Many, Many Thanks to Those Who Emailed Me

To those who have emailed me in response to The Seattle Times feature on Looking Closer, I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement you’ve given me. I *will* answer each and every email that you’ve sent as I find the time, but it’s going to take a while, so I appreciate your patience.

If you wrote and asked me to come speak to your church, I appreciate that, but please understand that my several jobs make for a fairly demanding schedule and I will not be able to respond to all of those invitations, as much as I’d like to.


And to the person who wrote in infuriated that I didn’t rank What the Bleep Do We Know? as the most spiritually profound film of the year, I’ll say this: any movie that tells us we can’t know any trustworthy, absolute truth … and then tries to assert that it is absolutely true that the spirit of Ramtha is more trustworthy than Christianity … underestimates our ability to detect contradictions and sell-jobs when we encounter them. In fact, isn’t it a little funny that a “convert” of this movie, which asserts that we should all be content with our own imagined version of truth and not try to persuade others, is spending energy trying to convince me that by omitting this movie from my list I’ve done something absolutely wrong?

In Looking Closer’s review of the film, Mike Hertenstein, who gives the film one star out of five, writes, “It does seem extremely interesting that a film that was devoted to urging viewers to create their own reality in their preferred image should suddenly flip-flop and become dogmatic about the objective reality of God. Or, more precisely, of asserting that God is nothing like he’s been presented by the Christian faith. No doubt, it’s pretty easy to be sympathetic to the ongoing project of disentangling the Christian faith from Modernity. But it also seems comically hypocritical that Ramtha should remark on how it was ‘the height of arrogance’ to create God in one’s own image, even as she (or he? J. Z. Knight is a woman, but I forget Ramtha’s gender.) was doing just that.”

(For Hertenstein’s full coverage of that film, click here.)

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  • Anonymous

    I have a hard time believing that you could be so naive as to fixate on such a weak example (Committed) of offense against Christians in order to downplay the emotional pain that Christians endure at the hands of the intolerant masses (remember the Cross in urine?); while simultaneously elevating the fictitious idea of systematic government-sanctioned torture against prisoners.
    By your standards, the Anti-Defamation League should be flying a “mission accomplished” banner outside of their headquarters, the NAACP should close up shop and head home, and the members of NOW should return to their day jobs.
    What about the Palestinians who used the Bible for toilet paper after seizing the Church of the Nativity? The priests were certainly in the Palestinians’ “complete power” as you say.

    It sounds to me like you have an axe to grind

    Best Regards, Nate

  • Thom

    Huh. I just have to get used to the fact that Bozell lives in his own little world, where facts are warped Michael Moore style to fit his skewed and absurd world view.

    Every time I see Bozell on TV, I find him more and more of a paranoid cartoon character.

  • tWB

    Although I can’t imagine deferring to Bozell on matters of ethics (or even media criticism), I suppose his point is worth refuting. However, it’s obvious that Bozell is attempting to create a false equivalence between torture and television.

    Let me give you a parallel example: what’s the difference between a cop beating a restrained suspect and two men pummeling each other for a championship belt?

    Or, to make the difference explicit, attempting to psychologically break someone under your power by assaulting the elements of his religion (to which you do not ascribe) and placing yourself and your government in an actively hostile position against it is something entirely different than making crude jokes in an entertainment context. (After all, radio shock-jocks like Michael Savage say equally or even worse things about Islam on a regular basis — but a Michael Savage is, in a moral sense, different than a Guantanamo interrogator.) The fact that there are so many reports of Qur’an abuse coming out of Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq (reported from Amnesty International, ICRC, &c.) suggests that this is a reasonably effective form of psychological abuse.

    There are other points to make here, dealing with the fact that the context of the entertainment (from within Christian culture) is also different than the context of the interrogations — but, really, it all comes back to the question of whether we believe, as Americans, as religious persons, as human beings, whether we believe that we have the right to inflict any number of psychological, spiritual, and physical harms on those who are physically in our complete power. If I were to approve of that, then I would be traducing every standard I hold as a Christian.

  • jasdye

    Aren’t we the complicit ones here, honestly. We allow crap like that to go out w/o a fuss and we allow it to infest our homes. I say this pointing the finger at me, of course. I sat through a whole hour of Scott MacFarlane’s crude cartoons the other night, after a lame joke about God being a lame magician who uses tricks as a way to pick up (and later, fry) chicks. And dang it, dang it all. I was trying to figure out whether or not I thought that was funny enough to warrant a pass.

    Gimme a break. TV is consumer-driven. It’s us-driven. As is ‘Tinsel-town.’ If we do what Briner advised and just turn off the crap and then apply our salt, the crap won’t be as effective.

    Maybe Muslims are just more reverential for historical, as well as religious and political reasons. I think we (Western Christians) need to find a balance between being able to be laughed at and not tolerating potty-jokes at the expense of the most sacred.

    I’m sorry. I’m just thinking while typing.

  • Anonymous

    C’mon, we all know you didn’t really think Committed was a respectable show. The show was dispicable, but not nearly as dispicable as government-sanctioned torture. People have a right to be more offended about this, and it’s idiotic to blame “Hollywood” for an inconsistency here.

  • Martin

    Here’s what Knute Berger of the Seattle Weekly said about What the Bleep.

  • Levi Nunnink

    Ah, the ol’ double standard. “I can absolutely say that there are no absolutes.”