Nov 11 2010

Pop Paganism

Church bashing, pagan priestesses, and religious pluralism – Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon (1982) has it all. Offering yet another take on the Arthurian legend, Bradley’s fantasy has been praised for its feminist narrative and honored with its own miniseries on basic cable (2001).

The strongest women of Avalon – all devotees of the mother goddess – hold the destiny of the High King in their hands while fending off the dual threats of Saxon invasion and Christian conversion. The “official” version of the new religion gaining ground in Arthur’s world is cold, misogynistic, hypocritical, and meddlesome. Not all is gloom and doom, however. Bradley, in the voice of Morgaine, offers hope by uniting the two religions under one Gnostic banner. If Morgaine has her way, the most enlightened heirs of Camelot will understand that the Christian God and the Celtic goddess are male and female aspects of a single, nameless Divine. The good old days are behind us, she laments, but the goddess survives in the guise of Mary, mother of Jesus.

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May 27 2010

Hollywood Hypocrisy: The Prime Directive

In various Star Trek series, the “Prime Directive” ordered a strict policy of noninterference in the cultures of developing planets. For Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, the plot device was aimed squarely at the perceived evils of Western civilization, including traditional Christian faith. Indeed, religion always provided a convenient exception to the Prime Directive. Principal characters, especially in the original series and in The Next Generation, were frequently called upon to debunk religious belief or quash its development.[1] For someone like Roddenberry, tolerance was the first and greatest command unless, of course, an inhabitant of the galaxy happened to believe in God.

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Mar 2 2010

Why the Robot Apocalypse will not happen any time soon

It all begins with good intentions. Engineers create cybernetic help for everything from cleaning house to  fighting wars. Or someone decides we need a master computer to make the world run, you know, a little better. In any case, the result is nearly always catastrophic. Skynet takes over the planet (Terminator). A corporate mainframe initiates the dreaded robot rebellion (I, Robot).

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Jul 18 2009

Can Humanists Offer the Good Life?

[tab:Introduction]

Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Humanist Manifesto I, 1933 [1]

Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. Humanist Manifesto II, 1973 [2]

Remy, the star of Ratatouille, is in love with food. His rat family is in love with food, too, but in a very different sense. Remy loves food for its smell, texture, taste and color. He loves food as an end in itself. He loves food as a medium of art. He loves food for the experiences it creates in others. For his brother rats, food is nothing more than a means to an end. Food satisfies their basic needs. Food relieves the pain of an empty stomach. Clearly, Remy stands out from the pack. He is inspired by the great Chef Gusteau who is spreading a bold and surprising message: “Anyone can cook.” If ‘anyone’ includes rats, Remy reasons, then there is nothing to stop him becoming a cook as well, and so the adventure begins.

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Dec 10 2007

God in the Movies

It is rare for me to comment on movies I have never seen. It is rarer still for me to mention a movie, and then warn readers away, otherwise I’d be writing negative articles all day long. After all, Hollywood insists on churning out a product that is either unsuitable for Christian eyes and ears, or simply not worth our entertainment dollars. Rare exceptions in the last few years have included silver-screen adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Tolkien and Lewis standout because of their profound commitment to a theistic world view (although not to New Testament Christianity as such). Continue reading