I only made it to page 14 of Lewis Black’s latest book before my Diet Mountain Dew Code Red shot out my nose.
On page 14, he said this, precipitating the tiny red droplets on my computer screen:
Death is the abiding mystery that is the root of all religions, except Scientology, because I refuse to take seriously anything that Tom Cruise believes in.
Well said, Black.
As a “for what it’s worth” – the nature of Scientology has been a topic of debate for some time now, with it being deemed officially a pyramid scheme overseas by some of our smarter European friends. Even without its financial issues, many are dubious of referring to it as a religion.
Just as viscous as it is hilarious, reading this made for an altogether pleasant experience. The parts that were shocking I would thank Black for were I to see him at, say, Target or a cigar bar. The things that hurt and especially the things that cut to the quick did so because Black is no fool – he’s onto something. There’s a real opportunity to take what people notice about us as people of faith be it individually or as a corporate body of believers and hear their accounts, value them and actually do something about them. Too often because what they say hurt so much we turn away and find some way to rationalize to ourselves indignantly why we are right and necessarily, of course, they are not.
I think it worthwhile to juxtapose his style here with that of what Bill Maher did in Religulous.
Maher writes off the entire enterprise, harping on just a few things that to him don’t make sense – a virgin birth for example, and because something to *him* doesn’t make sense is outright rude to people who have beliefs.
Black manages to focus his energies in a better way, and while there is indeed a good deal of jabbing, he is not disrespectful to the point of treating anyone who practices an established faith as though it disqualifies them to be worthy of common human decency or basic manners on his part. More time is spent on the way he thinks about the tenets of the actual belief systems and structures, and even those of us who study these things for 40 plus hours a week can admit that when you break them down and diagram them like a sentence, some of them are pretty laughable. It’s OK to laugh; I have to believe that ours is a God that would want us to stand back and see what an absolute catastrophe humanity has made of out polity within our church structures (and then try to amend them). What isn’t OK is to take the stance of Maher and others.
I loved this book. I love everything Black does, so I was probably a bit biased going into it as I was expecting to love it, but I wasn’t disappointed.
Black’s writing is thoroughly enjoyable, and I am happy to report that I enjoyed Me of Little Faith as much as I did Nothing Sacred.