25 October 2011

Monty Python on religion

I somehow managed to be a Python fan for as long as I can remember and not have heard about this debate before. As a deeply religious person, I can't tell you how saddened I am by the way the two "offended" Christians, one of whom was Bishop of Southwark at the time, reacted to the movie and to the (quite sensible) arguments presented by Cleese and Palin. It is also amazing to see Palin in particular clearly frustrated and angry, and I can't blame him: In the same situation I'd have either gotten up and left or started to go for the jugular far more than Cleese and Palin did. It seems the good bishop and Mr. Muggeridge had nothing substantive to offer except cheap shots and feigned offense. The closing remark about thirty pieces of silver was blatant in just simply grandstanding and trying to play to the audience, which clearly had sided with the Pythons – and of course it didn't work because of how transparent and juvenile it was.

The truly most ironic moment was when Muggeridge claimed that Jesus had inspired the greatest art, while "Life of Brian" was the lowest form of art. I would actually agree with the first part of his statement – but also say that "Life of Brian" is some of the greatest art of its kind, a beautifully done satirical movie, one for the history books. Few if any remember Muggeridge, but "Life of Brian" is as popular and well-known as ever. And it carries Jesus' message in a way no other film or book has done, highlighting our flaws as human beings while encouraging us to think for ourselves and make an informed decision to follow Christ, rather than blind faith.

As many have said elsewhere, and as Palin said in the debate, if your faith is that easily offended and challenged by a movie, then it's not much of a faith. Not only that, I think "The Life of Brian" is actually a profoundly religious and insightful movie, in that it does not make fun of Christ one bit – it makes fun of the folly of some of His followers who think they have all the answers, something which Christ Himself criticized every time He ran into the Pharisees and Sadducees. In fact I would even suggest showing it as part of Confirmation class.