Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

My friend and I (and the friend we ran into at the theater who joined us for the show) didn’t go into this movie with many expectations. We were trying to keep an open mind, trying not to form an opinion about a Biblical movie that apparently deviated a lot from the source material.

Well, I can’t speak for my friends with any sort of authority. But I can say that I was disappointed. And not because I thought it would’ve been better to have had Middle Eastern or black actors in the main roles rather than white people (I mean it is in Egypt). Or why a guy named Christian is playing Moses (so much irony in that).

I think what Ridley Scott was trying to do with this film was to tell the story of Moses as a very human story, of a man troubled by his decisions, his role as a leader, and possible brain damage or psychosis. I think those who go for the human story of Moses will like this movie. I however was still kind of hoping for the Exodus story, so I was kind of disappointed. And I don’t think they told the human story very well either.

Plus Ramses II’s motivation to exile Moses and try to take him down seemed a little weak. Didn’t help that Joel Edgerton, who plays Ramses, was pretty unconvincing as an actor. And sometimes the dialogue made us nearly burst out laughing because it was so awful. And why at the beginning do they have screen titles that explains what’s happening in Egypt at the time? Literally everyone knows this story! You would’ve done better actually telling us the minor characters’ names more than once!

Plus the traditional fourth plague isn’t flies, it’s wild animals! Lions and tigers and bears! I know with the profusion of frog and fish corpses out there flies seem like a better choice, but animals seem much scarier and harder to explain through science! Can’t we see that for once?

Still, the special effects are pretty impressive, especially around the scenes with the Ten Plagues. The decision of how to portray Moses’s interactions with God is pretty original. Plus there is a little bit of theological wrestling that really exemplifies Moses’s problems in this movie. I have to admit that those were high points.

All in all, I’m giving Exodus: Gods & Kings a 2.3 out of 5. I don’t think that, among movies about Biblical events, this one won’t be remembered as a classic and will more likely be remembered as a movie that got the people who prefer their stories closer to the book in conniptions.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to try to see The Legend of Princess Kaguya and Babadook later this week, might do a review of the former and probably will do a review of the latter. Keep an eye out.

Good night, my Followers of Fear.

I’m going to tell everyone a midrash, a story that helps to explain aspects of Judaism, and which may or may not be true, depending on the story. This story, no matter how you look at it, is very interesting and helps to explain why I’m able to give these reinterpretations.

The story dates back to the writing of the Talmud. Several rabbis were trying to decide on an issue of kashrut, or dietary law. Eventually all the rabbis except one decided a certain way on the issue, with the remaining rabbi insisting he alone was right. This rabbi, who was apparently so learned that he could teach Harry Potter a thing or two (my own phrasing, not the story’s), said that if he was right, then the walls in the study house would cave in, a tree would move from one place to another, and that the river outside would flow backwards. Sure enough, the walls started to lean in, a tree walked across the ground, and the river started flowing backwards. With each occurrence the other rabbis would remind the rebellious rabbi that walls, trees, and rivers don’t decide matters of Jewish law (and they chided the walls for trying to bring themselves down when it wasn’t their conflict). Finally the rebellious rabbi said, “If I am right, let a heavenly voice confirm it!”

At that moment a great voice from above was heard saying, “Follow this rabbi’s opinion!” The other rabbis, instead of cowering and giving in, replied to the voice, “Matters of law are now on Earth, not in Heaven.” The heavenly voice replied, “My sons have bested me.”

What does this tale tell, besides the fact that apparently Talmudic rabbis were said to be quite powerful? Besides the teaching that a majority rule is stronger than a single zealot (and the rebellious rabbi later became a heretic and was excommunicated, interestingly enough), the story shows that once God gave the Jewish people the Torah at Mt. Sinai, it was in their hands, and therefore they had to decide how to interpret it. So basically while some may claim that LGBT people and their allies are going to hell and claim the Bible says so, I can claim just as much that that law no longer applies and that LGBT people and their allies are just as holy as anyone else. And guess what? We can both be right!

I tell this story because a lot of people’s arguments and opposition to LGBT rights are based on a singular interpretation of the Bible, so alternative interpretations of the Bible can be just as legitimate as traditional ones. I also tell this story because, while two opinions can both be right, sometimes one opinion may have more reason to be right than the other (as in the ruling of the majority in the story). For example, I can say that I believe both evolution and the Genesis story to be right. I can’t ignore that dinosaurs, the fossil record, and the distance travelled by the light of certain stars make evolution seem more right than Genesis (which I tend to view as a metaphor for the Big Bang and evolution that humanity is too stupid to understand at this point in our existence).

No denying it: gay people are born that way. It’s in their DNA.

Understanding this, let us look at what science has proven: that sexuality is a genetic trait, and that multiple genes make up sexuality, so multiple sexualities arise. Some people, like a pastor I had the displeasure of hearing speak out on the Oval at OSU this spring, claims that meant homosexuality is a genetic defect. But that would mean there would have to be a loss or impairment of quality of life for the affected. If anything, the scientific method has shown through studies that people who are open about their sexuality and accepted for it tend to live happier lives. It’s only when they try to deny, change, or hide their sexuality that there is some impairment.

Likewise, this also means that homosexuality isn’t a lifestyle, or something you can indoctrinate youth into. As I said, differing sexualities are genetic, and you can’t pray away, condition someone, or ban something so caught up in the very DNA in a person.

Now, some might ask about my previous post, where I said that homosexuality was commonplace in Greece in a ritualized form. I say that was a form of cultural homosexuality. It was done because it was part of the culture, everyone was doing it, and nobody could see any reason not to do it. Plus, having a male lover was a choice, not a requirement. You could almost compare it to video games: everyone seems to play video games these days, and most people don’t see a reason not to play them if you can. (I know that we’re talking about two very different things here, but you get the idea, right?)

In any case, I’ve said what I wanted to say about the Bible, religion, and homosexuality before Pride weekend here in Columbus. I hope you enjoyed the posts I’ve written and perhaps were given some food for thought. And if you’re in the Columbus area this weekend and are looking for some fun, come to Pride. Leave the picketing signs at home, and have a blast. I’ll see you there.

With the Columbus Pride Festival coming up this weekend, LGBT people from around the country (including George Takei as Grand Marshal for events this year) will be descending upon Columbus for a huge parade and festival to celebrate their sexual orientations, fight discrimination and injustice, and to push for same-sex marriage in Ohio, which is on the ballot this year. It’s sure to be a great time for many.

For some though, the Pride Festival will not be so welcome, and while Columbus may be one of the Midwest’s LGBT hotspots, there is the very real chance that protesters will show up and decry what they see as perversion, sin a horrible lifestyle, or some sort of disease/genetic defect/psychological disorder. Usually I ignore these sorts of people, but I figured that since I’ll most likely be attending the Pride Festival this year (my first), I thought it would be interesting to do a post on these protestors, most of whom have a Biblical basis for why they’re opposed to homosexuality, and show how the Bible could actually endorse homosexuality rather than outright ban it.

Before I do though, I wanted to post this video I found, which I think is very eye-opening, and gives some very good points on the Bible and homosexuality:

Interesting, isn’t it? And that thing about Sodom and Gomorrah mirrors pretty closely what I learned growing up about why those cities were destroyed. In fact, I remember a pretty graphic tale about how two girls met at a well, one realized the other’s family was very poor and gave her some flour for her family. When the town elders heard about it, they basically took the first girl and stoned her in public (I’m not sure what happened to the second girl, but she probably came away from that emotionally scarred and still hungry, if not dead). And if you want to know more about that book they talked about in the video, here’s a TIME magazine article on it.

I would like to add some points on to these, based on my own upbringing, experience, and understanding of the Old Testament (I’m not very familiar with the New Testament of course, being Jewish). First, that famous verse in Leviticus that anti-gay pastors love to quote, “Thou shall not sleep with a man as thou sleeps with a woman”. First off, what can women do? Second, this sounds like a prohibition against homosexuality, but it could have other meanings.

Of course, there’s the anatomical one: men can’t sleep with other men like they can with women, because men don’t have vaginas. But I’m pretty sure that argument, although obvious, won’t sway many people, so here’s two more that might. Firstly, there’s the patriarchal argument: women in the days when the Bible was written were expected to attend to their husband’s sexual needs, and most likely that meant they had no say in it unless they were impure and couldn’t have sex anyway. In an age where men were expected to be dominant in all matters, especially in the home, forcing one man to attend to another man’s sexual needs at the latter’s beck and call would be considered the ultimate emasculation, so therefore sex between men was forbidden.

The other reason (and the one I feel makes the most sense), is based on pagan idol worship. Many Near East and Mediterranean societies practiced homosexuality, not as a distinct orientation, but as an activity. The Greeks were famous for having relationships between other males before marriage, and there were other societies at the time that had cultures that permitted men to have relationships with each other before or after marriage. Some of these relationships were especially prevalent in military circles to increase unit cohesion, and a few were ritualized in the form of idol worship. God would have seen this latter act, worship of idols through sexual intercourse, as detestable, so He created a form of worship and sacrifice that did not involve sex, and forbade a form of sex that does not lead to procreation, as well as because it was used in idol worship.

There’s a pretty big difference between this and emasculation or idol worship, wouldn’t you say?

Since today there is no idol worship through sex (as far as I know), it would be permissible for same-sex relations to occur. Besides, these interpretations deal with a form of emasculation or idol worship. They do not apply to men, women, or other gender-types who are in loving, committed relationships like we see today.

There are other factors to consider here as well. For example, there is the belief that marriage should be as it is in the Bible. If that’s the case though, why do we outlaw polygamy and women can choose who they marry? Not to mention the definition of marriage and marriage roles have changed throughout the years, so it’s no surprise that it’s being changed in our day and age and “pro-marriage” activists shouldn’t be alarmed. And even if not always legally accepted or endorsed by religious establishments, same-sex relationships have been taking place for many, many years. There have been relationships between high-ranking clergymen and other men since the early days of the Church, but it was tolerated because of fear of worse sins, ones that at the time that were considered venereal.

Even during waves of religious upheaval, reformation, or resurgence, same-sex relationships flourished: Queen Elizabeth may have been a lesbian, and several members of her court were gay and able to get away with it due to their status. King James–of the Bible translation–actually had several relationships with men as well as women. And recently there was an article from The Boston Globe about two women who lived together and were treated as married…in 1807! So even if it’s not exactly legal, same-sex marriage is not exactly as new as cell phones.

This post is getting very long, so I’m going to continue this discussion in another one. I hope some of you who read this post found it informative and may have given you some food for thought. I don’t think it’ll sway anyone who’ll protest at Pride this weekend, but it may sway some people who are undecided on the issue. Or that it may prove helpful for those who want to try to reconcile homosexuality with religion.

Oh, and before you wonder what sort of religious authority I am, I can only say that I’m the son of two Conservative rabbis, I went to a Jewish day school from Grades 4-12, I’ve gone to synagogue for most of my life, and I still learn and keep in touch with my religion. So I may not be a rabbi or pastor, but I’ve done as much studying as some, and more than some others. I guess I can speak with some authority on these matters. What do you say?

*I will be screening the comments for offensive, inappropriate, or just plain rude comments. Be warned.*