There's a moment roughly halfway through the new movie Room 237—the cinematic exploration of the various crackpot theories on what Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is really about—that neatly sums up just about everything in religion. In it, one of the theorists point out a three-shot scene where Jack is sitting in the spacious Colorado Lodge, in front of his typewriter, talking to Wendy about his need to be left alone in order to work. In the first shot, we see Jack looking up at his wife. In the background, there's a chair resting against the wall. In the next shot, Kubrick cuts to Wendy's slack-jawed reaction. In the final shot, Kubrick cuts back to Jack in midspeech. Everything's set up exactly the same as the first shot except one key difference: the chair's missing.
In every other film ever made, this would be nothing but a simple continuity error. Something that eagle-eyed viewers could point out to their friends in order to prove just how keen their abilities of perception are. Movie productions are big complicated machines with a near infinite amount of moving parts. This kind of shit happens all the time. If you make a movie with less than five of these, you're doing well. But in this case, it's not a little oopsy. Because of Kubrick's supposed complete mastery of the craft, to the point where he would never have made a mistake, it's more than that. It's a sign of some hidden message He's trying to deliver to a small, select group of enlightened people. The ones who “get it.” And their job, once figuring out the puzzle, is to spread the word far and wide about the true meaning of the work. If people don't get it? Well, if they're still ignorant after having so much substantial and incontrovertible proof laid out before them, that's their problem.
Take that concept of trying to find meaning in something created by infallible humans (every religious work, after all, was technically written by humans, even if they were somehow “touched” by a higher power), elevate the perceived importance of what's being discussed (you can't get much more important than “the fates of our very souls”), and that's pretty much religious thinking in a nutshell. Emphasis on nut.
Onto the roundup!
- During a raid by militants, most likely Taliban, seven people were killed and nine hostages were taken at an elictrical plant in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. Later in the week, a member of the Taliban threw a grenade into a vehicle and killed four security officers.
- Pat Robertson made the stupid argument that Africans are more likely than “overeducated” Americans to experience miracles because they are “simple and humble.”
- Three Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka were arrested for burning down a Muslim-owned clothing store which started all sorts of Buddhist versus Muslim rioting. Later, in Indonesia, a brawl between Buddhists and Muslims in a detention center left eight dead.
- When asked his opinion on whether or not it's OK for someone to “shoot down United States Marshals when they come to take our weapons,” the American Family Association's Buster Wilson decided to “stay neutral.”
- In Iraq, a suicide bombing at an election-campaign tent killed 22.
- In Egypt, a fight between Muslims and Christians led to five deaths. The fight apparently started when some young Muslims drew upside-down crosses in view of Christians.
- In the latest chapter of the Palestinian/Israel thingy, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails staged one massive protest after a fellow prisoner (64-year-old Maysara Aby Hamdiya, a retired general in the Palestinian Authority) died of cancer. The protestors believe Israelis deliberately withheld treatment until it was too late. Later in the week, Israeli airplanes dropped some bombs in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rockets. Following that, two teenage Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.
- Speaking of the Palestinians, just when they start to get our sympathy a bit, they go and pull a shit move like this: the ruling Hamas party passed a new law ordering the country's schools be segregated by gender after the fourth grade.
- In Afghanistan, suicide bombers dressed in army uniforms walked into a court to free Taliban fighters on trial, blew themselves up, and killed at least 46 people. It's the highest death toll from a single attack in the country since December of 2011. Later in the week, a NATO air strike accidentally killed four police officers and one civilian. Even later, an “explosive-laden donkey” was used in an attack that killed one cop. Their shit week finally concluded with a bomb attack on a US convoy, killing five Americans including a 25-year-old woman who was delivering books to a school.
- The Jewish Museum in Berlin is stirring up some controversy with their new Jew in a Box exhibit.
- The Kansas Senate approved a new bill that will restrict abortion services and, of course, sex education in schools. Because that just makes so much fucking sense.
- In India, four sisters between the ages of 20 and 26 suffered serious burns after two motorcyclists threw acid onto them.
- Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia founded by asshole Jerry Falwell, announced that all faculty and students will be allowed to carry concealed weapons while on campus. Because that's what God wants.
- One person died during protests in Bangladesh that are trying to get the country's government to establish an “anti-blasphemy law” that would make it a death penalty for bloggers to insult the Islamic religion.
- And Our Person of the Week: Gul Meena, a 17-year-old girl from Pakistan who made her story known to CNN about how her brother tried to honor-kill her. Meena decided to leave her abusive husband for another man—a big no-no in the more sexist interpretations of Islam—only to be hunted down by her older brother, who killed her friend and tried to hack her to death with an axe. She survived, but is horribly disfigured and disowned by her family. It's a harrowing tale, and one that doesn't have close to a happy ending yet.
Previoulsy - Young People Still Suck