Jewish Journal


September 25, 2008

Bill Maher, Catholic and Jewish, master of guilt



And we’re back. Joining me again is my guest, Bill Maher.

Now, this is Bill’s sixth appearance on The God Blog in as many weeks; I suppose the visits will stop soon after his new docu-drama, “Religulous,” is greeted at theaters by protesters Oct. 3.

Yesterday I mentioned that even Bill is prone to irrational beliefs, his having to do with medicine. And today, I offer this snippet from my feature about his new film.

This portion appears toward the end of the article:

The so-called New Atheists—bestselling authors who appeal to science, logic and intellectual elitism—typically preach only to the choir.

“I don’t like the term atheist because, to me, that is as rigid as religion is,” Maher said. “I preach the doctrine of ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t know and I don’t think it should matter. I don’t think people should be so obsessed. Give yourself a break. You don’t have to worship something, you don’t have to worship something that is really just in your head, that you made up.”

But Maher avoids two of these major trappings—he can’t help the high-minded snobbery—and sticks to what he is good at: comedy.

“I think Jesus was probably an awkward teen—big Jewfro, bad at sports,” he says in the film, at which point a clip of Jonah Hill from “Superbad” flashes on the screen: “Here I am!”

And what better way to discredit something than to make belief in it laughable?

With his Catholic and Jewish backgrounds, Maher should feel guiltier than anyone about such heathen humor. But instead, the religious moviegoer is the only one worrying about God’s forgiveness.

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