without faith in some belief in natural good, dignity or humanity.

                    > We can, and we did.

                    > The US constitution for example, is explicitly secular.

                    The US Constitution is a plan of government amended with a listing of human rights. In its original form it left those rights entirely unenumerated. It's an odd argument to claim that it forms any kind of basis for those rights when that basis is clearly elsewhere.

                  • camjohnson26 7 days ago

                    Look at the animal kingdom and you’ll see a natural world full of death, rape, and violence with no basis in religion. If we’re animals that’s the baseline. By using the word atrocity you’re buying in to some definition of evil that has to come from a philosophical belief system, ie a faith, which could be directed toward God, the future of humanity, logic, a flat earth, or literally anything else.

                    • louisswiss 7 days ago

                      > Look at the animal kingdom and you’ll see a natural world full of death, rape, and violence with no basis in religion.

                      True (although amongst some species no higher than our own, so not sure what point that proves).

                      > By using the word atrocity you’re buying in to some definition of evil that has to come from a philosophical belief system, ie a faith, which could be directed toward God, the future of humanity, logic, a flat earth, or literally anything else.

                      I don't know that you can believe in logic or the future of humanity.

                      Definitely not in the same way people believe in God.

                      As for where morality/our basis for human rights comes from if not from religion, Richard Dawkins explains best (in ~5min) how the source most probably isn't belief/faith/religion in this video --> (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XtvWkRRxKQ).

                      • acqq 6 days ago

                        This is the video that explains the best how the "morality" is natural even in the capuchin monkeys:

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg

                        So, no to those that claim that, humans aren't special, and no, the good sides of morality don't come from religion, especially not from the modern ones with a "jealous" god (killing homosexuals, or punishing women when not wearsing something, however, if that is considered "morality", indeed provably does come from religion).

                        The whole talk:

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk

                      • wallace_f 7 days ago

                        In that video Dawkins says he thinks religious morality is contemptible because it is based out of fear.

                        That is true, however look at the world we live in. A lot of people are not moral.

                        He admits the question asked of him is a "genuinely hard question:" using concepts of good and evil is an inherent admission in some faith in such concepts.

            • acqq 7 days ago

              > Religion, in my opinion, is not really about believing in a dude in sandals up in the clouds somewhere.

              If you take a honest look in what religions are "really about" you'd come to: hell. Deities providing a place to torture human souls. Even Buddhism (as a developed religion, not as an idea on which it was established) has its hell.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naraka_(Buddhism)

              The proof that all of these stories are actually produced by humans and even have one origin is that the concept of hell effectively didn't exist around 3000 years ago but then appeared in all the cultures which mutually exchanged goods through the trade routes around 2500 years ago. The timing also doesn't fit with any of the religions claiming they have "the truth": the concept of hell was surely unknown to early Judaism but was provably spread across the cultures centuries before the Christianity appeared.

              > But it has value in exploring questions and aspects of humanity that we are not able to understand with reason.

              Like, we can imagine hell really good, and obviously successfully spread the invented stories about it. Heaven on another side is either non-existence, or profoundly uninteresting or obviously produced for a mind of sex-obsessed hormone pushed teenagers who will therefore be motivated to die for their "religion" (virgins always ready for sex).

              > Human beings are really bad at reason.

              Should we then prevent them from trying to reason about their religions? Or shouldn't we support them exactly to do so? The problem is, raising people to "not do something" because they will be "punished" in the afterlife provably doesn't work, otherwise we wouldn't be where we are now -- the human civilization constantly being near to complete annihilation.

              By pure nature of how probability works, there will be sooner or later some false alarm that will indeed trigger the actual detonation of the nuclear weapons. The only sane action by humanity would be to reduce their amount to the scale which makes humanity's annihilation impossible. We are very far from that at the moment. Because it's so profitable making these weapons.

              Yes, human beings are really bad at reason.

              https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/john-f-k...

              "military and intelligence leaders responded by unveiling their proposal for a pre-emptive thermonuclear attack on the Soviet Union, to be launched sometime in late 1963. JFK stormed away from the meeting in disgust, remarking scathingly to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “And we call ourselves the human race.”"

inflatableDodo 7 days ago

Given this article, I really don't think that they deserve their self appointed strapline; 'Academic rigour, journalistic flair'.

From the crude and inaccurate broad brush descriptions of modern attitudes to blasphemy, through to presenting the song 'Always look on the bright side of life' as an example of nihilism, this reads like a poorly researched high school essay, with a Kant quote thrown in at the end to try and make it sound clever.

  • BLKNSLVR 7 days ago

    It's a confusingly desert-dry article about an oceanically-wet piece of classic cinema. It's almost worth reading the article to see how someone can turn a hugely fun and enjoyable film into such a bland review.

    I expected wolf-nipple-tips but was delivered stale bread.

  • senectus1 7 days ago

    lol, welcome to "The Conversation"

    • inflatableDodo 7 days ago

      Just noticed that that the author is Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thought from The University of Queensland. I might drop him an email to enquire how that could have possibly occurred and if anybody has yet noticed their mistake.

QuamStiver 7 days ago

Is thinking for ourselves really such a good distinction for ‘modernity’ from past generations? Belief is belief afterall, whether religious or not we’re all still swayed by our cultural biases and popular opinions.

If Monty Python were to stay true to form in the modern day, I might say they’d oppose our supposed “woke” generation’s self orientation.

Author quoted Kant almost in a context of Nietzsche at the end there, but what I think Kant (and the movie) meant by this phrase is that we should each consider our religion realistically, not that religion is an intimation of the unthinking.

Amendeson530 7 days ago

There’s one background note I read once, about the filming of the crowd scenes. In Tunisia, where the extras were the local people. Who did not speak English.

So that when the soundtrack of a crowd scene says “we are all individuals”, watch the mouths of the extras. Not saying that in English, I’d suggest.

A piece of passing trivia.