Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's enough to make you cross

After a long, too long, day at work, I finally made it home, hoping for some release in the form of (pardon the pun) gay abandon with the latest episode of Glee.

Sadly, I was to be disappointed. This week's episode (courtesy of my BT Vision digital recording) was not the irresistible foot tapping, jump up, dance around the front room and sing your heart out event that I was counting on.

This week's episode, as ever was full of the beautiful people. What it was also filled with was the American fascination with religion, and Christianity in particular. After his gay son turned down his invitation to a regular family meal, Kurt's dad suffered a heart attack. Kurt then not only had to face the guilt and sorrow of dealing with these events, emotional as they are, he also had to deal with the rest of his 'Glee Club' members doing the heavy push of their religion in his direction.

Apart from the whole shallowness of 'lets make the gay guy hate god, because god hates gays', we also explored Sue Sylvester's rejection of god due to the pain and injustice of her older sister being a downs syndrome sufferer. Despite some very strong, and determined resistance to the 'wave of Christianity' that was a rising tide of pressure being applied in his direction, Kurt  in the end relented, as is to be expected by an American TV show. I feel a bit let down. Well, okay, more than a bit.

If Glee's purpose was to seriously discuss in depth and complicated issues, it doesn't seem to be well equipped to do so, what with the show being populated by more than a handful of two dimensional characters that are, immensely lovable, but entirely shallow and stereotypical.

It's just not what I rely on Glee to do for me. It's not the place I expect it to fill in my life.

In the end, as is to be expected, both Sylvester and Kurt have something of a 'coming to terms' with god arrangement. In Kurt's case, is it not that he's simply worn down by the relentless nagging and evangelizing by his friends ?

Don't get me wrong. I love Glee, it makes me laugh, it makes me smile, the actors/actresses are very easy to watch, and normally the storylines have a mildly message driven narrative, but other than that, are not too preachy. The songs, and irrepressible joy are it's tour-de-force.

I also think religion has its place. Some people swear by it. I'm more with the 'swear at it' camp. I know lots of people find it great solace and help, and, blah, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Good for them. Let them write a blog about how great Jesus was, or why Christianity is the best thing since, well the crucifixion. I'm all for things that make people feel better.

But I'm all against the presumption that you MUST really have a religion. That if you're an atheist, you are really just in denial, and 'haven't found god yet'. Where was he hiding, under a rock ?

As a famous comedian once said (sorry, can't remember which one) on the subject of god 'I stopped talking to my imaginary friend when I was a kid'.

All those people that put themselves as 'Jedi' in the religious belief section on the census. (they may have changed their minds once they had seen 'Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones). Honestly ? Their 'religion' or belief is just as valid as all the others. From what I've read of it, the Bible has some well written stories, it is the big bumper book of life lessons. Terms and conditions of how to live on this planet with your fellow man it is not.

What will be will be. Let people live in peace. They will, quite naturally find a way to fuck it all up, but its important to give them the space to do that. They like to learn from the mistakes they can walk away from. The others. They don't so much.

As generalized life lessons go, all of the religious texts have great examples to us, that we should really learn from, take heed of. Live by. Some of the more specific stuff just isn't relevant, and is hopelessly out of date.

In much the same way that Shakespeare's plays have lots to say about the human condition, but he didn't write a jot about Tweeting, facebook, or texting. The mechanics, and technology change, but people fall in love, people fight wars, people tell lies, commit murder, make mistakes. All these things are timeless, and this is what makes them continually relevant despite the passed age of such language and formalities of human interaction.  You wouldn't really sit down and start to draw up rules that people were supposed to live by from the plays, as excellent as they are.

This is the real shame. Religion is such a good idea, in that it tries to teach people how to live with each other, how to have some sort of framework that we can all identify with, and live by. In reality what happens is humans get drawn on the dogmatic details that are mostly overly literal interpretations of opinions or societal norms that are as out dated as the book(s) themselves.

Great episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, where Wesley Crusher is sentenced to death for entering a small cordoned off area on the paradise planet of the Edo. In pleading for his release, and the exception to this crazy rule, Picard remarks to the mysterious god like trans-dimensional beings that have happily accepted the role of gods over this planet, 'there can be no justice all the time laws are absolute'. Translation. Laws must be able to change.  

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