Cause to celebrate!

I surprise myself. I actually have two positive things to say about the movie, God’s Not Dead.

First, the projection was excellent. The last time I wrote about the workings of the theater, I described the amazing elaborate old-timey gadgetry to show a movie print. That’s all gone now, replaced by a modern digital movie projector. Crisp, bright, reliable.

Also, the movie itself was an elaborate exercise in projection. The academics were all portrayed as dogmatic and authoritarian and rather stupid — even the debate which was supposedly the core of this movie consisted of the Christian protagonist and atheist professor exchanging rounds of quotes from their respective corners. Dawkins says this, but Lennox says that. Hawking asserts X, but Strobel trumps it with Y. That may be how dopey Christians argue, with dueling authorities, but sorry, that’s not how philosophers discuss much of anything.

It was also implied that all of the students at this university were atheists, or apathetic enough about religion to blithely agree with the statement that God is dead, as part of the filmmakers’ martyr complex: this straw America is populated almost entirely with godless unbelievers. Here I am at a secular state university, and even here, that’s simply not true. Most of my students are religious, although probably not to the degree that the hero of the film is.

The second bit of praise, though, is for the fact that this is the most profoundly anti-Christian movie I’ve ever seen. I left the theater filled with contempt and loathing for Christians.

You know, most of us atheists are able to respect believers as human beings — I can appreciate that they’re just as intelligent, just as capable of living a productive life as I am, but that they’re simply burdened with years of indoctrination. Not this movie. In the hands of whoever wrote this drivel, Christians are dumbasses. It has to set up a whole universe made of straw. All the atheists are callous, cruel, vindictive people, while the Christians are pious and sincere. A first year college student is knowledgeable enough to out-argue a philosophy professor…and every argument he makes is well-worn idiocy dredged from the bowels of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and C.S. Lewis, larded with bad quotes from Hawking or Dawkins, or good science mangled and distorted. It was little more than a Big Daddy style fantasy in which a Christian student can regurgitate tired, facile nonsense and send the godless professor reeling back in confusion and anger.

Really, the arguments for Jesus are: 1) the universe had a beginning, 2) life had a beginning, 3) there had to be a god to start things, and 4) how can you be moral without Jesus telling you what to do? And every time the professor would try to put the kid in his place by telling him that some other Big Name said otherwise, and how dare the credential-less punk disagree with them? It was appalling. I shall look forward to the young students who optimistically believe they will be able to crush the atheists with their brilliant strategies lifted from God’s Not Dead. This movie is setting up a lot of Christians with feeble assertions that will be so trivial to destroy — I fear my opponents have just been made stupider.

I would just like to thank Hunter Dennis, Chuck Konzelman, and Cary Solomon (the writers) for sabotaging the brains of another generation of proselytizers. You make it so easy for us.

But all that vapid noise was just the white bread foundation for the awesome mountain of fecal matter that would top this shit sandwich. I am going to tell you about the ending. You shouldn’t care — you don’t need a spoiler alert for a movie that is rotten from the first few minutes. This was the part that had me gawping in disbelief; it was the fate of the atheist professor that had me convinced that Christianity is actively evil.

He is crossing a street when he’s hit by a car and killed.

Not right away, though. He’s hit right in front of a car containing two missionaries, who get out and run to his ‘assistance’. Somehow, they are sufficiently knowledgeable about medicine to be able to tell that he’s going to die, and only has a few minutes left to live. So, with smiles on their faces, they tell him he’s going to be facing God in heaven in a few minutes, and that he must accept Jesus into his heart. It was my nightmare, that the last, brief, passing moment of life is spent with smug stupid assholes quoting Bible verses and pressuring the dying to affirm their superstitions, which is obviously the most important thing he could do.

See, projection. I just wish whoever made this film could imagine lying on their deathbed, when an atheist barges in and starts yelling that they are about to cease to exist, and there will be nothing forever, and slaps them a few times ordering them to reject God right now. That’s not going to happen, but of course all they can do is project their authoritarian proselytizing impulse on other. And of course, since this is the Christian straw universe, our atheist professor accepts Jesus with his dying breath.

After which, the two smiling missionaries tell each other that they have “cause to celebrate”. A man just died. They want to celebrate. They’re going to Disneyland!

Fuck me. All I felt was hatred. That was despicable.

I’ve got to start carrying a knife now. Just so all you Christians know, if I’m in a fatal accident, and I’m lying in the street dying, and you’re not running over to stop the bleeding or otherwise physically help me, and you try to pull that prayer-and-conversion shit on me, I’m going to stab you. I’ll have nothing to lose, and you sure as hell don’t deserve to continue living. I don’t like violence, but I will make an exception for this one possible circumstance.

Now I know a lot of Christians aren’t like that, and that there are many who are also appalled at this wretched excuse for a movie. You can have another reason for disliking it: it has hardened the heart of an atheist even further against your religion.

Christianity is barbarism, evil, and gibbering insanity. Thanks, God’s Not Dead. When your religion is extinct, then I’ll have cause to celebrate.

My exciting plans for tomorrow evening!

The Morris Theater is showing God’s Not Dead tomorrow at 7, and I have to go for multiple reasons. I want to find out how philosophy teaching works. From the trailer, it sounds like philosophers simply tell all their students what the answer is, and order them to write down the words verbatim in their exams. I’m really curious to see how effective that is, since it would make my teaching so much simpler.

I’m also curious to watch the audience. Maybe we’ll all be looking at each other, thinking “Oh, you’re the kind of idiot who goes to these things. Heh, heh, heh.”

I’ll be killing time, too, until it gets dark enough to drive a few miles out of town and bury the bodies under cloak of darkness I mean, watch the reputed meteor shower that evening.

Anyone else in the Morris area going? We could pick up the latest hot tips in college pedagogy.

Oh, never mind — nobody in Stevens County reads this weird blog.

Harken back to the satanic panics of yesteryear

Ah, the 1980s. When every preschool was a hotbed of satan worshipping child abusers, police departments had ‘experts’ on ritual murder, daytime talk TV would run very special episodes on cultic cannibal orgies, and Jack Chick published Dark Dungeons. You’ve read it, right? The story about Dungeons & Dragons giving you actual magical powers that would damn you to hell? Go ahead, take a minute to read it if you haven’t already.

Or don’t. Just wait until August, fork over $5, and you’ll be able to watch the movie of Dark Dungeons, no reading required. And this version is even more over the top than the Chick tract.

Watch to the end for the surprise guest appearance of an important character beloved by yours truly.

In case you’re wondering if this is a sarcastic send-up of the original tract, read the FAQ.

Is Dark Dungeons the Movie a satire?

NO! Satire is “a humorously exaggerated imitation.” The most classic example is Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, in which he mocks the English aristocracy’s indifference to the rural Irish poor by suggesting they eat Irish babies. This was an exaggeration as the English did not actually hate the Irish enough to eat their babies. By contrast, Dark Dungeons the comic shows that RPGs can lead to suicide, joining a witches coven, and gaining real life magical powers and Dark Dungeons the movie shows exactly those same things as well. The film adaptation does not exaggerate or alter those claims. It is NOT a satire.

Brilliant. It’s true — you cannot possibly make a satire of “Dark Dungeons”.

Complex, real world problems

I saw the new Captain America movie last night. It wasn’t bad, for a comic book movie, and there were a number of things I very much liked about it. The super-heroes weren’t that super — technologically enhanced, really, really good at battling the forces of evil, but also human and vulnerable to mundane menaces like bullets. I think I also like stories that don’t end neatly with the good guy beating up the bad guy, and presto, problems solved. Instead we have deeper issues that aren’t neatly resolved, because we live in a complex and difficult world full of messed-up human beings.

Speaking of a complex world…I arrived at the theater shortly before the 9:00 movie. I was surprised — there was no parking in any of the usual places within a block of the theater, and I had to park a whole block and a half away. That may not sound onerous to you, but it was unusual for me, since this is Morris and I can usually show up 5 minutes before the movie starts and park right outside the theater. The place was jammed. Swarms of people were there for the 7:00 movie.

Heaven Is For Real.

Captain America: sparsely attended. Ludicrously stupid movie that claims Jesus is waiting for you in a magical land of flowers and eternal youth: packed. Both are totally escapist fantasy, but one is honest and openly admits to being a made-up story based on a work of patent fiction, while the other is feel-good bullshit that puts up a pretense of being a true story. This is the reality: that a large part of the population here wants to be reassured, wants to be told that the dumb stories they were brought up on are really true, and wants to be promised that they don’t have to worry about this world because the next one is really nifty … and it’s not the same population that wants to go see a gosh-wow spectacle based on comic books.

Obviously, I don’t see a problem with wanting to be entertained by a work of fiction, but I do see a problem with mistaking fiction for reality, which is the entire premise and appeal of this Heaven bullshit.

Now if I were really sucked into thinking the fantasy worlds of Marvel were parables for how to handle a difficulty, I’d suggest a solution: I just have to find the one nefarious priest in town who has been poisoning the minds of the citizens, and engage him in an epic battle in downtown Morris. Sure, a few storefronts would be smashed, and a few craters would dapple Atlantic Avenue afterwards, but boom, the malignant influence would be gone and the happy people of Morris (who would all be lining the barricades around the city center, cheering) would be free. The End.

But that’s not how it works. There are no bad guys here, no foci of evil. The people sincerely want magical reassurances of a cosmic plan for their lives, and a destiny of bliss and goodness, and they specifically want the fantasy stories passed on by their parents to be literally and completely true. I have no super powers, and in fact, the ideas that I know to be true and verified by evidence and reason — there is no magical resurrection, superbeings like the supernatural Jesus did not and do not exist, we have this one life to live and nothing after death — would mark me as the villain in this story.

Man, real life makes for a lousy action movie.

By the way, the next movie coming to Morris is God’s Not Dead. It’s the story of a villainous atheist villain who is defeated in a final battle with a good-hearted Christian hero. It takes the trope of the movie that supports the reality of a superstition, and combines it with the very worst element of the superhero movie, the ultimate showdown that determines what is right. I imagine the theater will be packed again.

My entertainment options

The tradeoff for small town movie theaters is that you have to maximize your attendance, and that’s tricky in a place split between liberal weirdos at the university and narrow-minded Christian conservatives in town. So we get double-bills like this:


I’d like to see one of them, even though I’m getting tired of the genre. Can you guess which one?

As for the other one, the only question is…how much will you pay me to sit through it?

It gets even more fun next week, when the two movies in town will be The Grand Budapest Hotel vs. God’s Not Dead. I don’t think there’ll be much overlap between the 7:00 and 9:00 crowds.

The guy’s an evolutionist, and there’s nothing in the whole course description about biblical creation as even a plausible alternative!

Oh, joy. We’re getting another cheesy Christian movie in which the college professor is the evil bad guy. We just had Kevin Sorbo pretending to be an angry atheist philosophy professor in God’s Not Dead, and now we get Harry Anderson playing an angry atheist biology professor in A Matter of Faith.

Rachel Whitaker, a Christian girl, heads off to college for her much-anticipated freshman year. New friends create situations that require important, quick decisions—some about her social life, some about her core beliefs! Rachel begins to embrace the ideas of the university’s immensely popular biology professor (Harry Anderson) who boldly teaches that Darwinian evolution is the only logical explanation for the origin of life, and the Bible therefore cannot be true. When Rachel’s father (Jay Pickett) senses something changing in his daughter while she is home on a weekend visit; he begins to look into the situation and what he discovers catches him completely off guard. Now very concerned about Rachel drifting away from her Christian faith and the clear teachings of the Bible, he accepts an impossible challenge and tries to do something about it!

Can you guess what the impossible challenge is? He’s going to debate the biology professor on evolution.

Gosh, I wonder who will win?

It’s rather clear that people who believe in the Bible don’t have much connection to reality in their entertainment.

Ben Affleck’s new Batman costume…revealed!

There were groans of dismay throughout Nerd-dom when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman in the next movie in the franchise. But then the always over-the-top Kevin Smith saw the costume.

“I saw the Batman costume. More than that, I saw a picture of [Ben Affleck] in the costume…I don’t want to give anything away ’cause that is up to them and stuff, but I am going to say this…I instantly bear hugged [Snyder]. You have not seen this costume on film before. For a comic book fan, it was mind-bending… Because every other movie does this Matrix-y black armor thing…There wasn’t a single nipple on this suit. I think everyone is just gonna be like ‘Holy S**t!’ It’s its own thing. We haven’t been down this path before. Even the hardest core [most skeptical] person will be like ‘Alright, I’m ready.’…It seemed like it was very [Redacted] influenced.”

And as we all know, the most important thing in a superhero movie isn’t the plot or the acting — it’s the special effects and the fancy costumes.

But I have to agree with Smith. I have seen the costume, and it is awesome. It’s going to make the movie for sure. And here it is.

[Read more…]

I’m a scientist, I believe in proof

Near as I can tell from the trailer for I, Origins, the movie is about an affectless neuroscientist who takes pictures of eyes for Science, and then because he finds someone with similar irises to his dead lover, decides that reincarnation has been proven.

All I know is that whoever wrote this dreck has no idea about how scientists think.

Oh, joy. Another What the Bleep Do We Know, a bad and stupid movie that clueless nitwits will be throwing in my face for years to come to inform me that science is wrong.