Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#281  Postby MrFungus420 » Oct 02, 2013 3:07 am

Monas wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:Maybe it's because all the 'evidence' is anecdotal.


What is anecdotal to one person is experiential to the other :)


So what?

That doesn't change the fact that such an account is not, and can not be, valid evidence for the experience related by the anecdote to anyone EXCEPT the person that has experienced it.

Nor does it verify that the person's explanation of the experience is valid.

Monas wrote:I think without any experience 'God' is an OK theory that explains a lot of evidence


It is not a theory and it explains nothing (to be clear, it gives no explanation of anything that is any more valid than saying that magical pixies are responsible).

Monas wrote:such as the scriptures,


Do you mean the scriptures that a majority vote decided which stories would be included?
The ones that are full of contradictions and errors?
The ones that are mostly anonymous?
The ones that are virtually unsupported anywhere else?
The ones that we KNOW have been changed by omission and addition of stories?

Monas wrote:and the existence of the Church,


That is a better explanation than the Roman Empire spreading it and enforcing it at the point of a sword for centuries followed by further centuries in which the Church was a dictatorial power dedicated to its own spread, also at swordpoint?

Monas wrote:Certainly I too am wary of just accepting the anecdotes of others.


Then why should anyone else accept them as evidence?
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#282  Postby MrFungus420 » Oct 02, 2013 3:16 am

Monas wrote:
Paul wrote:
Monas wrote:Do you not use your own experiences as evidence for or against any particular proposition? I do. Indeed I will often test any particular proposition against the evidence of my own experience. Perhaps I am odd, but that's the way it is with me.


No that works.

Proposition: There is a God
My experience: Nothing in my experience to suggest that this God has ever, in any way, had any effect in any aspect of my life.
My conclusion: Either no God, or if there is, it is wholly irrelevant to my life.


And I can quite understand that position.

The only caveat is that I do wish more people could go on a silent retreat - there is so much "clutter" in today's techno world.


Personally, I would much rather people learn logic and rational thinking.

Monas wrote: I think it's very hard for people to find time, space, and freedom from distraction to be open to something "quieter but deeper".


In this context, "deeper" is meaningless. It means literally nothing.

What makes you think that going into your own thoughts will reveal anything that you don't already know? If don't use anything other than your mind, you will never come to know anything new.

Monas wrote:Protracted silence does often affect people in a surprisingly strong way.


Yeah, sensory deprivation does that to people. When you have portions of the brain with structures that only have the function to interpret auditory input and you eliminate that auditory input, it stresses the brain. It causes hallucinations.

When you do something like this, you are putting yourself in a state in which your senses are not entirely trustworthy.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#283  Postby MrFungus420 » Oct 02, 2013 3:21 am

Monas wrote:
archibald wrote:
Monas wrote:

Do you really think solitary imprisonment is a good control group for a voluntary silent retreat?


And do you really thing that you feeling all affected is a good test for whether prayer has any supernatural connections?


No, and I specifically said earlier I didn't mean "feeling" anything as essential. The "evidence" that prayer is having an affect, I would say, is whether our lives are changed in any way in line with our prayers.


Then the fact that God will not heal amputees that have been prayed for is evidence that there is no God, correct?
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#284  Postby redwhine » Oct 02, 2013 5:39 am

Monas wrote:Protracted silence does often affect people in a surprisingly strong way.

So does waterboarding.

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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#285  Postby Monas » Oct 02, 2013 6:20 am

It's interesting to what a silent retreat is being compared. We've had solitary confinement and now waterboarding. The idea of choosing to be silent certainly seems to conjure up some unsettling imagery for some! I've seen that in 'real life' as well; people can be quite nervous about the idea of spending time being quiet, away from the 'world'.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#286  Postby redwhine » Oct 02, 2013 6:48 am

Monas wrote:It's interesting to what a silent retreat is being compared. We've had solitary confinement and now waterboarding. The idea of choosing to be silent certainly seems to conjure up some unsettling imagery for some. I've seen that in 'real life' as well; people can be quite nervous about the idea of spending a few days being quiet. Is it because we have such constant simulation in the modern world

I didn't compare it to silent retreat. I merely suggested that protracted silence is not unique in affecting people in a "surprisingly strong way".
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#287  Postby Monas » Oct 02, 2013 7:00 am

MarkP80 wrote:
Monas wrote:
Regina wrote:
The bishop aka Monas wrote: But surely what matters most is whether prayer has an affect on you

Affect is another word for emotion. But surely what matters most is whether prayer has an emotion on you.
Is that what your are trying to say? It's an expression I'm not familiar with, being a foreigner an' all.


No, I certainly didn't mean emotional (though perhaps that may be part of it for some, such as relief from depression or anxiety). In my own case a significant change was escape from addiction. This wasn't a warm feeling (quite the opposite at the time) but a real change in life. Handing control over to God is still an approach many addiction centres recommend - it is at the heart of Twelve Step programmes.

This is OT, but I just want to mention that I've been in a similar situation.
I was addicted to crack cocaine, and I kept praying and asking God to help me quit.
I have a very long post detailing all this.
To sum things up, when I finally beat my addiction, I was so thankful to God that I wanted to know everything about him.
So I started reading.
A lot.
I went from Catholic, to gnostic Christian, to diest, and finally, The God Delusion helped me cross the border to atheism.
I now know that all that time, it was me and my family that beat that addiction.
But my belief in God did help.
It helped because I would feel ashamed that God was watching me get high, when just a while ago I was asking for his help to stop.
But there was no one there, it was just me.
So yeah, prayer might work, in a sense.
But not because there's anyone listening on the other end.
Rather because you focus on those thoughts and it helps you reach your goal, all by yourself.


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Thank you for that Mark. I wonder though whether it is common to seek God in weakness and then to distance ourselves from Him in times of strength. This seems to be behind Jesus's words "blessed be the poor in spirit". The weak, the poor, the addict, the alcoholic - all of these people , in the midst of struggling, can often also be acutely aware of God, it seems. The millionaire, the fit, the strong - these people may often feel self-sufficient. Going back to silent retreats, one thing they can do is to again confront us with our weakness and also any ugliness inside of us; silence trends to strip away any surface bravado.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#288  Postby BlackBart » Oct 02, 2013 7:26 am

Monas wrote:

Thank you for that Mark. I wonder though whether it is common to seek God Pixies in weakness and then to distance ourselves from Him them in times of strength. This seems to be behind Jesus SuperPixie's words "blessed be the poor in spirit". The weak, the poor, the addict, the alcoholic - all of these people , in the midst of struggling, can often also be acutely aware of God Pixies, it seems. The millionaire, the fit, the strong - these people may often feel self-sufficient. Going back to silent retreats, one thing they can do is to again confront us with our weakness and also any ugliness inside of us; silence trends to strip away any surface bravado.


Also true for pixies. :coffee:

Nothing wrong with keeping schtum for a while. I see zero utility in doing it until a magical hippy come out of the woodwork and start whispering in your ear though. And I'd rapidly get the hump if I was 'required' to do it.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#289  Postby zulumoose » Oct 02, 2013 7:42 am

The weak, the poor, the addict, the alcoholic - all of these people , in the midst of struggling, can often also be acutely aware of God


The more desperate you are, the more you clutch at straws.

Don't you realise that if the opposite were true, it would be a good argument for god? If people were more likely to believe when they were secure and rational, then pretty much by definition god would make sense, because he would appear more real to those being sensible. The fact that he appears more real in proportion to how desperate the circumstances are, is an argument AGAINST god being real.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#290  Postby archibald » Oct 02, 2013 7:52 am

Ian Tattum wrote:
archibald wrote:
Monas wrote:

Do you really think solitary imprisonment is a good control group for a voluntary silent retreat?


And do you really thing that you feeling all affected is a good test for whether prayer has any supernatural connections? No, I don't think so. I think you are just here to get attention. It must, like, make you feel all 'affected'. So I'm going to stop even paying attention to you, not least because it seems you may well be a sock puppet for some other saddo profile.

I take it the answer to the question in the thread title is no. :)


Hm. The evidence of the length of this thread and others (including one I have vowed not to return to) might suggest a definite YES.

But perhaps for different reasons for different people. And who knows what those reasons are in each case.

For me, the answer is 'not particularly', but it's difficult, don't you think, in 'our' culture, to come to an objective assessment. That's why I reckon he's probably overrated, in terms of how interesting he actually is/was.

Plus, there's the issue of separating out just how interesting HE was from how interesting those who came after him were, since it's very difficult to work out which bits of the texts are which. What did he actually say? What did he actually do?

Anyhows, to me he's mainly just one of many, many superstitious guru types who had a big influence mainly because people seemed to need a superstitious guru type to complete their lives and I reckon if Xianity hadn't had a lucky break when it was Rome sponsored, we could easily be talking about some other superstitious guru figure.

IOW they are to a large extent interchangeable. What I mean is, these figures are possibly just containers for what people seem to need to put into them. :)
Last edited by archibald on Oct 02, 2013 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#291  Postby Scar » Oct 02, 2013 7:57 am

Monas wrote:It's interesting to what a silent retreat is being compared. We've had solitary confinement and now waterboarding. The idea of choosing to be silent certainly seems to conjure up some unsettling imagery for some! I've seen that in 'real life' as well; people can be quite nervous about the idea of spending time being quiet, away from the 'world'.


It's interesting to see what points you choose to address (and in what way) and what to ignore.

Reeks of dishonesty.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#292  Postby Fallible » Oct 02, 2013 9:12 am

Aye tell him to pull his socks up.
She battled through in every kind of tribulation,
She revelled in adventure and imagination.
She never listened to no hater, liar,
Breaking boundaries and chasing fire.
Oh, my my! Oh my, she flies!
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#293  Postby MarkP80 » Oct 02, 2013 9:38 am

Monas wrote:
MarkP80 wrote:
Monas wrote:
Regina wrote:
Affect is another word for emotion. But surely what matters most is whether prayer has an emotion on you.
Is that what your are trying to say? It's an expression I'm not familiar with, being a foreigner an' all.


No, I certainly didn't mean emotional (though perhaps that may be part of it for some, such as relief from depression or anxiety). In my own case a significant change was escape from addiction. This wasn't a warm feeling (quite the opposite at the time) but a real change in life. Handing control over to God is still an approach many addiction centres recommend - it is at the heart of Twelve Step programmes.

This is OT, but I just want to mention that I've been in a similar situation.
I was addicted to crack cocaine, and I kept praying and asking God to help me quit.
I have a very long post detailing all this.
To sum things up, when I finally beat my addiction, I was so thankful to God that I wanted to know everything about him.
So I started reading.
A lot.
I went from Catholic, to gnostic Christian, to diest, and finally, The God Delusion helped me cross the border to atheism.
I now know that all that time, it was me and my family that beat that addiction.
But my belief in God did help.
It helped because I would feel ashamed that God was watching me get high, when just a while ago I was asking for his help to stop.
But there was no one there, it was just me.
So yeah, prayer might work, in a sense.
But not because there's anyone listening on the other end.
Rather because you focus on those thoughts and it helps you reach your goal, all by yourself.


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Thank you for that Mark. I wonder though whether it is common to seek God in weakness and then to distance ourselves from Him in times of strength. This seems to be behind Jesus's words "blessed be the poor in spirit". The weak, the poor, the addict, the alcoholic - all of these people , in the midst of struggling, can often also be acutely aware of God, it seems. The millionaire, the fit, the strong - these people may often feel self-sufficient. Going back to silent retreats, one thing they can do is to again confront us with our weakness and also any ugliness inside of us; silence trends to strip away any surface bravado.

No, I didn't just seek God in weakness.
I had been a faith head all my life.
It was my being so grateful to God, and wanting to learn more about him, that turned me into an atheist.
Not because I now was Ok.
It was a very troubling time, and the fear of hell was the hardest thing to shake off. Thankfully, like my crack addiction, I was also able to get rid of my god addiction.

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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#294  Postby trubble76 » Oct 02, 2013 9:43 am

MarkP80 wrote: Thankfully, like my crack addiction, I was also able to get rid of my god addiction.


That's an interesting parallel. Is it poetic license or is it a genuine comparison in your experience?
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#295  Postby proudfootz » Oct 02, 2013 2:46 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Monas wrote:
Scar wrote:Quite. Hence: http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

Monas, any idea?


Oh, wow, that's a bigee! It's essentially the "why does God allow some, but not others, to suffer?" The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes is in sympathy with all of us who struggle with that question - "Everything is in vain!". I like the writer of that book, I think he (assuming a "he") sums up what we all feel and think at times. The writer of Job nearly goes there as well, but essentially says "you can't judge God, you don't know enough", whereas the writer of Ecclesiastes just says it as it is.

The short answer is "I don't know", though that doesn't necessarily stop me talking about it Monas @ Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?:)

You don't find it all convenient that the miraculous healings provided by your God don't extend to obvious physical things like regrowing limbs or healing deformities?


It's convenient that 'I'm coming back with an army of angels to settle everyone's hash' could be interpreted to mean 'I will appear in secret to 3 guys in a secluded spot and everything will be pretty much the same'.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#296  Postby archibald » Oct 02, 2013 3:11 pm

Byron wrote: Jesus' worldview and cosmology were, undoubtedly, wrong in a scientific sense, just as Horace's were, but a failure to possess 21st century knowledge doesn't invalidate everything they said and did.


Ok, but after you've stripped away the bits which were inaccurate due to lack of knowledge on his part and the bits which were just superstitious nonsense (er, a heck of a lot, unfortunately) and the bits which aren't actually about him but by someone adding something or attributing something to him or elaborating his subsequent 'mythology', what's left for a modern, secular person to be interested in, if one doesn't, like you, have a general interest, or a penchant for historical curiosities?



Not much, I'd say.

Which may be why he's generally found in the theology section rather than the history section of the bookshop, or even the philosophy section.

The question was pretty much rhetorical. :)
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#297  Postby Ian Tattum » Oct 02, 2013 3:35 pm

archibald wrote:
Ian Tattum wrote:
archibald wrote:
Monas wrote:

Do you really think solitary imprisonment is a good control group for a voluntary silent retreat?


And do you really thing that you feeling all affected is a good test for whether prayer has any supernatural connections? No, I don't think so. I think you are just here to get attention. It must, like, make you feel all 'affected'. So I'm going to stop even paying attention to you, not least because it seems you may well be a sock puppet for some other saddo profile.

I take it the answer to the question in the thread title is no. :)


Hm. The evidence of the length of this thread and others (including one I have vowed not to return to) might suggest a definite YES.

But perhaps for different reasons for different people. And who knows what those reasons are in each case.

For me, the answer is 'not particularly', but it's difficult, don't you think, in 'our' culture, to come to an objective assessment. That's why I reckon he's probably overrated, in terms of how interesting he actually is/was.

Plus, there's the issue of separating out just how interesting HE was from how interesting those who came after him were, since it's very difficult to work out which bits of the texts are which. What did he actually say? What did he actually do?

Anyhows, to me he's mainly just one of many, many superstitious guru types who had a big influence mainly because people seemed to need a superstitious guru type to complete their lives and I reckon if Xianity hadn't had a lucky break when it was Rome sponsored, we could easily be talking about some other superstitious guru figure.

IOW they are to a large extent interchangeable. What I mean is, these figures are possibly just containers for what people seem to need to put into them. :)

The late Anthony Storr wrote an interesting book on Gurus, in which he favourably compared Jesus to more modern manifestations, such as Freud and Jung, who had some pretty weird inner experiences too.
Jesus is more interesting if you work with the assumption that in the Gospels he is part fact and part literary creation, and that a lot of uncertainty surrounds which is which. Such an approach works these days for such as the philosophers Kierkegaard and Socrates and historical figures such as SIGH, Hannibal and Spartacus. Why, we could even discuss Jesus as a literary figure, which would stop us getting bogged down in endless arguments whether we are dealing with biography, history, or religious fiction? The Parable of the Good Samaritan is more interesting to believers ,and possibly others ,than is Jesus' reputed ability to defy gravity. :)
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#298  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 02, 2013 4:40 pm

Ian Tattum wrote:Why, we could even discuss Jesus as a literary figure, which would stop us getting bogged down in endless arguments whether we are dealing with biography, history, or religious fiction?


As a literary figure, though, is Jesus really that interesting? Him being celibate, there isn't any romance; and the conflicts are mostly only to do with internecine Jewish squabbles. You do, of course, have the slightly tragic aspect of his dying young (that is, if you ignore John 8:57).

I think Muhammad's biography has far more literary qualities. You've got Arabian raiders on fleet horses attacking caravans in the desert, led by a mystic prophet who occasionally retires into caves to commune with the angel Gabriel, and who has a vast and varied sexual history, ranging from a woman nearly twice his age to a child of nine or ten. There's even an apocryphal story that he was absurdly fond of cats. He cut off a sleeve from his cloak so that his cat could remain asleep on it when he got up to go to prayer; he and the cat even drank from the same bowl.

Sadly, Muslims won't allow for visual depictions of Muhammad's life, but I think it would make a much better movie than all the dull togas-and-sandals retreads of the gospels. I could pitch it to a producer.

    "Look, Gene, this could work. The elements are there. First, you've got the epic, panoramic sweep of the desert; the dust and the dunes—the beauty of that endless expanse and unremitting sun."

    "Yeah, okay. Like Lawrence of Arabia."

    "I was thinking Bab'Aziz, but sure. Then we've got the exotic sensualism of the Oriental world: you know, droning Arabic music and voluptuous, raven-haired, olive-skinned women with entrancing eyeshadow—and anklets and bangles."

    "Exotic, hmm? That might be nice."

    "Of course it would. Sofia Vergara could be Khadija."

    "Who's Khadija?"

    "His first wife. But Muhammad himself is the most interesting character: this bold, eccentric, enigmatic, lustful, and charismatic prophet who brings every aspect of his follower's lives under the umbrella of God's authority. Part Mani, part Caesar."

    "Kubrick always wanted to make a biopic of a great leader like that. He was going to do Napoleon."

    "This makes Napoleon look like Lucas. But the best part is the caravan raids! You've got all the excitement of a train-robbery western. This has war, politics, softcore porn, and religion. How can you lose?"

    "I'll tell you how. Fatwahs."

    "True. That could be a problem."
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#299  Postby nunnington » Oct 02, 2013 5:00 pm

archibald wrote:
Byron wrote: Jesus' worldview and cosmology were, undoubtedly, wrong in a scientific sense, just as Horace's were, but a failure to possess 21st century knowledge doesn't invalidate everything they said and did.


Ok, but after you've stripped away the bits which were inaccurate due to lack of knowledge on his part and the bits which were just superstitious nonsense (er, a heck of a lot, unfortunately) and the bits which aren't actually about him but by someone adding something or attributing something to him or elaborating his subsequent 'mythology', what's left for a modern, secular person to be interested in, if one doesn't, like you, have a general interest, or a penchant for historical curiosities?



Not much, I'd say.

Which may be why he's generally found in the theology section rather than the history section of the bookshop, or even the philosophy section.

The question was pretty much rhetorical. :)


I think the human propensity towards eschatology, or if you will, utopian schemes, is pretty interesting. It seems to run through both religious and political movements. See, as I mentioned earlier, the French Revolution, the development of Marxism, and subsequent revolutions, the various exceptionalist dogmas found around the world ('our country is especially favoured'), the role of patriotism and nationalism, and so on.

Whether or not humans have cured themselves of this is an open question. I do doubt it.
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Re: Does anyone actually find Jesus interesting?

#300  Postby Ian Tattum » Oct 02, 2013 5:14 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
Ian Tattum wrote:Why, we could even discuss Jesus as a literary figure, which would stop us getting bogged down in endless arguments whether we are dealing with biography, history, or religious fiction?


As a literary figure, though, is Jesus really that interesting? Him being celibate, there isn't any romance; and the conflicts are mostly only to do with internecine Jewish squabbles. You do, of course, have the slightly tragic aspect of his dying young (that is, if you ignore John 8:57).

I think Muhammad's biography has far more literary qualities. You've got Arabian raiders on fleet horses attacking caravans in the desert, led by a mystic prophet who occasionally retires into caves to commune with the angel Gabriel, and who has a vast and varied sexual history, ranging from a woman nearly twice his age to a child of nine or ten. There's even an apocryphal story that he was absurdly fond of cats. He cut off a sleeve from his cloak so that his cat could remain asleep on it when he got up to go to prayer; he and the cat even drank from the same bowl.

Sadly, Muslims won't allow for visual depictions of Muhammad's life, but I think it would make a much better movie than all the dull togas-and-sandals retreads of the gospels. I could pitch it to a producer.

    "Look, Gene, this could work. The elements are there. First, you've got the epic, panoramic sweep of the desert; the dust and the dunes—the beauty of that endless expanse and unremitting sun."

    "Yeah, okay. Like Lawrence of Arabia."

    "I was thinking Bab'Aziz, but sure. Then we've got the exotic sensualism of the Oriental world: you know, droning Arabic music and voluptuous, raven-haired, olive-skinned women with entrancing eyeshadow—and anklets and bangles."

    "Exotic, hmm? That might be nice."

    "Of course it would. Sofia Vergara could be Khadija."

    "Who's Khadija?"

    "His first wife. But Muhammad himself is the most interesting character: this bold, eccentric, enigmatic, lustful, and charismatic prophet who brings every aspect of his follower's lives under the umbrella of God's authority. Part Mani, part Caesar."

    "Kubrick always wanted to make a biopic of a great leader like that. He was going to do Napoleon."

    "This makes Napoleon look like Lucas. But the best part is the caravan raids! You've got all the excitement of a train-robbery western. This has war, politics, softcore porn, and religion. How can you lose?"

    "I'll tell you how. Fatwahs."

    "True. That could be a problem."

Could that work as a radio play? :) Both better than the Buddha though because everything that would interest a modern audience happened before he became the Buddha! ;)
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