Okay, that's a helluva long title. It pretty much explains it, though. ::: Click here to read the full text.
I love these thoughtful comments, but fear that cinema may in fact be a worse solution than the original problem. Bad religion is one thing, but I think what the article points to is that we all crave a true religion, and, in rarely getting it, often escape to the movies. But formulaic plotlines, bad acting, cliches, and a sore bum ARE the standard, not the exception to the rule in cinema, which is why of the 400 films released every year, you only find three or four worth mentioning to a friend, and only one or two worth owning on DVD. You're certainly right that cinema offers a much wider range of parables, but it does also, just like religion, ask you to succumb to the fear of the unknown -- the unknown in this case is what's outside the cineplex door: stark reality itself, which in the 21st century is as terrifying and horrible an "unknown" as we've ever come across in human history. The more that technology and political economy create hell on earth for the common man and woman, the more comforting the parables of cinema become (esp the safety and tranquility of climate-controlled, mood-lit, popcorn ambience, for many just sitting inside the theatre is pleasure enough, never mind if the movie ever comes on), which is simply to say that Plato was near-sighted in that he never reckoned on the day coming when we would seek the shelter of the cave after being "enlightened" by the sun.
Personally it articulated many thoughts ive had swirling in the past few years. And puts a force behind my resolve to transform a church into what else but a cinema(more of a romantic dream than a likely venture). As an athiest, long ago i disregarded the notion that the church had any redeemable ethical, philosophical, moral, or informative value for me. And, in the subsequent years have come to the conclusion that though the system of organized religion in america and around the world should be dismantaled on the virtues of its own contradictions and cultural/scientificly stifling nature, without a useable system replace it, cannot fall. In the case that it did fall, the common man would fall into an unprepared nihilism that would tear away at the semblence of what little moral value the american culture has. Humanism, was to be the new religion, but cannot thrive in a culture that is so easily brought to violence and is so easily distracted by consumerism. Humanism while a suitible alternative to chistianity is still quite narrow in its address of the needs of all things living and otherwise.
Cinema, allows us to consider a much wider range of parables, and a much broader range of possible solutions. It allows us to relate to and weigh our own actions without asking us to sucumb to a fear of the unknown. It allows us to hash over the problems and promises of our own time in a context that we can understand, and as a secondary benefit, be entertained by (which in itself is part of understanding our own nature).
Where im going here i guess is that Cinema is not only a shockingly accurate metaphor for religion, but also a better and more usefull alternative to religion. So then to take this idea to its logical end what better action to take then to use the existing structure already there in the forms of churches and cathedrals (illustrated well by the author as structually close to modern theatres)and transform them into theatres, where those who seek intellectaul stimulation, a sense of community, and a usable palette for painting thier own moral picture, can go . Where the only hell we have to fear is formulaic plotlines, bad acting, cliches, and possibly a sore a**.
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