Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Legion is a dark and twisted Christmas card on film. The premise: God has lost faith in humanity so He orders the angelic hosts to bring on the apocalypse. We see darkness, swarms of insects and other phenomena, but mostly we see angels possess other human beings (e.g. the foul-mouthed, wall-crawling old lady prominently featured in the commercials).
God has created a special child who will possibly be born to a pregnant waitress in a diner and could somehow oppose and counter-act the apocalypse. But then in a spectacular example of logic, He also orders the archangel Michael to kill this self-same child before it is born.
The interesting thing is that Michael ends up being almost a perfect inversion of the Islamic concept of the devil by refusing this command. At one point he even announces that when God made mankind he was the first angel to bow down to the the crowning glory of God's creation (as opposed to Iblis in the Quran who refuses to bow down to Adam). And to add another level to the inversion, just as al-Hallaj suggested that the commandment to bow was more a test of the purity of the devil's monotheism than a straightforward order, in Legion, the commandment to bring on the apocalypse was really a test of compassion (which Michael passes) by holding on to his faith in humanity.
the devil and al-hallaj
Unfortunately, this one interesting aspect is outweighed by the film's various flaws including: 1) There is way too much violence given that the film is ultimately a fable on compassion. 2) Unlike the film The Prophecy which was able to portray angels with a dark side with the right amount of tension, most of the "angels" in Legion just appear creepy and demonic. 3) More specifically, the angel-possessed crowds basically made Legion reminiscent of a zombie movie. But then the massive crowds clearly could have overwhelmed the heroes in the dinner and it isn't plausible that our heroes would last as long as they do.
Monday, January 25, 2010
One hole in the plot lies in the motivations of Gary Oldman's character, Carnegie (named perhaps after Dale Carnegie, author of the bestselling How to Win Friends and Influence People?) Carnegie is in charge of an unnamed desert town and is looking for the Bible as a tool and a weapon which will allow him greater control over the people around him. But what is surprising is that given Carnegie is so cynical, and given the widespread illiteracy, blindness and lack of memory in this post-apocalyptic world, why couldn't Carnegie simply make up a new religion? Or why wouldn't we see new religions fill-in the void left behind by the absence of the older faiths (along the lines of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents or Parable of the Sower)?
The other feature of the film which detracted from me enjoying it fully was the fact that it was ultimately too preachy. The film takes place in a world where some form of Christianity is evidently true. What is ironic is that the narrowness and exclusiveness of the film's perspective is actually most evident in a scene which was probably intended to be a PC "fig leaf" on the movie. At the end of the film we see a Bible being placed on a bookshelf among copies of the Tanakh and Torah (which are essentially already contained in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible) and a Yusuf Ali translation of the Quran. On the surface this seems to suggest that the Bible is one great book among other great books. But on further reflection a subtle criticism is implied; after all those other books were apparently not sufficient to properly restart civilization. Which is why God found it necessary to supernaturally guide and protect Eli on his mission to preserve the King James version of the Bible.
Interview with Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis by Sara Shereen Bakhshian
Is Book of Eli A Christian Movie? An Interview with the Hughes Brothers
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I'm not going to pretend to answer that question here except to say that while I'm fairly certain that Barack Obama and other key individuals in his administration are clear on the distinction between the two "wars" and realize how important it is to maintain it, it is also clear that a good chunk of folks in the military-industrial complex are very confused about the distinction and are all too cavalier about letting one slip into the other.
This latter fact is most recently exemplified in the revelation that Trijicom, a Christian-owned manufacturer of military hardware which is currently providing equipment to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been putting Biblical references on some of its products.
Alternet: Shocking Report: U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes
AFP: Muslim anger over US military 'Jesus' scopes
Military Religious Freedom Foundation's round-up of articles on the Trijicom story.
Planet Grenada: 10 ways the us military has shoved christianity down muslims' throats
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
As I read the articles again, I'm struck by the resonances with Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. Context is everything.
Remembering Imam Luqman Abdullah By Imam Zaid Shakir.
And see also: Death of a Detroit Imam Leaves Many Questions Unanswered by Hamdan Azhar
W. Kamau Bell's Website
Thursday, January 14, 2010
One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems.
Two. Do not allow US military in Haiti to point their guns at Haitians. Hungry Haitians are not the enemy. Decisions have already been made which will militarize the humanitarian relief - but do not allow the victims to be cast as criminals. Do not demonize the people.
Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services.
Four. Prioritize humanitarian aid to help women, children and the elderly. They are always moved to the back of the line. If they are moved to the back of the line, start at the back.
Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia. President Obama should do it on Martin Luther King Day.
Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for every official and non-governmental person and organization. Non governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups are extremely powerful in Haiti - they too must respect the human dignity and human rights of all people.
Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.
Eight. Release all Haitians in US jails who are not accused of any crimes. Thirty thousand people are facing deportations. No one will be deported to Haiti for years to come. Release them on Martin Luther King day.
Nine. Require that all the non-governmental organizations which raise money in the US be transparent about what they raise, where the money goes, and insist that they be legally accountable to the people of Haiti.
Ten. Treat all Haitians as we ourselves would want to be treated.
Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
•The American Red Cross is pledging an initial $200,000 to assist communities impacted by this earthquake. They expect to provide immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support. They are accepting donations through their International Response Fund.
•UNICEF has issued a statement that "Children are always the most vulnerable population in any natural disaster, and UNICEF is there for them." UNICEF requests donations for relief for children in Haiti via their Haiti Earthquake Fund. You can also call 1-800-4UNICEF.
•Donate through Wyclef Jean's foundation, Yele Haiti. Text "Yele" to 501501 and $5 will be charged to your phone bill and given to relief projects through the organization.
•International Medical Corps is assembling a team of first responders and resources to provide lifesaving medical care and other emergency services to survivors of the earthquake. The IMC previously helped recovery efforts after September 2009's earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia, and the massive 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Donate to the International Medical Corps through their 24-hour hotline at 800-481-4462
•Ben Stiller's Stillerstrong campaign will be temporarily diverting all donations to support the Haiti relief effort.
•Partners In Health reports its Port-au-Prince clinical director , Louise Ivers, has appealed for assistance: "Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us." Donate to their Haiti earthquake fund.
•As a UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton appeared on CNN on Wednesday to ask for further assistance in bringing relief to populations on the ground. You can donate through the Clinton Foundation or text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10.
•Mercy Corps is sending a team of emergency responders to assess damage, and seek to fulfill immediate needs of quake survivors. The agency aided families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. Donate online, call 1-888-256-1900 or send checks to Mercy Corps Haiti Earthquake Fund; Dept NR; PO Box 2669; Portland, OR 97208.
•Direct Relief is committing up to $1 million in aid for the response and is coordinating with its other in-country partners and colleague organizations. Their partners in Haiti include Partners in Health, St. Damien Children's Hospital, and the Visitation Hospital, which are particularly active in emergency response. Donate to Direct Relief online.
•The UN World Food Programme is gathering all available resources to deliver food to the recently homeless and impoverished in Haiti. Donate now to help bring food to those affected as quickly and efficiently as possible.
•Following the earthquake, Catholic Relief Services made an immediate commitment of $5 million for emergency supplies. They are distributing food and relief supplies, and importing plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and water purification tablets from the Domincan Republic. Donate to Catholic Relief Services to assist in these efforts.
•Give to the American Jewish World Service's Earthquake Relief Fund.
•CARE is deploying emergency team members to Port-au-Prince today to assist in recovery efforts. They're focusing their efforts on rescuing children who may still be trapped in schools that collapsed. Donate to CARE.
•Orphans International America reports that they have been able to make contact with their program director in the town of Jacmel, a city about 20 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince that houses OI's hospitals and schools. Orphans International America is attempting to gather food, clean water and emergency medical supplies to Jacmel. You can contribute to them through PayPal.
•The International Rescue Committee is deploying an emergency response team to Haiti to deliver urgent assistance to earthquake survivors and to help overwhelmed local aid groups struggling to meet the immense emergency needs. They will focus on critical medical, water and sanitation assistance. Donate to the IRC Haiti Crisis Fund.
•NetHope is coordinating its response with its NGO member agencies and with the UN's Emergency Telecom Cluster to establish connectivity in Haiti. Seventeen of NetHope's members are already providing aid and deploying resources on the ground. Donate online.
•The Haitian Health Foundation is still assessing the situation of their full-time facilities and staff in Haiti. They regularly provide health care, development and relief to rural mountain villages in Haiti. Donate to the Haitian Health Foundation.
•World Vision has more 370 staff in the country. Staff members from less-affected regions of Haiti are mobilizing, and World Vision's global experts are expected to arrive in the disaster zone as soon as possible. Donate to World Vision.
•United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is the UN's humanitarian fund responding to emergencies like the earthquake in Haiti. Donate online.
•Friends of the Orphans will use donations to meet the needs of first responders such as first aid supplies, shipping of necessary materials to assist in efforts, and treating the injured. Those interested in helping the relief effort can visit www.friendsoftheorphans.org, or call 888-201-8880 to make a donation.
•World Concern's staff is almost entirely composed of Haitian nationals and will be tapping into private as well as U.S. government supplies to help in the relief effort it hopes will soon be supplemented by cargo ships. Donate to World Concern.
•Merlin USA is sending an emergency response team out to the region and have subsequently launched an emergency appeal to bring urgent medical aid and assistance to those affected. Donate to Merlin USA.
HuffPost Impact is following relief organizations in Haiti and will be updating with their latest messages from the ground.
Pat Robertson, the evangelical Christian who once suggested God was punishing Americans with Hurricane Katrina, says a "pact to the devil" brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."
The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
Native Haitians defeated French colonists in 1804 and declared independence.
"You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other." Robertson has previously linked natural disasters and terrorist attacks to legalized abortion in the United States.
pat robertson is evil: reason #865
pat robertson is evil: reason #873
pat robertson is evil: reason #704