Thursday, May 18, 2006

E-mail Sheep

The idiocy of chain mail has certainly not left Costa Rica unscathed. On a weekly (or more often) basis, I am bombarded with the most annoying "forwards" from one of the people I work with in Costa Rica. Being a Catholic country, most of this "wonderful" junk is religious in nature, and I tend to just delete it, wishing this person would take me off of his forwarding list! However, I received one the other day that enraged me too much to pass up.

This particular e-mail had to do with some movie that the recipient was asked to sign a petition banning, based on the claim that it "mocked Jesus." (I admit I was so angry that I just deleted it, steaming as I did so, or I'd reproduce it here.) Now, who in their right mind sends an e-mail petition to a magazine editor asking them to participate in censorship of any kind? It's true that I do not report the news, but I am a 100% believer in freedom of expression, as long as it isn't something that forcibly harmed someone or something in its making (child porn or animal snuff films, for example, which I find beyond reprehensible). Adult porn? Not my thing, but whatever, I am not going to say how someone else should live. A movie that purportedly "mocks Jesus"? I have never even heard of said movie, so how could I possibly take one COMPLETE STRANGER'S opinion on the movie and blindly accept that what this person has said is true?

Here in Costa Rica (as I said earlier, a Catholic country), there is a great debate going on about the movie "The Da Vinci Code." Catholic leaders in this country are asking followers not to see it, even though they themselves admit they have never read the book! I just find that, at the least, irresponsible. I loved the book and can't wait to see the movie, and neither can my husband. It was great to be able to talk to someone who comes from a Catholic background about the ideas in the book as mature people without anger or defensiveness. What if...?? This is basically the premise of Brown's book, and I see nothing anti-religion in it. In fact, as my husband pointed out in a forum specifically about "The Da Vinci Code" on La Nacion, wouldn't it strengthen your faith to know that Jesus was someone even more like you; somone who had a wife, a child. Personally, I have always believed Jesus to be something other than what is in the Bible (which is, at its core, a collection of stories written from several individuals' points of view -- many gospels were never included in the Bible because they lacked mass appeal, so who knows what information they might have contained?): An extraordinary person who did extraordinary things, but a person nonetheless, like you or I might have been.

Back to the junk mail: let's assume that it is true, and the movie in question "mocks Jesus." Is there no room in this world for dissent from mainstream religion, or are we all supposed to blindly follow along, doing whatever we are told simply becaus church leaders say it is so (I am led to believe the latter is true). Perhaps the filmmaker had something thought-provoking to say, or perhaps the movie was truly anti-Christian, but we would never know it if the movie was simply banned and there was no room for public discourse on the matter. We would never be given the chance to agree or disagree with the filmmaker; we would never be given the chance to think for ourselves. Perhaps Christians would despise the film, but perhaps also it would strengthen their faith. Who knows, if we all simply blindly followed along and signed a petition to ban the movie we had never even seen, let alone heard of.

Personally, I was apalled to see 27 names ahead of the sender's, and I seriously doubt any of them actually saw the movie. Sheep. I refuse to be a sheep, and I hope that my son will never be a sheep, either. I'd much rather he saw, read or participated in something I disagreed with and we could discuss said activity, perhaps seeing (at least respecting) each other's point of view. Perhaps we could come to an agreement; perhaps we wouldn't. But at least he would decide for himself and use his head to consider what he was doing, instead of blindly following someone's order "not to read that book, or see that movie." To think for oneself: I am led to believe that institutionalized religion is adamantly opposed to this, otherwise the sheep might start to think for themselves. How sad.

Update: It appears this whole thing started as some kind of joke to get Christians all riled up. I tend to check out whenever I get something ridiculous like this, and when I looked this one up, sure enough, there it was.

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