Thursday, January 28, 2010

Religion and Free Expression

This article is a response to an event that happened to my 9 year old niece, who is attending a school in Athens Greece. Unfortunately, schools in Greece are not secular, and neither is the state secular. We still have a Ministry of Education and Religion, the constitution says that this is a christian country and part of our taxes go for the salaries of the greek orthodox priests! To explain a bit, even in state schools we have a class called "Religion", which actually is a propaganda for the Greek Orthodox religion.

When she chose the school that my niece is attending, nobody told her that it was a religious/faith school; it was understood that it was just a good school where religion was taught as part of the curriculum, just like in every other school. Nor was it in any way written anywhere that there would be any kind of religious problems or anything else religious except for the usual religious crap that all schools have to abide by.

My sister has explained to my niece that most of the things she is being told in the "Religion" class are myths and legends, and that they are not true; that there is no evidence for mystical resurrected zombies or parthenogenesis in humans...

Anyway, to continue with the story, my niece wanted to dress up for the annual school carnival party as a little devil girl, nothing frightening for other children. The owners of the school, though, forbade her the costume on religious grounds! They said that it is blasphemy to dress as such! Blasphemy again, the "protector" of religion from any kind of criticism, from logic, from critical thinking, from being human even, as it seems, from having fun! I wrote my ideas about blasphemy in a previous article in this blog, when I criticized the new blasphemy law of Ireland.

This is a clear fundamentalist attitude and as such my sister has complained but to no avail. Those people are set in their illogical, superstitious, irrational, dogmatic mind set, they have been lobotomized by religion and cannot think outside the box.

Of course, my sister's family will not be attending the school party; entrance per person was priced at 28 euros, and since my sister has 3 kids, you can understand how much these cost for a total of 5 persons.

One of the worst things is that they run a school which is supposed to give an education to children. But the worst of it all is the way they made a 9 year old child feel. My niece at this moment has been hurt, is feeling humiliated. All I can do, as her aunt, is to try and explain some things, but she does not understand why she cannot dress as a little devil in the school party; she does not yet understand religion and its implications.And right now she is wondering why she was forbidden to dress as a little devil, and she is angry at the school's owner.

Of course, the school will lose not just one student but three, as my sister has 3 children in all and none will be attending that particular school.

Children need to be free from such attitudes, they need to be free to think and express themselves; parents and the surrounding environment, have the responsibility to guide them and help them think logically, think critically, to use their empathy for other people, to be human.

How are children going to develop logic and critical thinking skills, when religion is superstitious and dogmatic? How are they going to be free and to express themselves, when religion limits that freedom? How are they going to learn to be responsible for their actions when religion teaches people to put responsibility to mythological beings (god and satan)? How are they going to learn to be human, to have empathy and to care for others when religion teaches them that they are sinners, and thus bad, and ugly? How are they going to be responsible citizens and be sensitive to major current events, when religion teaches "Have faith in God"? How are they going to consider themselves as an equal member of society, when religion teaches misogyny and racism?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Doctor Who - Christmas Special 2006 & Season 2 - David Tennant

In the previous article about the new Doctor Who series, I wrote that I had liked Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor, and that I had just started watching David Tennant's Doctor. To be honest, I think that David Tennant is brilliant in the role! I definitely think that he is the best Doctor up to now.

David Tennant starts as the Doctor in the last episode of Season 1, when the Doctor regenerates. The first Tennant episode is the Christmas Special of 2006. Initially, I was a bit unsure about Tennant's style, after the dark and grim Eccleston, but at the end of the Christmas Special, I knew that he was going to be a very good Doctor.

The Doctor has changed towards the better: he is more open, more humorous, he is more certain of  himself and his companions. In contrast with his predecessor, the new Doctor always gives a second chance to everyone, because he really believes in second chances. If they refuse, then tough luck for them: they will experience the wrath of a Timelord...

I loved the way David Tennant and Billie Piper related to each other in their roles. At first, it seemed like there was an awkwardness, like they did not know where the relationship was going. However, from the 3rd episode of the Season, "School Reunion" their relationship started to actually show, it showed its strength; it was a strong one but more discreet, I would say. The last scene of the season, definitely shows the strength and power of that relationship, and I was sorry to see Billie Piper go.


I thought that it was a big mistake to add the character of Mickey Smith into the team, and I was right. I don't think that the character of Mickey really worked; he was supposed to be a comic relief character, but this does not work for every show. Instead, he was an obstacle into the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. Mickey really showed his capabilities in the episode The Age of Steel, and I was glad to see him go. When he returns in the double episode for the finale, he is a much different Mickey Smith, not a comic relief character anymore, but someone who can really help. And that Mickey Smith I really liked, although I would not have him disrupt the Tennant-Piper duo under any circumstances. 


As far as the episodes go, I liked School reunion, and the reappearance of Sarah Jane Smith. I loved the dynamic between Sarah Jane and Rose, I thought they worked very well together. I almost choked from laughter when I saw Tennant as a teacher in the school in that episode [Wish my teachers had been as goodlooking and sexy as Tennant... I think many girls would definitely pay much more attention in class!] In this episode, Anthony Stewart Head is the main bad guy, who portrays the leader of some huge vampire bat-like creatures! If anyone remembers, Anthony Stewart Head was playing the character of Rupert Giles, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who was responsible for helping Buffy fight vampires and other creatures of the underworld.

The reappearance of the Cybermen was a good and strong double episode, but I must say that my favorite of the season, has to go to The Impossible Planet/The Satan's Pit. In this episode, we see the power of both characters, and how strong Rose Tyler is, how much more she could have given the series had she stayed.

The worst episode has to be Love & Monsters. It was supposed to be the comic relief episode of the season, but, I don't think it worked as well as expected. Add the fact that the main characters of the show, appear for a couple of minutes before the end...

The finale of the season is a double episode, featuring the Cybermen vs. the Dalek vs. everyone else. A sample dialogue between Cybermen and Dalek:

Dalek Sek: We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek. You are superior in only one respect.
Cyber-Leader 1: What is that?
Dalek Sek: You are better at dying.

The dialogues between the Cybermen and the Daleks were wonderful! Very cleverly written, and despite the humour in them, you can see that this is the way that a dialogue between such creatures would probably be.

The last scene of the season, where the Doctor says goodbye to Rose Tyler, is one of the most beautiful, strong and emotional scenes of both seasons. I cried at that scene, really cried, and every time I think about it, I still get tears in my eyes.

I love David Tennant as the Doctor! Truth to be told, he is tall, handsome and sexy. What's not to love?