Heard the one about the pope? Sadly, yes
By PATRICK MCKEARNEY - GUARDIAN
Added: Wed, 22 Jun 2011 05:42:18 UTC
(Patrick McKearney is studying for an MPhil in theology and religious studies at Cambridge University. A scholar of the Cambridge Interfaith Programme and Queens' College, he is researching the implications of the contemporary ridicule of religion.)
Stand-up comedy has the ability to cast anything, from traffic jams to politics, in an entirely new light. It is like a new pair of glasses that helps us see the world in a novel way. The best of it challenges our suppositions and deconstructs our prejudices. The most impressive comedians use their powerful voices to change how we look at our society and ourselves.
But when it comes to religion, contemporary stand-ups are not giving us this new perspective. They endlessly ridicule tired stereotypes of religion, but fail to turn their critical attention to secularism, atheism or liberalism. And that is problematic. Because when comedians mock the faults of a standardised "other" they leave their own assumptions, ignorance and flaws untouched. They just reinforce our world view, rather than critically engaging with it. They are not giving us a fresh pair of glasses, but returning some old and dusty spectacles that we have had for years.
This lack of self-reflection must be the only way to explain their tedious repetition of generic, flat-pack criticisms. I might have doubled Richard Dawkins's profits by now if I had bought a copy of The God Delusion every time I had heard that Christian holidays were actually pagan hangovers, that the idea of a loving god is incompatible with the existence of evil and suffering, or that dinosaurs disprove intelligent design.
Ben Child - Guardian 37 Comments
Javier Krahe prosecuted for 'offending religious feelings' after 1978 short film was broadcast on Spanish TV
Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net 174 Comments
[Journalists] seem to feel let down when they discover that the real people aren't anything like the way they so relentlessly portray us; as if, since they've gone to the trouble of inventing extravagant caricatures of us, we should at least have the decency to live up to them in real life.
Also in Polish
David Knox - TV tonight - Australia 141 Comments
On Easter Monday night Q & A will host a two-man debate between Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and outspoken, British atheist Richard Dawkins.
- - BBC Comments
An advertising campaign backed by a Christian group which has been described as anti-gay has been pulled from London buses.
Paula Kirby - Washington Post On Faith 108 Comments
[The God Delusion is] absolutely chock-full of things Richard Dawkins really does believe. Which is handy, because it saves everyone the trouble of making them up.
Amol Rajan - The Independent 39 Comments
Their assault illustrates the extent to which defenders of religion still dominate our press, the brutal retaliation exacted on clever opponents of faith and the incorrigible stupidity of Sayeeda Warsi's claim about "militant secularism" last week.