FreeThought Fort Wayne

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FreeThought Fort Wayne Meeting Notes 10/8

Posted by dystressed on October 8, 2008

The meeting was held at Mad Anthony on Broadway beginning at 7 p.m.

  • Andy started the business discussion by saying the paperwork had been submitted for the Adopt-A-Highway program. Our first tentative cleanup date is 11/2 at approximately 2 p.m. (This is subject to change.) The rules will be e-mailed to those on the mailing list.
  • The next discussion was a solicitation for Great Zoo Halloween volunteers to pass out treats to kids on 10/22, 10/28, or 10/31. Contact Andy if interested.
  • A suggestion was made regarding a place in Yuku groups or some other place on the main site where other volunteer opportunities.
  • Next was a discussion of potential group activities. Andy W is hosting a “Haunted” Downtown Walking Tour through ARCH on 10/25.
  • Alan said he will check on prices for doing a Courthouse tour.
  • Following that, Andy moved the discussion back to the organization’s finances. Theo offered to take on the cost of hosting the site for a one year term. Then discussion moved to accounting. Andy, Skeptigator and Theo will discuss and open an account to handle the funds and will be the tentative co-signers on the account.
  • Next was discussion of the latest Enlightnement Show. Andy thanked everyone for their help and encouraged those who hadn’t seen it to watch it online.
  • Discussion then moved to the order of the meetings. For the next meeting, scheduled for 11/5 at the Library, there is a set agenda.
  • Meeting 11/5  Tentative Agenda: Mighty will open with 30 minutes of business discussion. The presentation on the Creation Museum will continue, followed by demonstration of StumbleUpon and other web tools to increase blog post readers.
  • Theo will have bumper stickers and bookmarks at the next meeting. This was followed by discussion of having a store on Cafepress.com to sell FFW merchandise.
  • Skeptigator will add administrator privileges to blog posters, which will give the opportunity for posters to moderate comments and guard against Internet trolls.
  • Discussion concluded with tentative plans to see Roy Zimmerman in Indianapolis 10/19 and Richard Carrier on 10/26.

The meeting ended approximately 8:30.

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Posted in Local | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Religulous: better than I thought

Posted by Andy Welfle on October 6, 2008

Bill Maher, left, and The Dude. Er, a Jesus impersonator

A movie still: Bill Maher, left, and The Dude. Er, a Jesus impersonator

Last time I posted, I expressed concern about Religulous, a pseudo-documentary film by Bill Maher. (Read that post here.) Several commenters told me I should reserve judgment until I see the film. I don’t necessarily think that is required, since the film’ preview really exists for people to pass pre-judgment over any movie, but I did fully intend to see the film no matter what I thought of it.

I went to see it with my friend and co-hort in atheist crimes, Butter (the non-waffle half of our personal blog, ButteredWaffles). And his review of it is very similar to mine. It is posted in entirety (with permission from Butter, of course) below:

Religulous isn’t the boring Jay-Walking skit I feared it might be. It’s much better than that, and I wonder about the critics who say it wasn’t funny. I was laughing several times, as was most of the rest of the crowd, because of the absurdity of the subjects and because of the well-timed jokes that point that absurdity out. The jump cuts and fast editing are there, but they’re not malicious; they just inject context to what are usually one-sided, contextless conversations. And the targets are mostly frauds or idiots who have voluntarily put themselves in the public sphere, by getting a Rev. before their name, or opening a creationism museum, or being a Senator, or running to Iran and meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or running an ex-gay counseling service, or playing Jesus in the public shows at Jesus Land. Or claiming to be the Second Coming of Jesus personally.

There was a little Michael Moore-ish grandstanding, like when he got tossed out of the Vatican for barging in with a camera and wanting to talk to the Pope, but those moments were mostly tongue-in-cheek side jokes (unlike a Moore film, where they carry the weight of the whole polemic). And the über-trendy canted camera angles, like it’s some MTV special where the host is so cool that we’re presumed to want to see camera shots of him talking to some other camera, were just jarring and dumb.

But there’s enough meat there to overshadow the sparse bits of egotism and amateurism. He’ll give subtitles exposing the lies of the opulently dressed megachurch megapastor as the guy speaks; he’ll interview Catholic priests (including the Vatican astronomer) who giggle at the idea of hell and Creation and all the stuff their flock is goaded into taking literally; he’ll get the Senator to equivocate on evolution, he’ll hammer at the Jesus actor, past all the “God-sized hole in your heart” rhetoric, until the guy pulls out Pascal’s Wager; he’ll show you the salesman for the crazy kosher workless wheelchair—and he’ll do it with that affable, I’m-on-your-side schtick that disarms his opponent.

He delivers the goods, and he’s honest enough to speak directly to his target audience at the end, telling you to get off the fence and actively oppose superstition if you’re smart enough to find the preceding hour and a half disturbing. The film is clever enough, and chooses its targets well enough, to be funny even to someone who’s already an atheist and well-versed in the issues and the players in the debate, while still summarizing those issues and players concisely for a moderately intelligent but apathetic fence-sitter. It’s the Michael Moore populist-polemic-documentary genre done right—which really shouldn’t be too hard, when your targets are this pathetically easy to pick apart. I’m glad he did it.

Link to the original post.

I’ll agree with Butter. While my opinion hasn’t changed that Bill Maher is an ass, I will concede that he is a smart and funny ass. It’s reminiscent of a quote from the Big Lebowski:

Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: No you’re not wrong.
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an asshole.
Walter Sobchak: All right then.

And he has the amazing ability to put someone down without them really being aware of it. Whether that is a good ability or bad is undecided.

There were some points in the film where I thought Bill and the crew took some hits on their credibility for a few laughs. For example, he was interviewing a Muslim imam who said that Islam is not a violent religion. The imam’s cell phone rang, and he took it out of his robe to answer a text message. The Religulous producers showed what they think he was typing on the screen:

> What r ur orders

> Kill the Jew Maher

>LOL

Yeah, it was funny. But critics are going to have a field day with it.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I think you should. It might turn out to be an important film.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »