Dogma

When the fabulous Nola Sarina asked me to write a guest blog for this week’s post, I knew immediately what I had to do: review DOGMA. In case you’ve never heard of it, this is one of Kevin Smith’s greatest films, labeled a comedic fantasy from 1999.

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I feel the need to add a disclaimer. If you’re easily offended by questioning of religious beliefs or the somewhat excessive use of the F-word, it’s probably best not to continue and you definitely shouldn’t watch this film. But if you’re like me and sometimes question religion (not God—let’s not get it confused), use the F-word more than you should and have a great (if sometimes raunchy) sense of humor, then read on! I highly recommend this movie. I know it’s a comedy and not meant to be taken seriously but it caused me to think about my faith. A lot of the things brought up in the film make a lot of sense, if you have an open mind.

Two fallen angels, Bartleby and Loki (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon – reason to watch right there), have found a loophole to get them back into heaven.

missing my cartoons

They were kicked out when Loki, the angel responsible for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, decided killing in the name of God wasn’t right, and quit.

By the way, mass genocide can leave you a little winded.

Now due to the “Catholicism Wow!” campaign (featuring one of my favorite movie icons, Buddy Christ) they know they can walk through the doorway of a certain church in New Jersey, be forgiven and get back to heaven. What they don’t realize is that if they do this, it proves God wrong and thereby will “undo” existence.

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We meet the angels in an airport. Bartleby’s people-watching and Loki is convincing a nun she may have made a mistake in her life’s work. He tells her religion refers to God as “some intangible parent figure who shakes a finger at us from thousands of years ago and says ‘Do it and I’ll fucking spank you.’” He advises her to use the money she’d collected for her parish to buy something nice for herself.  “I just like to fuck with the clergy, man,” he tells Bartleby.

Bethany, a mortal Catholic woman, who works in an abortion clinic of all places, is tapped by the voice of God, Metatron, to stop them. Oh and she’s also lost her faith. Metatron, played by Alan Rickman, is a lot more likable and funny than the Metatron we met in the last few episodes of this season’s Supernatural. Just sayin’. With Rickman’s Metatron, we get such gems as: “Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims God has spoken to them, they’re speaking to me. Or they’re talking to themselves.” Regarding the true voice of God: “Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode. We went through five Adams before we figured that out.” He’s also a little miffed Bethany has never heard of him.

Bethany is helped along the way by two “prophets,” stoners and Kevin Smith film regulars Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith). I love the idea that regular, everyday imperfect people could be prophets and the only ones who can stop the apocalypse.

While this film is definitely irreverent, it’s an obvious case of Biblical fanfic. Another thing I love about the film is that it points out the Bible was written by men, who could possibly twist the words to say whatever they wanted. The good book is gender-biased, let’s face it. The Bible says God isa man (the film says God is a woman, played by Alanis Morissette).

Women are responsible for original sin, cutting off Samson’s hair, etc. Although I don’t think God is a woman, it’s a nice idea. After all, if God was a woman, why would we be the ones to bear children and suffer for a week every month?!

The 13th apostle Rufus (Chris Rock) also claims the Bible turned Jesus white and that he was cut out completely because they had “twelve white dudes to choose from.” In typical Chris Rock fashion, you’ve got to love this line: “A black man can steal your stereo but he can’t be your savior.” Rufus is the character who raises some of the most interesting points. He talks about how in the Bible Jesus goes from age 12 to 30.  “That’s some pretty bad storytelling.”  A little later on, when Bethany has run off in despair, Metatron finds her and elaborates on the “bad storytelling.” He was the one to tell Jesus he’d be crucified and speaks on how hard it was to tell a child such news. It’s a heartwarming moment in a hilarious flick.

Consider what Rufus says of Jesus here:

“The big one, though, is the factioning of all the religions. He said man got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure around it.”

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Spirituality from Chris Rock? I’ll take it.

Rufus also tells Bethany Jesus had brothers and sisters and that she is the great (x 15 or so) niece of Jesus Christ. “To believe a married couple never got down, well that’s just plain gullibility!” Why has no one ever questioned this? Just because it’s not mentioned in the Bible doesn’t mean it couldn’t be true.

What do you think of some of the questions raised by the movie? If you’ve seen it, I’d love to discuss in the comments. I hadn’t watched in about five years so I’m glad this blog gave me the opportunity to view again. Thanks again for the invitation, Nola!

I leave you with my favorite Loki moment.

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About Amy Cavenaugh

Writer. Single Mom. Library Assistant. Coffee Lover. NKOTB and Joe Mac supporter. Walking Dead fanatic, and oh, yeah, author of A SCARRED MIND, my first adult thriller. :)

Posted on May 21, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Fabulous movie!!! This post, and this movie, is exactly what I am getting at when I write my Thursday posts. Not a question of God, but a question of faith, the blind believability of it all – almost an existential view of it. And of course, you included Buddy Christ. Awesome!

    • Yes!!! I always read and love your blogs, even if I don’t always comment. 😉 I knew you would have to be a fan of Dogma, considering the content of your posts. The Buddy Christ ROCKS!

  2. I LOVE Dogma! I always seem to like the Kevin Smith movies that aren’t popular, or are controversial in some way (what can I say – I liked Jersey Girl!)

    • I didn’t know you were a Kevin Smith fan too! I actually liked Jersey Girl too but it was the last of his movies I saw. Not because I didn’t want to but because my life changed and I haven’t kept up w/ his career like I used to. But I LOVE all his earlier films, especially Chasing Amy (I mean, you gotta love that title) and Dogma. You also have to love Affleck in Mallrats…”Who’s your favorite New Kid? Call me Donnie, Call me Joey.” I’ll never forget that LOL

  3. A fun post Amy, thanks for giving us the rundown. 🙂 Here are a couple of small items to toss in.

    I believe God is as much woman as man, the culture at the time couldn’t handle that, so they portray “him” as a Father figure. Check Gen.1:26

    So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

    Both were created in his image…so his image has to be female too…right?

    Also I’m not sure how certain churches get around this, trying to paint Mary as a virgin her whole life, but in Mat.1:55-56 the Bible says:

    55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us?

    Let’s see…four named brothers, then the word “sisters”…so more than one of those… That looks like at least SIX siblings to me.

    Cheers!
    JM

    • I’m so glad you chimed in, Mark. I knew you would have some wisdom on the subject for us. 🙂 I confess I am not familiar w/ the Bible itself, only what I remember from Sunday School back in the day. I know that it was implied at my church that Mary remained a virgin, which is just ridiculous. “That’s just plain gullibility!”

      I also agree that God is neither male or female but the “He” stuck because men are so prevalent in society and He is called “The Father” and Jesus is the “Son.” It seems there is no room for a female god. Why couldn’t it have been “The Mother” too? I know Catholicism holds Mary in high regard as the Mother of God and that’s a reason I’ve always been kinda drawn to Catholicism but at the same time, they’re not really saying God is also female, right? It’s a fascinating discussion. 🙂

  4. Supposedly in Arabic, at the time, they did not have a word for friend. Everyone was called their brothers and sisters. I have a great devotion to Mary, and like a remarkable mother, she always leads us to God. And yes, God is pure spirit, both male and female: Our mother and our father. And as I’ve learned, the Bible was written by men, although, guided by the Holy Spirit.(which is God)

  5. Spike Cordiner

    I absolutely adore this film. I’m not someone who’d call themselves religious but I do have a thing for biblical fanfic, especially angel mythology. This ticks all the boxes! Kevin Smith has done very well delving into his own religious background to pull out the questions that have bothered him.

    And while I say I’m not religious, I have certainly agree it’s better to have a good idea!

    • I am the same way. I am not very religious but I am spiritual and have a lot of faith that God is out there or maybe in here, everywhere. He/She may just not be the way I was taught in church growing up. I’m open to ideas!

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