Sunday, November 22, 2015

This video is ‘Something Beautiful’

The video above begins with a simple question: “Why are we so quick to see the ugly… when we stand before the beautiful?” The response is kind of extraordinary, as the son of a famous purveyor of ugliness leads us through a meditation on the things that keep us from embracing the unique wonderfulness of every other person. Hatred, bigotry, prejudice—these are all powerful, but ultimately bizarre human behaviours that make no logical sense, and this video beautifully points that out.

Part of what makes the video so powerful is that the narrator is Nathan Phelps, son of late infamously bigoted preacher, Fred Phelps founder of the notorious Westboro “Baptist” Church. Nathan is now an atheist, regularly speaking at atheist and secular events, and he calls himself an LGBT activist. In a sense, he’s helping to atone for his father’s many sins—although the elder Phelps’ bizarrely vicious confrontational tactics began after Nathan left the church and family.

Even so, Nathan is clearly very well acquainted with the way in which prejudiced people can use religion as a justification for their bigoted actions, as well as their irrational shunning of their fellow human beings, and that made him the perfect person to narrate the video.

Seth Andrews, who produces podcasts and videos under the brand “The Thinking Atheist”, wrote and produced the video. I’ve shared Seth’s work on this blog several times, most recently back in December when I shared his video, “Christmas: Behind the Curtain”.

This and similar videos that Seth has made are simply presenting an alternative viewpoint, and sometimes point out what religions get wrong or, in this case, what they ought to be doing better. Seth can write powerful prose, and I think this video contains a good example of that. Having Nathan Phelps deliver those words makes them all the more powerful.

“Why are we so quick to see the ugly… when we stand before the beautiful?” It's an excellent question. How should we answer?


rogerogreen said...

This is sort of what I was alluding to yesterday, when people pick at other people's compassion. Which, of course, was based on your Parisian-like recollection last week.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, and for me, those who "pick at other people's compassion" are practising the sort of division that this video addresses in a larger context. In my view, they're judging people in precisely the same way that others would judge—them? Yes: I think they forget, in their rush to judgement, that they are condemning others for doing what they themselves are guilty of. "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…" (John 8:7)

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

We're talking about this post by Roger: "Imagination of compassion, or something like that" http://www.rogerogreen.com/2015/11/20/imagination-of-compassion-or-something-like-that/