Screening Room: “Bacon & God’s Wrath”

Jun 22, 2016

By Joshua Rothman

Razie, the subject of Sol Friedman’s documentary “Bacon & God’s Wrath,” is a Jewish woman who’s about to turn ninety. She has also recently become an atheist and is about to try bacon for the first time. From that simple setup, surprises flow. Lying on a couch, like one of Freud’s analysands, Razie tells us about her strictly religious upbringing, which seems to have brought her little joy. As she describes how using the Internet led her to atheism (“Some of my most intimate thoughts and questions . . . were so common that the Google could anticipate it!”), a picture of her wry, inquisitive, unsentimental mind emerges. Something is at stake in her decision to try bacon: it’s a way of marking a transformation—of asserting that, even late in life, it’s possible to change. It’s also, one senses, a way of claiming independence from the fear of death that can haunt old age.


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21 comments on “Screening Room: “Bacon & God’s Wrath”

  • I do not understand the idea that religious faith is a consolation. How is one consoled by religion when one is in extremis? That seems to be the time one is most likely to see religious faith as a taunt. Bacon is definitely the better deal.



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  • Well done Razie.

    On a related subject I’ve organized a class action on behalf of the Porcine species. They are sick of being seen as evil and unclean. They want to be eaten along with the rest of the domestic livestock of the planet. They believe they’ve been the subject of bigoted animalism, and claim their rights to equality with all the other edible species.

    On a more serious note… Why did pigs get such a bad wrap on the three Judaic religions. They would have been a common beast 4000 years ago. They taste good. Relatively easy to catch… Did some religious nutter with a Porcine Phobia flip out, edit a few verses into the Torah and its good night bacon.



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  • @david

    You can use pigs for food or you can use them for sewage disposal. You can’t do both and stay healthy. Therefore, you got to stop doing one of them. The wrong answer, of course, is to ban eating them. At least, it’s wrong once you’ve invented the toilet.

    A simpler way, less inventiveness required, is to ban eating them. Then you can still shit anywhere and the pigs will clean it up.

    Not all cultures are equal.



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  • The ban on keeping pigs makes sense for a desert tribe.

    Goats and sheep crop the vegetation but pigs also use their cloven hoof to dig up the roots.
    This prevents the plant re-growing and results in desertification.

    Dosn’t apply in the west so enjoy your bacon butty.



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  • Imagine being 90, and all that time you’ve been denying yourself one of life’s true pleasures and why? because of some stupid archaic arbitration by person or persons long since dead???
    I am currently into bacon & egg with Brussels pate and butter on thick toast……Marvellous!



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  • North Africans have a healthy fear of wild boar that live in the scrub brush and forests there. The boar are responsible for a few deaths a year due to people wandering into their territory unaware of the boar’s presence just nearby. Those things charge without warning. This must be terrifying to the locals and I can see why a ban on eating these and a directive to avoid them at all costs must have been a good idea. They are frightening to look at with those tusks and I’m told that they grow to a large threatening size. They are considered to be a fearsome, aggressive and filthy beast. They are spoken of in hushed tones as one would use for snakes and scorpions there. The old ladies love to scare children with these old stories of near death experiences due to these creatures. Also, calling someone a snake (hanish) or a pig (haloof) is a strong insult, as it is for us as well.



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  • Aye, but wild boars are no match for men with spears, thus they were hunted out of existence in Britain and northern Europe by the end of the dark ages. Roast pork spitted over an open fire is still very popular today! So why are modern people still stuck in the dark ages then?



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  • M27Holtz

    So why are modern people still stuck in the dark ages then?

    Big question there. Read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and then S. Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature. It’s a start.



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  • Read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and then S. Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature.

    I have.
    But you don’t need germs, guns or steel to kill wild boars. They have the tools.
    so why be scared?

    and anyway – these people units who still follow archaic edicts from the monotheistic delusions….and live in modern societies? Why?



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  • 12
    Pinball1970 says:

    @David-r-allen

    “Why did pigs get such a bad wrap on the three Judaic religions”

    There may have issues with Trichinella poisoning that you would not have had so much with goats and lambs.
    Also pork is supposed to smell and taste like human meat – cooked that is.
    We know there was some nasty practice going on primitive 7thC BCE tribal middle east at the time the Torah was supposed to be written. Guilty pleasure? Or just trying to stay alive?
    A great little piece by Hitch on youtube called, “why heaven hates ham,”that gives some insight on this.
    Taken from God is not Great.



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  • M27Holtz

    But you don’t need germs, guns or steel to kill wild boars. They have the tools.
    so why be scared?

    We have a discrepancy here in our risk analysis regarding wild boars. They have the tools? What tools? Knives? Sticks? Traps?

    If I was assigned the task of killing a wild boar I’d have an immediate anxiety breakdown. Then I’d employ all means of killing the thing with what’s listed above. Big guns (even though I have no idea how to shoot one and don’t want to learn.), infection, poison, steel traps, fire and any other tool I could think of and obtain. Will I be alive at the end of the day? Unknown. I’m not optimistic. But I’m a bookish arty suburban mom and for all I know you’re a special ops James Bond clone with a lifetime of experience in dispatching murderous snarling predators with the flick of the wrist. 😉

    I’ve decided to use poison. I’ll just bet that it’s the favorite murder tactic chosen by women historically. Slower to be sure but I can keep my distance. I will figure out what boars like to eat and obtain some of it. I’ll get some cyanide and lace the food item with it. Where would one get cyanide these days? Ugh. This is turning out to be more of a hassle than I’d imagined.

    For a good read on the art of poisoning get the book The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum.

    Disclaimer: I am NOT recommending poisoning as an acceptable behavior. It is a criminal act. 🙁 But I AM recommending that we learn about poisoning and it’s role in our history and the chemistry behind it is actually quite interesting. 🙂



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  • 15
    Michael says:

    I wouldn’t poison anything I was going to ear. And I’ve made wild boa r ragu and it was good! I think I’d make a huge box trap and bait it with somebody annoying – a rope around the ankle). Haha just kidding! Would be interesting to see if I could figure out how to kill a wild boar with no modern tools, a LA Naked and Afraid. It’d be worth it. One boar would last awhile. I did see Naked and Afraid once with a self described highly intelligent geek on it. He did it alone and managed also to appreciate his surroundings as well. But why are highly intelligent people seemingly unable to apply it to practical matters – like survival at a level above catching bugs and snakes and digging for grubs? And why did the Mormon do so well -“besting the electric eels and then sharing with the competing, starving alt- everything group? While the “pantheists” strategy seemed to be to be to spend as little energy as possible and simply hope to endure? Disappointing, even though they squeaked by for the win. I always hope to see superior intelligence succeed handily over Nature. Never seems to happen.

    Back to bacon – I have a friend who’s never eaten bacon, for religious reasons. I think I will make it my goal to convert him. Atheism can wait. Perhaps bacon can be the bridge to atheism? Once a believer learns they can trust you about the glorious Ness of bacon. It will be easier for them to trust you on atheism!

    Colin Farrell is proof a benevolent God exists. The fact that Colin Farrell is not my boyfriend is proof God is cruel.



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  • Michael #15
    Jun 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Would be interesting to see if I could figure out how to kill a wild boar with no modern tools, a LA Naked and Afraid. It’d be worth it. One boar would last awhile.

    While hunter gatherers probably did hunt wild boar, pork and bacon has been available from domesticated pigs for thousands of years!

    http://www.livescience.com/39196-hunter-gatherers-ate-bacon.html
    Ancient Humans Dined on Bacon from Weird, Spotted Pigs
    About 6,600 years ago the Ertebølle Mesolithic hunter-gatherers acquired domesticated pigs whose black-spotted coat might have looked similar to that of this modern-day Bentheimer pig.

    Ancient hunter-gatherers in Europe, whose meat intake was once limited to wild game, may have enjoyed bacon, ham, pork chops and other tasty bites from pigs they owned starting about 7,000 years ago, researchers say.

    The new findings suggest these hunter-gatherers had domesticated pigs about 500 years earlier than previously thought, yielding new insights into the movements and interactions of prehistoric humans and the exchange of technologies and knowledge, scientists said.



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  • Michael

    But why are highly intelligent people seemingly unable to apply it to practical matters

    Perhaps we’re just not putting them to the test because it’s neither practical nor efficient to do so. I’m always amazed to see the direct results of what young men with maximum muscle mass can accomplish when they combine forces in common cause. But for complex problems and challenges we really need the brainy brains to give it all they’ve got. They can take on a critical analysis that is far reaching in scope and create a multivalent approach that can deliver the best results. Sending our intellectuals out into the jungle to kill wild animals is a waste of superior brain power. Still, as an experiment, I’d be interested to watch and see how they would handle the basics of staying alive in a hostile environment. There’s another winning TV show! Probably been done already.



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  • @#16 – Ancient hunter-gatherers in Europe, whose meat intake was once limited to wild game, may have enjoyed bacon, ham, pork chops and other tasty bites from pigs they owned starting about 7,000 years ago, researchers say.

    I’m not sure about when the Bible claimed pigs were “unclean”, but around this time old Yahweh (El/ Anu/ Elkunirsa ) was knocking around with his wife Asherah (“Queen of Heaven” in the Hebrew Bible), Baal and other Canaanite polytheist gods! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah#In_Israel_and_Judah
    William Dever’s book Did God Have a Wife? adduces further archaeological evidence—for instance, the many female figurines unearthed in ancient Israel, (known as Pillar-Base Figurines)—as supporting the view that in Israelite folk religion of the monarchal period, Asherah functioned as a goddess and consort of Yahweh and was worshiped as the Queen of Heaven, for whose festival the Hebrews baked small cakes.

    Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 BC, polytheism was normal throughout Israel;[10] it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews



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  • Isn’t there a fair bit of snobbery in any human who declares that they WON”T eat an item that is considered to be perfectly fair game to others? “I’m/we’re too special to eat that. It’s for you inferior outsiders but not for us.”

    One thing I learned right away when I lived in NAfrica for some years. You will be surprised what you will eat when you get hungry enough. 🙁 Oh yes. I’ve eaten things that I didn’t consider to be human food. I’ve cooked with flour infested with disgusting little mealy worms. Yuck. No choice.

    So I wonder what it would take for these pious religious types to face the fact that most of the world’s population of humans will just sit around munching on pork meat while they sit there starving to death because their cruel asshole of a God might get mad at them if they partake in the feast of a basic food that could keep them alive.

    How long would they hold out in starvation mode before they gagged down the ham sandwich?

    hahahah. Ahhh, the delightful cruelty of experimental psychology. heeheehee…
    And now on to another thread where I will present myself as a model of ethics and humanism.

    😀



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  • 20
    Michael says:

    Alan, I did not know that. I found it interesting but discouraging because it means the road to atheism cannot be paved with bacon converts. Oh well, I’ll have to come up with something else.



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  • I can’t remember where or when I was told, but I’ve always considered the pigs-are-unclean thing as being related to tapeworm infestations. I guess “don’t eat pigs you’ll get sick” didn’t carry as much weight as “Jahweh says don’t eat pigs”. Without refrigeration, eating shellfish can also be tricky if you don’t eat them freshly caught, and keeping meat and dairy foods well apart is also sensible. The original motivation behind these prohibitions may not have been as arbitrary as they seem now, in our ultra-hygienic refrigerated western world.



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