Saturday, June 06, 2009

Coffee and TV

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Dag Soderberg
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

'The Colbert Report' is, at the risk of sound blasphemous and somewhat Christian, one of my online video bibles (along with 'The Daily Show'). It's basically very much like your regular chat shows, except that it's not. There's a variety of reasons for this, and it's not all real, which makes it all the more absurd, but let's just say that I am a big fan, and find it absolutely hilarious.

Every week, it will have a guest on board to be interviewed. Not unlike other chat shows, these guest usually have something to 'sell'. If anything, it is one of the parts I tend to like less than the others; the hawking of wares reflects the capitalist nature of such shows, and I am not really a big fan of that fact.

Nevertheless, it is a fact. And I don't always hate it, mind you. Sometimes there are some very interesting guests. Coming to the point of this blog, one of the most recent guests is Dag Soderberg, a man who basically re-imagined the Bible from a book into something akin to a glossy magazine/coffee table book. I thought that it is a very interesting idea, one that comes in a long line of interesting ideas that people have come up with to spread the word about Christianity.

Note, however, that I see a difference between spreading the word about Christianity and spreading Christianity itself. I have previously vented spleen about people who convert others, and consider one way of thought to be right enough to impose upon others. so I am not going to repeat that here. Spreading the word about something, however, is a different story altogether; I see it as merely a way to inform, rather than to invert.

It is one of the things that I admire about the approach to/from Christianity. From what I have observed through my friends, the experience of being a Christian seems to be a very fun and involving one. They often put up plays at Christmas and/or Easter, with further activities that within and without the church that makes it as much a social as it is a religious event. The church, at times, is more of a social centre than anything else: an open place where people can meet and gather.

I bring this up, because these are some of the things that I believe that Islam in Malaysia, as I have experienced it, could learn something from this. Islam in Korea is a slightly different story; the mosque is never closed, there are services for migrants such as Korean classes and a help for migrant workers, and most interestingly, the welcoming of people of all races and religions. During prayers, sometimes there are a number of Koreans who come and photograph the mosque itself and/or the people (though not necessarily while we are praying). The numbers multiply during Ramadhan, of course. But you get the idea.

The specific reason why I brought this up is because of the interview posted above: an animated coffee table Bible? What a brilliant idea. It's a good way to read and learn about the Bible in a casual manner. And it's not all that rigid or 'Christian', either; there are pictures of Muhammad Ali in it as well. The logic behind that is very interesting.

What if such an idea is applied to the Qur'an? What if, for example, we have our own coffee-table Qur'an? I am in support of any idea that makes Islam more accessible. I do not believe in keepig things closed up and/or making things difficult to maintain its purity. After all, if no one understands it, then what's the point? I've always wondered, then, whether there are mosques or religious societies in Malaysia that put on shows or performances on the same level as a church's Christmas play.

Or would this be to controversial a move? Would a magazine-like Qur'an be too much?

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