People Soon To Be In Power + Some Religion Where People Claim To Know It All = Scary Bad Stuff.
Why do we confuse Freedom Of Religion with The Freedom To Shove My Religion Down Your Throat?
I'm very nervous about atheists who fanatically claim Darwinism as their religion of absolute faith (heck even Darwin would claim some uncertainty about his theories) and overly sure religions folks who want to blend politics and belief.
Keep 'em separated people.
What makes America one of the greatest places on earth is that we allow everyone, of every religion and faith and non-faith, to live here, freely. Let's keep it that way.
Politicians pandering to religious groups and adopting the language and trappings of faith are moving in opposition to the founding principles of this country. What are your leadership skills? Your ability to to manage complex data and make decisions? What are your shared values - ones that reach every citizen?
Why are you qualified to have the power of governance over us?
Your religious beliefs? Keep this to a minimum. Keep that in your private life. Explain how they will not lead you to make decisions that alienate those who do not share your beliefs.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"
Here we go - a nice fat n' juicy topic: the Mosque at Ground Zero. Please add the cheese, pickles, and mayo.
Almost everything I have read on the topic can be divided into the following:
This is in really bad taste, how dare you, the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim.
This is America - all religions are free to do as they please.
The Mosque will be a friendship outreach center, an antidote to terrorism.
The more I read about the founders of the US - the more I like where they were going with the whole thing, and the more I freak out about what people today think they were about. We tend to associate America with the the idea of Freedom Of Religion. But the deeper I go into how the original coders thought, the more I realize that they meant:
Freedom From Religion.
Now what does this mean? I do not think it means that they were against religion, or that they were all atheists. I really think it means that they wanted a country relativelyfree from religion in the public and political sphere. It was the noxious mix of oppressive religion and intolerance in Europe that drove many to cross the Atlantic Ocean in crappy little wooden sailboats(!) Imagine how bad it must have been to risk everything just for a little breath of freedom from the oppression of crazed religious folks in power.
In my own life I have friends from every spectrum of faith (and lack of faith) and religion: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists, Wiccans, Agnostics, Spaghetti Monsters Folks - everything and everyone. What has really helped all of these friendships is that our discussions are mostly free from discussing religion - and if and when we infrequently do, it is not a battle of right vs. wrong but one of trying to learn about some cultural tradition and then quickly back to a topic which does not involve religion.
It is one of the things I love the most about the idea of America - religion as a non-issue: do your thing, but let me do my own thing, and let's be tolerant and not in each other's face about it. Keep religion as a somewhat private, personal, family thing - you do not have to hide it, but let's not make a big deal about it. Nothing is more personal - when we die, each of us will face whatever we believe (or do not believe) in. Religion needs to become largely a non-issue.
So what about the Mosque at Ground Zero? The organizers (because this is America) are surely free to build the Mosque. Should they keep in mind that it is probably in bad taste? Yes. I would recommend that they sit down with the families of those who died in 9/11 and really find out if this is helping to build bridges of friendship and peace. How about taking the same money and donating it to the kids of the victims and helping them all through college? How about taking taking that same money and building schools of tolerance and liberal thought in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it is sorely needed. Are you really trying to extend a hand of friendship? If so, this symbolic act may be not the right move - and there are always ways to adapt - it is not too late.
But most importantly - this is America. It is our distinct freedom of, and from, religion, that allows to have this discussion at all. Maybe all religions need to take a small step back, and just let people come forward, and we'll all realize what has been in our way, and that we do have many things in common, once we let the walls of politics and religion take a backseat.
Maybe we all believe in G-d, or something, or not - but how and why we do should not be dividing us anymore. I have my own beliefs in G-d, my own sense of religion - but I also have to leave open a window of uncertainty. Uncertainty that as I grow I will learn more and my understanding will surely continue to change and evolve (as it has), and that none of us can really know what is by definition beyond our capability to know - so we need to be highly tolerant of everyone and their own beliefs, as our own is surely flawed. We are human, as humans we are limited - the arrogance of those who claim to know everything is in my view the highest form of idolatry - because if they do believe in G-d, only G-d knows what they think they claim to know. If we were all much, much, more humble in our beliefs (believers, atheists, and everything in-between) the world would be a much better place.
So what would good old George Washington tell the builders of Mosque? I think he would sit down with them and have a long chat. This is America, my friends - you are welcome here, and you are also welcome to build here - in the spirit of freedom and friendship. But let's perhaps discuss a better place for your dollars. You don't have to agree with me, but at least let us sit down and talk. After all - this is why we fought and defeated the British King - it wasn't all about tea (at least not all of it!).
Very cool mash-up of retro video game vibes + indie music + slackers + Canada/Toronoto
Is sadly flailing at the box office - but thus is the fate of going all out indie
Hopefully will make all the $ and then some somehow through DVDs and word of mouth
Is the kind of film/graphic novel thingie I love
Actually read all 6 graphic novels(!) - and liked them better - somehow they have more heart and depth and ambience
Why Avatar scored billions in its box office and Scott Pilgrim will likely barely make back its budget is a harsh lesson for any writer, filmmaker, and studio. They seem to both appeal to the core ComiCon crowd (strange blue aliens vs. indie rock video game slackers) - but somehow Avatar widely broadened its appeal across the world and won over practically everyone.
I think Scott Pilgrim suffers from what I will call the "Williamsburgh/Indie" ghetto mentality - which ultimately makes its world much smaller. If you have ever visited Williamsburgh it has bloomed into a indie arts/music Nirvana of sorts - a very inward, self-referential world - a living Facebook of hipsters and artsy types. It's a really cool place - but it bears little resemblance to the rest of the world. One wakes up, heads down to the local ultra-wicked-cool coffe shop, hangs out with other really cool and interesting people, works on one's band/film/art project, and then at night heads to a loft for an even cooler secret show featuring some amazingly uber-hip band (some TV On The Radio/Sleigh Bells mashup). Williamsburgh has distilled the best parts of college into a persistent art-slacker experience - one you never want to leave. It is the land of the Lotus Eaters - and it's good stuff.
Williamsburgh = Austin = Portland = Toronto = Seattle (sort of). These are coral reefs - very specialized clusters that can only exist under unique conditions, often within vast seas of danger and conservatism and blah. They are the fragmented, bastard children of the Beats and Woodstock and Paris of the 1920s and every idealized art dream. The connectedness to the rest of the world is thin - and often alienating. The battle cry is "your world kinda sucks - I'm dropping out and tuning in somewhere else". This is both the greatness and limitation of Scott Pilgrim - it drops a sharp dividing line between those who get it and those who do not. If you do, welcome in, if you don't, well f--k off - who invited you anyway?
I get it, thought it rocked - but.
The genius of Star Wars, of the Beatles, (maybe even of Avatar) - of a rarefied few was this: we'll bring this other place to you, all of you. We know all of you need to escape every once in a while, and everyone needs to have the world widened. We all may not be able to live in the indie cool villages, but we can all live in the Yellow Submarine. For all of Scott Pilgrim's awesome cool innovations and creativity, I think that they forgot this - they built a small bus for a select few - and it's a great ride if you can get on it.
The harder thing is to crawl over your own walls and beyond those walls of people you think are just not the bees knees - and to somehow get past all of that. That harder thing is what Pixar does well. It's not mandatory - but it can explain success in a small circle vs. wide universal appeal.
I love the fact that Scot Pilgrim exists and I hope that many more films like it can and should get made - but setting expectations correctly up front can help soften the disappointment later.
I am the co-founder and CVO of MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ: MAKO)
I recently started-up a new company, Magic Leap Studios (www.magicleap.com). Our first major project is called "The Hour Blue" - a graphic novel series that is also being developed as a CG based feature film series. I am currently in discussions with publishers about the series.
Working on co-writing and producing an album with my ultra-slacker band, Sparkydog & Friends. The first single "Red Light" has unexpectedly crossed into college and commercial Top 20 radio!