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Friday, December 08, 2006

Some years back, Orson Scott Card made the rounds of Sci Fi conventions doing his "Secular Humanist Revival". Done in the style of a brimstone-laden Baptist preacher, the Revival got rollin' with Card yelling "Do you be-LEEVE?!" With no antiphonal response, he would repeat "Do you BE-LEEEEEVE?!". Caught up in the fervor, members of the congreg...er...audience would respond
"YES!" or "We believe!", whereupon Card would zing 'em with his "gotcha" line:

"In WHAT?"

OSC is a practicing Mormon, and has some passing knowledge of Religious Fervor.

I just saw "The Polar Express" on telly- a movie that I had assiduously avoided ever since it came out. The commercials invariably showed the Twaddly Bits, and the CG images looked fuzzy and poorly done. Great. A New Christmas Classic.

I repent in dust and ashes. "Express" is nowhere near as bad as I expected. Now that I have Praised It With Faint Damns, I shall elucidate. The movie has heart. The score is memorable, and orchestrated. Hail Silvestri. The motion capture as remarkable, the imaging is well-done for the most part. Alas, there is more diversity in Deep Roy's Oompa Loompas than in the elves at the North Pole- tho' the Jewish Elf Manager is a slice of genius. The rest of the workforce has the gaunt look of inmates at Auschwitz. There ARE shelves, though. She-elves. They dance well.

My underlying grump with "Express" is its generic message to "Believe!". The implied object is Santa, but it is not overtly stated. Merely "Believe". Now, I do not expect an evangelistic religious tract out of Tom Hanks...oh, wait...da Vinci Code....; I am merely pointing at the general
philosophical mood of the day, that of Both,And.

Both salmon and tilapia.
Both serge and seersucker.
Both A and B.
Both Buddhism and Scientology.

EVERYTHING is true. A and Not-A. All you have to do is believe.

Invariably, the protagonist of a film comes to a Point of Faith, which invariably resembles a bout of terminal constipation, judging from the facial expressions exhibited. The Leap of Faith in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is a case in point. He must screw his courage to the sticking -place, empty his mind of the last faint gibbers of rational thought, and just Let Go.

This of course in no way resembles the biblical concept of Faith, where "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". Faith is the response of a rational mind informed by the word of God, illuminated by the holy spirit. Faith is not a feeling that you can gin up by concentration coupled with the proper facial expressions.

Therefore, "A" and "not-A" are mutually exclusive.
You cannot worship God and Mammon.
Neither God and Molech.
Neither God and Yourself.

Let me say it again. Biblical faith is not "Both, and".
Contrariwise, it is Either, or.
Either God or not.
Either truth or error.
Rational decisions or feelings-soaked busy work.

The religion of feelgoodism says "just believe".
The Biblical balance is believe, then behave like you believe. That may also be thought of as obedience.

As Naruto would say:
"Believe it!"


Anonymous said...

Well done. Thanks for the link to this.

mathetes1963 said...

I like the way you think, Mr. Hardy.