Movie Friday: Show me a God

There’s never been a conscientious believer who has gone through life completely free of doubt. There is an interesting passage in Mark 9 in which Jesus is asked to heal a child with epilepsy, and the father is told that all he has to do is believe hard enough, and his son will be cured (Jesus was an early Deepak Chopra, apparently). The distraught father says “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!” and his son is immediately cured.

The story is complete bullshit, to be sure, but that line “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief” has been uttered, in various permutations, by the lips of the faithful for as long as people have been told to believe in ridiculous stories and impossible propositions with no evidence.

Tech N9ne turned it into a song:

There is an entire branch of theology called “theodicy” that is devoted to trying to square the circle of things in the world that are evil with the idea of a benevolent creator. Guys like Ken Ham, Ray Comfort and Hugh Ross make the claim that suffering is intentionally introduced into the universe to test mankind’s resolve to turn away from sin. If mankind is able to bear up under the crushing weight of temptation and overcome evil, then he is rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven (citation needed). Of course this is a facile explanation that falls apart under even casual scrutiny. Why would a loving god make such a test? Why not make it easier to be good? Why not create mankind with an inner drive to be good? Why punish those who are innocent of any misdeeds, while rewarding those who sin? Why bother testing us at all if it knows who will pass and who will fail a priori?

The other explanations are that YahwAlladdha is not good at all, but a petty heartless trickster who delights in human suffering, or that it is completely indifferent to the suffering of its creation.

Or, more parsimoniously, that it doesn’t exist at all and you’re wasting your time asking stupid questions.

While there are a lot of reasons to hold onto religion in the black community (community organization has traditionally centred on church groups, the belief in ultimate justice helps you ignore many of the day-to-day injustice you see around you), I am glad to see/hear influential voices within the hip-hop community begin to broach the taboo around criticizing religion. Maybe none are so poignant as this track from The Roots:

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P.S. Sorry about the embedding. VEVO is… I have mixed feelings.


  1. says

    Great vids, especially the second one. (For some reason, you never really struck me as a hip-hop fan. I don’t know what that means if anything.) Usually I can’t get into hip-hop but the second one especially I really enjoyed.

    Have you seen these yet?


  2. says

    I got into hip-hop in a big way back in undergrad. I’ve liked it since I was a kid (my first ever purchase was “Apocalypse ’91 – The Enemy Strikes Black” by Public Enemy – I still have the tape), but stopped listening in the 90s. It wasn’t until you could get easy access to good stuff (that didn’t get radio play) that I got back into it.

    The Symphony of Science series is pretty good. I it to be a bit hat-and-miss, but “The Poetry of Reality” is by far my favourite.

  3. says

    I’ve kind of been curious to listen to hip-hop that doesn’t get radio play (e.g., not the stereotypical zomg sex and violence stuff) so if you have any recommendations I’d be interested to hear them. 🙂 I used to think I hated all country music, too, and recently I’ve begun to realize I only hate mainstream country music.

    They kind of grow on you after awhile… Poetry of Reality is probably one of my favs too, all though I also love “we are all connected” and “our place in the cosmos” a lot.

    Fuck it, I love all of them, LOL

  4. says

    Well The Roots are always a good place to start – not only do they produce their own amazing music but they bring lots of great guest artists to record with them too.

    De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest are two other crews that are worth checking out – lots of older stuff, but they continue to produce top-notch albums.

    That’s to get you started. I could give you a whole rundown of who I like and why, but in terms of high-quality and accessible hip-hop music, that’s where I’d start.

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