25 Aug 2013

So This Is What It Feels Like to Be a Square

Religious 43 Comments

All summer I have been dying to take my 8-year-old to a movie, but a bunch of obvious ones (Superman, Wolverine, etc.) were PG-13. So I was happy that I was able to take him to see Percy Jackson today–a series of which I knew nothing.

I was a little concerned when I looked up showtimes and saw the tagline for the film “In Demigods We Trust.” Then I was really uncomfortable in the opening moments when one character is apparently cursed by Zeus to never be able to drink wine (since it instantly turns to water when he pours it), and he says something like, “Now the Christians have a god who can do the reverse–that’s a god!”

I realize some of our atheist friends reading this will say, “Exactly Bob! Your beliefs are just as silly as Greek mythology.” OK, but since you agree that’s how the humor works, you can see my I wasn’t sure how I felt with my son sitting in the theater next to me.

It’s hard for me to put my finger on, but there was just something about this particular movie that seemed dubious to me, in a way that I never got from, say, Harry Potter (let alone Lord of the Rings). So it’s not that I have a problem with fantasy as a general rule, there was just something about this movie that I couldn’t shake until the cameo by Nathan Fillion (of Firefly fame).


43 Responses to “So This Is What It Feels Like to Be a Square”

  1. guest says:

    Detective Kate Beckett is hot.

  2. Jonathan Finegold says:

    This is just a guess. You have had a long time to reflect on the arguments on both sides, and it’s just that you find the atheist case persuasive. You know that there is an anti-religious atheist humor, but it doesn’t faze you because you’re convinced (just in case, I’m not implying that this is a bad thing — I’m convinced free trade makes us better off, it doesn’t make me a zealot). But, your son hasn’t had the same amount of time to reflect, and he might not even be at an age where he can make the kind of reflection you’ve made. You’re afraid that if your son sees that the popular opinion seems to be anti-religious he’ll abandon his beliefs, to some degree or another, without properly considering the evidence. To this, someone might say, “So you’re trying to brainwash him!” I don’t think this is the case, at all. I’m not religious, but I can see how you’d say that the constant anti-religious humor can brainwash young viewers, because they’re not at an age that they can make an educated comparison of alternatives. Instead, it’s almost an emotional appeal: you shouldn’t be religious because we don’t like it, and if you are then it’s not cool.

    • Jonathan Finegold says:

      In the second sentence, I mean unpersuasive, of course.

      • Bharat says:

        Haha, for a second there I seriously thought you were psychoanalyzing Dr. Murphy. “No, the reason you find atheistic jokes so unfunny is precisely because you agree with them, but you can’t bring yourself to admit it!”

    • Matt Tanous says:

      I would agree with Jonathan here. And my opinion on why you didn’t see this with Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter is likely because, unlike Percy Jackson, the previous series are basically Christian allegories. Lord of the Rings is a pretty blatant one, and Harry Potter becomes more blatant as the series goes on (to the point where the last book has an almost direct allegory of Harry to the Crucifixion and Resurrection – something my English professor in college was VERY upset about =P ).

      Percy Jackson, on the other hand, is simply a set of stories inspired by old myths, with the jokes thrown in by the author according to his own ideology…

  3. Carl says:

    Exactly Bob! Your beliefs are just as silly as Greek mythology.

  4. guest says:

    Seems that most movies have a hidden agenda.

    RoboCop: Anti-Corporation/ Pro-Union.

    And you know what? A lot of these movies wouldn’t get made if everyone understood Austrian economics.

    Take Saw, for example. If the Jigsaw Killer understood that health insurance only works if you can refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions, probably no one would have had to play his deadly games:

    William Easton

    [For years your probability formula has decided the fate of others. The healthy have benefited while the potentially sick have been unjustly rejected. However, this formula does not take into account the human will to live. When faced with death, who should live versus who will live are two entirely separate things. Today your policy will be put to the test.

    John, about William and his policy]

    William Easton is the protagonist in Saw VI. He was Jigsaw’s insurer for his health insurance company.

    *Facepalm Trap*

  5. Ike says:

    Wow. Turning wine into water, every time, all the time. Give Krugman that superpower and watch economic growth and much prosperity starting at the winery level.

  6. Neil says:

    Dr. Murphy, if you don’t want your children to be negatively influenced by anti-Christian, anti-family, pro-alcohol, etc., propaganda, then you probably need to keep them out of the movie theater. Watch the movie yourself first, and then determine whether or not you think it’s OK for the kids to watch. I always rent the DVD’s through Netflix.

    • Dan Murphy says:

      There are no good movies for a Christian. Your concerns show your consciense was bothered. Hollywood has an anti God agenda.

  7. knoxharrington says:

    “I realize some of our atheist friends reading this will say, “Exactly Bob! Your beliefs are just as silly as Greek mythology.”


    “OK, but since you agree that’s how the humor works, you can see my I wasn’t sure how I felt with my son sitting in the theater next to me.”

    You don’t like the equation of the myths you don’t believe in to the myths that you do and you don’t want your son delving too deeply into the incongruity. That’s obviously psychologizing on my part.

    “It’s hard for me to put my finger on, but there was just something about this particular movie that seemed dubious to me, in a way that I never got from, say, Harry Potter (let alone Lord of the Rings).”

    Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings don’t seem dubious because no one, to my knowledge, ever took either the Potter or Tolkien mythos seriously as a religion. The fact that the Greek mythos was believed and no longer is, combined with the reference in the movie of the phony Greek gods making a commentary on the “real” Christian god, hits a little too close to home – this must be what is giving you pause.

    Doubt is a b****.

  8. Blackadder says:

    Why would turning wine into water be more amazing than turning water into wine? Sounds like a sucky miracle to me.

  9. Ken Pruitt says:

    With regards of turning the wine into water, I think the author was just trying to capture the arrogance of the Greek Gods. It is hard to get more arrogant than Zeus in the Greek theology.

  10. JimS says:

    Am I to understand that you do not wish for your children to read or know mythology? I hope this is not the case as a temendous amount of literature will be lost to them. Likewise, atheists that do not read the Bible have a tremendous amount lost to them.

    Regardless, it is clearly labled, MYTH-ology. What is your position on Santa or the Easter Bunny? For that matter, what is your position on fiction? Do you not allow your son to read or watch fiction? Obviously this is not the case otherwise you would not take him to see movies. My point being, if you can keep fiction in its proper place, why not mythology and religion?

    Also, I find it difficult that “Harry Potter” is ok but a mythologically based story is not. Witches are traditionally of the devil. Rowling refers to the dark forces. Sure, Voldemort (can I type his name without conjuring him?) is bad, but we are essentially discussing varying degrees of bad when we get in to the good witch versus the bad witch scenario (from my religious POV). This is nearly as problematic as the good prositute on “Gunsmoke” that millions mindlessly watched. Personally I think squaring the sex trade with an 8 year old more problematic than mythology.

    Of course I don’t like Sesame Street either. I think Grimm had it right. There are monsters in the world and the idea of making monsters friendly is a dangerous thing. There is nothing scary or monsterous on Sesame Street, other than our tax dollars are used for it, but I have a real problem with the evrything is beautiful and ok line of education.

    I think mythological gods are great tools for discussing your God. You do not evade the subject of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religion versus Christianity, do you? Do a compare and contrast. IS God as meddlesome as the Greek gods? No. Is God as vengefulas the Greek gods? I think yes, but what you tell your son of your beliefs is your business.

    • Economic Freedom says:

      >>>Am I to understand that you do not wish for your children to read or know mythology?

      Krikey! The child is EIGHT. It won’t stunt his intellectual growth if he waits until he’s nine before tackling Greek mythology.


      • JimS says:

        William Farragut took command of his first ship at 14. John Adams’ son knew Greek, Latin, French, and was secretary to our ambassador to Russia at 14. It is amazing the amount of knowledge a child may hold if not lost in mindless sports or TV.

        Read Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare and ponder how that text was intended for children. You would be hard pressed to find many average adults that can wade through it. 8 is not too young.

        • Economic Freedom says:

          >>>William Farragut took command of his first ship at 14. John Adams’ son knew Greek, Latin, French, and was secretary to our ambassador to Russia at 14.

          And by the time Mozart was my age, he had been dead for over ten years.

          A sobering thought.

          But what the heck’s your point?

          • JimS says:

            My point is obviously that 8 is not too young. If a child can know multiple languages at that age or slightly older, if they can know the Bible at length, ir they can know algebra and trigonometry at that age, Greek mythology is hardly taxing, unless, of course, you are trying to maintain the common core standards set by our government.

            • Economic Freedom says:

              >>>My point is obviously that 8 is not too young.

              My point is obviously that 9 is not too old.

              >>>If a child can know multiple languages at that age or slightly older, if they can know the Bible at length, ir they can know algebra and trigonometry at that age, Greek mythology is hardly taxing,

              At issue was whether Greek mythology was appropriate for an 8 year old — and if so, presented in what manner — not whether it was taxing.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Jim S.,

      You have misinterpreted my post. Of course I want my son to understand Greek mythology; it’s part of the Western canon. I’m talking about a specific movie that was making smart*ss jokes that struck me as actually undermining Christianity.

      If a lady says she doesn’t like Andrew Dice Clay, will you ask her if she opposes all farces?

      • JimS says:

        Sorry I misunderstood, especially not having seen the movie nor heard the alledged jokes.

        I might ask if someone opposes all farces if that seemed to be their position. I didn’t think that was yours, but wasn’t certain from your post.

        Christianity is undermined everywhere, everyday. How do you deal with that? Personally, I ignore it, at least on the personal confrontation level. Trying to reason with people who see Christianity as causing all of the woes of the world is like trying to teach algebra to the houseflies. They’ve fallen hook line and sinker for the modern liberal clap trap. OF course, they’d never concede that Nazism was socialism and that more died under socialism and Stalin’s and Mao’s communism than from the crusades a thousand times over, which, by the way, were in response to a Muslim advance.

        I would think the denegration of Christianity in the movie is no different than the denigration from other sources or other religions and probably would act in relation to that.

        The chjild I home school I tell not to get into arguments with these folks or the ones who think Obama walks on water (She is very upset because she has reasoned that Obama wants to take away her BB gun. She didn’t get that from me). Most of these folks are not rational and do not reason anything for themselves. They move along party or friendship lines.

        Again, I’m more bothered by Harry Potter. Only a good witch can defeat the forces of darkness? I’m pretty sure the Biible has a thing or two to say about who is superior in that realm.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          “Again, I’m more bothered by Harry Potter. ”

          Strange when Christians find the allegories for their own faith bothersome. Tell me, do you also find the Narnia books bothersome? The Lord of the Rings has magic throughout – is that one bad, too?

          • guest says:

            The Chronic- [WHAT?!] -cles of Narnia …

            • JimS says:

              Who said I was a Christian?

              Potter is not an allegory of Christianity. You probably think this because it is protrayed as a good versus evil, but this is a stretch as witchcraft is an evil. Every witch is somehow aligned with Satan and the “forces of darkness.”

              This is simply to feed the idea that there are no monsters or evil, just varying degrees of behavior. It is like the silly idea of a good vampire or wherewolf or the morally good prostitute.

              The scenario put forth by Rowling, who certainly did not intend her novel as a Biblical allegory, unlike C.S. Lewis, puts me in mind of the movie “Enemy at the Gates” where the sniper battle betweenSoviet Russia and Nazi Germany is pitted as good versus evil with the Soviets as the saviors of the Jews. Give me a break. Watching the Soviets and Nazis slug it out is like watching a drug dealer and a pimp fight; who cares who wins, they are both morally reprehensible scum.

  11. Edward says:


    Krugman and Delong mentioning you by name here

    • guest says:

      Output, per se, isn’t wealth.

      The point of working isn’t to work, but to acquire wealth for yourself.

      Stimulus can create output all day long without creating wealth. That’s the problem with the concept of GDP – it keeps you from understanding “wealth” as something that’s subjective to the individual.

      Krugman misses the point.

    • Major_Freedom@hotmail.com says:

      Boy oh boy, does Murphy know how to get their panties in a twist.

      De Long:

      “Does Murphy note, anywhere, that business equipment investment, which ought to fall as capital lifetimes are extended if the pace of trend economic growth markedly slows, has not?


      That’s wrong. It markedly decline post-2008:


      “Does Murphy note that the shortfall in residential construction investment has a financial explanation and is not credibly blamed on a lower future potential output growth path?


      This is just De Long asserting his own “demand side” theory, which is not necessarily proven by the data. One could also argue that the shortfall in residential construction investment has a “structural” explanation, the problem of which was itself brought about by a prior financial cause.

      “Does Murphy note, anywhere, that at a 5% real rate of return on capital the reduction in potential as a result of the post-2008 investment shortfall is now (19%-14% fall in investment share) x 4 years x 5%/year return on capital = 1% reduction in potential GDP, which is why I said that the path of growth is not “materially lower” rather than not lower when you compare it to the 5.5% real aggregate demand shortfall relative to trend?


      De Long is falsely assuming a linear relationship between “investment share” and potential GDP. It does not follow that a 5% drop in investment share will have a factor of “1” associated with it, when considering potential GDP. A 5% drop in investment share could have a greater than 5% effect on output.

      “There is an ongoing (and interesting, and insightful) academic discussion of potential GDP and its growth going on. But does Murphy participate in it at all, or recognize its existence?


      This has nothing to do with the main point Murphy made. It’s just kicking sand in the sandbox.



      “So the CBO already takes into account the effect of a smaller capital stock on potential output.”

      Since when did the CBO “taking into account a smaller capital stock” have anything to do with De Long’s comment that “There are no signs…to suggest that the path of growth of U.S. sustainable potential GDP is materially lower today than was believed back in 2007.”?

      Murphy is not obligated to accept the CBO’s method of estimating potential GDP, especially when their estimate looks suspiciously like a naive extrapolation of past status quo GDP trend.

      I find it highly dubious considering how much investment has fallen since 2008.

      • The Existential Christian says:

        ” Murphy is not obligated to accept the CBO’s method of estimating potential GDP, especially when their estimate looks suspiciously like a naive extrapolation of past status quo GDP trend.”

        As a carpenter, I often have to scribe various angles onto pieces of wood. Sometimes if I am doing something that doesn’ need to be very accurate, I will mark my angle with my speed square, then place a long straight edge over what I marked to carry it to the edge of a board. What ends up happening is that I have marked out a two foot long cut based on a seven inch speed square.

        The potential GDP trendline looks similar in that chart. It starts in 2005, and looks as if someone merely held a straightedge over the GDP line and continued it out, although the line it was extrapolated from was much shorter than the finished line.

    • Jim PM says:


      RPM getting them rustled.

    • guest says:

      Here you go, Edward:

      Krugman and DeLong Smackdown Bob Murphy

      Here’s what Ludwig von Mises wrote in Human Action about national output measures such as GDP:

      [“] The attempt to determine in money the wealth of a nation or the whole mankind are as childish as the mystic efforts to solve the riddles of the universe by worrying about the dimension of the pyramid of Cheops. [“]

      (Note: For a further discussion on the fallacies inherent in GDP calculation, see Frank Shostak; What Is GDP?)

      What is up with the GDP?

      The GDP framework gives the impression that it is not the activities of individuals that produce goods and services, but something else outside these activities called the “economy.” However, at no stage does the so-called “economy” have a life of its own independent of individuals. The so-called economy is a metaphor—it doesn’t exist.

      By lumping the values of final goods and services together, government statisticians concretize the fiction of an economy by means of the GDP statistic. By regarding the economy as something that exists in the real world, mainstream economists reach a bizarre conclusion that what is good for individuals might not be good for the economy, and vice versa. Since the economy cannot have a life of its own without individuals, obviously what is good for individuals cannot be bad for the economy.

      The GDP framework cannot tell us whether final goods and services that were produced during a particular period of time are a reflection of real wealth expansion, or a reflection of capital consumption.

      The whole idea of GDP gives the impression that there is such a thing as the national output. In the real world, however, wealth is produced by someone and belongs to somebody. In other words, goods and services are not produced in totality and supervised by one supreme leader. This in turn means that the entire concept of GDP is devoid of any basis in reality. It is an empty concept.

  12. Innocent says:

    Bob, First of all I am VERY religious and understand where you are coming from. It is one of the reasons that I disagree with what will soon be coming in schools, namely the ability to say that Homosexual behavior is normal or right/correct, whereas the ability to exhibit religious belief in school is wrong/incorrect.

    As far as the movie goes the books are about Greek mythology in modern day. The Greeks took the personalities and traits of man and simply blew them up into what they would look like if that was ALL there was to a person. The irony of this of course is that it shows that extremes in behavior lead to tragic results and that man seems destined to repeat the mistakes of the gods.

    Now as for children, well I would suggest NOT taking him to any movie that you or your wife has gone to first. We pre screen things at the very least so that we can talk to our kids before hand about what they are going to see and attempt to place it into perspective.

    I do not know how old your son is… A PG movie in my mind says, watch it first. A Pg 13 movie says, definitely watch it first. To be honest there are several pg-13 movies I would take a child to before some PG movies.

    Finally and this is the main point I would bring into things. It is easy to mock religion. Heck it is easy for Krugman to mock Austrian Economics. It is easy to mock the things that we see little value in. In the end we are but actors on a stage and before long we will cast off this mortal shell and await the day to reclaim it.

    As far as Christ goes… Was he not written of in times before? Did he not fulfill the promises of the Prophets? If not him then who?

  13. Economic Freedom says:

    Good grief, man! You took your son to a movie theater? Today, those are proverbial “dens of iniquity.”

    Buy a large HD television and rent old Disney corkers like “Old Yeller” and “Swiss Family Robinson.” Then watch some Three Stooges movies and Abbott and Costello.

    If he hasn’t already seen them, your son might also like the three masterpieces of animation by director/animator Brad Bird: 1) The Iron Giant, 2) The Incredibles, 3) Ratatouille. The first is mainly traditional animation about a young boy and a special robot from outer-space; the other two are computer animations released by Pixar.

    I think Brad Bird is a genius, and all three movies have very uplifting themes.

    Why not rent or download Disney’s “Fantasia”?


    “Journey to the Center of the Earth”?

    “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”?

    “First Men In The Moon.”

    You might also rent or download “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” based on the C.S. Lewis classic. I thought it was pretty good.

    Microwave your own popcorn.

    The whole experience is better, cleaner, cheaper, and more enjoyable.

    • John S says:

      Just want to throw in my two cents: this makes great tasting popcorn. For oil, organic coconut oil works great. Avoids the harmful microwave popcorn chemicals.


      • Economic Freedom says:

        I just put a few tablespoons of jar popcorn in a brown paper bag, fold the top over loosely, and put it in the microwave. Seems to work fine.

        When done, add some melted butter.

        Or, for more sophisticated Austrian-economist tastes: instead of butter, sprinkle some curry over it. Fantastic.

    • Dan Murphy says:

      Kids these days need less entertainment options. The world is a complex place. How about playing outside with other children. We are raising families where they sit in the restaurant and everyone is looking at an electronic device and no one is talking.

  14. Economic Freedom says:

    Log onto “Hulu.com” (it’s free) and search for classic 1960s televisions series. For some, you can only watch the first season for free; others, you can watch the entire series. Great for kids:

    My Favorite Martian
    Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
    Mr. Ed
    Lost In Space
    Star Trek: The Original Series

    And you can also catch up on some classic police/private-eye series from long ago for yourself:

    The Rockford Files

    Specifically the writing in these two series has never been equaled since (they’re both from the early-to-mid 1970s).

  15. Economic Freedom says:

    Greek and Roman mythology can be dicey for children — especially if the parents are trying to raise them as Christians — because (after all) they are pagan, and represent pagan values and viewpoints. One of the most violent things I’d ever read as an adult was Homer’s Iliad.

    At the moment, I can’t think of any movies or animations of mythology that would be appropriate, but if you read to your son, I can recommend the following classics on the classics:

    Heroes of Greek Mythology
    by Charles Kingsley
    see: http://books.google.com/books/about/Heroes_of_Greek_Mythology.html?id=fnh4TtY66Q4C

    Bulfinch’s “Mythology”
    by Thomas Bulfinch
    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulfinch's_Mythology


    Tales from Shakespeare
    by Charles and Mary Lamb
    see: http://shakespeare.palomar.edu/lambtales/lambtale.htm

    • JimS says:

      D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek myths is excellent for the age group discussed.

      Your other suggestions are great. I home school a 9 year old and for the past two years we have been using some of the texts noted, particularly Lamb. We go to quite a few Shakespeare performances.

  16. Economic Freedom says:

    By the way, “Old Yeller,” “Swiss Family Robinson,” and the original “Treasure Island” are all on YouTube.

    I also found a full-length animation of Norton Juster’s masterpiece for children (as well as adults), “The Phantom Tollbooth”. Haven’t seen the movie version, but the book was always a favorite of mine. See:


    There’s also a movie version of another favorite childhood book of mine by Madeleine L’Engle titled “A Wrinkle in Time.” Haven’t seen it, but it might be worth having a look-see. The book, of course, is a classic.

  17. Z says:

    What would you think if someone taught their children that morality doesn’t exist and both religion and secular humanism are fictions?

  18. Dan Murphy says:

    Blasphemy = impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things. Bob this is what has you upset. If you love the Lord it is normal to get your dander up when someone makes fun of them just like your son being made fun of.

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