Penn & Teller: making Dawkins and Dan Brown look like altar boys…

SINCE it’s a Sunday, and I’ve just stumbled across it – probably a sign – here’s Penn & Teller‘s highly controversial, incredibly vitriolic, possibly dishonest (in a Michael Moore-type of way) attack on the Pope and Vatican. Not since you last stood in front of an Independent Orange Order platform on the Twelfth will you have heard the like – although just because they’re down on the Pope, I doubt P&T would have anything good to say about fundimentalist Prods either. The Catholic League (‘For religious and civil liberty’) is campaigning for CBS to drop the show for its “Nazi-like assault on Catholicism that… will go down in history as one of the most vile, obscene programs ever aired in any nation”. Which is the kind of advertising you just can’t buy.
Parts 2 and 3.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    “The Vatican – God’s Las Vegas” – brilliant.

  • Garza

    Those two just dont like religion in any form really. Just like me :-).

  • Greenflag

    Never heard of them . Have they done similar on Fundamentalists ? Mormons ? Scientology ? Judaism (ritual circumcision ), Islam ( and the 72 virgins awaiting the dismembered bits of suicide bombers ) , Wall St ? Washington DC ?
    There’s no end of ‘ideological ‘ bunkum out there waiting to be de-illusionised .

    Dermot Morgan’s ‘Father Ted’ series did a much better job at debunking ‘religion’

  • Big Bopper

    Greenflag
    If you google them or check out all their stuff on Youtube, they have a go at all religions and quackery from AA through to Zen Buddhism, with a crack at other nonsense also. It can be fairly OTT but funny in parts, a bit too American though.

  • Garza

    Asking the catholics in this forum.

    Do catholics still regard the Pope as infallible? Do they still regard the Pope as God’s representive on earth? Or have catholics in the West grown more skeptical nowadays?

    Thanks.

  • Rory Carr

    I’m always more than a wee bit suspicious about characters who rant on about religious beliefs which they purport to be ridiculous or of which they hold in contempt, but particularly so when it is not a religion in which they themselves were brought up and later abandoned where it might be understandable as in anyone who rejects and rails against the restrictive values of their parents and the values of their parents’ generation. But even then we expect a mature adult to simply ‘get over it’ and begin to see their parents and the beliefs of their time with understanding while yet rejecting them.

    What the Penn and Tellers of this world seem to fail to grasp is that one doesn’t have to be a Catholic any more than one has to be a Goth, a punk rocker, a member of the Bullingdon Club or (God save us all!) a LibDem. These are choices that people make and as ridiculous or indeed insane as their choice may seem to you or I (I mean how nuts does one have be be to admit in public that one is a member of the LibDems?) it is a choice that they are perfectly entitled to make and (aside from Bullingdon Club members) it is unlikely that they will ever be in position to invade some poor country or have us all locked up for not complying with whatever it is they want us to comply with. Catholic non-compliance usually only attaches a penalty of “Three Hail Marys and don’t do it again” in my experience which is hardly rigorous never mind life-threatening.

    In the matter of religious belief or cultural identity scathing criticising of that belief or culture is best left to its own adherents or former adherents. So it is that Catholics and Protestants can empathise and laugh along with Woody Allen as he plays merry hell with his recollection of Jewish New York, or how Protestants and Jews find no difficulty laughing along with Catholics at Father Ted, as Greenflag has mentioned, and why Jews in the first instance and Catholics in the second are not offended because we are all laughing good-naturedly with each other at the absurdity of the human condition as it happened to manifest itself in our cultural upbringing, which is what humour is all about – the ability to laugh at ourselves.

    The practice of laughing at others is born of fear which manifests itself as spite, is sympomatic of inner spiritual malaise and is best avoided as it can lead to miserable drinking and failure to sustain an erection (the latter difficulty being confined to males).

    Sadly there are no known examples of humourous self parody or self criticism in the Protestant traditions. This is generally thought to be because protestantism is all about money and as everyone knows, money is no laughing matter which is why laughter is the Big Sin for Protestants in the same way that sex is the Big Sin for Catholics, eating pork is for Muslims and not buying Mandy Potemkin LP’s is for Jews.

  • Gerry Mander

    Rory carr’s post is a little out of order as it is reflective, something these two sex obsessed idiots/comedians would know little about. Better to go for cheap shots, borad British strokes and cheap Roman slappers.

    Dermot Morgan ain’t laughing now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Rory, you’ve overlooked the damage done by the Church in the third world with its insistence over contraception. Or the damage it has done back here with its attempts to cover up clerical abuse. The video described an attempt by the church to stifle the free speech of a critic.

  • Greenflag

    rory carr,

    ‘Sadly there are no known examples of humourous self parody in the Protestant traditions’

    Really ? Perhaps not in NI or in the American deep south but elsewhere ?

    Haven’t the English prods got the Vicar of Dibley ?

    ‘We are all laughing good-naturedly with each other at the absurdity of the human condition as it happened to manifest itself in our cultural upbringing, which is what humour is all about – the ability to laugh at ourselves.’

    Science tells us that the ‘laughing brain’ is a much more absorbent brain which leads to greater awareness and understanding . Which is why laughing at Unionism is good for you 😉 Shooting at ‘unionism ‘ is however not good for your health 😉

  • Greenflag, Unionists and Nationalists have laughed at each other’s leaders as well as their own for years – but it won’t stop them voting for them 🙂

  • Greenflag

    gerrymander ,

    ‘Dermot Morgan ain’t laughing now. ‘

    Dead people are not known to laugh or indeed return . But I’d hazard a guess that Dermot Morgan probably laughed more in his short life than many of the po faced proddie fundies or ultra orthodox jews or catholics will ever do in two lifetimes including the second putative eternal one which is based on a universal ponzi scheme which would put Bernard Madoff to shame .

    But that just reminds me of one weak jibe in Penn & Tellers above performance i.e the reference to the Vatican’s 50 billion dollars in wealth .

    We should remember that it has taken the Vatican 2,000 years to amass such a hoard which when you think of it is not a good financial yield performance especially when a good Catholic like Bill Gates or a good Protestant like Warren Buffet amassed even greater sums than 50 billion in a single lifetime . And the thieving Jew -Bernard Madoff, scarpered off with 60 billion dollars in about 20 years 😉 A truly epic performance and vindication of the neo conservative gambit that the unseen hand moves in ways beneficial to all 🙁 . And if you believe that crap then you might also believe that the Pope is infallible .

    Ratso Ratzinger & Co are however way down in the second division of ‘looters and thieves ‘ among international institutions . Way ahead of the Vatican indulgence peddlars are the Banks , Insurance Companies , Credit Card Gougers , Dermot Morgan ain’t laughing now. multi national Oil companies etc and the shadow financial world of sub prime mortgage gangsters hedge fund gamblers ,and con men .

  • Gerry Mander

    On a recent plane ride, I saw Angels and Demons, one of Dan Brown’s creations. In it, we get (almost) Pope Patrick 1. The plot was so bad that I guffawed laughing. Great Z grade entertainment.

    The one true holy and Catholic apostolic church is, in fact, very poor, in cash flow, as are most other “churches”. The three big paymasters of our Mother Church are Cologne, Munich and Chicago. If the Holy Church were a business like, say, the Mormons, it would excommunicate the rest.

    The real crimes of the religious are licking up to the powers that be. When one sups with Satan, one should use a long spoon. But, hey, Satan rules ok.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘but it won’t stop them voting for them ‘:)

    True enough Nevin. On the other hand and there’s always another hand some 40% plus or minus 5% never even make it to the polling booth . In years gone by it was assumed that they had no interest or were somehow alienated from the entire process or preferred to mow the lawn or sip a pint of plain ?

    However the truth can now be revealed (again )? Perhaps they never make it to the polling booth by virtue of being unable to keep a straight face at the prospect of having to vote for the biggest shower of poseurs since Lady Godiva galloped around naked looking for other people’s chocolate 😉

    But the laughter doesn’t end yet . Next year’s Westminster elections will bring forth all sorts of candidates some even calling themselves UCUNF .

    Can anything be more ridiculous 😉

  • Rory Carr,

    James Young – Our Jimmy

  • Driftwood

    Greenflag
    I take it you will be amusing yourself this week by reading Bertie Ahern’s autobiography? I thought the cartoon image on the front of yesterdays Irish Times was excellent.

  • Greenflag

    Comrade Stalin ,

    ‘you’ve overlooked the damage done by the Church in the third world with its insistence over contraception. Or the damage it has done back here with its attempts to cover up clerical abuse.’

    This is an excellent point . But on the other hand the RC Church does a lot of good too as do other churches in cose who feel they need it and can’t get it elsewhere .

    Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are both notable philanthrophists and even the criminal wretch Madoff has donated substantial sums to various charities while stealing from other charities.

    I believe most Catholic missionaries in Africa politely ignore the Vatican’s prescription for abstinence and self restraint as a cure for AIDs and instead dish out contraceptives or tell parishioners where they can be got .

    As for attemptig to stifle free speech ?
    It worked temporarily with Galileo and rather permanently for his predecessor Bruno but eventually the RC Church had to cave in to the scientific reality that stared the ideologues in the face .

    I know less than nothing about the Italian Sinead O’Connor but has she a message other than what most people don’t already know ?

    gerrymander ,

    ‘Satan rules ok. ‘

    Not at all . Nature rules with the assistance of Mammon and sometimes in spite of Mammon .

  • Rory Carr

    The Vicar of Dibley, Greenflag? I should have thought that that makes my point about protestants lacking humour very neatly. What little poor humour it does have can be attributed to the liberal catholic element within Anglicanism. Strangely enough the right wing conservative catholic wing are as devoid of humour as the evangelical element. The ‘frocks ‘or ‘smells ‘n’ bells’ ultra-gay catholic mob have no choice but to have a sense of humour but circumstances dictate that it is a wee bit stinted and vinegarish.

    As to me overlooking Church disapproval of contraception or the abuse of children by Catholic clergy in Ireland which Comrade Stalin claims I can only say, “No I haven’t, Comrade”. The fact is these things have nothing to do with me. I am not South American nor do I live there; I
    have not personally been sexually abused by anyone (except meself when I was younger) nor do I approve of it and of course I could hardly be called a Catholic or a defender of Catholic doctrine since I am neither.

    When the Pope says something that I profoundly disagree with it is precisely because I am not a Catholic that I can completely ignore him. If I were a practising Catholic I might have to take issue but since I am not it doesn’t bother me and if what he says doesn’t bother other Catholics then that’s up to them. In the same way I am not in the least put out by Islamist edicts on women to cover their faces since I am neither Muslim nor female and have no plans to become either, in the near fuure anyway.

    My philosophy on faith and culture is simple and, I believe, eminently sensible and it is simply this – live and let live. I do wish others thought the same but, there you go.

  • Greenflag

    Driftwood ,

    ‘I take it you will be amusing yourself this week by reading Bertie Ahern’s autobiography?’

    I haven’t yet .And I’m not sure if I’ll even get around to it this side of Christmas 😉 I missed the Irish times cartoon -I’ll assume it was less than laudatory 😉

  • Rory Carr

    P.s. Dissenter,

    James Young (whom I knew) was as completely irreligious as I am myself but he did have a well tended spirituality that shone out of him.

  • Driftwood

    I wont be bothering with it either Greenflag as I don’t generally read fiction.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bertie-Ahern-Autobiography/dp/0091931320/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255277577&sr=1-1

    Scroll down for the pathetic fawning product description. No mention of the Mahon tribunal whatsoever. An actual film account of such tribunal (even the transcript) would be funnier and more scathing than anything by Penn and Teller.

  • Greenflag

    Rory Carr,

    ‘live and let live. I do wish others thought the same but, there you go.’

    Well yes of course but that’s just it . It’s just some of the ‘others’ want to make other’s live and believe as they do.

    Admittedly the Vicar of Dibley does not reach the maniacal heights of Father Ted but then the head of the Irish Church speaks German and lives in Rome whereas the head of the Anglican Church speaks English and lives just across town from Sheperd’s Bush . The eh long spoon may not be long enough in the latter instance .

    ‘I should have thought that that makes my point about protestants lacking humour very neatly’

    Perhaps a scientific survey is needed to establish this postulated generalisation ? A list of all the better stand up comedians in the English speaking world ranked by national origin , areligious upbringing or none as the case may be, might be a starting point .It could be listed alphabetically .

    I’d start with Dave Allen 😉

  • Jimmy Sands

    I like the show but it can be a little hit and miss at times. My favourite part was when they went to an enviromentalist rally and passed around a petition calling for a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Most signed without question, those who did question it were reassured that it was a chemical used in nuclear power plants. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

  • Tamberlame

    Ridiculing Protestantism would be very difficult for the simple fact that it is a massive target. Easy to ridicule babbling faith healers (Borat), the Amish (e.g. Weird Al*), hippy dippy Quakers, Young Earth Creationists or wishy washy Anglicans or Unitarians specifically, but those wouldn’t be ridiculing Protestantism, since vaste swathes of Protestantism would not be hit by those attacks.

    To ridicule Protestantism as a whole would require you to ridicule the Five solas, and I just don’t see what the joke would be out of those five.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsfVw9xxoNY

  • Comrade Stalin

    The fact is these things have nothing to do with me.

    If you’re a practising Catholic, it is everything to do with you. I’m not saying that you are responsible, but you must hold the organization to account.

  • Rory Carr

    A rabbi and an Irish catholic priest became friends over many years. One day the priest asked the rabbi:

    “Isaac, your people are forbidden to eat bacon are you not?”

    “Indeed we are, Patrick. It is one of those meats prohibited by our dietary laws.”

    “But did you never be tempted? The smell of frying bacon on a winter’s morning would have a muslim salivating. Did you never give in? Go on you can tell me, Isaac, we’re auld pals.”

    “Well, yes, I did, Patrick. I must admit I had a lovely bacon sandwich once on holiday.”

    “….and?”

    “And…what’s to say? It was delicious. Delicious already.”

    The priest sat back with a smug expression on his face, chortling.

    “Tell me this, Patrick, ” says the rabbi, “it’s true that catholic priests must abjure the flesh of woman?”

    “It is true, Isaac. Celibacy is a condition of the priesthood.”

    ” Now, Patrick, you can tell your old mucker, Isaac, where you never tempted? Did you never succumb?”

    “Oh all right, Isaac, I admit it. Once when I was a young curate there was a young sprite of a lass did the housekeeping. Comely she was and…well, you know..”

    “Say no more, Patrick, I’m a man of the world. You’ve got to admit though – it beats the bejasus outa bacon!”

  • Rory Carr

    “If you’re a practising Catholic, it is everything to do with you.”

    That may well be, Comrade Stalin but, as I am not, they don’t.

  • kensei

    Garza

    Do catholics still regard the Pope as infallible? Do they still regard the Pope as God’s representive on earth? Or have catholics in the West grown more skeptical nowadays?

    Papal infallibility is a somewhat misunderstood teaching. The Pope cannot declare Vanilla to the best ice cream in the world and be ocnsidered infallible. It comes into effect only when the Pope is speaking ex cathedra on moral teachings.

    IOt’;s a fancy way of saying the Poep gets the last word on Church Dogma. It’s been used precisely once.

    CS

    As much as I disagree with the Church’s stance on contraception, if everyone actually listened to the Church they wouldn’t have sex before marriage, and there wouldn’t be a problem. It strikes me a little that critics want it both ways, here.

  • Brit

    “if everyone actually listened to the Church they wouldn’t have sex before marriage, and there wouldn’t be a problem”

    I can think of a few problems Kensei, quite a few.

    For me, as an atheist, there is no God and the bible does not reveal the truth or the immutable moral laws. Religion is, accordingly, a creation of humanity encompassing politics, philosophy, therapy, culture, architecture, communal activites etc.

    Although based on false premises and certanties most religions are responsible for good and bad and it is conceptually and practically difficult to say on balance that Catholicism, Judaism or whatever is on balance GOOD or BAD.

    That said as a believer in freedom of speech and an opponent of the right not to be offended and the claim that religion should be entitled to “respect” over and above other ideas I am quite happy to see a bit of satire and criticism aimed at religion, particularly the BAD bits of it – like the idiotic contraception rules in Catholicism or the bizarre dietary rules of Judaism (which most Catholics and Jews respectively dont follow!).

    The biggest attacks on Christianity are usually aimed at the evangelicals who tend to be the most extreme and loony and so I wouldnt draw the conclusion that Protestant religions are immune from attack.

  • Tam

    Nice that even the ex-RC just can’t leave having a go at Protestantism alone.

    Suggests that the old one about asking someone are you a Catholic atheist, or a Protestant atheist is not so much a joke as a truism for some.

  • Brit

    “Woody Allen as he plays merry hell with his recollection of Jewish New York”

    Of course Woody Allen was an atheist/agnostic Jew and his Jewishness was a cultural/ethnic identity rather than a set of theological beliefs or religious practices.