First up, a black (and black and white) comedy, THE EVANGELIST. Theatre director and confirmed atheist Daniel gets more than he bargained for when he adopts what seems like a cool kid, Gideon (dig the Bible names). Turns out, besides being enthralled with stage blood, Gideon reads the Bible and believes it (the horror!) Daniel plays along with Gideons mission to convert people, thinking it's just a phase that will pass quicker if he doesn't fight it. But it doesn't pass, and instead leads to hilariously grisly results.
It's hard to peg if this movie is anti-religious or anti-atheist. It seems to be anti-fanaticism on either side. Certainly the scene with Daniel finding out the book Gideon is hiding under his pillow isn't a porn magazine but the Bible makes him (Daniel) out to be the intolerant one. And since the movie is about religious fanaticism, I feel like going off on a weird rant about my own beliefs. Starting...now:
I am an atheist. And I mean that not in the sense that I have no beliefs one way or another, but I believe (without proof of the unprovable) that God does not exist. Although I can summon doubt, I am still an atheist, not an agnostic. Those who argue that if you have doubt you're an agnostic piss me off. With them, the word agnostic stops meaning anything about your (lack of) belief in God one way or another but rather about your capacity to see other viewpoints and summon doubt in your beliefs. In their definition, people are either agnostics or arrogant drooling morons with insufficient mental agility to imagine a world in which they're wrong. While this definition might ensconce agnostics in a cloak of smug superiority, it's a useless definition for discussing matters of faith, and agnostics who insist on that definition are just assholes.
Besides, agnosticism is a dangerous gateway philosophy. Sure, I understand how it's appealing. You're hanging out with friends, maybe having a few beers when someone sparks up a thought, 'Dude, what if God like...existed, man?' And you might experiment with it a few times, just to expand your mind. And maybe it makes the world more intense and alive (or maybe it makes everything more mellow, I don't really know). I've even tried it before, although I am by no means an agnost-head. But beware, it can lead to harder, more dangerous beliefs. No sir, it's just good, clean atheist lifestyle for me!
With that said, I did once try to read the Bible cover to cover. I got bogged down in Leviticus, but before I gave up I did read a story that changed my whole worldview. It's an oldie but goodie--the ten commandments. But it's an onscure part that most people gloss over, if they know it at all. You may recall that God gave Moses the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai, but he was up there so long those silly Israelites started worshipping a golden calf. And you may recall that Moses was so angry he smashed the tablets and ran back to tell God, who this time made Moses carve the commandments into the stone tablets and bring them back to his chosen people. But I just skipped my favorite part, Exodus 32:7-14 (KJV)
My added emphasis. Basically, God wanted to kill all the Israelites, and Moses talked him out of it. What Moses did was pretty darn amazing, but what struck me is that God can change his mind. I suppose there are many possible ways to interpret this. For example, it could mean that even God can make mistakes and be corrected. Or he could've been testing Moses, with no intention of killing anyone. But when I first read it I chose to interpret it as God is perfect (at least, the Bible is written with that premise) and yet he can change his mind. The obvious implication that perfection--in particular moral perfection--does not have one unique solution. For a given situation (in this case, the tribe abandoning God) there are multiple possible actions (Kill them all! Forgive them all!) that are all morally correct. Now maybe that's only true for God himself, but once that idea got into my mind I couldn't shake it, or how right it felt when applied to human actions, too.
7And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
11And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
14And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Total Running Time: 174 minutes
My Total Minutes: 222,328