Blog: Op Ed: Scientology, Cannibalism, Sexuality, and Reza Aslan - 2017-03-21
Religious scholar and Scientology supporter Reza Aslan, for reasons of trite sensationalism on television, ate a piece of human brain on his CNN show Believer with Reza Aslan. This act of cannibalism on the banks of the Ganges with India's Aghori monks was followed by an Aghori cleric eating his own feces and hurling them at the fleeing Reza Aslan. This was both cowardice and contradiction on Aslan's part; for if Aslan can eat human brain then why can't he consume feces as well? After all, he seems intent on proving that he can transcend the boundaries of convention in order to find the truth. Like Jesus, Reza Aslan wants to associate with the outcasts. And yet he has limits and places he will stop. For this reason he could not eat feces or spend the night in a sacred cave in Hawaii due to something as inconsequential as his fear of drowning.
Aslan, a wannabe Anthony Bourdain, is no Bourdain. Not even close. Aslan lacks Bourdain's subtlety, intellect, sophistication, and screen presence. What Reza Aslan is doing on his CNN show is not sophisticated. Rather, what Aslan is doing is engaging in a weekly freak show during which, at the end of each episode, he affirms the intrinsic holiness of every religious path no matter how strange it is.
Thus, one can see the lazy formulaic mediocrity of Aslan's television show without much work: Reza Aslan espouses Universalism, the view that all paths lead to God — even if these paths involve cannibalism, hurling feces, or believing that a self-admitted narcissist in Hawaii named Jezus, a man who appears to be mentally ill, is the Messiah and prophet of the coming apocalypse. By embracing Universalism, Aslan can stage his televised freak show and reconcile demented cultic behavior to God at the conclusion of each episode. In doing so, Reza Aslan ultimately affirms nothing but his own inability to deal with serious criticisms of cults. Reza Aslan is a dilettante doing eminently forgettable throwaway television.