Where Do We Go Now (the Movie)

where do we go now

Where Do We Go Now is a great movie to watch if you like foreign films and don’t mind reading sub-titles through the whole thing.  Or if you understand Arabic.  (I’m assuming that’s the language they are speaking in this small village in Lebanon.)  Sub-titles don’t bother me at all (since I’m slowly going deaf) especially when it comes to making out some of the dialogue in movies.  So I almost always turn on the English sub-titles even when the movie is in English.  Otherwise I’ll have the volume up loud enough to break other people’s ear drums.

I suppose in part this movie is a sort of light-hearted exploration of religious tension. The setting is a small village where a church and a mosque stand side by side and the villagers are either Muslims or Christians.  And half the time I had no idea which was which.  Their country is in turmoil with fighting amongst religious zealots, so there is the potential for violence in their small community.

The women are tired of losing sons, husbands and fathers in previous flare-ups and decide to join together to try to distract their men from fighting.  They fake a miracle, destroy the only television in the village so no one can watch the news, hire some scantily clad Eastern European strippers, spend a day baking with drugs so that all the men at one point end up stoned.  There’s a lot of funny stuff.  But there’s also some harsh scenes, some romance, a tragedy, and some great music.

The over all message I think is simply to show us that war is futile.  All the fighting ultimately solves nothing.   It’s possible and preferable to peacefully co-exist despite our differences.  Yes, all those things we already know but find so hard to put into practice.

Books and Lists and New Age Twists

These two books are full of writing prompts – Listography, Your Life in Lists by Lisa Nola, and 642 Things To Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto (many contributors).

I guess they’re actually journals that are supposed to be filled in.  But where’s the spell check fun in that?

  There’s one list suggestion that I will probably fill out but not share – “List Your Memorable Injuries and Illnesses”.  I know, it would make fascinating reading for somebody, but I really can’t think who that sad person might be.

I am also reading (at the same time, back and forth from one book to the other) Survival of the Soul by Lisa Williams, and Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham.  If you were to make a wild guess that I spent some time in the New Age and Occult section of Chapters the other day, you would be right.

When I start browsing in a bookstore there’s no foretelling the things I’ll end up bringing home.

Well maybe a clairvoyant could predict it, but it’s all news to me.

It’s absolutely amazing to me all the things that are out there to be pondered over and learned, and how we have so many preconceived notions about so many things that could quite possibly be completely wrong.

And yet….when you get right down to the bottom of things, the basic premises are so similar it’s incredible.  And thus doubly astonishing that there are some religious groups out there trying so hard to compete with each other to prove who’s the most right.  In these two books, Lisa Williams explains what she knows about the afterlife and how she knows it; and Scott Cunningham explains the beliefs, philosophies, tenets and rituals of Wicca.  No one is trying to convert you to anything.  How refreshing is that?

Well it’s damned refreshing, is what it is.  I think religion and spirituality are very individual and personal things, and different beliefs comfort different people.  How very boring this world would be if we were all the same.  And how very little we’d learn from each other.

I’m also reading a book on my kindle, but I’ll do a separate review of that when I’m finished, unless my head is so full of lists and topics and spirit guides and signs and symbols and deities that I never get through it.

With all this knowledge in my head, maybe someday I’ll be interesting to talk to.  There is some method to my madness.

I Do Believe

Do you consider yourself relgious?

Such a simple little question to which I could simply answer yes, or no, and then get on with my life.  But it’s much more complicated than that.

Do I agree with any one belief system and therefore have a membership in an organized religious community where I attend regular worship services?  No I don’t.   Do I believe in an almighty deity and the immortality of our souls?  Maybe.  It’s hard to be certain.  There’s always room for doubt where no hard indisputable proof exists. I am the child of a very spiritually religious mom and a very skeptically free thinking dad.  We grew up seeing both sides of the story I guess, and learned the importance of tolerance and respect for differences.

It drives me a bit crazy when religious fanatics (in any relgious movement) profess to know the unknowable while having no rational grounds to justify the things in which they believe.  “I believe” should be understood to mean “based on my knowledge, understanding, and interpretation of the prevailing evidence”, and not based simply on blind faith.  Zealots would like everyone to have that same unshakeable faith.  But choice is essential to human nature and all of us should have the freedom to live our lives in whatever way works for us, without having someone else’s strict set of rules shoved down our throats.

So do I have all the answers?  Of course not.  A Theist believes, an Atheist disbelieves, and an Agnostic sits on the fence. That would be me – the queen of non-committal.  But I’m not an agnostic atheist (who does not believe any deity exists, but is open to the possibility) but more of an agnostic theist (who believes a deity exists but does not claim it as personal knowledge).  OR maybe a spiritual agnostic (who follows traditionally religious spiritual  practices in the absence of knowledge of God while being irreligious).

Seriously.  Who really cares.  I’m not a bad person.  I just don’t think people are smart enough to know everything there is to know about everything and should try to keep an open mind.  Who knows what universal truth might pop in there when you least expect it. There is a ‘world religion’ which so far has kept us from blowing up the planet. For all our diversity and nattering about the fine print we all have the same basic wants and needs.  Some of us are just more pushy and block-headed about it than others. There have been some truly horrific things done in the name of religion, and some truly good and beautiful things too.

I believe that living a life of moderation is better than going to extremes.  We like to define ourselves and give ourselves lables and profess to be one thing or the other or something else entirely.  There are people who need the structure of religion and people who don’t, all mixed up with the ones who can’t make up their minds.  Religious or not, all of us want to live a good and happy life.  Make that your first priority, and how you go about it becomes a secondary consideration that’s not necesarily right and not necessarily wrong.  It is simply a means to an end.

In a Former Life

To be a truly ‘religious’ or spiritual person I think it is necessary to explore and study and try to understand as many belief systems as our little brains can handle. The more we open our minds to all the possibilities, the better able we are to see that there is no such thing as an exclusive set of beliefs. It becomes more and more difficult to say “I am this” or “I am that” or this is the only truth there is, this way is completely right and that way is completely wrong. Everything overlaps. All religions have the same basic premise, but there are an infinite number of twists and revisions and spins put on things until each one of them comes up with their own little book of rules.

I like the idea of a soul or a spirit in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Plants die in the fall and come back to life in the spring. Adult animals die and their young take their place with the same instincts and talents for survival. We like to think we’re above all that and more important, maybe because we are able to put all our crazy ideas down on paper and convince other people of their brilliance.

I like the idea that the immortal soul is held prisoner by the body until it completes its spiral of ascent and is finally set free. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that we get as many chances at this as we need to finally get it right, whatever ‘right’ might be.

I like the Taoist teachings that tell us “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.”

I respect the things that people believe in, as long as those beliefs give them comfort and peace, and as long as they don’t try to force me to agree with them.

And yes, I do know that the question was “what other person or animal could you have been in a former life?” Have some patience, I’m getting to that. I’d love to say I was Joan of Arc or Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale, but if that were true I haven’t learned much or been able to transfer many of their good traits into my present life.

So I’m thinking I was probably a house cat. I am lazy and self-indulgent and like to sleep a lot. When I was young I was cute and playful. I have been known to hiss and spit when I get angry or frightened or just for the hell of it. I don’t like dogs, but I can tolerate them if I have to. I like to sit completely still and stare off into space. I pretend to be aloof and untouchable. I take affection for granted and being pandered to is my absolute favourite thing ever. It must have been a good life because I appear to be trying very hard to replicate it all in this one. Perhaps in my next life I’ll be a houseplant, with even less responsibilities, and merely have to sit around looking good.

The results of a quiz I took to see what historical figure I might have been in a past life came up as 100% in favour of Mary Wollstonecraft, Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer. There is only a ten percent chance that I was Alexander the Great.

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