Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A bogus charletan and and old fart

The Question of God | PBS

Can't PBS do better than this? The visuals, including Klimt paintings and scenes from the folk culture of North Oxford, are nice even if the dramatization is embarassing--representing Freud, predictably, with a comic German accent. I'm watching this monstrosity even now as I write. Between the vignettes of life in Oxford and we return a focus group, including a black male in dreadlocks whose profession is given as "independent filmmaker," discussing Love.

When I was an undergraduate the paradigmatic popular debate on religious belief was a BBC4 program featuring Mr. Bertrand Russell and Fr. Frederick Copplestone, S.J. They worried the Cosmological Argument at some length. Russell posed the Problem of Evil; Copplestone parried with the Free Will Defense. So it went.


Anonymous said...

I watched the first one - missed last night - but wasn't really paying attention. It would have been good, I agree, to hear some of that. Maybe this IS the best PBS can do. Or maybe they think the public's attention span won't hold for a discussion like that.

I think this is the same thing that's going on in the modern church, actually. Because the basics are missing - nobody can understand the terms under discussion anymore - they just skim the surface. Also, I don't think people approach religion from that point of view anymore; it's just not taken seriously enough today. Science has won, completely.

But maybe somebody should put together a better show. Think there's a market for that? I've been wondering this for awhile; whether or not you could create very in-depth programming for TV and get it sold, today. I actually kind of do think there's such a market.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I hate to bring George Will into this discussion, particularly on an unrepentantly liberal blog like this one, but here's a pretty good column about the general decline in literacy. It contains this really fascinating anecdote:

In 1940, a British officer on Dunkirk beach sent London a three-word message: "But if not." It was instantly recognized as from the Book of Daniel. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are commanded to worship a golden image or perish, they defiantly reply: "Our God who we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods. ..."

Britain then still had the cohesion of a common culture of shared reading. That cohesion enabled Britain to stay the hand of Hitler, a fact pertinent to today's new age of barbarism.

Anonymous said...

I thought he was an "independent filmmaker". Maybe I don't know what you mean be "plummer".

Anyway, I'm not sure why they picked him or the other panelists. The whole show seemed to give short shrift to atheism. (I'm no atheist, but that's how it struck me.) Picking Freud to represent materialism/naturalism/atheism? Couldn't they find someone better? I found some of the stuff about Freud's life interesting, but I don't see how his ideas are such a great articulation of the "secular worldview" especially since his psychological theories have since been rejected or proven false.

Anonymous said...

It was an odd show. The panelists are lawyers and psychologists and businesspeople and filmmakers. No Betrand Russells there, no Frs. Frederick Copplestone.

I wonder why they did it this way?

H. E. said...

Oops. It should have been "independent filmmaker"--I'm nearsighted and it looked like plumber. But same difference: none of them had any special qualifications to discuss the question of religious belief. It looks like they were selected to be articulate representations of Everyman, precisely for their lack of expertise.

It does seem a shame that the common culture that made that shorthand intelligible, to both believers and unbelievers, is down the tubes and with it the possibility of addressing authentically religious questions.

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