Tuesday, June 19, 2007

People losing their damn minds #21

Adam Rutherford's probably right - it really is time for those of us who are atheists and agnostics to stand up for what we don't believe. Here's a rather frivolous example of faith in action and the damn mind loss that can ensue as a result of this. There is, apparently - coming to a cinema near you - a movie that suggests Rasputin was murdered on the orders of Lloyd George:
"Grigori Rasputin, the infamous Siberian mystic, was murdered as part of a British Government plot to depose Tsar Nicholas II and replace him with a malleable Anglophile bisexual, a major new Russian book and film are to claim.

In a country that loves a good conspiracy theory, especially if a western power is the conspirator, both are likely to have a significant impact at a time when Britain is once again accused of scheming to weaken and discredit Russia."
I wouldn't know if Russians love a good conspiracy theory, although I do know it was where the prototype conspiracy theory emerged from. The disposition to believe conspiracy theories is closely related to the religious mindset and indeed often, if not always, coincides with it - the lack of evidence thing being the common denominator here. But the damn mind loss referred rather to the comments from Ivan Okhlobystin, an Orthodox priest who has been given a special dispensation to play the Rasputin role in the film. He said, apparently:
"He was a highly gifted person, selfless, undoubtedly a talented healer, undoubtedly with a gift to see the future - but at the same time ordinary man."
Gifted certainly - given the way this debauched religious charlatan was able to manipulate the proud and the powerful in the Romanov court. His talent as a healer, on the other hand, is very far from being 'undoubted' - at least by anyone who isn't completely credulous. Rather suspect too, you might think, would be his gift for seeing the future - what with this 'gift' having been proven rather useless when it came to the whole avoiding fatal dinner parties thing. As for 'selfless', this would require a rather elastic definition of the term to be used, to say no more than that. But it was the last bit in the Torygraph piece that cracked me up:
"He said that Rasputin saved his life while he was making the film in the Spring. "I was crossing the street and nearly walked in front of a tram that I hadn't seen," he said. "But then I heard a baritone voice crying 'Ivan, look out!' It must have been him.""
It must have been him? Nah, I think we can confidently say that in all probability it almost certainly wasn't him, what with him being dead and all. The other more rational explanation that Mr Okhlobystin might want to consider is that he may just have lost his goddam mind - the whole hearing of voices thing being something of a giveaway here.

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