There’s an early scene in Terrence Malik’s masterful new film – what I would call a moving painting – where the central character Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian peasant farmer from an isolated small mountainous village who refuses to take an oath to Hitler and fight in the German army, is talking to an older man who is restoring paintings in the local Catholic church.
Franz, a devout Roman Catholic, is deeply disturbed by the rise of Hitler and the thought of participating in his immoral killing machine.
The older man tells Franz – who has already been admonished that he has a duty to defend the fatherland (homeland) – that he makes his living painting pretty holy pictures for the culturally conditioned parishioners for whom God and country are synonymous. He says:
I paint their comfortable Christ with a halo over his head. We love him, that’s enough. Someday I’ll paint a true Christ.
Malik’s “someday” has arrived with A Hidden Life, where the older Malik shows the younger Malik – and us – a moving picture of what experience has taught him is the complex essence of a true and simple Christ: out of love of God and all human beings to refuse to kill.
To watch this film is to undergo a profound experience, an experiment with truth and non-violence, a three-hour trial (Latin: experimentum – trial).
While Franz is eventually put on trial by the German government, it is we as viewers who must judge ourselves and ask how guilty or innocent are we for supporting or resisting the immoral killing machine of our own country now. Hitler and his Nazis were then, but we are faced with what Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now.”
Many Americans surely ask with Franz, “What has happened to the country that we love?” But how many look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a guilty bystander or an active supporter of the United States’ immoral and illegal wars all around the world that have been going on for so many years under presidents of both parties and have no end? Do I support the new cold war with its push for nuclear war with its first strike policy? Do I support, by my silence, a nuclear holocaust?”
I say that A Hidden Life is a moving painting because its form and content cannot be separated. A true artist, Malik realizes that what non-artists call form or style is the content; they are one. The essence of the story is in the telling; in a film in the showing.
The cinematography by Jörge Widmer, a longtime Malick collaborator, is therefore key. It is exquisitely beautiful as he paints with swiftly moving light the mountains and streams of the Austrian countryside, even as the storm clouds with their thunder and lightning roll in across the mountains.
The ever-recurring dramatic scenes of numinous nature and the focus on the sustaining earth from which our food comes and to which we all return and in which Franz, his wife Fani, and their young daughters romp and roll and plant and harvest and dirty their hands is the ground beneath our feet, and when we look, we see its marriage to the sky, the clouds, the light, the shadows, which in their iridescent interplay of light and darkness beseech us to interrogate our existence and ask with Franz what is right and what is wrong and what is our purpose on this beautiful earth.
That question is especially focused when between the beauty comes the terror in the form of interspersed documentary footage of Hitler, his fanatical followers, and horrifying scenes of war and violence.
Like the movie, I think you would agree that we are always moving, asking, wondering, if we are not the living dead. All is now, and now is nevermore, as it disappears into the darkness behind us. The light is always pointing into the future, so we can see where we are going. We don’t look at the light but by the light, as the great South African preacher, Alan Storey, puts it. But what is our light?
Where, asked Nietzsche, was the lightning before it flashed? To which the answer comes: it wasn’t. It is its flashing. Only a doing, an act, just like love, not a thing but action. Just like the word God, theόs in Greek, which has no vocative sense, as Roberto Calasso has pointed out in Literature and the Gods. “Theόs has a predictive function: it describes something that happens.” God is a verb; God is happening. God is happening when humans are happening, acting. Only then.
“What you do (or don’t) speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say,” was the way Emerson phrased it.
The filmic interplay between Franz’s agonized moral dilemma, his action, and the embodiment of Christ in the natural world, the body of Christ (Corpus Christi, not the erstwhile American nuclear submarine by that name), is its genius, one that might be lost on one impatient for action and garrulous dialogue.
A Hidden Life is far from Hollywood. Silence and natural beauty permeate it, as if to say the only way to grasp the mechanized and conscienceless brutality of Hitler or today’s killers and grasp why some resist it, is to enter a contemplative space where the love of the incarnated world awakens our consciences to our responsibility to our sisters and brothers everywhere.
For in the silences one can also hear the screams of the millions of innocent victims beseeching us to heed their cries and intercede.
Malik shows us that the “true Christ” must be experienced as all of creation. No divisions. We must feel this in our flesh and blood, as does the rather inarticulate Franz, who speaks very little. His silence, however, and the marvelous acting of August Diehl, speak volumes. Valerie Pachner, as his supportive wife Fani, is gripping in every sense of the word, as Franz and Fani grip and grasp and hold each other in a fierce struggle to stay united in the face of the evil forces that threaten to separate them. It tore me apart to watch their struggle, and I left the theater shaking.
In one of his marvelous essays, A Kind of Sharing, John Berger, writing about painting, said,
The act of faith consisted of believing that the visible contained hidden secrets, that to study the visible was to learn something more than could be seen in a glance. Thus paintings were there to reveal a presence behind an appearance.
This could be Malik’s motto, his faith. Or perhaps “to reveal a presence that is the appearance.” The body is the soul. We are the world.
When I was young and in the U.S. Marines, seeking release as a conscientious objector, I read a book by Gordon Zahn, a sociologist and Catholic peace activist, called In Solitary Witness. It was the book that first brought Franz Jägerstätter to the world’s attention.
I found it deeply inspiring to learn about someone else who felt alone in his spiritual decision to refuse to fight in war.
Unlike Franz, who had been a wild motorcycle-riding young man prone to fighting, I had tried to be an upstanding, Jesuit-educated, patriotic, Irish-Catholic boy. Tried but didn’t completely succeed. I prided myself on my toughness and sensitivity. Don’t laugh. It’s not that uncommon. We are often strangers to ourselves, complicated creatures, even the worst among us open to redemptive change.
But as I said then and say now, war is another matter.
I felt it in my soul, as Franz clearly did, even if all he could say was, “I have this feeling inside me that I can’t do what I believe is wrong.”
War is a racket, as Marine Major General Smedley Butler put it. It is waged for the tyrannical oligarchs and always kills mostly civilians. Over ninety percent now, probably more. Innocent people. War is immoral. It is not complex. It is simple. Like the gospel message. Jägerstätter grasped that long ago and paid the price.
I paid no price since I was released from the Marines to “take final vows in a religious order,” which was a complete lie, something I had never mentioned or considered but which allowed them to get rid of me. But I vividly remember the spiritual sustenance I got from Franz’s witness as I awaited the ruling, for I was unequivocally determined to go to prison before ever donning the uniform again.
I got off easy and still feel guilty that I pocketed their lie and went my merry way. Watching A Hidden Life reminded me of my cowardice.
Despite feeling “he had no one to turn to,” despite being urged “to say the oath and think what you want,” despite the advice of family and Bishop to compromise, despite the animosity of the villagers toward him and his family, despite being alone with his conscience, Franz remained faithful to his soul’s promptings. He lived forward by the light.
Malik shows us the anguish that was involved in his decision, the agony for him and his wife, who, ironically, seems to have been instrumental when they married in his spiritual awakening and whose suffering is palpable as she supports his decision to the end. It is not easy to watch.
Aside from Franz, who remains steadfast throughout all the abuse and suffering that he undergoes when jailed by the Nazis, the viewer is not fed a simple story of good against evil but instead is invited to examine one’s own life, to ask what would one have done, to wonder whether Franz was right or wrong to subject his family to such suffering.
Even the humanity of the Nazi judge is shown when he privately tries to dissuade Franz from not signing the oath, telling him that no one will ever know of his sacrifice, that “the world will go on as before” and “someone else will take your place.”
We see the torment on this man’s face and in his harrowed hands when he is left alone after Franz tells him simply that “I don’t know everything” but “I can’t do what I believe is wrong,” despite knowing the consequences, and Franz is taken off to his solitary witness and his death.
The viewer is left to interpret the meaning of it all. Afterwards, we hear Fani says that “the time will come when we’ll know what all this means.”
Has that time come?
In 2007 the Catholic Church declared Jägerstätter a martyr and beatified him. The irony of making a saint out of a man whose spiritual witness was opposed by the institutional church authorities cannot be lost on a thinking person.
Long dead, safely in his grave, a monument can be erected to his memory. Or is it a monument erected to the church itself, the church whose silence was in those days deafening?
When I was leaving the theater with the seven other attendees, a man engaged me in conversation. I asked him what he thought of the movie. He said only that “it was beautiful.” I was startled and had no response, but I thought of Rilke’s words about beauty from the Duino Elegies:
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
A Hidden Life is like that.
Near the end we see Franz and a group of prisoners sitting on a bench awaiting their turns to be beheaded by the executioner in a black coat and bowler hat. A man just doing his job, a bored look on his face, loping off heads one by one, anxious to get the mornings work done and get to lunch. The terror on the victims’ faces is palpable. I felt sick.
While some prisoners struggled as they were led into the shed that housed the guillotine, Franz walked calmly in. Malik spares the viewer the details. All we are shown is the aftermath – a floor awash in blood. And as I recall, the light streaming in a high-up window.
Always the light to show us the way.
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Just another Brit whom is drooling something about the Natzeez, god I am feed up, and this is what, about an chirst eh…. figure, yeah, to me, this is nothing but another lame propaganda hit piece, witch is just another movie in among thousands about the Natzeez, nothing else.
Sorry for been so.. uh…. brute, Im just f…. feed up, nazi, nazi, nazi, yeah, and more nazi, nazi, nazi.
And if that isnt enough, throw in some more nazis.
I could go on for hourse about what and whom is much worse, when and to whom it benfited.
But we never go there do we, instead we always ends up with the Natzeez.
Hurmf, I know one thing OffG, you and your owners will never, ever be honest, I usualy test sites, I have had the Palestinian cause for decades and now I do the Germans, I have one more thing before I leave this realm, that is about reality and consciousness, the final frontiers, and for me, you failed, and the second thing witch I already know, you will never ever learn the truth, and I think you dont even want to learn the truth because I have learned one thing, truth hurts, if it dont hurt, its not true enough, but continues with what is convinient because you are indeed spineless and ignorant, and feed visions and storys that “everybody” can see them self into, because its all they know and on top of it they have been spoon feed this from birth.
You may think this movie is good, I dont know, but to me, its the analogy that crashes everything, and the comentarys by others, is even worse, people debate issues and writers they havent read, I know, because I have, and then we have the facts, again, the echo chamber, witch is a place I hate, nothing despice me more than echo chambers, and willfully ignorants debating issues and histry witch they dont know jack shit about and what little they know is nothing but propaganda, period.
Sorry OffG, but you just killed your site and I will never come back.
peace and out
PS: I have just 4 books left witch I have keept, the rest is thrown away.
M. Cremos: The Human De-evolution, history acording to the ancient vedic texts.
The dictionary of the Khazars.
Nietzcshes: So spoke Zarathustrat.
And since we are in it, I will leave you something, I know most of you will ignore it, but for the few stil alive I will give you this just because its much better than some other writings, this is the same as in ancient Tibetan texts, even older Egyptian texts, and so on, of everything I have read, this is the most controversial, but I know this is the most powerful book ever writen, I have done this, upto the 4 gate.
And then I stopped. There are other things to, among them, to hint, we are NOT alone, hehe, Everything you need is here and if you find it to be good, by the book, the last of the 4 books I have keept.
C. Castanedas: The Art of dreaming.
An transcript first, read it and then deside, and do notice this, I have NOT done this with drugs nor halusinogenics, but it took me 10 years before I broke thru, because I did it thru Lucid Dreaming.
Have an nice day.
Mohandes Gandhi considered Leo Tolstoy’s non-fiction book “What Is Art?” as Tolstoy’s masterpiece, surpassing even the novels Tolstoy became famous for: “War and Peace”, “Anna Karenina”, etc.. Those who’ve read “What Is Art?” will likely agree with Edward Curtin when he described Terrence Malik as a “true artist”, can appreciate and be encouraged such men and women are now among us, – and hope, pray or otherwise desire more true artistry comes forth for the good transformation of humanity and all life on Earth forever.
Just three days ago, on Arcamax’s comic strip section, I was confronted with an Amerikastani wanting China and Russia to be nuked out of existence. When I asked whether it supported the conversion of millions of people into radioactive ash, it responded that the Russians and Chinese were “as good as dead” anyway because they “did not overthrow their tyrannical regimes”. It also was proud of never having travelled outside Amerikastan. And this is a very typical Amerikastani of the Trumpet ilk. The other kind of Amerikastani, the Killarybot kind, is represented by one which strongly supports droning of Afghan and Yemeni children on the grounds that this is better than putting “troops on the ground” and “saves American lives”. Does anyone seriously believe Amerikastanis have the intellectual or moral capacity to look at themselves and ask if they bear responsibility for the crimes of the Imperialist States of Amerikastan? I don’t.
Did the Septic Tank realise that such an attack would see AmeriKKKa itself vapourised, as well, or was he one of those ‘religious’ lunatics who are looking forward to that.
It made me remember that every action we do or do not take, every word we say or do not say, every pound, dollar or euro we spend and how we spend it, how we choose to spend each hour, every small act of kindness performed has the potential to make this world a better place.
“… out of love of God and all human beings to refuse to kill.”
Uhh, is that the same God that whacked all of Egypt’s first-born kids? The same God that destroyed the entire human race except for Noah and his family?
The same God who had his son killed?
Odd way for a God to show her/his/its love, not to mention a refusal to kill.
Like the saying goes, “If you kill one person, you’re called a murderer. Kill a million and you’re called a conqueror. Kill everyone and you’ll be called a God.”
What is the Torah/Old Testament but a litany of genocides, massacres and hideous punishments for tiny ‘crimes’? The ‘Good Book’?
There’s quite a bit of “kill the goys” as well, R.
How refreshing to read ” Off Guardian”- ” normal journalism” has vanished from MSM.They either would not have quoted Nietzsche at all , or there would have been a big long premable before the quote in which the journalist denounced ‘ anti semitism and all its works’ and apologised for quoting Nietzsche! ( Nietzsche was ofcourse a raving antisemite ( using a normal definition of the term) but in the the weird ‘ throw the baby out with the bathwater’ era in which we live , MSM journalists are forced to state that antisemism colours everything that an antisemitic person has every done ( or be called antisemitic ofcourse) ( I wish Off Guardian would tell me how I can donate to it by cheque. I don’t like Paypal and I am not the only one on here who has said that)
digital does not have a soul
malicks first 2 movies badlands and days of heaven are analogue filmic masterpiece.
malick is not an outcast he works within a talmoodick film finance system
he gets funding the ashkanazi money changers and critic support him.
does he walk a line tip toe around on egg shells trying to avoid a mel gibson or is it all just a show.
will this movie re enforce the rabbi simon sharma laurence rees bbc spielberg view of what happened the crafted scenes that folks like billy wilder helped film
or will he show a little bit of the actuality will he go off meme script
i think not
could he get funds to do a eisenhower rhineland camp movie with millions of germans in open air fields drowning in mud holes deaths much worse than the roofed huts of any german camp.
would he be able to make a film of the books hellstorm other losses or wall street and the rise of hitler.
war is a racket it is also a culling exercise.
the catholic church has been destroyed within by the synagogue of satan an interesting read a book called the broken cross
Late to the fray as always, there were 3 thoughts which came to mind:
First: how many are aware of the story of Ben Salmon, US conscientious objector (CO) from WWI. Its a harrowing story and he too was abandoned by the Catholic Church.
Second, here in NZ we have our own celebrated CO, Archibald Baxter whose story he dictated in the book, “We shall not cease”. Field Punishment No.1 was a form of crucifixion.
Finally, US Purple Heart winner JFK once wrote to a friend (long before his Presidency) that ‘wars will continue until that distant day when the CO is revered as the warrior is today’.
I had fully intend to watch this film. Irrespective of the which war is involved, one can only be inspired by the courage required to stand against the system. But that is the time of trial. Like some comments below, I do wonder how we are to stop the machine; when 2 million of us marched through London in 2003 to protest Blair’s intention (some 80 millions marched in other parts of the globe) to invade Iraq only to be totally ignored, then we need to find a better way to act. Wringing our hands and writing impassioned comments here in Offguardian might give us a sense of having done something, but does not ultimately have any real effect.
Kia Ora Hugh. True. I post comments here coz I’d go bonkers otherwise. It’s to let off steam, and importantly, to connect with other like minded people who see the same things and how the World is.
But I also take part in rallies, protests, campaigns as well. It may not make much difference, but….
Am originally from Invercargill, but lived in Christchurch for nearly 7 years before coming to Aussie.
This looks another really valuable film, tho still havn’t seen Parasite yet, cheers…
Kia Ora, Gezzah. I write letters to the Otago Daily Times, Radio NZ and to the PM, Deputy PM, MPs etc. I also draw attention to the madness in the magazine I edit (my hope is to have my imagined Right Wing readership choke on their morning toast…;-)
We went to the film “1917” and although it does indeed show the Hell that is war, there is an element of us good guys vs. those bad guys. Only the Germans commit atrocities etc. Although apparently based on director Mendes’ grandfather’s stories, I thought the script was riddled with more holes than a bayonet practice dummy.
Keep up the good fight. Vencermos.
The writings of people like the philosophes and the writers of Samizdat have an effect: they rob the governing system of legitimacy, so that, when that system faces a real crisis, it collapses. The collapse of the dollar will be such a crisis.
Thanks for this review. My wife is a film buf. She goes to the art cinemas a lot. I just asked her if she knew anything about this film “A Hidden Life” She initially said no, but then I gave her a very brief description, and said it goes on for 3 hours. She then said yes, and she will almost certainly go and see it. I’m not sure if I can take it, but if she asks me, I will go with her. I haven’t told her the full story, which is how cinema should be. She’s an Angel – a bit tougher than me. The story starts from the start. Why should anyone want to know the ending, especially if its true. I’m a lucky man.
In the real world, the Head of the Church of England, the Queen, confirms it is OK for people to be torutured and rot in jail if the matter is ‘Polititcal’.
Tell Jesus and Jesus followers about all this.
Queenie is sending a message-the lynching IS political, not a matter of ‘disinterested law’.
Well spotted. And excellent ploy by Chris Lonsdale:
“I have received a reply back from Buckingham Palace following my letter & petition to the Queen in support of #JulianAssange some weeks ago. The response says, basically, that the Queen cannot intervene in issues which are Political. This should be used in court”.
In the good old days of Gunpowder plots, the monarch had to give written permission for the use of torture. He also got front row seats for himself and the kids for every Hanging, Drawing and Quartering. His knowledge of viscera may have informed his famous Counterblast on the evils of tobacco (but I digress). No smoking gun here….
Did anyone see Chernobyl?
The scene that got me was the 3-man detail assigned to kill dogs in the radiation zone.
When the young recruit bottles it (the first time he has to shoot a dog) one of the war vets’ who fought in Afghanistan says to him;
“You put a bullet in someone – you’re not you anymore, but then you wake up the next morning, and you’re still you, and you realise, that was you all along …….. you just didn’t know “” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-6Qj3n_NtA
The point being just as there are those with deep enough convictions to resist tyrany (such as the protagonist in A Hidden Life) there are at least as many ‘ordinary people’ willing to commit very dark deeds ……. they just don’t know it.
In the blogsphere I sometimes wonder (when debating with apologists for imperialism) are they simply misinformed, or are they latent sadists that would quickly abandon any sort of moral compass once certain political or military conditions arose.
Great article by the way – the Malik film looks absolutely riveting.
Thanks for the clip, Harry, but it turns out the film was made in English – Austrians speaking English (with a funny accent, of course, to show that they’re actually speaking German). This irritates me beyond belief – it’s just sheer laziness. However worthy the subject may be, I won’t be going to see the film.
My apologies for the down vote, though – my aim was a bit off.
Very interesting essay! Thank you, Off-Guardian:)
I have a personal frustration I have to write:) It’s pretty much a misty fantasy I have that one day, before I die, they’ll stop making nazi/holocaust movies. It’s banal to continuously set movies in that period. This century we’ve been watching the U.S., Israel, and Britain waging a world war just as disgusting as what the nazis did. All the most horrible systematic murders, torture, genocides, invasions of nations, theft of lands, proxy wars, and decimation of the indigenous have been going on for these two decades of the 21st century. Lots of stories, metaphors, and allegories this century.
(“This century we’ve been watching the U.S., Israel, and Britain waging a world war just as disgusting as what the nazis did. All the most horrible systematic murders, torture, genocides, invasions of nations, theft of lands, proxy wars, and decimation of the indigenous have been going on for these two decades of the 21st century.”) – Thank you. I quite agree Sharon.
And if we step back to take an even wider and longer view of our planetary situation, we see that we are actually now at 500+ years and counting of such ongoing amoral mayhem and genocide conducted by Western Europe and her colonies, now led by my own odious American oligarchy and political establishment.
Our “progress” can be measured in that we no longer “burn witches” since now appropriately “enlightened” we instead effectively torture & imprison journalists like Assange and whistleblowers like Manning who might dare puncture our veil of self-imposed idiocy by telling us the actual “truth” of our collective criminality.
All with no end in sight other than possibly a human orchestrated “nuclear Rapture” initiated by America’s insane Evangelical military leaders.
It’s interesting to reflect how some view this essay by trying to equate it to the values of man. However, almighty God said stated via his son that the mysteries of what was to come have been in part revealed to mere children which in essence is exactly what what we are in terms of the universe, knowledge, perception and true understanding. One of the arguments which is frequently used is what can a lone individual do against the forces of darkness which prevail in the world. A parable comes to mind of the man who sees a shoal of fish washed up on the shore. Unaware he is being observed by someone else, he picks one up and places it back in the sea. The Observer approaches the man and asks him what good will that do there are thousands of fish, it will not make any difference. The Good Samaritan replies it makes a difference to that one!
Don’t you think critical thought begins with at least disregarding the bible as anything more than political propaganda?
Ah, the notion that the bible is political propaganda is in the same vein as the evangelical atheists who try to think that word of a species which has throughout human history has caused so much destruction in the world by believing that the summit of all knowledge is contained within the mind of man.
But, all “knowledge” is in the human mind–humans made up the word afterall. I’m saying that just reading about how the bible was put together, and the era it was about, was political propaganda for Rome. There’s obviously no jewish/christian/muslim god engaging in the world. No signs whatsoever from a moral point of view. And the main theme of the bible is subservience. That’s totally political propaganda–a fantasy of “dignity” in being a servant to power. That’s got to be obvious.
There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that God is present in the world. For example, celestial mechanics, quantum mechanics, the existence of time, the very existence of life on this planet and very possibly on the myriad of planets orbiting the 100,000,000,000 stars that orbit one galaxy amongst, as far as man can so far ascertain, amongst 1,000,000,000s of galaxies and the very very very limited knowledge that man has about the substance which controls them. Dark matter and dark energy. Never mind of course, the theoretical mathematicians who have constructed models in 10 dimensions and so on. The notion that a species which has existed for a mere instant in evolutionary time can even presume to have answers when as a number of theologians, intellectuals and scientists have realised, man does not even know the questions to ask. As to morality, well as the son of God said, the plans of man and the will of God are not compatible.
Why is ‘god’ allowing his precious creation to destroy itself through the ecological Holocaust? Doesn’t he care anymore?
If you read James W Douglass’s book, The Unspeakable, about the murder of JFK, who organised it, why they organised it and what would have happened, if JFK had not taken the actions he did. You might have more perspective idea about almighty God. Edward Curtain has recommended this book many times. I suggest you read it and you will understand better why indeed God does care !
That should be Edward Curtin.
I have read it-an excellent book. But I found NO religious message in it, anywhere. It’s all in the mind of the beholder.
Well, a Jesuit theologian and monk was in correspondence with JFKs mother before, during and after the Cuban missile crisis. She spoke to her son about this theologian and they met and correspondence regarding how vital it was for the sake of humanity that he asked God for guidance and help. Which he states in the book. If you remember, because I lived through it, the world as on the precipice of total annihilation and there long queues of people outside of churches to pray for help. Kennedy was one of them. Douglass states in the book that Kennedy believed that it was divine intervention which saved the world. Moreover, not only Kennedy believed in God but also Brezhnev, former premier of the Soviet Union, who said in a conversation with his American counterpart during another potential crisis in the Cold War, “ God would never forgive us if we destroyed the world”.
Khruschev saved the world then-not ‘God’. Where was ‘God’ in Auschwitz, or Babi Yar, when the Nazis slaughtered? Or where was ‘God’ when the colonialists slaughtered tens of millions in the Americas? Oh-I remember. He was there in the ‘mind’ of the settlers, as they quoted the Book of Joshua as the template for genocide, ‘..down to the last suckling babe’, not to forget the crops and animals, to ensure the survivors starved. There was your ‘God’.
You conveniently forget that the world stood on the precipice more than once during the cold war hence why you deny Brezhnev also prevented oblivion. Let’s look at your diatribe. Many of the people who colonized the Americas were indeed religious fundamentalists but so where the Nazis and communists fundamentalists but instead of quoting the Bible they were quoting Karl Marx or Mein Kampf. Pillaging, mass murder and all the evils that go with don’t require the consent of God. Moreover, as I said to you before zealots don’t need the bible to commit evil do they and one form of oppression is bad as another form of oppression. Nothing to do with God but everything to do with the failings of man even if the evangelical atheists can’t except it.
Oh yes, forgot to add God gave man free will which so far man has shown his gratitude.
He gave us ‘free will’, but make a mistake and its an eternity of suffering for you-how nice is that?
He gave people who have made mistakes the chance of redemption. Unfortunately, some choose to ignore it.
I rather think that the ‘religious’ hold all the records for murder and genocide. Besides ‘God’ is just your ego, projected onto the cosmos. Like all ‘Gods’. The Judaic God is a Bronze Age creature, looking for an excuse to kill all the other tribes. The ‘Christian’ God is a nicer fellow, which is why the Tamudists hate him so very, very much. The Islamic God can be nice and welcoming, or murderous and genocidal, depending on which variant you get. i prefer the animist ‘Gods’, nice animals, or trees, or mountains etc, and panentheism, which sees ‘God’ in everything. Even you, John, even you.
Total murdered by Nazis in concentration camps approximately 6,000,000 plus the 10,000,000s of civilians they murdered in Soviet Russia. Not taking into account that about 10% of the population of Poland was murdered by them and also the millions that were murdered in other parts of Europe.
Let’s, look at the other atheist dictatorship The USSR. Stalin had approximately 30,000,000 people murdered either by firing squads, drowning them in barges, gulags or in the case of the Ukraine the Holodomor. All within about 3 decades. Of course, I mustn’t forget The people’s republic of China which caused the deaths of millions of their citizens. Naturally, we have all the atrocities carried out by the British Raj who murdered millions upon millions of people, but not in the name of God but in the name of greed as did the Roman Empire and any other empire.
Ah, the simplistic notion that a mere member of a small insignificant species which has existed for an insignificant part of evolutionary time, orbiting an insignificant star on an insignificant part of a galaxy which is one of billions in a universe which is approximately 16,000,000,000 years old can claim to read the mind of God. The phrase self deception comes to mind.
The Stalin figures are pure bulldust. Then there are the tens of millions killed in India by ‘ Christian’ England, the tens of millions killed by ‘ Christians’ in WW1, the tens of millions killed by ‘Christian’ slave-traders, the tens of millions killed in the Americas by ‘Christian’ invaders, colonists and Imperialists, the tens of millions killed by the Washington Consensus of ‘Christian’ capitalists etc, etc-I could go on all day with the genocides committed by the God-botherers.
To dismiss the Stalin figures as “ are pure bloodlust”. Is a sleight of hand and, evidently, you do not understand what took place. For example, Stalin said “ kill the man , kill the problem “ moreover, it was, initially called the “ Red Terror”. Moreover, it was designed to ensure that no threat was to be tolerated from either opponents within the communist parties and by their families. Hence why whole generations of them were sent to the Gulag. Now, when you talk about WW1 for example, you seem to forget that the subject of Christianity was seldom mentioned it was to do with eliminating an economic rival, the German empire and exploiting and dividing the spoils of the Ottoman Empire between the victorious Allies. Nothing to do with the message of Christ, namely Love, and everything to do with greed, power and economic spoils as in almost every war, including modern ones. Mostly, driven by athethists or people pretending to be Christians. If you honestly believe that the Washington consensus gives a flying fig about God, you are very mistaken. It’s to do with maximising profits, new markets, exploitation of resources and Balkanisation of the Middle East, The Russian Federation and ultimately creating an hegemony for the US Empire. Again nothing to do with Christ message of Love, and everything to do with an atheist agenda of Mammon!
It says in the Bible that “God will not allow his Creation to be brought to destruction.”
So there’s no need to worry about nuclear holocausts or ecological holocausts or any other holocausts, because God won’t allow them to happen, as the Evangelicals helpfully point out.
So you can put your mind at rest now.
Quantum mechanics? That which Einstein objected to saying, “”God does not play dice with the universe?” He clearly felt the two notions to be incompatible.
As brilliant as Einstein was, he was not infallible and made a few errors.
But John Deehan (aka ‘God’) makes none.
Precisely hence why all the marvels of the universe work which is far beyond a species which has only existed for a briefmoment, yet, in arrogance some among them proclaim to be the fount of all knowing.
Are you making a confession here, John?
Are you a priest?
Better than that. An archimandrite, part-time.
Oh dear, you are displaying your lack of ecclesiastical knowledge. Only priests can hear confessions. Looks like you are disqualified unless you take Holy Orders which usually takes about 7 years to be a priest in the Catholic Church.
The ‘bible’s’ homophobia, misogyny, descriptions of genocide and exhortations to commit it etc, do they bother you?
It appears you have failed to read the New Testament . Where the son of God talks about the 10 commandments and the most important of these is love. Love thy neighbour as thy self. Perhaps, if you studied it more carefully, you wouldn’t have a distorted view of what the bible is about. Namely. Love.
Jesus is a fine moral teacher, with commonsense doctrines, like The Golden Rule, that were known across the world, long before Jesus lived. Most of the religious fanatics I see today are interested only in the vicious, punitive, murderous Judaic God of the Torah/Old Testament, and they are not true followers of the Nazarene. Pence, Pompeo etc, are perfect examples of the type.
But none of them who came before the son of God proclaimed to be the son of God, not even Buddha. Moreover, you seem to forget that what drives the zealots is not the message from God but insanity. Furthermore, many of these fanatics are in step with secular fanatics they all believe in violence, deceit, lies and murder to achieve their distorted goals, all of which are false promises from Satan. The son of God never preached violence but love.
Perhaps the ‘message from God’ IS a sign of insanity. Hearing voices in your head, not your own, sounds pathological to me.
Hmm, the equation of mass murder, deceit, lies and obsession by fanatics is equally balanced, although these zealots don’t have any, between secular and religious fundamentalists. Just ask the victims of Stalin or the Nazis concentration camps, neither of these secular fanatics believed in God by the way.
Oh yes, forgot to ad hominem is no substitute for argument but always a sure sign of having no argument.
I thought it was ‘ad dominum’.
Hmm, It appears you are “ est fasiloquium” !
Please elucidate-Google let me down.
Use a Latin- English paper dictionary. You will find it much more accurate and enlightening than relying on a machine.
Oh, the Nazis often claimed to be good Christians. Stalin was in a seminary as a youth.
Hmm, the Thule society, a satanic society, was the main driving force in the spiritual concepts that much of the upper echelons of the hierarchy of the Nazi incorporated in their philosophy. Hitler was also indoctrinated into this sect from a very point in his career in the party. Moreover, the Nazis strove to replace Christianity with paganism hence once of the tactics they used to indoctrinate the youth was having the Hitler youth movement meetings at the same time as Sunday schools.
Very a early point in his career in the party.
Stalin was indeed at a seminary, but he never followed the vows of it and went on to persecute it, just like the evangelical atheists did during his reign as the Red Czar.
The Old Testament is 3x as long as the New Testament.
How much of that destruction was done in the name of ‘God’?
There are many accounts in the New Testament in which the son of God said beware of false prophets.
Most of the nassty ‘Christians’ extant at present far prefer the blood and guts of the Torah/Old Testament to the milquetoast humanism of the New Testament. They are hardly reticent in ‘casting the first stone’, now are they? The are very unlikely to forgive once, let alone ‘seventy times seven’, and as for ‘turning the other cheek’-forget it! And they all want to be rich men, and ‘the eye of a needle’ can get stuffed!
“ Most of the Nasty Christians…”. It’s appears stereotyping does not at all indicate that the majority of Christians display the negative traits you are trying to portray. In secular terms it’s called propaganda. It would equally apply if I said all secular people are evangelical Atheists crusading to evangelise everyone to be an Atheist and only thinking about themselves and their own backpocket.
For some reason Off-Guardian keep sending me notifications of ALL follow up comments to conversations I have contributed to rather than follow up comments purely to my own comments. I have tried to fix this a few times but I can’t seem to do it. It’s driving me crazy! How do I stop it?
If Malick were a “true artist” he would avoid the temptation to make everything he does look like a perfume commercial.
Surely it is the other way round…?
The perfume commercials exploit and cheaply mimic Nature.
That is not Nature’s fault or responsibility.
Beauty is a thing which certainly exists, but not everybody sees it.
It’s closely linked with love, in fact inseparable from it.
Just googled the images there and you’re not wrong.
Typically Roman Catholic is to depict Christ nailed at the cross, basically a torture scene – unsuitable for kids etc. which was executed by soldiers of that very Roman empire 300 years before – weird.
Most depicting religion’s painted their Gods as Heroes or at least in better situations – the Hindus, the Egyptians, the Greek, even the classic Romans themselves.
Would Jesus have approved?
Alex from A Clockwork Orange certainly approved, and I bet many Christians did on the same grounds.
I think the big departure in the Jesus story (i.e. from previous religious tales) is in the emphasis put on his horrendous death – thus bringing to attention the plight of the “wretched of the earth”.
Admittedly Mr Gibson took this scenario to a whole new sadomasochistic level. And all the devout Bible Belters will gladly take their little kiddies to that one for a truly “edifying” experience.
It was more accurate and truthful than exploitative.
Doctors hae described it as the most painful death imaginable.
I live in the bible-belt–four churches within two miles of where I live. You are absolutely correct. Mel Gibson really really knows the bible-belt peeps:D
Oh how I love the BS you ex-Europeans love to believe. Sure, those Germans who knew that Hitler had a “killing machine”. Everybody can enjoy the rewriting of history, especially when it descends into the simpleton tale of goodies and badies. Pathetic!
Isn’t it about time Europe and the UK grew up regarding the second world war? Can’t you understand that winners are better than losers because they are better at being bad? The winners then rewrite the story to make themselves look like heroes. Then Hollyweird gets hold of it and twists it into even more weirdness.
While others just love how Americans still live in a world war which was over before today’s old men were even born. Preparation for the next one, I suppose…
I think the point here however is an individual’s personal struggle with right and wrong, along with the consequences of taking a stand. As the article makes very clear, we are invited to look in the mirror, and not at the media’s idea of good and evil.
No chance Aspnaz. We will never hear the end of WW2, Hitler, Auschwitz etc. That was the last time (the only time?) that history “seemed” to fit in with the “Us = Good/Them = Bad” schema. Note the word “seemed” there – because I know that history is always written by the victors. And it’s not that the Nazis were really a bunch of sweet guys but they are seen as a purely “external” evil. As if Adolf never had support from rich Westerners.
Just compare comedies based on WW1 (“Blackadder Goes Forth”) with those based on WW2 (“Allo Allo”). The latter can be as knockabout as you want but nobody would ever dare to suggest – as with the former – that the war was a total cock up and even a fraud.
Based on what my parents and others have told me its safe to assume that everyone knew the Nazis were bad by the mid-30s at the latest. However, nobody could comprehend just how bad they were until the closing stages of the war — the scale of barbarism was just beyond the comprehension of just about everyone (except, I’d guess, Russians/Slavs — they were also targeted for genocide so had first hand experience).
The British were committing the same atrocities in their Empire as the Nazis were in Europe, for hundreds of years and with even more casualties.
To fight for truth and justice and decency, even if we’re in a very tiny minority.
To be guided by our conscience and ethics and what is the right thing to do.
Because, without a conscience, without a thought for the suffering of others, fully engrossed in the self, what, then, do we become?
Another excellent and thought provoking article Edward so soon after the USA Dolls House peice.
Today I went on another street campaign to raise awareness about Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, and to help promote a rally next Sunday in Melbourne opposing JA’s extradition to the United States.
It was outside a shopping centre in a suburb with a high density of hipsters and yuppies. Note those words.
True, a small number took leaflets, and a number of those were very aware of the situation with Julian Assange, and actually connected the dots to the bigger picture and the ramifications for us all.
But the ones who stridently refused to take a leaflet – or when I said the words ‘Support Julian Assange, Oppose Extradition’ or ‘Rally for Julian Assange next Sunday’ – those who stared straight ahead and kept walking or even snapped ‘No’ were… the hipsters and yuppies.
In other words, those wanting to save gay Whales, or arguing about pronouns, or having a deep disdain for the poor (while pretending to be socialist) whilst saving for their first investment property.
It was a tough gig, but I can’t just sit back and do nothing. I won’t.
At least some people were supportive and took leaflets.
Right now (ironically) watching John Pilger’s eye opening documentary ‘The Dirty War On The NHS’… one of the rare times I’ve had my TV on. By the way, screw the Institute Of Economic Affairs and all the other neoliberal zombies.
Slash and burn and flog it all off.
The essence of the Rightwing psychopathology and manifestations like neo-liberal capitalism, Pentecostal ‘Christianity’ and ‘libertarianism’ etc, is the hatred of other people.
Very thoughtful article. The only problem I have with the martyr ending is that it be used for manipulation much like Christianity has to an extent i.e. Onward Christian Soldiers etc.
Personally I became sour on the subject when I read the book 1984 that ends with Winston Smith walking down that long hallway getting a bullet in the head yet the original version that I read sometime later finds Winston very much alive now loving big brother.
The Nazis being efficient where good at creating Martyrs by the millions but acts of conscience which included a vain attempt by Nazi Officers to stage a putsch or coupe didn’t defeat them. What defeated them was the Red Army at Stalingrad.
True martyrs eventually win in the long run as they defeated Rome eventually when Constantine embraced Christianity on his death bed but the truth is that they created something much worse in ways than the Roman Empire and that was the Holy Roman Empire.
Here in America there were many who were considered martyrs during the Revolutionary War like Nathen Hale for example but really when one looks back what did the Founding Fathers really achieve?
It only gave liberty to a few who immediately set about taking away the liberties of others while continuing to hold many in bondage.
Maybe instead of martyrdom there should be an honest evaluation of a country’s actual history.
Thanks for this essay, which I liked. It made me think about a few things
First, I wouldn’t be too harsh on the visitor who called this film ‘beautiful’. It is an understandable defense system to not feel responsibility for the things that were shown. In Max Havelaar, a 19th century Dutch novel on how the Dutch were committing crimes of epic proportions in Indonesia, to make a profit on coffee, the novelist Multatuli is constantly lamenting that his audience could only praise the book for its beauty. The lament is correct, but what is the alternative? – Multatuli ended alone and had, for his courage to denounce how the Dutch misbehaved in Indonesia, live in extreme poverty before he was saved by a Mecenas… It is not the example that people want to follow. So they consider these things, that represent truth ‘works of art’, as having nothing to do with reality for which they are directly or, more often, indirectly, responsible.
Second, what is reality? – Reality is this, look in the mirror and say: “[I am a] guilty bystander or an active supporter of the United States’ immoral and illegal wars all around the world that have been going on for so many years under presidents of both parties and have no end.”
But what is the alternative?
Paraphrasing JK Galbraith, who said that it is strategically better to anchor yourself in bullshit, than to aim for the unknown, I think that many people (and I am not excluding myself there) are afraid to aim for the unknown. Because the unknown is what you are following, if you denounce the society that we live in, that is built on murder. People who denounce that, like Multatuli or this character from the movie, may end up like a saint, but only long after they are dead.
In short, my point is: it is better to give alternatives than to denounce people, who, because they don’t see alternatives, praise movies or books with truthful, but terrible messages, as beautiful.
“Reality is this, look in the mirror and say: “[I am a] guilty bystander or an active supporter of the United States’ immoral and illegal wars all around the world that have been going on for so many years under presidents of both parties and have no end.””
I don’t think that is reality for many of us. I think that for many of us, we face the reality that we have no power alone which can make any impact. It is a reality to face that we’re all alone.
You often can’t fight the Beast without sacrificing yourself. Pointless sacrifices achieves nothing. It is possible to resist in small ways, though. One relevant to this article concerns a relative of mine by marriage. She was born in the Austrian Tyrol at the end of the war as a result of a liason between a US serviceman and a young lady. The girl had been cooped up with her mother in a farm compound for the war — the mother was the wife of a prominent rabbi (who didn’t survive the war), he sent his wife and daughter to live on the farm. The farm owners took a significant risk in sheltering them but like many Christians — Catholics — they obviously though it was their moral duty. This was only a small thing but in countless ways pepole did what they could to mitigate what they could, you can’t ask them for more.
I grew up equating “German” with “Nazi” but as I learned more I discoverd that there were a lot of Germans who were not happy with the program but had no choice but to obey because the consequences of open dissent would be really serious. I’m not a fascist myself — however, we call all recognize those of us who would be quite at home with that mindset — but I’m not prepared to judge, preferring just to remember that “there but for the Grace of God go I”.
I agree with both comments. What makes it difficult to see in what world we are living is that we feel powerless and know the dire consequences of not toeing the line.
What also makes it difficult is that toeing the line is not a bad feeling at all. It mainly means that you do your work and leave the decisions that matter to others. If you are able to do just that, things are, for the class that I belong to, fine.
It only becomes problematic and murky if you start asking questions. Or when you, for some unfortunate reason, are suddenly left outside the class that you once belonged to, where things used to be fine.
But that is where it starts…
Thank you Edward.
I fear the moral of the film will remain hidden to those who need to be woken.