Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've just watched God on Trial and, if you haven't, you really, really, really should. Go to your Torrents oh my brothers and sisters! Set in Auschwitz as a cabin of condemned Jews wait for some of their number to be taken to the gas chamber they decide that all they have left is the power to put on trial the one they hold responsible for them being there, namely God. By allowing the Nazis to seek the destruction of the Jewish race, has God abandoned his Covenant with those he called his 'chosen people'?

While finding it a piece of piss to fly my flag in Atheism County when it comes to any organised religion, I find it difficult to do so absolutely outside of religion and personally. Sure, this is not a question of whom to bend the knee to or doff the cap, I can't understand why any Supreme Being would show any interest or need for my love, respect or fear and, if ze has any interest or concern for it then ze comes up far short of Infinite (although as it's only the religious types that try to curry favour with hir by describing hir in such terms). This is the entirely personal problem I have with Skepticism, Richard Dawkins, the Brights and that whole cabal. Sure I trust science to save my life and not crap like homoeopathy, but seeking to silence all the stories under the belief they have no value is wrongheaded. A plague o' both their houses.

I don't claim to know what God is. Us reflected back through our own history in the glare of the Eschaton? Sure, why not. An ancient robot servitor of some alien race designed to cultivate intelligence? If you like. A vengeful old Jew who really doesn't like it when the poofs and blacks forget their place? If we must. However, I find it easy to keep my ruminations private and not let it leak out into my professional or daily life, so can only conclude that those who are unable or unwilling to show the same restraint insist on expressing themselves on the grounds that they are deeply afraid that they are wrong and lack the faith to wait until they die to see who was right.

Anyway, back at God on Trial. The set is simple and the acting first rate, Stellan Skarsgård as the judge, Jack Shepherd as the elderly Jew who continually seeks to have the proceedings brought to a close out of fear of the blasphemy and Anthony 'National Treasure' Sher as the elderly rabbi that has the final word. The last scene, in which modern day visitors stand reading the memorial in the gas chamber, surrounded by the naked ghosts of the Jews waiting for their last shower, is extremely well-shot and upsetting. Many of the arguments in the 'prosecution' against God are those against his existence but in the end it remains balanced as it addresses that oldest imponderable, if there's a God, why do bad things happen?

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