Movies and Naturalism

August 7, 2009

I’ve seen three sci-fi movies in the last year or so that blend naturalism with spirituality.

Naturalism is basically the idea that all that exists is the physical (natural) world. Naturalism has implications for ethics, religion, international relations and a whole lot of other things.

Spirituality can refer to a number of things based on the context, but for our purposes, I mean it in a generic religious sense. Bland spirituality usually admits to being somewhat ignorant about who or what the higher power is. We feel like there is more to this world than meets the eye, but what that ‘more’ is we don’t know. It’s probably god or something like that, but who really knows?

Contact is the first movie I have in mind that blends naturalism with spirituality. It leans more toward the scientific naturalism side than the spiritual. It’s an odd thing, but atheist scientists sometimes report having religious-like experiences during their scientific pursuits. Elie has such an experience in the face of overwhelming beauty. By the end of the movie we discover that there are in fact higher beings, but they turn out to be aliens. Well, we knew that all along. But, what we discover is that there is no god. Life is hopelessly lonely, but at least we have each other. There is something more out there. The something more is us.

The second movie to blend naturalism with spirituality is the fourth installment of Indiana Jones. Prior to the fourth movie, you get the impression that religion is taken somewhat seriously. The trilogy embraces the stories of various religions. There are spiritual powers at work in the world and the relics that Jones is after are links between us and the spiritual world. But in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we find out that the higher powers aren’t really spiritual at all; they’re aliens. Who saw that coming? It might have been one of the most disappointing endings ever! Yet, the academic influences in our culture take aliens seriously, at least in principle. Some have actually suggested that life on our planet got started through alien ‘seed.’ If there are higher powers in the universe then these powers are advanced life-forms from far away galaxies. Jones stumbled upon the truth that our culture embraces. There is no god that exists beyond our universe. It’s just us and some smarty pants aliens.

The third movie that blends naturalism and spirituality is Knowing. This movie is a little more intricate than the other three but I think it solidifies the idea that our culture likes to reach out for something more but has to admit that the something more can be nothing better than aliens. Christianity is the religion of choice in Knowing. John’s parents are Christian, and the God that he is mad at is the Christian God. The visual images are biblical (the picture that John sees on the wall of the cabin is the same one that Caleb is coloring; they’re images from the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament).

When John is finally convinced that the prediction of the end of the world will come true he calls his Dad. Turns out that John is now ready to take the bible seriously. He tells his Dad that he believes the part of the bible that says some people have the gift of prophecy. He even embraces the fact that there is life beyond the grave; a tidbit that he struggles with throughout most of the movie. But who turns out to be behind the mystical stories of the bible and the recent gifts of prophecy? Aliens. But not just any aliens, ones that look like angles. That’s right folks all those angelic appearances turn out to be alien encounters.

So what have we seen here? You’ll notice that many in the academic world reject the idea that there is some kind of god beyond our universe. Yet those same academics and scientists have religious-like experiences while working on their projects. Like the scientists, we all seem to long for something bigger than ourselves. Hollywood knows we long for something more, I think they do too. They give us movie after movie that explores the deeper issues of life. One of the ideas that is taken seriously is naturalism. If naturalism is true then religion can’t be. If religion is not true then we need to explain how it came about. These movies try to answer that question. Religion came about through our longing for something more. Religion came about through alien encounters with a select few. However it happened, religion certainly can’t be true, because naturalism is. If god doesn’t exist then the only other possibility for higher beings is aliens.

Sorry to spoil the ending for you.

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Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

~ C.S. Lewis

I’ve found the last few days to be spiritually and intellectually draining. Quite honestly, I’ve been spending too much time reading blogs and Youtube comments. I’ve been desperate for something with some intellectual zing to it, so I decided to rip open a bag of chocolate and listen to Ravi Zacharias for a bit.

You’ll notice by some of the content on this blog that I like to engage the philosophy that we find in pop-culture. I’ve noticed for a long time that sit-coms, Top 40 Albums and movies are vehicles for philosophical ideas. Philosophy seems to be hidden in plain sight all over the place. But, I’ve been fearing that maybe I’m just too nit-picky. Maybe I’m just projecting philosophy on to these creations of low art. Maybe a song is just a song and a movie is just a movie. To my surprise, Ravi made the claim that:

“When you turn on the radio and listen to a country music song, or listen to any new age movement song, or even a popular song, you can be sure it is a lifestyle and a worldview that is coming through the airwaves there.”

I’m glad to find agreement from such a careful thinker that philosophy does not only come at the academic level. It also comes at the level of drama, literature and music.  He also offers a third level of philosophy which is kitchen table talk. So, we have logic and theory, experience and feeling, as well as practice.

I think there is another way of illustrating these three levels. At the academic level somebody, somewhere writes down their philosophical ideas. At the level of drama and experience, a song or script writer who is familiar with these ideas works them into their art. Finally, the video makes it to Youtube and people leave their opinions regarding the issue in the comment box.

Unfortunately, very few people at the kitchen table are prepared to think about the things they opine about. Lots of things feel right to us when we first hear about them, but we should be careful to think much deeper about things.

Ravi’s talk was pretty encouraging and you should take a few minutes to listen to it.

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You may have noticed all the attention that the above mentioned blog post got a few days ago. I want to respond to it because I hear these sorts of reasons for rejecting Christianity all the time. I’d like to know what you think about what I say, so please leave some comments if you are so inclined.

I feel bad for people who write articles, songs, or blogs like this because they tout themselves as being so rational and thoughtful but as you’ll see in a moment, they make blunders that prove they haven’t really thought things through very well. I gave you the link to this blog post in my opening sentence. I can only quote bits and pieces, but I encourage you to look at it in it’s entirety.

Here are some points from the “Top 20 List” of the things that led to my rejection of Christianity.

A Few Things We Know We Don’t Know

Here is his first major blunder. In point #9 he says

“The authors of much of the Bible are unknown. And of these unknown authors, the men who wrote the gospels likely never even met Jesus considering they were written 40-70 years after his death. A far cry from reliable testimony.”

The first mistake is that he says the authors are unknown, and then he tells all sorts of stuff about these authors that we know nothing about! He knows that 1) they are men, 2) they never met Jesus, 3) the approximate date that they wrote their letters, etc.

Now which is it, do we know something about them or not? As you can see, his argument refutes itself. He puts all his money on the fact that we don’t know anything about these authors, and then he gives us a list of things that we know about them. On the one hand, 2000 years of Christians know nothing, but somehow this obscure blog writer knows these historical details. It is certainly worth asking ourselves why we should be listening to this blog writer. How does he know that people who claimed to know Jesus never really knew him?

A Conspiracy Behind Every Interpretation? Even This One?

Here is his second major blunder. Many of his 20 points are objections to the stuff we find in the Bible – God killing people, sending them to hell, etc. Basically, he sits down, reads the Bible, comes to a conclusion about what it means and then objects to it. He is doing the job of interpretation. So far so good. Then he makes a mistake that is fatal to his argument. In point #11 he claims that

“The Bible is open to interpretation. Everyone interprets it in the way that suits them best or serves their purposes.”

So now he has just admitted that he interpreted the Bible in a way that suits his own purpose of leaving Christianity! Once again his own argument can be used against him.

There are two types of people in this world – Christians, nonChristians and me.

You’ll notice that several of his points deal with the way that Christians seem to act in evil ways. He lists all of our horrific acts and hypocritical sins – promotion of hatred and persecution, theft, lying and molestation of young children. Ok, fine. But then!!! He actually says,

“Christians are not at all ethically or morally different from non-Christians.”

What??? He has admitted that there are two types of people in this world – Christians and non-Christians (or perhaps, religious people and non-religious people). Then he shows how bad Christians are, and admits that non-Christians are no better. Where does this leave himself? He has just admitted that evil Christians are not at all ethically different than himself! Did he really want to admit this?

Once again, his own argument is used against himself! Look, I didn’t write this stuff because I wanted to be mean. But this guy clearly didn’t think things through before he put finger to keyboard. I can tell by most of his 20 points that he lacks understanding as to what Christianity is. Apparently, nobody has been able to explain it to him very well (or maybe they did and he wasn’t willing to listen).

The first several points that he deals with criticize the sorts of things that we see God doing as recorded in the Bible. I won’t comment on those points. But notice that he’s basically saying, “I don’t know why God does this stuff, it doesn’t make sense, so I’m outta here!”

This is what worries me though. Why couldn’t his church/family teach him good, authentic, healthy Christianity? Why is he so theologically dull that he can’t even answer some of his own objections? What has happened to the Church that people walk away from Christianity never having even known the basics? How did we become such a cultural embarrassment? I have some of my own answers to these questions. Most of all, I think that Christians have adopted a philosophy that belongs to somebody else.

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

~ C.S. Lewis

851310_62029335At some point in the last few years, I’ve had a revolution in movie watching. I no longer watch movies merely for entertainment. I still find movies entertaining, but now I watch them with different intentions.

Typically, entertainment seems to be a mindless enjoyment of movies or music. But I’ve discovered that it can be so much more.

The first step for good movie watching is to look for the worldview of the story.

Without going into too much detail, worldviews are basically the collections of beliefs or ideas that we hold to, through which we look at and understand the world around us. Worldviews deal with big ideas like God, human nature, good and evil, justice, and the ‘afterlife.’ They also deal with a whole lot more and, like anything else, can be true or false.

What sort of worldview do your favorite movies have? Many movies offer themselves up as critiques of religion, but what sort of a framework are they working from? Script writers have views about the world too, and they often have a sneaky way of working them into the movie. You’ll notice, for example, that superhero movies are loaded with claims about human nature, good and evil, and sometimes even justice.

Once you identify the views that are being promoted in the movie (or novel, song or sitcom for that matter) you can begin to ask yourself why the artist thinks that the world is this way and how valid the view really is.

When you find a movie that you really enjoy, you’re probably going to watch it multiple times. I can almost guarantee that if you think more carefully about the worldviews being promoted that you will enjoy it even more every time you watch it.

A bigger TV doesn’t really mean that life is any better.

~ Anonymous

I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a monk, or a hermit, or just unplugging everything and heaving it into a huge pit. Sometimes I dream about living in medieval times or ancient Greece or in the very first civilization. I guess I’m just a little disillusioned or something.

A lot of bands that I have been listening to recently sing about the many failures of our society, in spite of our technological progress. This is a theme worth thinking about. My mp3 player is so small that I lose it in my pocket, yet I’m a moral failure. What gives?

All my life I’ve heard about the promise of technology. Science is so great because of all the good stuff it gives us. You know; vaccinations, space travel, endless hours of television, nuclear bombs, all that great stuff. Look, I’m not Amish or anything (though I do think they’re on to something), I’m just not sure that our culture is wise enough to handle all the crap we’re inventing.

Last semester I had to read a book called Canticle For Leibowitz, which I highly recommend. Part way through a pretty serious question is posed. Looking back on a nuclear war that destroyed global civilization, a scholar of science asks,

How can a great and wise civilization have destroyed itself so completely?

Then comes the reply,

Perhaps by being materially great and materially wise and nothing else.

In terms of technology, this culture that destroyed itself had everything we dream of and more. But they couldn’t act like decent human beings. Instead, they destroyed each other. Now, I don’t think that we’re in for a nuclear holocaust anytime soon (though it wouldn’t really surprise me). I just think that our technological ‘advances’ are blinding us to our shortcomings. Our cell phones are getting smaller our TV’s are getting bigger and we are…well, what are we doing?

We’re wise when it comes to technology. We can nuke a city with pin point accuracy and we’re getting better at giving clean abortions. But are we wise in other ways? I’ll leave that for you to think about, you know where I’m going with this.

Bad Religion – 21st Century Digital Boy

Whatever…

May 24, 2009

There is a passage in the Bible that I like to avoid.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

I suppose it’s not so much that I want to avoid it, as much as it is that I know that I let Paul down on this. I know that the things that I think about should be held to these standards, but I dwell on a lot of stuff that really misses the mark. Of course, I justify it by saying that I am critiquing the messages of low art. But who am I kidding? I love the art that I critique!

I know I’m going to have to give an account to Paul one day regarding the things that I think about. I’m not sure how true the lyrics of Bad Religion are. I’m not sure how honourable Seinfeld is. I’m not sure how just 24 is, or how pure The Office is. I’ve thought about some lovely art that I’ve seen. I’ve contemplated the excellence of some musicians I’ve heard. I think about the stuff that Tolkien and Lewis write, and they’re worthy of praise.

So I’m caught in a tough place. I’m a Christian who has standards to live up to (standards that were set by people who willingly gave their lives for me). I’m a Christian who enjoyed a lot of not so excellent things before he became a Christian. I’m a Christian who is trying to understand the world that he lives in.

I don’t think that Christians have an obligation to interact with pop culture. However, I don’t think that all of us should ignore it either. If you can bring yourself to tolerate it, then some intelligent interaction is a good thing I think. I long for the day that I can enjoy things in purity, without going overboard. Until then, I want to understand my culture. I think our culture has many redeemable aspects. Unfortunately, I also think that our culture has many false gods, all the while ignoring the true God.

Bottom line is, I think Christians need to be careful with the things that entertain them. After all, entertainment is rarely ever mere entertainment. There is always a message buried right below the surface. When you don’t notice the message, it is probably because you are living the message out in day to day life. Once you realize what the message is, you can critique it and be careful of it. Maybe it’s a message worth embracing.

I think that we can be thoughtful of things that aren’t true as long as we reflect on them in truth. After all, God is quite familiar with impurity, even though he himself is pure.

There are probably a few downloads that should be deleted from your hard drive. But the ones that we decide to keep ought to be thought about in truth, honour, justice, purity, loveliness, commend-ability, excellence, and praiseworthiness.

We don’t always get it all right.

~ Rodney Atkins

I unashamedly love America. I love their cities. I love their gas stations. I love their geography. I even love their Presidents that I don’t like. Yet, there is something deeply disturbing about America.

A few years back I heard a song by The Offspring called Americana. It opens with this invitation:

Well, I�d like to tell you all about my dream, it�s a place
Where strip malls abound and diversion�s mere moments away
Where culture�s defined by the ones least refined
And you�ll be left behind if you don�t fit in
It�s all distorted in americana, my way

Well, I’d like to tell you all about my dream, it’s a place

Where strip malls abound and diversion’s mere moments away

Where culture’s defined by the ones least refined

And you’ll be left behind if you don’t fit in

It’s all distorted in Americana, my way

You don’t have to be a sociologist to realize that America is a little messed up. In fact, it’s probably easier to see this if you’re not a sociologist. Just having a little fun.

If we listen carefully, I think this song is a warning to America and Western Culture as a whole. This isn’t the sort of song that you can just listen to for fun. The message is clear. America, you are messed up. This song reminds us of the way things ought to be, or at least the way they ought not be. It provokes both thought and emotion.

Check out the lyrics to Americana. By the end of the song it actually feels like we’ve been somewhere. Our eyes have been opened. We’ve seen Americana as it really is. We’re given an invitation to listen to the American dream, and we’re reminded all the way through that it has already come true. I think that what we have to hear in this song is that America was built on a bad foundation. Something about the American dream itself has lead to America’s downfall.

Each verse identifies a problem. Diversion, appetite and profit. Americana can’t sit still, can’t think straight, and must have everything that it needs least, right now. Those who do manage to demonstrate self-control, do it in the name of profit. Americana is defined and determined by those who should never have been allowed to lead.

I can’t help but see some truth in this song, and I think we ought to heed its warning.

Now, America may be failing, but it hasn’t failed yet. Many Americans may be slipping into a vacuum of self-obsession and meaninglessness, but there are many who are not. A pretty cool song came on the radio the other day that reminded me of a very different America. For all the nonsense and corruption, there is still something very good about America.

Rodney Atkins’ It’s America reminds me of all the really cool people I have met on road trips south of the border. It reminds me of all the little towns I’ve driven through and all the parking lots I have slept in. It reminds me of my wife striking up conversations with strangers and picking up their southern accents! It sings of all the good that is America; Kids who have a hope for the future, selflessness in the face of destruction, joyful reunions.

It’s true that America doesn’t always have it all right. But I think there is still hope for them. We’d all do well to take heed and consider the ideas that have taken hold in Western Culture. One of my goals with this blog is to explore the roots of decay in western culture. According to some people, America is on the verge of collapse. Perhaps we ought to give this some thought.

The Offspring – Americana

Rodney Atkins – It’s America

Art for the Congo

May 20, 2009

Who Wants Peace Prepares for War

~ a saying in eastern Congo

I am constantly reminded of war. I live in a house along the landing path of a military base. I look up in awe as hulking machines of war fly overhead. I pause my conversation because nobody can hear my words. The dishes rattle, the ground quakes. The plane lands. The conversation resumes.

I have no fear of war being fought in my country. I have no fear of my children being drafted into war. But in our state-of-the-art world of progress and achievement, some still fear war. I can’t even fathom it. I really can’t. I’m sure they’re lying, but I don’t know why. Apparently, there are little kids being forced to fight wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Seriously, I don’t even know what to say.

Thankfully, there are some people who know what to say. I discovered a really cool video/blog/website/group of artists/thingy that I’d love for you to check out.

I used to be part of a really cool sub-culture. I played in a hardcore band and met a lot of neat people along the way. There was a festival that we used to frequent called The Cornerstone Festival. There were tonnes of grass roots ‘organizations’ that would meet up there every year. I learned so much about pro-life ideas and underground ministry from them. I’m a little bummed out that I haven’t been able to make it over the last few years.

So many people turn away from Christianity because they are dismayed at self-centered Christian culture. Yet, right below the surface there is a whole world of Christians who are changing the world. I’m not sure if I should call them counter-cultural or sub-cultural or something else. One thing I do know, they are truly lights to the world. They walk into dark alleys and into the middle of wars, armed with nothing but guts and prayer.

Please, spend some time thinking about the sickening darkness of this world. If you are a Christian, please do something.

Check out the Discover the Journey Blog.

I am so smrt.

May 18, 2009

“Why can’t people just say it? Why do they have to spend 350 pages beating around the bush, labouring over tedious details? Just say it in English!!!!” This is a rant my wife has had to endure many times. We both just graduated from university. For the last four years we have been studying philosophy and theology, among other subjects. While the people who wrote the books that we had to read are obviously pretty smart, they don’t always know how to communicate well. In my mind, the ability to write 400 pages of convolution is not a virtue.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the link between the academic world and the average Joe. Academic people are usually pretty smart. But generally speaking, they don’t make themselves understandable to the average Joe. There are probably many reasons for this. For one thing, the average Joe doesn’t always do his or her part in trying to understand. However, it can be pretty difficult to understand most subjects when you are new to them. There seems to be a lack of people who are trying to help the average Joe to understand what is going on in the academic world.

There seems to be a vast separation of the academic world from the rest of the world. Really, we’re speaking two different languages and there aren’t many interpreters out there. Yet somehow, the ideas of the academic world do filter down to the average Joe. Unfortunately it usually happens in disguised forms such as literature, music, or other forms of art and entertainment. Eventually, the average Joe does end up in sync with the academic world, it’s just that nobody really understands.

I’m not a fan of too many sitcoms, but they do give us an interesting glimpse into our culture. I’ll confess that I’m not a fan of The Big Bang Theory. However, the first clip that I ever saw was pretty funny and illustrates a bit of the gap that I am talking about.

What annoys me about this is that the average Joe knows exactly what those questions mean. There is nothing vague about them. But the ‘genius’ has been cooped up in his laboratory for so long that he can’t even comprehend simple concepts such as ‘a car length’ anymore. Now, don’t just tell me to lighten up because it’s supposed to be funny. I know it’s funny. It’s funny because people are really like this!

Contrary to academic belief, there is more to life than definitions, definitions of definitions and objections to definitions of definitions. You can know everything there is to learn about neurons, but if you’ve forgotten how to interact with the people who your knowledge is supposed to be benefiting, then there is a whole dimension of life that you are missing out on. Namely, human interaction.

This piece of low art has a lesson to teach us. Smart people often know a lot of brute facts, but often lack understanding. Sometimes they know everything there is to know about one thing and nothing about anything else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not slamming education. I am saying that you need to master more than just one subject to make it in this life. I wish that instead of pursuing ‘brute facts’ and technological advances, people would pursue wisdom. I wish that smart people were better communicators to the average Joe.

Having ranted for over 500 words, let me just say that most of our professors at Tyndale University did a pretty good job at helping us to understand tough issues. Amazingly, having graduated from Tyndale, I have no problem having a conversation with the lady at the DMV office. I also have much less of a problem understanding really long philosophy books. Thanks profs!

Jerry enters his apartment carrying a bag of groceries. As soon as Jerry closes
the door, we hear Kramer’s door open and close. That moment, Kramer walks in.
Kramer: Hey, Jerry? You’re a smart guy, right?
Jerry: No question about it.
Kramer: Alright, you know I’m supposed to go on this special tour today with
George’s girlfriend.
Jerry: At the zoo?
Kramer: Yeah, but before I met up with her, I stopped to look at the monkeys,
when all of a sudden I am hit in the face with a banana peel. I turn and look
and there is this monkey really laughing it up. Then someone tells me that he
did it. Well, I pick up the banana peel and I wait for that monkey to turn
around. And then I *whap* let him have it.
Jerry: Kramer, you threw a banana peel at a monkey?
Kramer: Well, he started it!
Jerry: It’s a monkey, Kramer!
Kramer: Well, he pushed my buttons, I couldn’t help it, Jerry.
Jerry: Well, I still think it’s wrong.
Kramer: Alright, alright, fine. You take the monkey’s side, alright, go ahead.
Jerry: I’m not taking anyone’s side.
Kramer (walking out): Cause I know what happened, Jerry.

Good manners are the glue of society.

~ Cosmo Kramer

Every now and then, I like to indulge in a box of Kraft Dinner and an episode of Seinfeld. I’m not quite sure what Seinfeld is supposed to be. In one way, it seems to be a reflection of our culture. Sort of like a summing up or logical conclusion of the ideas that American culture lives by. I don’t think that it’s really a critique of American culture. However, it is, in some sense, an instance of America laughing at itself. Whatever Seinfeld actually is, it’s not nothing.

Do you recall the episode of Kramer’s encounter with the monkey? Kramer gets a banana peal thrown at him by a monkey. So he throws it back. Sounds fair. But then the zoo keeper tells Kramer to apologize. Apologize to a monkey? That’s right, the poor monkey’s feelings were hurt. Only in western civilization are humans held accountable to monkeys. Oh I know, I exaggerate. They’re held accountable to monkey’s on Planet of the Apes too.

The point is, the monkey can dish it out, but he can’t take it back. But Mr. Kramer, he’s an innocent primate! So am I, says Kramer. He’s got us there. This isn’t a case of animal abuse. After all, it’s just a banana peal. No, there is something a little deeper going on here.Why can’t the monkey handle a two-way exchange?

I think we can draw a parallel between Kramer’s encounter with the monkey and the Western obsession with tolerance. Tolerance used to mean putting up with people and ideas that you disagree with. Now it has come to mean accepting and endorsing people and ideas that you disagree with. There are certain people in our culture that you’re just not aloud to disagree with.

Some people like to force their ideas on other people but can’t handle it when those people want to express their disagreement. Just listen to people spout off about homosexuality or abortion. Pretty important things to talk about, right? Then why is it that people who express their opinions about same sex marriage are finding themselves being hauled before the courts and told to shut up? Because they won’t be tolerant. They won’t accept certain ideas, so they are silenced. Some people can’t handle having people disagree with them.

The monkey threw a banana peal and Kramer responded by throwing it back. The poor little primate got his feelings hurt. People throw ideas into the public square all the time. But, when the response comes, they can’t handle it. They get their feelings hurt, so they call the zoo keeper.

Look, I realize the parallels aren’t exact. But, do we really have to call the zoo keeper every time somebody disagrees with us? If we live in democracies that allow us to speak our minds and influence each other, do we really need to call the police when somebody won’t agree with us? If you can’t handle a fair exchange of ideas then, please, keep your banana peals to yourself.

The Story

Kramer in the office at the zoo.

Kramer: So, uh, what did you want to see me about?

Mr. Pless: Well, Mr. Kramer, to get right to it, we’re having a bit of a problem with Barry.

Kramer: Barry?

Mr. Pless: The chimpanzee.

Kramer: Oh. Well, uh, what’s the problem?

Mr. Pless: Well, he’s not functioning the way he normally does. He seems depressed. He’s lost his appetite. He’s even curtailed his autoerotic activities. And we think this is directly related to the altercation he had with you the other day.

Kramer: So, so what do you want me to do?

Mr. Pless: Well, frankly we’d like you to apologize.

Kramer: Yeah, well he started it.

Mr. Pless: Mr. Kramer, he is an innocent primate.

Kramer: So am I. What about my feelings? Don’t my feelings count for anything? Oh, only the poor monkey’s important. Everything has to be done for the monkey!

The Apology