Sunday, February 28, 2010


Yesterday, I watched the film "Agora" and, in spite of the poor review a ST Life reviewer gave it, I enjoyed it greatly. The main reason for this would the film's daring and candid portrayal of the dangers that religious extremism and intolerance can result in; and in light of the recent incident involving Pastor Rony Tan, this film is perhaps most apt as a reminder or cautionary tale.

Admittedly, while the film claims to be inspired by true historical events and characters, certain creative licence is clearly taken by the film's director. Also, while the director dismisses accusations that the film is anti-Christian in tone, I personally think that the film does appear to be somewhat anti-Christian in how it portrayed Christians.

Of course, in all fairness, I suppose it may be argued that in this post-911 epoch in which Islamist extremism/intolerance has become perhaps the proverbial "big bad wolf", it is perhaps refreshing and necessary for a film to show how extremism and intolerance are not exclusive to any group, religious or otherwise.

I suppose some will argue that the evils committed by the Christians portrayed in the film were committed not by "true" Christians but by "false" or misguided Christians. It may be argued that Christians have done much good in the world; indeed, there were scenes and lines of dialogue in the film that refer to the good work done by Christians.

Yet, as Steven Weinberg aptly puts it: "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion".

In the end, while religion has undeniably done much good, we should nonetheless remain vigilant against the dangers of religious extremism and intolerance.

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