Is Faith A Legitimate Subject For Foolishness, Falsehood Or Fun?
A COMEDY OF CHRISTIANITY
It’s a strange paradox that at a time when so many people profess not to believe in God, religion appears to be a subject enjoyed by the masses in almost all forms of multi-media. To mention but a few examples, we’ve had the stage-shows Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell; the book The God Delusion (and counter-argument The Dawkins Delusion ); umpteen TV comedies from All Gas and Gaiters to the inimitable Vicar of Dibley, and the film Life of Brian. Now I hear that we’re to have a new film, Religulous, and that the producers unashamedly want to espouse the same anti-religious zeal which makes for best-selling status. The film, we’re told, ‘takes on the pieties of religion’.
Good for them! We don’t want too many pieties in society,
do we? Much better to have the profanity and violence of
gang-warfare, knife-crime, drugs and greed. And who, in their right
mind, would promote the cohesion of organised religion (the church)
which, for all its failings, continues to grow worldwide, when we
can have divorce, family breakdown and the broken society
identified by politicians? Actually, when it comes to taking on the
pieties of religion, few do so better than Adrian Plass, infamously
author of The
Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged
371/2 a spiritual parody of Sue
Townsend’s arguably more famous The Secret Diary of
Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2
SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION
What interests me about the works of the modern disseminators of anti-religion is the different forms they take. Richard Dawkins’s arguments, for example, strike me as being astonishingly fanatical and narrow-minded for a scientist. I thought science was all about exploration and thinking the unthinkable? Being sufficiently broad-minded, in fact, to wonder whether God might not have been clever enough to build carbon-datable millennia into his creation, just as he built age into the first man – who could easily, otherwise, have been no more than a sperm and an ovum, a foetus, or a baby! Then there’s the Vicar who is not the expected ‘man with a Bible, a beard and bad breath, but a babe with a bob-cut and a magnificent bosom’. In the Vicar of Dibley, the lovable Dawn French presents an entirely opposite point of view: warm and fuzzy and down-to-earth in a way that I can’t help feeling would please the parable-telling, mixing-with-sinners Jesus, no end. Who invented comedy, after all?
But there is a sinister side to all of this. The filmmakers, according to the report in the New York Times, deny that they pick on easy targets. Oh yeah? So why are there no films about Islam? Could it be that producers don’t want to attract the sort of fatwa which has dogged the heels of author Salmon Rushdie? Or is it that Christians simply turn the other cheek and don’t feel the need to defend their faith by such means? When asked about the taboo of making a film like this, Larry Charles brushed the question aside with the throwaway line that if it’s profitable, then it’s not taboo. Or at least, tabooishness doesn’t matter so much.
FOOLISHNESS OF GOD
Accused of targeting only extremists, star of the film, Bill Maher, defends the notion that all religion is extremist, by pointing to the concepts that God had a son, that he’s a single parent, that the son went on a suicide mission, and that Christians, worldwide, drink his blood on Sundays. Put like that, it does sound as crazy and ridiculous as he claims it to be. But isn’t that exactly what God himself says about faith? ‘Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should be a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.’
So, bring it on, say I. Because the more foolish and fun-poking
the book, film,
TV programme, the greater the audience. And if it keeps people talking about God, well then isn’t that an apposite demonstration of man’s wisdom being foolishness in God’s sight? Hang on a moment. I think I can hear him laughing at our puny efforts right now! What do you think?
Seriously, if you have a point of view on the subject – however controversial – then as long as it’s not abusive, I’d love to hear from you. Pass this on to your friends to see what they think, too.