Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Passion of the Penguins or Slutty Birds?

At first glance, upon reading this, I marveled that human beings -- especially secularists and believers -- can argue about anything and everything. Then, upon reflection, I realized this was merely a plant by a very clever film publicist. Nothing sells a picture like "controversy." I guess now I have to rent it.

Penguin wars: French wildlife film sparks US religious skirmish ... quote ...

From the Pledge of Allegiance to abortion and the siting of stones inscribed with the Ten Commandments, secularists and the religious right have fought bruising battles for the American soul in recent years.

To this lengthening list, another can be added: the penguin.

The cause is a French wildlife documentary, "March of the Penguins", which has been the surprise blockbuster of the American movie summer.

... and ...

Blizzards, gales and a chill reaching to -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F) are only a few of the obstacles thrown in the penguins' way.

After laying their single eggs, the females trudge in single file to feeding grounds 110 kilometers (70 miles) from their breeding site.

For two months, the male sits on the egg to keep it warm and let the chick hatch, awaiting the return of the female bringing food for their offspring.

Only when the mother returns does the father then make his own trek to the distant coast to ease his own hunger.

... more ...
The movie is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child-rearing," film critic Michael Medved told The New York Times last week.

For devout Christians, he suggested, "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ'. This is 'The Passion of the Penguins.'"

"March of the Penguins" has taken at least 37 million dollars, making it the most successful French film in America after the 66 million dollars reaped by
Luc Besson's English-language sci-fi movie "The Fifth Element" in 1997.

One Christian organisation, the 153 House Churches Network, raves over the film as proof of the glory of God. It is organising workshops in which families are invited to homes and cinemas to see the film.

Christians can be inspired by exemplary "dedication, cooperation and affection" between the mating penguins and the loyalty and perseverance of the father, says Mari Helms, reviewing the movie on

... still more ...

Secularists point out that emperor penguins have a freewheeling sexual life and that homosexuality among penguin species is quite common.

"These penguins get around. They switch mates with each new mating season, which makes for some pretty slutty birds ..."

... and ...

"It is hard not to see the theological overtones in the movie... Beauty, goodness, love and devotion are all part of nature, built into the DNA of the universe," said Maggie Gallagher, a columnist with

But, Washington Post columnist George Will asked, "If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?"