Last night I took some time to go to the movies and get my mind off of the homely chores I did earlier in the day. I went to see Religulous. This movie will be heavily polarizing to a lot of people. The premise is Bill Maher, who is a strong advocate for logical thinking, going around asking people of various religious faiths about their religions and facts. He interviews all the big ones, catholics, christians, jewdaism, mormons or rather ex-mormons (as they probably weren’t welcome on church grounds), muslims, and unfortunately only skewers scientology (it would have been nice to see an interview on that, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t give him one).
There are some absolutely amazing comments not only in the questions that Bill asks, but also in some of the responses he gets. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud with such volume in a movie in my life. It’s astounding to see so many people of so many religions all saying very similar things. The one thing they were all very adamant about is they’re right and there is no disproving it. Even more amazing is how when asked a very simple question the interviewee could not answer it or would duck the question and respond with something completely unrelated. One of my favorites was a vatican priest, hilarious.
None of the people interviewed seemed unintelligent. Many of them did contradict themselves, some rather perversely. When Bill asked about the story of Jesus and Christianity being cobbled together from previous cultures and religions of some of his interviewees it was interesting to see them reject it or squirm about it. One interviewee actually claimed to be THE second coming of Christ. He was dead serious that two angels came to him (without witnesses) and informed him that he is the reincarnation of Jesus. Kinda weird since that would seem to be big news, don’cha think?
Another interview was with Tal Bachman. Someone whom, I’ve actually crossed paths with in life. I auditioned for his band a few years back. I thought his music was brilliant (it still is, which is why I’ve linked it with today’s post). I found out that Tal was mormon at some point. But I’m not sure if I knew that before the audition or not. Now, being that I was raised for a good portion of my developmental years in Utah, I’d been around mormonism. — Alas a lot of my extended family is mormon. I’m happy that it wasn’t forced upon me by my parents. I know I caught flack for it from my dad’s parents and from many cousins on both sides. They’ve since come to grips with my sister and I being not of the faith. — Thus when I met Tal, I probably had the wrong guitar with me for the audition. As it had a painting of Jesus holding a dove on it on the front, while the back had a much darker depiction of things.
Tal specifically asked me about the guitar, wanted to know about it. Asked about my parents and their beliefs and mine. I know I played well. I really admired his collective calmness. In fact in a way it was probably the most unnerving audition I ever did. He was so sure of himself it was scary. I remember getting a call from his management a week or so later telling me I was 2nd pick (not sure if that was really the case). To see him interviewed in Religulous was actually a little strange. Turns out he renounced mormonism. Which I understand from my own parents is a major thing to do and not easy.
There’s no doubt Bill had an agenda with his film. He makes his point very well. That point is that the idea of religion has run it’s course and for man to survive it’s time to move beyond it.
Afterwards I was asked to see An American Carol by my friend Mike. I don’t think there could be two films more diametrically opposed that I could see in the span of 4 hours. An American Carol is a spoof on Michael Moore. I’m not a major fan of Michael Moore, thus a whole lot of the humor in the movie was lost on me. The movie tried way too hard to funny by overtly poking stereotypes in their respective noses. Not clever at all. AAC (as I’ll refer to it), had this repugnant religion and war are the greatest things since the wheel message – it would certainly make Denis Prager proud [good thing since he’s in the credits]. Unfortunately the message of freedom and the American way got befuddled with how good it is to be protected by wiretapping, racial profiling, illegal searches and homeland security. Oh the irony. I especially loved the part when they show an America occupied by Islamic extremists and the movie’s main character isn’t happy about it. Duh, how cool is it for America to go occupy someone else’s country?!?
The real intent appeared to be a movie about how terrible it is to expose America for it’s problems. It’s better to show it as a great country spreading good thru the world via war and christianity. If only it were that simple. Right?
I represent one of the biggest minorities in America – those who don’t follow any religion. Which is 16% of the population. Despite that I think it’s highly wise to go see Religulous to get an idea of how some other religions get viewed and what they have to say about it or rather ignore about their own teachings. I’ll give it two thumbs up (you’ll nearly fall out of your seat laughing at the religion based around pot). As for An American Carol – it’s supposed to be funny, it’s not. It’s supposed to patriotic, but it’s too dopey to even get a good message across. I’ll say don’t waste the money in a theater, wait for DVD.
Enough of the movie reviews…
Getting to Tal. What was it that floored me about his music? Every single song on the CD kicked ass. It was the kind of album that when I heard it for the first time I was jealous. The songs were of such caliber that I had wished I had written them. Pretty much 90% of the album was like that. Even the songs that I didn’t wish I had written were still damn brilliant. Fantastic production. Great phrasing. Soaring melodies. Cool chord changes that are worthy of being in a chord chemist’s hands. With that, one can understand why I’d love the music (search the blog you’ll likely find why a chord chemist is important to me). Strong Enough lyrically represents something different than what I’m about to tie it to. I feel that people who are Strong Enough to love themselves and others don’t need religion to teach them that. It takes a really strong person to understand others and not spread hate.
Being that I got to play with Tal and his band, I will say it was humbling. Even more humbling than playing with John Mayer. Well, maybe not more humbling, but definitely powerful like that. Tal & John were the two auditions that I had the most respect for after having played with them – true musical power that I didn’t get from any other auditions. Aside from being without religion, I was the odd guy out as I didn’t know a ton of cover tunes. They launched into a song that I didn’t know (I’d heard it before but never learned it) and thus stood like a moron on the side for fear of playing something dumb. That’s how unsure I was and it’s so not like me. Like other auditions, I was much taller than the artist. But damn I wanted that gig and shot myself in the foot in the process. It was a short lived privilege that I will remember for a long time. I do wonder if Tal would remember my guitar, I doubt he’d actually remember me.
Single of the Day obviously only promotes a single song. Despite that, I strongly urge you to purchase the whole CD. I swear you won’t be disappointed with it. It’s an amazing musical journey from start to finish.