Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #5

Re: Dogma (1999)

I’d firstly just like to say im not religious in anyway (yes i’ve been baptised but i don’t follow religion and your articles surrounding dogma have been extremely helpful) but I think Steven Greydanus’s review of Dogma was a little harsh, the film does make wild claims about religion but as the disclaimer states the film is “comedic fantasy” and should no be taken as seriously as some people have. Plus the film made me want to read the bible and I’m not the biggest fan of religion, so how can a film that supposedly anti-religion be anti-religion when its made me show a little faith?

I can understand your finding my review “a little harsh.” I don’t think it was myself, but sensibilities differ. Regarding the film’s disclaimer, which I discussed at the top of my review, I think I allowed that this reasonably gives Smith comedic license to noodle on religious themes — the Walrus and the Carpenter stuff, “Catholicism Wow!”, etc. — but as I argued, not everything in the film can be put under that umbrella.

For instance, Smith is completely serious that “Mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure out of it,” i.e., “Faith good, religion bad” (or “not so good”) as I quoted him in my “Is Nothing Sacred? An Afternoon With Kevin Smith.” And he seems to be serious that while “the Virgin Birth is a leap of faith,” belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity “is just plain gullibility.” See also “Dogma in Dogma: A Theological Guide.”

Fair is fair. If Smith wants to noodle and satirize, I’ll give him as much room as he wants; but if he wants to seriously critique religious ideas and beliefs, he can be a man and take his lumps.

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