Bill Maher has created a reputation as a comedian who is politically astute and extremely liberal. He is a self-professed atheist. He says that he respects gays and gay rights, yet he spends much of his time poking fun at gays. He says that he supports military personnel (continually talking about his various trips overseas) yet he spends a great deal of time attacking the mission of our military personnel. In effect, I believe that Mr. Maher is a hypocrite. I believe his hypocrisy is not based on evil. I believe it is based on the fact that his is an unexamined soul.
What is an unexamined soul? I believe that at the core of all of us there is a true, meaningful, and good soul. During the course of our lives, bad things happen. People dump their garbage on us. Sometimes we throw off that garbage and sometimes we accept it without examination. That garbage becomes part of who we see ourselves as being. We do not examine the core of our soul and we do not question the garbage that we have allowed to coat that soul. When we deal with our lives it that way, we are “unexamined souls”.
So why do I believe that Bill Mayer is an unexamined soul? After all, I have never met him. I have watched him on television for many years. I see him becoming more and more caustic and cruel to those with whom he disagrees. I see him as running from himself and his own personal demons, using “humor” and attack to do so.
Recent events have supported my interpretation of Mr. Maher.
According to the Los Angeles Times (12/27/11), “Bill Maher…(ran)…afoul of religious conservatives yet again, after a Christmas Eve (2011) tweet the comedian sent about overtly religious Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Following a 40-14 Broncos’ loss to the Buffalo Bills, Maher tweeted, ‘Wow, Jesus just (expletive) #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler ‘Hey, Buffalo’s killing them’.
“(Some) called for a boycott of HBO, which is the home of Maher’s show, “Real Time.” This wouldn’t be the first time Maher’s words have raised the ire of those on the opposite end of the political spectrum. There are regular calls for Maher’s ouster from HBO. It happened following a frank discussion of ‘hate sex’ with Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. It also happened following comments (by Mr. Maher) about Pope Benedict XVI.”
Mr. Maher obviously has an issue with religion. I can understand someone having an issue with a specific religion. After all, people develop interesting and very individual ways of finding and expressing their spirituality. People of one faith may disagree with the people of another faith on how spirituality is defined and practiced. But Mr. Maher has decided to scorn ALL demonstrations of spirituality. In fact, he made a documentary critical of religion titled, “Religulous,” That documentary did not just criticize religion. It criticized what underlies religion: spirituality.
Mr. Maher has demonstrated an incredible lack of humility when it comes to spirituality and religion.
By the way, the key components of informed thought are skepticism and humility. We need to be aware that we should question (skepticism). But we must also be aware that we don’t know everything and should keep an open mind (humility). When we are overly skeptical, we become cynical. Cynicism leads us nowhere useful to either ourselves or the rest of humanity.
Also, atheism is just another religion. Atheists believe strongly in a faith. That faith is that there is no God. Atheists are no different than profoundly religious and spiritual people. They just worship a different God. They don’t know any more than the rest of us what is the actual reality. But they hold to their faith just as others of us hold to ours. Their arrogance and lack of humility is at least mildly irritating.
Here is one example of Mr. Maher’s lack of humility and arrogance. He took it upon himself to “free the late father of Mitt Romney’s wife from his posthumous baptism, in which he was named a member of the Mormon religion.” (Hollywood Report, 2/3/12).
According to that report, Maher stated the following: “By the power granted in me by the Blair Witch, I call upon the Mormon spirits to leave your body the f… alone.” Brother Edward, in this world you had to put up with Mitt Romney. You’ve suffered enough.”
So how did Mr. Maher become so cynical, cruel, and “unfunny”?
According to Wikipedia, Maher was born in New York City, the son of Julie, a nurse, and William Maher, Sr., a network news editor and radio announcer. He was raised in his father’s Irish American Catholic religion until around the age of 13.
It was at that time that two conflicting events occurred. Young Bill learned that his mother was actually Jewish, a fact that she had withheld for all those years. At around the same time, Bill’s family stopped attending church services due to his father’s disagreement with the Catholic church’s position on birth control. It appears that young Bill Maher was turned away from religion not only due to the dissonant religions in the home but, more importantly, due to the liberal views of his father (and probably his Jewish mother). Whether than finding his core spirituality, he was faced with a decision: To opt for one approach (either Catholicism or Judaism) to practice his spirituality or throw the baby out with the bathwater. I believe that he chose the latter, and is no better for it.
It is sad when an adult is still controlled by the concerns of his parents. Maher’s daddy told him that the church is wrong. His mother kept secret her own religion. These events had to have had a strong influence on young Bill. Despite the dissonance and conflict, the adult Bill Maher knows at some level that he has a connection with a power greater than himself. That power might not be the church. In fact, I am fairly sure it is not the church. But the connection exists and he is running from it in order to please daddy (and maybe even mommy).
When we feel something (such as spirituality) in a strong way and at the same time have thoughts that run counter to that feeling, we experience cognitive dissonance. Our emotional and cognitive experiences tell us that there is a higher power (cognition number 1), but that experience doesn’t fit what we have been told to believe (cognition number 2). In Maher’s case, I believe that he feels a spiritual connection and knows a higher power exists but these pieces of information do not fit within the cognitive “reality” created by his life experiences. This dissonance scares him and he runs.
In fact, I believe that Mr. Maher is so uncomfortable with the dissonance between his daddy’s teaching and his own reality that he had to join a cult which has a basic ‘faith” that there is no higher power. That is the epitome of fear and cowardice. I believe that Bill Maher demonstrates this cowardice with his every action. Hiding under cover of “humor”, he does everything possible to avoid his own cognitive dissonance and his own connection with a greater power.
While Mr. Maher’s personal demons are his own to deal with, they become important to society given his prominence within the elite media. He can sway millions of people toward the cynicism he emits. That is not good for anyone. It becomes even more destructive given his wealth. According to Media ITE, Mr. Maher “announced while performing his ‘StupidCrazyPolitics’ show…in San Jose that he would be donating $1 million to Priorities USA Action. Priorities USA Action is a pro-Barack Obama Super PAC.”
According to Media ITE, “Maher explained (in an interview with Chris Mathews) that the game had changed since 2008. While Obama was able to bring in massive amounts of small donations then, the fact that corporate entities and billionaires can now give amounts upwards of many, many millions of dollars will completely alter the situation.”
Interestingly, Mr. Maher did not lament the fact that organizations like MoveOn.org gave candidate Obama millions during the 2008 election.
So, Bill Maher, the atheist, supports President Obama to the tune of a million dollars. Mr. Maher has made millions by using attempted humor to color the political spectrum blue. In choosing the political left, Maher has found a home for his misplaced anger. He has once again demonstrated his hypocrisy. His anger would best be directed toward his father and mother. Instead he directs it toward conservatives, many of whom have some sort of spiritual connection and many of whom actually want America and the world to be better.
Mr. Maher’s hypocrisy is not useful and, in fact, is destructive.
Oh, by the way, President Obama said he would not accept Super PAC funding. Two hypocrites conjoined. What a world.