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The reproach was made by a ghost employed by a conman who used him to frighten people into getting their haunted houses exorcized. It’s a line from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Frighteners”, starring Michael J. Fox, a way-out but masterfully-made film about ghosts, which is a festival of special effects – no surprise in a movie made by the creator of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit”. The producer, Robert Zemeckis, called it “a computer-graphics extravaganza”. In the supplemental material to the film on DVD, Jackson shows us how he works his magic and adds, seriously, that he himself not only believes in ghosts, but that he actually saw one cross his bedroom when he woke up one morning ! There are ghosts galore in this movie. Death, an empty cloak in the form of the Grim Reaper complete with scythe, is a central character. “The Frighteners” succeeds in making a farce about death, which provides a living for the “exorcist”.

Sounds silly ? No more than the clergy who exploit belief in the after-life which they cultivate as the fundamental raison d’être of the religion in which they have appointed themselves as the official representatives of God Himself (including … the Holy Ghost !) Stipends from funerals and multiple Requiem Masses are solid sources of income. But the beliefs, rules and rituals the clergy promotes are all based on death and its imagined sequel, Heaven or Hell. Although many of the Almighty’s accredited guides to Heaven may themselves believe the rubbish they preach, they are just as much purveyors of nonsense as the amusing, entrepreneurial exorcist in the movie, who at least knows and admits he is a fraud.

RIDENDA RELIGIO

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