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One of today's Maverick sessions was a candid conversation with Bill Maher and Larry Charles on their upcoming film Religulous.

The sold-out session began with clips from the film.  Thus, setting the stage for a very open conversation about religion, politics and the connection between the two.  Moderated by RTR programmer, Thom Powers, he began by asking why make this film?  Charles called it a "passion project," which turned out to be more ambitious than they thought.

To give us more background information, Maher and Charles shared some tidbits about their upbringing.  On the one hand, Charles grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood but his parents were secular.  Believe it or not, he wanted to be a rabbi when he was a teenager.  On the other hand, Maher grew up with a Catholic father and a Jewish mother.  He stated that as a child he never questioned why his mother wouldn't go to church on Sundays with the rest of the family.  In his view, "kids accept whatever happens to them;" without questioning much.  Interestingly enough, Maher described that through the making of this film, he has learned a lot more about his family.

In clips of the film, we see Maher and Charles travel to many places in the world looking for answers.  The footage of their travels is interspersed with clips from old Hollywood films based on biblical stories.  In the film, they focus on the "big three" religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  Charles pointed out that all three religions have an end time that coincides with the destruction of the world.  Maher commented that "religion is like a movie; it needs an ending."

The tone in the film may appear as purely comical to some; however, as someone in the audience mentioned, the humour is a kind of "smart humour."  Maher and Charles are trying to make the point that politics and religion have an overlap, especially in the United States.  Both make a point that there are contradictions that are not explained in all religions.  The movie is to make people think and question religion.  The idea is to ask "why?" and realise that is a question not many people have an answer to.

There is a lot to be said about this session.  Maher and Charles could have stayed another hour to discuss the topic longer.  It will be interesting to see the response to the film once it's released next year.  One thing that is certain, there will be plenty of debates generated by the film.

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