Sunday, March 9, 2008

To Which I Feel Inclined to Apply the Presumptuous Title: Religion, the Media, and Society

I saw "Tartuffe" performed yesterday, and it was hilarious. Moliere was brilliant, and whoever managed to translate the play into English and retain the rhyming couplets also deserves a great deal of admiration. Dorinne, the saucy servant girl, is quite a character.
Wikipedia's article on Tartuffe here.

I do see why the play caused an uproar and was banned when it came out, since hypocrisy and blindness in the context of religion are key themes. But the thing is, "Tartuffe" doesn't attack the contents of the religion. It deals only with the adherents of religion, and the abuse of religion. Despite the huge role that religion plays in my life and my sincere devotion to it, the play did not offend me; in fact, I agree with its cautions and condemnations. It irks me to no end that so many religious people and institutions cannot see the validity--nay, the necessity--of criticizing and questioning religious people/institutions/doctrines. Jesus had a thing or two to say about blind acceptance of authorities' interpretations. For instance: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. ... But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Luke 23:2-3, NIV). In fact, all of Luke 21-23 is a scathing condemnation of the religious leaders of the day, focusing on the failure to seek and to keep the spirit of the law, and the legalism, hypocrisy and arrogance that took that place. That Jesus's supposed followers fall into that same trap so frequently is disgraceful. Understandable, but nevertheless disgraceful. Also, it gives us all a bad name, which I, as a Christian living somewhere that is not the Midwest, do not appreciate.

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