Thursday, February 8, 2007

Inherit the Gym

So while I was working out last night down at the gym , I was drifting through the cable channels available on their state-of-the-art treadmills. I like to pick one thing and watch it throughout my workout, and not get into the habit of surfing. (Surfing tends to make the rest periods of an interval workout seem to go FASTER, which is the last thing you want…) Anyway- I had landed at the beginning of the great Back To The Future on the Family channel- but I COULDN’T STAND the fact that the channel had EDITED out some of the violence. There’s this great sequence early in the film where Doc Brown gets chased down and shot by the Libyan terrorists… you see the bullets fly up his chest, and Marty in a panic shuts the door of the Delorian and takes off. The family channel decided that this was TOO much for anyone over the age of FETUS to handle, so all you see of this sequence is Marty looking over and seeing Doc lying on the ground- thereby ELIMINATING Marty’s motivation to drive off. Unedited, Marty knows Doc is dead, and he runs away, accidentally going over 88 miles an hour, engaging the flux capacitor, whooshing back to 1955 and setting up the premise for the entire film. HERE it just looks like Marty is ABANDONING the poor Doc. ON TOP OF THAT all of the “shits” and “damns” are of course dubbed into “shoots” and “mans”, providing an annoying distraction that makes enjoyment of the movie quite difficult. Grr.

FORTUNATELY I zipped around and happened upon AMC which was showing Inherit the Wind. YES. The play Inherit the Wind was a very important catalyst in the development of my cognitive thinking skills, and this movie version staring Spencer Tracy, Fredrich March, Gene Kelly, and even a youngish Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter!) and even youngerish Dick York (Darren #1!) is quite a WONDERFUL adaptation. (There was Showtime version done a few years ago with George C. Scott, and that was very good too- but the classic 1960 black and white film is still my favorite.)

Well- I was prepared to do an hour of intervals on the treadmill o’ doom, but ended up doing 90 minutes. It was an ABSOLUTE pleasure to watch this movie, even though every inch of my fat ass was saying STOP! SIT DOWN! HAVE A COOKIE...

This film (play, script, whatever) is so full of great lines, that I bet that the folks next to me must have thought I was mental. I kept smiling and laughing and nodding with the screen as if I was only missing a tin-foil hat and rubber underwear. Ah well- who gives a shit. To listen to such brilliant writing is worth appearing like someone that belongs on the small bus.

When Drummond (the character based on Clarence Darrow) says

In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters.

I started repeating: An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral… An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral…. I just fucking LOVE that line, and I wish I could always have it at the ready.

And then of course, dear and deep to my motherfucking soul is:

I don't swear for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. We've got to use all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words anybody understands…

Fuck yeah!




AND THEN there are a few lines that just are the summation of my beliefs, and they’re words that got me to thinking as a 12 year kid that maybe all this superstition that we’ve been spoon fed is just that- so much superstition. Along with the introduction of the word agnostic this play was showing me that all of the catholic hoo-ha and religious/spiritual CRAP that I’d been spoon-fed as a boy was WORTHLESS in the real world, and that the doubt that I was feeling was not a PHASE but a DESTINATION. How come I (as a fucking SIXTH grader!) could so often stump the priest in religion class? I’m just a stupid kid, and the BEST answer for a whole cassock full of questions would be “well… some things we just can’t know.”

Wha? Two thousand years of preaching TRUTH and your best answer is “we just don’t know”? And do you sell it that way Father? With modesty and a sense that “…yeah some shit in the world is REAL FUCKED UP, and we just don’t get it…” No. FUCK no- it’s always sold like “WE KNOW ALL”- and you must follow THE WAY, and it’s not YOUR PLACE TO KNOW or to even QUESTION. Yawn. At least science is ALWAYS saying “we don’t know” but aren’t purporting to espouse some universal TRUTH. Fuck you father- and no, not literally.

All of this was encapsulated to me by Drummond saying-

…why did God plague us with the capacity to think? Mr. Brady, why do you deny the one thing that sets above the other animals? What other merit have we?

At one point Drummond and Brady are sitting on a porch talking like the two old friends that they are. Brady talks about how his faith gives people hope- and that looking forward to heaven is (for some folks) the only thing they have. “Why would you want to take that away?” he asks.

And then Drummond responds to two thousand years of false hope, uncritical thinking and backwards logic with twenty words of pure fucking genius.

As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry and hate, I say the hell with it.

Preach on brother…


PodCulture said...

>>>As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry and hate, I say the hell with it.

The sad thing is those traits are the complete opposite of what those of faith (as a Christian I include myself in that)try to live day to day. Sure there are those who claim to be of faith, but live by those negative values, but dang it that happens on BOTH sides of the issue.

There ARE things in this crazy universe that we as mortals are just not meant to know. That's why it's called FAITH. It's something you believe in even when there may not be a concrete rational explination for it.

At least that is how I view things anyway.

Brad Bowyer

George Hrab said...

Well- yeah, I guess you could believe that there are things that we're not meant to know- but then why do MOST religions tend to gloss over and ignore those "things" while supposedly espousing ANSWERS to life.

It seems ludicrously hypocritical to say "we have answers, we have answers!...uh... except innocent suffering... and um...natural catastrophies...and well general injustices...and..."

Don't it?

And as to it happening on BOTH sides of the issue- I'd love to see an example where science PROMOTES ignorance, bigotry and hate in anywhere NEAR the proportion of the last couple o' thousand years of religion.

peace indeed-


PodCulture said...

Sure you are right that it seems ludicrous at first glance. Heck I still struggle with understanding why somethings happen in this world myself. But there are some theological reasons why some things happen.

As for science promoting ignorance I'd have to go back into my school days, to give some specific examples but I seem to dimly recollect back in the early days fo science that some discoveries we take for granted were called crazy.

I may not agree with what you have to say, but I do admit that it IS very thought provoking and makes for an interesting read.

I'd love to discuss things (or at least my views on the matter) in greater detail, but a blog really isn't the place for that sort of a discussion. Please feel free to email me any time. My email addy is Brad (at) PodCulture (dot) net. Or if you are going to be at Dragon*Con this year, I'll buy you a drink and we can talk about it then.

Brad Bowyer
Louisville, KY

Karen from Kalifornia said...

Probably one of the best books I have ever read on this subject is "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis. If God loves us, and wants us to be happy, then why is there pain and suffering? More importantly, why do GOOD people suffer, seemingly at random?
I read this book when facing the rest of my life as a single mother and a widow. It changed my perspective and views on many things.
As a free thinking person, I can have to say that it's not the answers that are important. It's the questions we ask that are important, and the fact that we ask them that proves we are not cattle, or blades of grass, but intelligent beings worthy of being lifted to a higher state of consciousness.
Instead of complacently and blindly believing in the premasticated pap fed to you, challenge yourself to make a choice. The religions of the masses have been around for more than two thousand years, and to believe that Christianity is the only one to house hypocrisy is arrogant. True faith in your religion is a measure of personal, moral and ethical standards, regardless of whether it is Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha.

George Hrab said...


I've read CS Lewis (I think my favorite was "Mere Christianity) and I always liked his arguments about an "absolute good". That particular postion fell apart for me upon further examination, but I always enjoyed his writing nonetheless. What bugged me about CS lewis was his OWN doubt at the end of his wife's life.(Google "N.W. Clerk" to see what I'm talking about)

Anyway... BELIEVE ME- I am not just picking on Christianity here. I Think that ALL religious thought is a waste of neurons, and that just because something is old IN NO WAY makes it more valid. I think that Buddhism, Islam and any and EVERY other "supernatural" school of thought has done WAY more damage than good over the centuries.

as Mr. Clemmens said- (and he speaks of Christianity, but I think it applies to ALL religion:)

"The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive...but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born."

Preach on!