Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Whatever"

As you watch Kingdom of Heaven, keep in mind that the fuel for all the extreme mayhem on the battlefield is nothing more substantial than faith. Three major religious systems converge on a city in what amounts to a behemoth food processor, and not one soldier or officer or civilian has any more motivation or foundation for his fervent faith than "that's what we've always believed."

"YHWH/God/Allah said it, I believe it, that settles it."

Consider this: If the battle took place over whether Baal or Zeus were the true deity, how would you feel as you watched all the bloodshed? If you knew that the epic violence up on the screen represented a battle which actually took place in history, wouldn't you be emotionally affected that this tremendous loss of life resulted from a conflict that can be resolved with a mere shrug? "Baal or Zeus? Neither." Now, flash-dissolve forward to the present and imagine that the same conflict is still fueling warfare, only now with fighter jets, rocket launchers and suicide bombers. How would you feel as you watched the death toll climb for both Baalites and Zeusians? What would you do? Wouldn't you feel like painting "Baal or Zeus? Neither!" onto a placard and joining a protest march somewhere, just to do something? Wouldn't it make you crazy to know that your nephew or cousin, a Baalite, was over there dodging Zeusian bullets and rockets? Wouldn't you feel helpless as a Baalite majority in Congress kept pushing for victory over the Zeusians and voters all around you gave them a mandate to continue? Wouldn't it make you crazy? Wouldn't you be like "What part of 'neither' don't you understand?!?"?

"Oh, but," a hypothetical reader named Jennifer might say, "this is different. Baal and Zeus weren't real gods. God is the true God, and the conflict between Christians and Muslim extremists is so important that it's worth all the bloodshed." However, if Jennifer were to suggest to a Baalite or a Zeusian that the foundation of his faith was just imaginary, she would find the indomitability and intractability of her own faith mirrored in his. But the irony would elude her.


Santos said...

True, and funny. I think you may have a winning t-shirt here...

Ken Grandlund said...

Baal or Zues? Neither.

I like that. Should make some bumber stickers that say "Allah or God? Neither." I'd actually spend money on that one.

Neutron said...

Nice one!
As Carl Sagan pointed out the various religions often have conflicting central messages...they can't all be right...and what if...gulp...NONE of them are right!!