Posts from February 28, 2004

Ralph as comedy

Ralph as comedy
: Ralph Nader was on Bill Maher’s show talking about a Chinese bird flu as a weapon of mass destruction. He’s sounding wackier and wackier.

Maher tells him that voting for him the last time now “seems like a bratty indulgence.”

It’s Ralph’s birthday as he’s on the show and Bill gives him a birthday cake: a pinto with the candles burning at the rear end.

Internationalism

Internationalism
: Loic Le Meur, head of UBlog in France, is going to Germany and he has set up a wiki (thanks to Joi) to plan the trip. Heiko says the list of folks he’s visiting is turning into a who’s who of German blogging mafia (though he’s missing some key players in Berlin), which is just the point. Damn, I wish I were along on that trip. Prosit, alle.

(Some more who ought to join in: David, Andrea, IT&W, der Schockwellenreiter, Scott, Moe, Volker, to name a few, not including the Swiss and Austrians.)

From Iran

From Iran
: Hoder points us to a weblog by a journalist blogging from Tehran, Omid Memarian.

: And I just noticed that the big Iranian portal, Gooya, now has an English version! (There’s a French version, too.) It’s a very good service that gets lots of traffic from the very large Persian online community.

It so happens that Gooya is edited by her brother, whom I met last fall.

The Jewish perspective

The Jewish perspective
: Jewsweek, the wonderful online magazine, devotes itself entirely right now to Mel Gibson’s Passion.

Editor Benyamin Cohen’s review:

Well, after walking out of an advance screening, my first comprehensible thought was this: I really want to kill a Jew.

In recent interviews, Gibson has been uttering the following mantra: “Wait until the film is released. You’ll see that I don’t blame the Jews.” Well, Gibson not only goes out of his way to blame the Jews for Jesus’ brutal crucifixion, but he goes so far as to portray the Romans as unwilling accomplices, which is, with certainty, a willful distortion of the original text. Meanwhile, Gibson depicts most of the Jews as an angry lynch mob which gains pleasure from watching a man writhe in pain and flood the ground with blood. It would take an act of God to incite more anti-Semitism than this film is sure to ignite.

But putting false claims of theological culpability and biblical fidelity aside, the film suffers from poor storytelling. Since the movie only depicts Jesus’ final hours, we are given no background — why did the Sanhedrin want him dead? What crimes did he commit to deserve such a gruesome death? All we’re shown is these mean Jews who want to murder this nice young man.

… [B]y reducing the film to just twelve brutal hours, Gibson has, unfortunately, undermined Jesus’ spiritual qualities and squandered an opportunity to create a unique cinematic and profound religious experience. Instead, he opts to turn the story of Jesus from one of intense spirituality to one of brutal violence. The film feasts on the physical torture and not the metaphysical elevation. It’s Gibson’s obsession with sadomasochism on display for everyone to see in all its, um, gory.

This does a horrible disservice to the Christian community. By transforming the story from one filled with hope to one mired in rage, Gibson is teaching a new, and violent, Christian doctrine. Contrary to what you may have learned in Sunday School, he seems to be saying, Christianity is based on revenge, not love. This is nothing short of an embarrassment to our Christian brethren.

This reminds me of one thought I had during the film: The fetisishtic treatment of violence and blood reminded me of nothing so much as the unleashing of self-flagellation by certain Islamic sects. It emphasizes the virtue in suffering and pain, in blood and violence — rather than the virtue of good acts and a gracious heart. And that is troubling.

: Jewsweek’s blog points us to the official Mel Gibson Passion souvenirs, such as this pewter spike — just like the one nailed into your Christ’s hand — on a leather necklace. Only $16.99. Oh, man.

: And there is an excerpt of a book on the Oberamergau Passion Play; a feature on the Jewish actress who plays Mary; a story on Mel Gibson’s father‘s infamous anti-Semitism; a backgrounder on the story of the Passion by a Columbia religion prof; a state-of-anti-Semitism story; a story on Mel’s side; and many columns. An impressive report and I’m only halfway through reading it.

Ah-choo

Ah-choo
: Prince Charles writes in the Guardian that we are becoming allergic to our Western lifestyle:

The rising trends in allergy seen in developing countries, as they adopt our western habits, point strongly to factors in the way we live. We spend up to 80% of our time indoors, and the sealing of our houses to conserve heat and energy, the increase in soft furnishings and the rising numbers of pets all increase the chance of those genetically at risk becoming sensitised to domestic allergens such as dust mites, moulds, cats and dogs. Similarly, at work, increasing allergies give rise to the “sick building” syndrome. But increased exposure to allergens cannot be the whole answer, because we are also becoming susceptible to outdoor aller gens such as pollens, and to certain foods, especially fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.