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Show Notes - Episode 90

December 5, 2021

Episode 90: Quiet Non-Involvement and the Trouble With Belief - A Review of Kevin Smith's Dogma

 

Sources:

https://imsdb.com/scripts/Dogma.html

https://www.viewaskew.com/main.html

 

 

 

Definition of a disclaimer

Disclaimer #1 – Kevin Smith is apparently a theist

Platypus disclaimer

 

Asbury Park, NJ – Some dude just staring out at the surf, behind him a wall with “SKEEBALL” painted on it. He checks his watch, and, for a moment, seems fascinated by his own hands. Three kids on rollerblades carrying hockey sticks looking very 90s roll up behind him. He looks kind of oblivious right up to the point where they start wailing on him.

 

 

Cardinal Glick (george)

The church is retiring the image of the crucifix in favor of the “Buddy Christ”

Catholicism WOW campaign

The Buddy Christ is the most Kevin Smith thing I've ever seen

 

Loki and Bartleby – fallen angels

 

Loki manages to eviscerate a nun's faith with some of the most logical assessments of Christianity out there. He tells her to steal the money she's been collecting and spend it on herself. “Life is a series of moments. Seize yours!”

 

Loki the theistic atheist – the walrus and the carpenter (Louis Carroll)

 

Bartleby – the airport is “humanity at its best”

 

He points out all the sins and shortcomings of the people around them

 

Bartleby tells Loki that they are going home (heaven) and explains the plan (passing through the arch)

 

"The Re-dedication of Saint Michael's Church on it's hundredth anniversary

is the kickoff of a new campaign that seeks to bring Catholicism

back into the mainstream. With a papal sanction, the archway entrance to

the century-old, Jersey shore house of worship will serve as a passageway of

plenary indulgence, a little-known Catholic belief offers all who pass through

its arches a morally clean slate." (Grant Hicks)

 

So B wants them to cut off their wings because, in some other-worldly realm of logic this makes them human. Then they walk through the arch, their sins are forgiven and then they just have to somehow... die. They won't be angels anymore but they'll be in Heaven. They'll be home.

 

LOKI

 

Yeah, but this plenary indulgence thing is a church law, not Divine

Mandate. Church laws are fallible because they're created by man.

 

BARTLEBY

 

One of the last sacred promises imparted to Peter the first Pope by the Son

of God before He left was "Whatever you hold true on earth..."

 

LOKI

 

" ...I'll hold true in Heaven."

 

(Matthew 16:18-19, and 18:18)

 

BARTLEBY

 

So if the Pope says it's so, God must adhere. It's dogmatic law.

 

 

“Dogmatic law”

 

Killing spree vs. divine justice – Mooby's board (“He's all about that”)

 

They're going to Jersey! Just four days until the ceremony!

 

Now we meet Bethany – the last scion. She works at an abortion clinic in Illinois – awesome bit part for Janeane Garafaolo...

 

Bethany has a lot of regrets. Her marriage fell apart because she couldn't have kids. So hubs left her for someone who could. Nice guy.

 

“I sit there every sunday and I feel nothing”

 

Now we meet Azrael – he likes central air. It's hot where he lives

Stygian triplets are his toadies – he wants them to intercept the scion (fly monkeys, fly!)

 

Poor Bethany is just trying to sleep but.... fire!

 

She tries to put it out but...

 

Now we meet a very irritated Severus Snape... er... Metatron. Alan Rickman IS Hans Gruber as Severus Snape as Metatron! He drops trou and he's basically a Led Zepelin album.

 

He's got Snape's signature grump... and wings!

 

Bethany has no idea who he is. He's a seraphim – the highest choir of angels. He is also the voice of god

 

“Metatron acts as the voice of God. Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims God has spoken to them, they're speaking to me. Or they're talking to themselves.”

 

I miss Alan Rickman...

 

They... apparate? to Mexico for drinks? Well, not quite, but this woman never goes out so... Mexico, across town, potato/potahto...

 

Bethany is charged with a holy crusade – visit a small church in New Jersey on a very important day

 

The fine print – stop a couple angels from entering and negating all existence

 

Everything you ever wanted to know about Loki and Bartleby

 

So once he's done with the first born, Loki takes his friend Bartleby out

for a post-slaughter drink. And over many rounds, they get into this

discussion about whether or not murder in the name of God is okay. Now,

Bartleby can run circles around Loki intellectually, not to mention the

fact that Loki's more than half in the bag, and in the end, Bartleby

convinces Loki to quit his position and take a lesser one - one that

doesn't involve slaughter. So - very inebriated - Loki tells God he quits:

throws down his fiery sword, gives him the finger - which ruins it for the

rest of us. because from that day forward, God decreed that angels could no

longer imbibe alcohol. Hence all the spitting.”

 

If they get in, they will have reversed God's decree.

Now listen up because this part is very important: existence in all it's

form and splendor functions solely on one principle: God is infallible. To

prove God wrong would undo reality and everything that is. Up would become

down, black would become white, existence would become nothingness. In

essence - if they are allowed to enter that church, they'll unmake the

world.”

 

Bethany isn't into it. “Where was god...?”

 

When some quiet little infection destroyed my uterus -where was God? When my husband decided he couldn't be with a wife that couldn't bear his children - where was God? Now all the sudden, after all these years of quiet noninvolvement in my life, He sends one of His lackeys my way who tells me I should save the world, and as what - some sort of test? To Hell with Him.”

 

She is then told she has the opportunity to become “Mother to the world” by saving it from B&L's hijinks, and that she will have support – prophets! TWO of them! One who talks incessantly and one who doesn't talk at all. You can see where this is going... And both are way more likable and palatable than Kat Kerr and Robin Bullock. Even the silent one. Especially the silent one. He tells her that they will identify themselves as such to her when they find her.

 

And here's one sentiment that all of us who have ever been part of any flavor of Christianity can relate to: “Can't God take care of this himself?” Bethany is a smart girl. But Metatron is quick and tells her basically, “Yeah, but he'd rather you do it.” Doesn't that encapsulate every conflict in the bible and every excuse for why God doesn't do more for humanity? A little more related conversation and then, like a hypnotist, Metatron shakes a pair of maracas at Bethany and she startles awake in the own bed.

Phew! It was just a dream!

 

...with a pair of maracas.

 

OK, maybe not.

 

Uh oh... looks like Bethany is about to have a run-in with the Stygian triplets! She's on her way out of work, presumably the next day and there they are, in all their grunge-era, Kevin Smith hockey fetish glory. One of them checks her and she drops her keys. Then one of them slapshots the keys under her car. She's cornered. This does not look good. They charge her. Then.. from out of the shadows...

 

SNOOCH TO THE MUTHERFUCKEN NOOCH!

 

It's our heroes – the prophets! Or as the rest of this universe knows them: Jay and Silent Bob - Bustin' it ninja turtles style.

 

But that's cool, right? God teleported these two from Jersey to save this damsel in distress in Illinois. At least he did something to help out here, right? There's some ecclesiastical hocus-pocus going on here, right?

 

Yeah, not so much. We find out they're in Illinois of heir own accord and that they're only hanging outside an abortion clinic to try and get laid because “Abortion clinics are a good place to meet loose women. Why else would they be there unless they like to fuck?” Jay's words, not mine...

 

Jay makes a B-line for the coochie immediately for his act of chivalry and gets all huffy when Bethany doesn't just give it up in the parking lot of her workplace. Rejected, and really, really irritated about it, Jay decides to pack up Silent Bob and go back to Jersey to sell drugs for...

 

profit.

 

New Jersey? Profit? Prophet? Hrmm...

 

It's not even the same word... but does it matter? All things spiritual are up for infinite interpretation.

 

B&L are buying guns, Bethany plies the prophets to stay and help her with diner food. We have arrived at the signature sit-down diner/cafe scene for this movie and they're discussing... John Hughes movies.

 

JASB are there on a failed pilgrimage to Shermer. The Askewniverse set out to find the Hughesniverse and never the twain were ever going to meet.

 

Jay makes a plea for sex. Again. Bethany asks them to take her to Jersey.

 

Jay isn't into it if he isn't going to get his dick wet – until

 

“I'll pay you” - they agree for $100. Ah, the 90s...

 

Apparently Jay doesn't know how to drive stick... he's doing 95 in like... second.

 

B&L are on the bus to Jersey having more cerebral conversations – B chides L about being incapable of killing people anymore and... well...

 

He starts... engaging with this couple. A couple of cheaters! Of course, judgment is about to befall them.

 

BAM! Loki has resumed his previous role and killing cheaty pete does a good job of clearing out the bus.

 

Jay is still convinced that he's going to fuck Bethany. She's basically decided the prophets are nuts...

 

And with that, it's time to meet Rufus – the 13th apostle (Chris Rock). He literally drops out of the sky, pretty much on command.

 

Jay says something like “guys like us don't just fall out of the sky, you know...” forgiving the fact that that's how they seem to have showed up This must be the prophetic part of the equation and it happens more than once.

 

So there's a naked black man laying face down on the pavement and when he gets up it's classic Chris Rock....

 

Jesus owes him $12 and basically told him when he was going to die.

 

They are all proceeding to walk to NJ... but wait! The triplets are watching. They cut a rift in space time and go report to Azrael.

 

And all that walking works up an appetite so now we're having gross breakfast sandwiches at Mooby's. Rufus starts bitching about not making it into the Bible. Only the white guys made the narrative.

 

“A black man can steal your stereo but he can't be your savior”

 

Rufus complains about his role in Jesus' ministry and makes the point that Jesus was also black.

 

That's what's particularly insulting. Between the time when He established

the faith and the church started to officially organize, the powers-that-be

decided that while the message of Christ was integral, the fact that He was

black was a detriment. So all renderings were ordered to be Eurocentric,

even though the brother was blacker than Jesse.”

 

“Faith should be color blind.” This is a kind of 90s way of looking at things because today saying things like “I don't see you as black” aren't exactly considered to be complimentary. So the concept of color-blindness might be more of a pejorative than Kevin thought it was when he wrote it, but no so much back then I guess... I'm too white for this conversation.

 

Rufus has been sent to help them stop the angels and he knows WAY too much about Bethany.

 

All of them, actually... We learn what Jay masturbates to and I'm not sure I wanted to know. OK, I'm sure I didn't.

 

God dislikes the word “mythology.” Because of course he does.

 

Time to meet the muse – Serendipity! (Salma Hayek) – Surprise, she's a stripper and playing to my LG/girls in glasses fetishes quite nicely...

 

Looks like B&L have made a side trip. They've crashed a Mooby's board meeting and shit is about to get real.

 

B lists the company's properties and exploits.

 

He calls the board idolaters

 

Loki introduces the chairman (Whitland) to the concept of the voodoo doll

 

Bartleby then outs EVERYBODY'S sins... and it's the ultra-cringe moment like the porn movie title scene in Clerks except exponentially more taut.

 

...and then Loki takes out almost everybody in the room. But not before laying out his manifesto...

 

And therein lies the problem. None of you has anything to fear

anymore. You rest comfortably in seats of inscrutable power, hiding behind

your false idol, far from judgement - lives shrouded in secrecy even from

one another. But not from God.”

 

Kinda sounds like the mother church, don't it?

 

Back to the go-go bar and more of Serendipty – but she's also Barbie down below. She identifies as an abstract. But she's a muse... with writer's block. She was Responsible for 19 of the 20 top grossing films of all time, etc.

 

Uh oh... something's not right with the toilet.

 

But, Serendipity, though! Quite the distraction... and here's one of several foreshadowings about god and divine gender bias...

 

Being male-dominated times, the Pharisees and High Priests felt

threatened by the idea of a woman lording over them and controlling their

fates. so they made sure that She became a He. Doesn't stop with God - the

whole book is slanted and gender-biased: a woman's responsible for the

first sin, the fall of man, and the expulsion from Eden. a woman cuts

Sampson's coif of power, a woman asks for the head of John the Baptist.

Read that book again some time - women are painted as bigger antagonists

than the fucking Egyptians and Romans combined.

 

You people don't celebrate your faith, you mourn it.

 

BAM!

 

Something stinky this way comes!

 

The excremental! The Golgothan! (my favorite part)

 

Yeah, well it wasn't just Christ up there - the Romans crucified everybody

on that hill. Ahd Christ excluded, they were all criminals - killers,

brigands, thieves, rapists. And whenever the crucified expired, their

bodies would naturally lose muscle control, spilling bowel and bladder in

the process. And the result is that walking pile of crap up there: the

Golgothan Shit-Demon - Hell's chief assassin. And he's here for you,

girlie.”

 

Fortunately, Bob has a little something that “knocks strong odors out.” The prophets come through!

 

B&L have a problem – they can't get a ticket to Jersey... but Azrael is on the case! He chastises them for their recent activities and warns them that basically all of heaven and hell are looking for them and no one wants them to succeed.

 

Rufus is obviously concerned because, well, he knows what's at stake. And he sees humanity as worth saving.

 

He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets

carried out in His name - wars, bigotry, but especially the factioning of

all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always,

built a belief structure on it.”

 

So B&L have found “alternate transport” to New Jersey at the behest of Azrael and, as it happens B, R and JASB had the EXACT same idea and are all on the SAME TRAIN.

 

There are some very deep concepts that come out in this scene.

 

 

Debate. That's the only way people know how to reaffirm that they're alive

- by debating. In all it's forms. People spend their whole lives debating:

we fight about who's right and who's wrong, we fight ourselves, we fight

each other, we fight death, we fight over beliefs, we fight over fights. We

believe that to stop debating - in any fashion -is to stop living and give

up. People say that life's a struggle, but it's not. Life is living. I'm

even guilty of it myself, the way I go on about Christ's ethnicity,

fighting for the truth to come out. And I'm dead. Even in death, the only

way I know how to live is through debate. That's sad, isn't it?”

 

People die and kill for their beliefs...

 

Then Bethany tells us about when she lost her faith

 

I remember the exact moment. I was on the phone with my mother, and she was

trying to counsel me through what was happening to me and my marriage. And

she said something like "There's always a plan." And I... just got so

angry. I mean, I know she was talking about God, right - God had a plan.

But I was like "What about my plans?" You know? Like, don't they count for

anything? I had planned to grow old with my husband and have a family -

wasn't that plan good enough for God?”

 

B says that at one point God just stopped answering. That's what did it for him.

 

More she/he about God...

 

And now drunk Bethany spills the beans to B about their plan to stop B&L. B is dumbstruck.

 

Shit's about to get real...

 

Now comes the standoff... Rufus starts moralizing about consequences

 

Bob jumps Loki and chucks him out of the train and then takes care of B too.

 

Work is done, time for a smoke... can I have one????

 

“No ticket!”

 

Loki is starting to have second thoughts but B is obsessed.

 

In the beginning, it was just us and Him. Angels and God. And then He

created the humans. And He gave them more than He ever gave us. Our's was

designed to be a life of servitude and worship - adoration. But He gave the

humans more - He gave them a choice. They can choose to ignore God, choose

to acknowledge Him. All this time we've been down here, everyday I felt the

absence of the Divine presence. And it pained me... as I'm sure it must

have pained you sometimes, even though you'd gloss over it with jokes. But

we feel his absence, and why? Because of the way He made us -as servants.

Had we been given free will, we could ignore the pain... like them.”

 

Bartleby is feeling a little unloved... and the more Loki protests, the more it firms his resolve. Loki doesn't want to kill Bethany and he even has a soft spot for JASB. But B is very persuasive.

 

“These humans have besmirched everything that's been bestowed upon them. They were

given paradise; they threw it away. They were given this planet; they

destroyed it. They were favored best among all His endeavors; and some of

them don't even believe He exists...

 

“He has shown them infinite fucking patience at every turn...” - Bartleby, have you read the Old Testament? I mean, you lived it, apparently...

 

 

I asked you once to lay down your sword years ago - why?

Because I felt sorry for them. And where did it get us?

Expulsion form paradise. Where was his infinite fucking patience then?

 

We've paid our debt. Don't you think it's time we went home?”

 

“Don't let your sympathies get the best of you...”

 

Loki is very taken aback. And he's starting to worry. “I've heard a rant like this before...” - Could it be... hmmm... Satan?

 

You're not talking about going home. You're talking about war on God. Well fuck that. I've seen what happens to the proud when they try to take on The Throne.”

 

Loki wants to go back to Wisconsin but B is... very determined now. He isn't listening to reason at all.

 

 

Now the good guys are... sitting around a campfire and Bethany has a why me moment – Rufus asks her how she thinks Jesus felt learning he was the son of God.

 

Rufus explains how she could be a scion (Mary DNA) The great great great great grand-niece of Jesus Christ.

 

She runs off and has a very wet Roy Neary tantrum in a nearby lake and Metatron shows up to talk her down.

 

Bethany is FED UP. She's screaming about how much she hates god and Metatron, cool as a cucumber reminds her that he can't hear her.

 

“I don't want this... it's too big...”
“That's what Jesus said.”

 

Metatron makes the point that Jesus grappled for years with the reality of who he was and what he had to do, which is why there's nothing about him from age 12 to age 30. This is a far more human picture of Jesus than most Christians ever want to see. No one wants to see Jesus realizing his deity and dealing with puberty at the same time. I've often wondered what Jesus would have been like in his 20s had he been real. I have to wonder how he would have really dealt with not only having a father like Yahweh but ostensibly being Yahweh. If he was fully-human as well as fully divine, I have to wonder how human Jesus wasn't completely disgusted with his divine self because even bronze age humans understood how wrong this deity's ways of dealing with humanity were. Why else would they have constructed such an intricate avatar around those behaviors and tendencies and expect people to worship this construct they put before them? The answer is simple: when you can make people afraid, you can control them.

 

Rufus brings up this point, too, but from a slightly different perspective. One thing about Rufus, though, he loved Jesus and you can tell just by the way he talks about him. There was brotherly love between these two.

 

Bethany fears that her whole life up to now has been a lie because she didn't know certain things about herself. It's a kind of overwrought line but it was necessary for Metatron to be able to make a flowery speech about how nothing she's been told about herself changes who she is. He encourages her to be who she's always been, just “be this as well.” Incorporate all the data into this person called Bethany Sloane.

 

All of a sudden we're in a fancy restaurant – Metatron likes manipulating his surroundings

 

And here we find out that God is missing – he is in human form and incapacitated. As long as he's stuck in a meat suit he can be controlled... AND he is completely powerless.

 

What the hell kind of god is this idiot? But it gets worse...

 

All this trouble stems from God having an obsession with skeeball. Yes, skeeball. Remember the beginning of the movie? Boardwalk? Asbury park? It's all coming together.

 

Existence almost got obliterated because god is obsessed with skeeball and was known to disappear for various lengths of time to go play in various places. But he always gave his game tickets away to neighborhood children. Great guy.

 

Bethany has really taken to using female pronouns to describe god. Metatron finds it irritating and starts using neutral pronouns as a matter of convenience.

 

There's a looming dread that has taken over the conversation, but Jay of all people comes up with the simplest and most practical solution and simply ask Cardinal Glick to cancel the ceremony.

 

Glick is quite proud of Catholicism WOW and is brazen enough to just fucking admit that they're trying to keep the church from dying of natural causes. “Hook em while they're young...”

 

So they ask him to cancel and they tell him why. In very specific terms. Glick isn't having it... and he thinks Rufus and Bethany are nuts but, honestly, who wouldn't?

 

Then Glick offers this little gem: “The Catholic church does not make mistakes!” (silent consent to slave trade/official platform of non-involvement during the holocaust)

 

The ceremony is going to happen. He's not gonna be swayed.

 

B&L have arrived in the beautiful garden state!

 

Another dive bar...

 

Everyone is commiserating. For some reason JASB have stolen Glick's golf club – his driver to be exact.

 

Azrael shows up with the triplets and tells them that he's going to hold our heroes hostage until the angels enter the church.

 

The bartender doesn't like him and tells him to split. Az convinces him to pour him one drink. Az orders a “holey bartender” and it's every bit as disturbing as Joker's disappearing pencil trick in Dark Knight.

 

S tries to explain to him what his little plan involves but, as it turns out, he's well aware. He's choosing non-existence over going back to Hell and flat out doesn't care what the full ramifications are.

 

And here we are at the church on the day of the ceremony

 

B&L show up to set the record straight...

 

“God doesn't live here anymore...” B tells the crowd to prepare to taste god's wrath.

 

And with that, let the bloodbath begin!

 

Our heroes are still a little tied up listening to Azrael aggrandize. He refused to fight in the war in heaven so when the smoke cleared he was kicked out. Serendipity starts acting all superior because she decided to fight. Oh, and from a certain point of view, S and Az are siblings. That meaning that they were created at the same time.

 

Lucifer got restless and started his little war for the throne.

Heaven became divided into two factions - the faithful and the renegades.

The ethereal planes were chaotic with battle, angel against angel. And when

it was all over, God cast the rebels into perdition.

 

But Azrael refused to fight. He wouldn't ally himself to God or Lucifer. He

remained in the middle, waiting to see who came out victorious.

 

So after the fallen were banished to Hell, God turned on those that

wouldn't fight, and my brother here was sent down with the demons.

Something he considers a grave injustice.

 

It's here that Azrael explains his entire plan. He spent millions of years trying to find a way to outsmart god. He studied every religion and settled on Catholicism because the concept of plenary indulgences basically solved his problem of needing to be set free of hell at any cost. So he saw to it that god was incapacitated just long enough for B&L to pass through the arch.

 

He suggests watching a little TV. They start watching B&L exact... justice?

 

Az taunts Bob to hit him with the golf club. And he does. And... oh! That was unexpected!

 

Bob rips him a new hole and it's a BIG one.

 

Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the sink behind the bar and our heroes dispatch the triplets Lost Boys bathtub style.

 

Why did any of this work? Because Glick the prick liked to bless his clubs with holy water to get lower scores. Yeah.

 

Finally, we make it to the dramatic climax. The church is in devastation. The angels are nowhere to be found.

 

“No wonder people don't wanna go to church anymore”

 

B is having fun dropping people to their deaths

 

Loki explains that he was just along for the ride – B is obsessed. And he's cut off his wings which makes him human now.

 

Good news though... they haven't gone through the archway yet. Bad news: B has gone batshit. He is literally dropping people out of the sky, including Glick.

 

But think about it... they arch is right there. They have ONE JOB here. Talk about a missed opportunity. The angels, B in particular, have just a wee bit too much confidence and it's a situation that Tad Willams would describe as “confident, cocky, lazy, dead.” We're at stage three right now. They've gotten lazy. They have one objective but now they're just wasting time. The urgency has worn off. They THINK they've cinched their return to heaven.

 

He grabs Bethany and holds a knife to her throat – B is still pouting over how God loves people more than him. The plan is to step through the arch and wait for the police to come and gun them down. And B is well aware of the real consequences.

 

Loki threatens to take B out. B stabs him. Since Loki is now human, he promptly dies.

 

Rufus and Serendipity try to take down B

 

Jay makes a last-ditch effort to get laid and mentions John Doe Jersey... Bethany has an epiphany.

 

John Doe Jersey is God!

 

She hastily tells Jay – Jay – to do whatever is necessary to keep B from going into the church. Big mistake.

 

She runs off to the hospital where God is on life support, leaving Jay to his own devices. Bad move. He goes full metal jacket on Bartleby but only manages to relieve him of his wings. B is now human.

 

Bethany finds John Doe and takes him off life support. He dies, allowing God to go back to heaven, which he does. But hold up... why is Bethany now bleeding from her abdomen?

 

B tries to enter the church, but... surprise! We have a visitor. And it's god. And he's a she. And she is really Alanis Morisette. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

 

Metatron is with her and he can't help getting in one final taunt. And, honestly, I feel like it's deserved. He looks with loathing at B and says, “Was Wisconsin really that bad?”

 

Godlanis embraces B and they have a moment of regretful reunion. There is a real sense of parental regret and disappointment here. Then, just like that, she... sonic booms him to death? Just before she does, B looks at her with a look that is somewhere between shame, dread, and utter relief and says, “Thank you.” Not sure why... I'm pretty sure that he gets to go to Hell now unless she's decided to just... unmake him. Which is also possible.

 

Jay kinda loses it but then Godlanis gives him a peck on the cheek and he calms right down.

 

Godlanis surveys the destruction and smiles. Typical. She then basically sweeps away the clutter. No more dead bodies except... Bethany who is clearly dead from her mysterious wound.

 

“To be a martyr you have to die.”

 

I'm not sure why she had to be martyred, but OK. She's now a martyr, but no worries...

 

Godlanis then resurrects her. Metatron quotes the opening credits to the Six Million Dollar Man.

 

Godlanis is smelling flowers, doing handstands, and enjoying being a girl.

 

Metatron gives Bethany the one thing she wants – he tells her she's pregnant and to take care of the kid because “she has a world of work to do.” I had a John Connor moment.

 

Bethany then asks Godlanis why we are here and she responds with pretty much the same answer God gives any of us. She pokes her in the nose and says “bwap.”

 

Now it's time for warm goodbyes. The only problem is that Bethany is now a believer (well... she has an idea) but, ya know, seeing is believing. But, as Matt Dillahunty says, even if God proved to be real, he, or she, or whatever, has a lot of explaining to do and wouldn't be worthy of worship just because...

 

So why this movie? Why choose a movie that begins and ends on the concept that God is real as part of our atheist podcast? Well, spoiler alert, we have others on deck that do, too. This one, though, has some very deep, although maybe just slightly accidental, messaging about god. Really? Like what? Like....

 

God needs people to have power – Bethany had to take god off life support. This omnipresent, omniscient, all powerful being was imprisoned in a meat suit and there was nothing he could do about it until a PERSON gave him back his power. And what's the first thing he does when he gets it back? He kills someone. Because that's what Yahweh does. It doesn't matter that the plan was to resurrect her. It's more of this whole violence to bring about good that we're supposed to think is happening throughout the Old Testament.

 

God is chronically absent – He/she/or other has a penchant for “quiet nin-involvement.” He was known for disappearing from Heaven and not telling anyone where he was going so he could go play skeeball and not be bothered. Well, in his effort to disassociate from humanity (and everything else), he almost caused the end of existence.

 

Belief is confining – Rufus says that it's better to have ideas than beliefs. You can change an idea. Beliefs just keep people where they are with no room for growth or self-betterment. I know all about having different ideas about things over time and I am SO thankful that I had the guts to listen. It took a while, but I finally listened. And when that happened, it became apparent to me that my ideas about god and faith were silly.

 

God doesn't really love us – Bethany's question was simple. The real reason Godlanis doesn't answer is simple, too. If Godlanis were to have been honest at that moment she would have had to admit that we're nothing but playthings and that we have no grand purpose beyond spending eternity stroking her ego or, much more likely, crying out for mercy that never comes as we are toturred eternally for finite crimes that begin with simply not loving God or believing in Jesus with no evidence.

 

I could have done without the song at the end because it kinda romanticizes a lot of the defects of character we struggle with and paints god in a kind of loving light that he, she, or whatever will never deserve. I think Joan Osbourne's One of Us encapsulates the spirit of the message in this movie much better.

 

What if God was one of us? Well, that's funny, isn't it? Because he can't exist without us. If we stop perpetuating these stories and figure out that everything we have, everything that we get to do in this life has everything to do with us and nothing external, then we don't need to go looking for answers to questions like “why are we here?” We're here as the result of a phenomenally unlikely cosmic lottery. There is no reason for our existence. No god to thank or blame for it. We just are. So maybe an abstract answer like “bwep” isn't that far off. Maybe it's more truthful than I'm giving it credit for being.

 

The bad news is that no one in this movie walked away with less faith than they had in the beginning. The good news is that this movie does a stellar job of communicating the farcical nature of religion and reminding us not to take things like Christianity too seriously. So thanks to Kevin Smith for that much-needed reminder. Because the less seriously we take it, the closer we edge toward getting and staying Unbound.