Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending a sold out debate between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and renowned New Atheist Christopher Hitchens at Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall. One of several such debates organised across North America in the last few weeks by Blair’s Faith Foundation – his post-retirement project – the evening promised to be a rollicking good time and a chance to observe how we can think about religion outside the university. So after fighting my way through a few dozen protesters with their chants of ‘Tony Blair, war criminal’ and passing the metal detection test – security was steeper than I had expected! – I settled in to my seat.
PART 1 – Establishing the Extreme Ground
Last year, after seeing Inglourious Bastards, I read somewhere that one of the movie’s stars, Eli Roth, referred to it as ‘kosher porn’. I found this turn of phrase initially kind of offensive, especially when it would seem to be an oxymoron. Kosher recognizes Jewish dietary laws and means that an item of food is considered to be ritually pure. Porn or pornography, on the other hand, is a means of objectifying and demeaning the very intimate act of, what is meant to be, love between two consenting adults. Two opposing ideas, indeed, but the retributive qualities contained in the plot of Inglorious Bastards cannot, of course, be separated from our post-Shoah context. How could six million calculated, vicious race-based murders not create some revenge fantasies?!