The Love Guru and The Fundamentalists

So, you see, the theological Jesus did not come into existence until four centuries after the historical Jesus. And this theological Jesus has a very controversial history: (In the name of this Jesus) We have soothsayers, we have witch-hunts, we have burning at the stake, we have torture, we have (in modern times) the bombing of abortion clinics, we have an institution that hides paedophiles in its clergy while criticizing gays as sinners, not to forget what the White House is doing. Dr. Deepak Chopra in an interview with Arthur Pais India News April 25, 2008

This quote from Deepak Chopra, M.D., Chairman and co-Founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing as well as an internationally acclaimed author, has raised the ire of both Christian and Hindu fundamentalists alike. A pretty neat trick, if you ask me. LOL.

The Christian fundamentalists are after him for his latest book, The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore, the main topic of the interview with Arthur Vais. I’ve not read the book yet, but, based on the citation I used to start this post, it appears that Dr. Chopra and I are pretty much in agreement on the abuses done in the name of a misguided notion of who and what Jesus was. Proving that is and has been the purpose for my Heresiology series.

While Dr Chopra — he has authored more than 50 books, translated into over 40 languages — is going on the offensive against what he calls vegetarian fundamentalists, his more urgent task is to combat a small but vociferous Christian group that is convinced he is an avatar of the Anti-Christ. Some fundamentalists see him as a Hindu come from India to subvert Christianity.India News April 23. 2008

From what I know of Dr. Chopra’s scholarly credentials, I suspect he is far more qualified to make authoritative statements on Christian theology that any of his Christian fundamentalist critics. As far as his being the Anti-Christ, I seriously doubt it. I think George Bush, the darling of the fundamentalists, is a more qualified candidate for that role than Dr. Chopra. It seems to me that these attacks on Dr. Chopra and his book are rooted in extreme religious bigotry rooted in the doctrine of Christian excluvism. This self-proclaimed notion of Christian superiority, as well as the same notion of superiority claimed by fundamentalists of other religions, is and has been the cause of so much misery and suffering in the world. The political difficulties with establishing peace in the Middle East is rooted in the claims of superiority by three different religions, creating an incredibly complex and totally ridiculous situation which will not be resolved until each of the three religions back off their claims of exclusive acess to the truth.

Returning to Dr. Chopra and his own battles with fundamentalism, it seems that he has also earned the ire of Hindu fundamentalists as well as the Christians, not for any of his books, but for his involvement in the latest movie from Mike Myers, .

But the fact that Hindus would attack a comedy film, The Love Guru, which is in a way a tribute to him, came as a complete surprise. Dr Chopra says he is aghast that people who do not have a sense of humour and whose faith is weak are attacking the film after seeing only the trailer. The Love Guru is about a white man (actor-filmmaker Mike Meyers) raised by Indian sadhus who comes to America in search of a spiritual career.

Rajan Zed, who held Hindu prayers in the Senate last year, a groundbreaking event, is concerned about The Love Guru. Though Paramount Pictures have invited him and several other Hindu leaders to see the comedy featuring Mike Myers as a guru who has returned to America after an Indian sojourn, Zed is not clear what he or his organisation, Universal Society of Hinduism, will do if the film is released in its original cut. The $80 million (about Rs 320 crore) film said to be a tribute to New Age guru Dr Deepak Chopra, who has become a big figure in Myers’ life in the last six years. India News April 24. 2008

The fact that this man, supposedly a religious leader is criticizing a movie solely om a trailer he has seen, and not on a viewing of the complete movie, is so typically fundamentalist. The same sort of narrow-minded, ill-informed criticisms by Christian fundamentalists targeted Martin Scorsese’s movie adaptation of the Nikos Kazansaki’s novel, The Last Temptation of Christ.

I remember very well standing in line at a movie theater in Chicago in 1988 waiting to see this movie, being heckled and insulted by people who had not seen the movie or even read the book – I read it back in the late 60s – yet accused it of blasphemy and heresy. In fact, if you do your research, you will find that the author, Kazansakis, and the director, Scorsese, are both deeply religious individuals. And writing the book as well as making the movie were powerful acts of faith, very positive acts of faith, unlike the very non-Christlike actions of their, and Dr. Chopra’s, fundamentalist critics.

Which brings me to my concluding thought for today: it is time for these fanatics of the great religions to take a little Windex or ammonia and clean their mirrors real well and then take a good hard look at themselves in the clean mirror. Maybe then they will see themselves as the rest of us see them – people who totally misunederstand the message of their own faith and who, in their blind ignorance, foment violence and hatred in the name of God. That is true blasphemy.

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