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Philosophy is useless, theology is worse?

Some older readers might recognize the title/lyric from a 1980s Dire Straits tune, “Industrial Disease.”

That sentiment might seem somewhat cynical but, in a way, I can see where Dire Straits was coming from. When I wrote about the social thinker Michel Foucault in my PhD program, I could sense that some of the most powerful players in my life at the time either didn’t give a damn or just didn’t understand.

One professor, so I heard through the grapevine, apparently said that “a university is a place where a professor gets a paycheck.” Well yes, but that’s pretty cynical. This guy ended up shafting me at the last minute, effectively trashing my chances at getting postdoc funding.

Pearls Before Swine – Pieter Brueghel via Wikipedia

Another professor was so incompetent that he got visibly upset at the very idea of my studying Michel Foucault. He thought Foucault’s work abrogated morality. I had to explain to this guy that Foucault was interested in how some moralities are highlighted while others are ignored at a given moment in history. Foucault wasn’t advocating the abandonment of morality.

The bottom line?

Even academics can be incredibly callous, uncaring or just uninformed. However, that doesn’t mean we should give up and stop looking at society in intelligent ways. But be beware. A lot of people won’t get what you’re saying. And some might even try to turn your wisdom against you.

Didn’t someone else say this a long time ago?

Do not cast your pearls before swine…”

Jesus, of course, was talking more about holiness and spirituality. But I think his teaching applies to many fields, and sadly, to more than a few people today.

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Ethics, embryos and the petri dish


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Time to teach ethics to artificial intelligence


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Hindu groups not happy with “The Love Guru” rating given by Singapore Censors

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus do not seem to be pleased with Singapore Board of Film Censors classifying Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” with “NC16” rating, and want it raised.

Advancing the protest movement launched by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed starting in March last; Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, has appealed to Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA) to assign “The Love Guru” its highest “R21” (Restricted 21) rating instead of currently held “NC 16″, saying ” ‘The Love Guru’ blatantly ridicules and denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts”.

In a communiqué to Singapore MDA, Shinde wrote, “Cinema is a powerful medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences, especially in the minds of younger audiences, who are passing through an impressionable phase. We do not want the next generation of Singapore growing up with a distorted view of Hinduism and Hindus.”

Hindus argue that the “The Passion of the Christ” movie was given a “M18” rating (higher than what “The Love Guru” presently has) in Singapore in 2004 when the official classification media release said, “The film did not distort or denigrate Christianity.” On the other hand, “The Love Guru” blatantly ridicules Hinduism and Hindu concepts, so it deserves “R21” rating.

In Singapore, “NC16” rated films are suitable for 16 and above, while “R21” films are suitable for aged 21 and above. “The Love Guru” is reportedly scheduled to be released in Singapore on September four.

Meanwhile, Rajan Zed, supported by some other organizations, has given a worldwide boycott call for this movie by Hindus and other religious people because it lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously. Zed, who is urging other people of faith (besides Hindus) also to boycott the movie, says, “Today it is Hinduism, tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to denigrate another religion/denomination.”

A prominent Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada (USA), has also called for boycott of “The Love Guru” because it “…lampoons Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy…”

Zed stresses that the broader aim of boycott against this movie is to protect the interests of various minorities and ethnicities and save them from future ridicule. Everyone is a minority in some place and in some sense and deserves to be respected. As fellow humans, is it not everybody’s duty to stand for the rights of minorities and speak for them when attempts are made at ridiculing them?

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at, Zed says.

Meanwhile, signature campaign launched by Hindu groups against “The Love Guru” has crossed the 6,600 mark.

“The Love Guru” (88 minutes), a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame), opened June 20 in USA and Canada and will be released in different parts of the world in the near future.


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Demand of public apology by Paramount and Viacom gathering storm

             Hindu Leader Rajan Zed

Special to Earthpages.org

Calls for public apology by Paramount Pictures and its parent Viacom on issues surrounding “The Love Guru” movie, started by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed, are gathering strength.

Now Nevada Clergy Association (NCA); which is composed of Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Bahai, Native American, etc., clergy; has joined others in asking for Paramount/Viacom apology.

In a statement issued in Nevada (USA) today, Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., NCA President, said, “We urge Paramount and Viacom to issue a general public apology over this issue, which will help heal the wounds of seemingly perturbed one-billion-strong Hindu community”.

Rev. Savoy, who is himself a well-respected Head Bishop of International Community of Christ, said in this statement, “We are dismayed at Paramount Pictures, presenter of this movie, for backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindu brothers-sisters, which we consider an unethical business practice. We are also appalled at Paramount and its parent Viacom for utter disregard of the protesters and making no efforts to have an open civilized dialogue with protesters and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, who have been stressing that this movie denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts.”

He congratulated Rajan Zed “for his successful campaign” against the Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” and thanked him for “effectively creating this debate and awakening the future filmmakers to be more sensitive to the feelings of devotees when dealing with faith related issues”.

Rev. Savoy further said, “We at NCA are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at debasing it hurt the adherents. Hollywood should be more conscious while handling faith related subjects, as cinema is a very mighty medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences. We are concerned that today it is Hinduism; tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to mock another denomination/religion, which can be very painful to the faithful.”

Sometime back, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religious leaders, in a joint signed statement, described Paramount’s backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindus as “un-Christian, un-Hindu, un-Buddhist, un-Jewish, etc., besides being unethical.”

Meanwhile, various other organizations, including Universal Society of Hinduism, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Hindu Alliance of India, Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha, Sanatan Sanstha, India Heritage Panel, have also demanded public apology from Paramount and Viacom.

Rajan Zed launched the protest movement against “The Love Guru” in March, saying that it appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.