3033Agora: the movie about Hypatia
- Feb 7, 2010But if the film perpetuates the stereotype that all Christians are fundamentalists, then, in a broader sense, doesn't it commit the very error it sermonizes against?
While fundamentalist Christians do stereotype 'agnostics', there is a parallel mentality -- to which perhaps Mr. Almodovar falls prey -- which stereotypes Christians and Christianity. The problem is prejudiced thinking; no single group holds a monopoly on this. To put this even more strongly: when certain, highly visible, self-righteous intellectuals see themselves as superior to Christianity, they are mostly projecting their own 'fundamentalist' mentality onto others.
Are Christians right to complain? I suppose it depends on how and why they do so. I am reminded of Prof. Tarrant's recent review of "Ancient Commentators on Plato on Aristotle." He noted pointedly that, in the book, Plato was given short shrift. My first reaction was that this issue with the book seemed minor -- something perhaps to note, but not to emphasize in a review. But later I concluded that he was right, because, while the single instance was in itself minor, the larger issue is quite substantial: will Plato and Platonism be given due weight in the history of ideas or not?
I see this in similar terms. Modern culture has been brainwashed into thinking that Christianity is devoid of philosophical depth. That is simply not true. Tremendous disservice is done to people by perpetuating this myth. And if, as some would suggest, the spirit of Platonism lives today in, among other ways, Christianity, especially contemplative Christianity (and, I will not hesitate to add, the Orthodox tradition), then ridiculing and reducing Christianity to a caricature has, one might argue, the effect of drawing modern people further, not nearer, to the principles and values of Platonism.
I wonder if the film conveys any hint of the theistic piety of Platonism? One gathers from the description that Hypatia is presented as a kind of 5th century female Bertrand Russell.
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