I got home last night to find one of the walls of our house covered in paper hearts. At first I thought Fox had done it. Awwww. Then I inspected more closely. Nope. Not Fox. Not Chrissy. Instead it was some unknown Mormon ladies – and the hearts were intended for Chrissy. She dropped out of the church 20+ years ago, but, like the mafia or Hotel California, you can check out of the Mormon church any time you like, but you can never leave. They recently found out where she lives (we’re still not sure how). A couple of months ago, pre-covid, a couple of middle-aged white men knocked at our front door one afternoon. I opened it and they asked if Christine lived here. Now just imagine that for a second. A couple of unknown men knock on your door and ask for your wife by name. What’s your immediate conclusion? I asked where they were from and quickly established they weren’t from the CIA (whew), but from the LDS. At that time, Chrissy asked them respectfully to please not contact her again as she has no intention of re-joining the church. But then, last night, some of their fellow church members decided to walk onto our property, while we were not at home, and plaster messages over our wall. If it was up to me, I’d march down to their local church and ask to speak to the women who did it. Then I’d ask them how they would like it if I snuck into their yard and posted stickers all over their house saying “Joseph Smith was a polygamist who had sex with a 14 year old girl because God told him to!” Or “Rent Marketing The Messiah Today For Only $4.99 (USD) – marketingthemessiah.com/watch“. Chrissy is much nicer than me, though, so that probably won’t happen. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Mormons. I think they are fascinating. I’d love to make a documentary about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and their 14 year old wives. But I have to wonder what they hope to achieve by sneaking into people’s yards and pulling these kinds of… stunts. It’s wrong on many levels and I’m sure they wouldn’t like the “favour” returned. So take a note from Jesus’ book and DO UNTO OTHERS. Or, as I always put it on our podcasts – Don’t Be A… Stunt.
Far Out magazine found this great interview Charlie Rose did with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson in 2003. It’s fascinating to me for two reasons: 1) Lou’s very relaxed and open, none of his usual defensiveness you see in interviews, and that’s probably explained by 2) it’s the only interview I’ve seen him do with Laurie by his side.
I just realised that a week from today I’ll be attending a screening of Marketing The Messiah in Melbourne. Here’s a story.
Around 2004, I went to see the documentary THE CORPORATION. Towards the end of the film there’s a scene with director Michael Moore where he talked about how he makes films that oppose what corporations stand for but they distribute his films anyway because they don’t believe anyone will do anything about the things he says in his films. But Moore said he believed that a few people would watch his films and get up and do something about making the world a better place. I was still working at Microsoft when I saw the film. But his comments connected with me and not long after that I left Microsoft and started The Podcast Network to try to make the world a better place.
But here’s the kicker – the cinema where I saw that film, was the Cinema Nova in Carlton – the exact cinema where I’ll be standing up one week from today to introduce my own little documentary.
My first documentary film, Marketing The Messiah, will be screening in selected cinemas in Australia and the USA in March 2020.
It’s a secular history film about early Christianity. I interviewed twelve scholars and asked them to explain how a fringe Jewish sect from the backwaters of Judaea ended up taking over the Roman Empire.
Who wrote the New Testament?
When was it written?
In what order?
How did the message of the New Testament change over the course of the writing of it?
And how did the early Christians convince Romans to worship a dead Jew?
It might seem strange to make a film about this because most Christians probably think they already know the answers – and most atheists don’t give a shit.
But what I’ve found over the years is that most Christians are actually incredibly ignorant about the foundations of their religion. Moreover, most of them don’t want to know. There’s an attitude many of them have that suggests history doesn’t matter – only faith. Which is fine, I guess, but strikes me as rather silly. You’d think that anyone who decides to devote a chunk of their life to a philosophy would want to understand where it came from.
The atheists, on the other hand, tend to dismiss Christian history because they aren’t interested in religion. But I need to point out that Christian history is the history of Western Civilizations from around 400 CE onwards. As I often say – Julius Caesar and Alexander The Great were both worshipped as gods and you’re interested in their history – how is this any different?
The film, however, isn’t an attack on faith or a theological debate. I’m not interested in those topics (for now). This is just about the history of the early church. And to make sure it isn’t biased, I made sure that half of the scholars are Christians and half are atheists. As you’ll see when you watch the film, they all agree on the fundamental questions posed above about the writing, authorship and timing of the New Testament. That’s mainstream scholarship – even though most Christians will probably be shocked by what they hear.
You can find screening information here and learn more about how to set up your own screening here. You can watch the trailer here and more clips from the film here. Yes it will eventually be available for streaming, but not until later in the year.
In Ishaan Tharoor’s recent update on Venezuela, the typical US government / media propaganda / disinformation campaign is in full swing.
For example, he talks about the “grim conditions created by a dysfunctional economy”, but fails to mention these grim conditions are largely caused by crippling and illegal US sanctions. The sanctions have been criticized by the UN high commissioner for human rights who said last year they would ‘significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans’, but the Post doesn’t even mention them until paragraph 8 and even then not mentioning the UN criticism or the illegality of the sanctions. He also doesn’t mention the report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research last year that 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of US sanctions.
The Post then goes on to quote Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno who “insisted that Maduro’s “despotic regime” had to go”. Moreno is the guy who took a sharp turn to the right when he became President in 2017, after a meeting with Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort (currently serving seven years in jail), then revoked Julian Assange’s asylum, after allowing Assange’s private conversations with his lawyers be bugged and shared with the US (it’s alleged), and accepted a US-backed $10 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It’s the same Moreno who has been roundly criticised by his own people during the 2019 Ecuadorian protests, and who is currently sitting on an all-time low popularity, reaching only 7% of approval as of February 2020.