UK church to show Monty Python’s religious satire ‘Life of Brian’
Published time: 29 May, 2016 04:27
A UK church plans to show the Monty Python film which was either banned or X-rated by 39 of Britain’s localities back in 1979. While back then it was considered “blasphemous” many in now seem to stand in favor of the “new age” move, RT’s Polly Boiko reports.
“I don’t think it’s anti-Christian at all... It does poke some fun at aspects of the church or ways in which the church can develop and, well, we laugh at it. Jesus talked about people swallow a camel and strain out on that which is really Python humor and I suspect it’s a bit along those lines, really,” 56-year-old Father Christopher Wilson of the All Saints' Parish Church told Boiko.
The idea came to Wilson when he decided to attract a new audience to his church, to help with donations for necessary building repair works, and decided to indulge a spot of counter-programing.
The plot of the spoof film closely mirrors major events in the New Testament, including the Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion, but places a hapless protagonist Brian – who is mistakenly thought to be the messiah by the gullible masses – in place of Jesus.
By showcasing the movie the vicar hopes to break the myth of those people who view the church a “distant” place, he said.
“I think what we’re doing is breaking a taboo, breaking down a barrier…That’s a good thing really because a lot of people see the church as a bit distant and a bit stand-off-ish and even if they have spirituality within them they don’t always look to the church as being the place to express that and we need to grade that down…you know, we laugh at the same sort of things,” Wilson told Boiko.
“We would like to meet people in the town and we would like them to understand that the Parish church is there for them as well.”
The opinions of the church’s visitors somewhat echo that of Wilson. Many say that the comedy is in no way blasphemous and it is “not an issue” at all to show it in the church headquarters.
“I’m absolutely delighted that this is happening,” one visitor told RT.
“I’m not outraged but I’m surprised that this particular film is being shown in a church. At the time it was very controversial because it’s all about Christ and it’s very reverent but they don’t seem to mind…” said another.
“I don’t think it’s really is an issue today,” explained a third visitor. “They were just misunderstood at the time. I don’t think anyone is concerned about it now.”
The vicar also said that his decision to show the comedy did not cause much of an outrage.
“I have had one letter of complaint, two emails of complaint and somebody has put a comment on Facebook. I’ve also had overwhelming support from all sorts of people. So for the vast majority of people it is not an issue at all,” Wilson said.
But not everyone is going along with the maverick Church of England vicar. An activist in front of the church told RT’s Polly Boiko that he came there to convince people that the “might either stop going in or think of what they are doing and think of it as mockery.”
“I know they need a lot of money for the church,” he said, criticizing the vicar’s choice. “But I think if you really know God and your worship God, and should fill your church by preaching the true gospel.”
“Why on earth would a church be an appropriate venue to show an essentially anti-Christian film that is offensive to the Christian faith? I support freedom of speech and people's rights to view certain films, but why not screen it in a cinema?” John Ascott from Leamington Spa told the Telegraph. “There must be better ways to encourage people to attend church than to show a film which is, in essence, making fun of the entire Christian faith and story of Jesus.”
The screening, which is penciled in for next month, will happen alongside a concert in which an organist will play Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Vicar in a Tutu by The Smiths, and Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, together other songs that have attracted censure from the church.
There will also be an impromptu bar serving alcohol.
The worldwide controversy unleashed by life of Brian 37 years ago, would easily put recent brouhaha over Innocence of Muslims in the shade, and sparked public discussion comparable to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.
Despite being virtually banned by dozens of UK authorities, it was a huge hit in the country. Public showings were also forbidden in Norway and Ireland, as well as dozens of more conservative countries.
‘We won't allow Israeli presence’: Abbas wants NATO to replace IDF in West Bank
Palestinian leaders want NATO to substitute IDF forces in the West Bank as part of any sustainable peace deal and a two-state solution with Israel. France is mounting up international support to hold a conference after US-led negotiations collapsed.
“Now we talk about the French initiative... Its purpose must be to implement the visions of both states, based on the border agreement of 1967 and the capital of the Palestinian state being eastern Jerusalem, so that both countries can live side by side, in safety, stability and peace – if Israel wishes to seek peace,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech at a meeting of foreign ministers at the Arab League.
Throughout the previous peace negotiations and to this day the Palestinian Authority insists that the West Bank must be a part of their sovereign nation, and that the presence of Israeli military control is a violation of their right to rule. While the United Nations calls the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli-occupied territories, Israel considers them disputed.
The idea of introducing NATO forces in the Middle East country has beenvoiced by Abbas before during the last peace negotiations. The original idea was for the IDF to remain in the Palestinian state for a transitional period of five years after which the Israeli forces could be replaced by NATO forces along with Palestinian Arab police and security units.
Tel Aviv argues that it keeps its IDF forces in West Bank to protect themselves from the perceived threat of “Palestinian terrorism.” To solidify their claims, in addition to military presence, Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and on a number of occasions refusing to negotiate the status of Jerusalem.
On Saturday, Abbas presented conditions that will most likely be rejected by Israel. Besides insisting that East Jerusalem would be the capital of Palestine, Abbas also rejected the notion of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
“We have previously recognized the state of Israel but we will not accept or recognize the terms of a Jewish state. We demand a Palestinian state on Palestinian lands and we will not allow any Israeli presence inside Palestinian territory,” President Abbas said.
At the same time Abbas said that there is a slight room for negotiations on land boundaries.
“When we need to demarcate these borders, we will be prepared to accept a slight exchange of territory,” he told the Arab ministers.
Recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, and proclaiming the entire Jerusalem as its capital have been the main cornerstones of Israel’s position in negotiating a two-state solution with Palestine. Demilitarized Palestine with the IDF military presence in the West Bank have also been the points of the contention in the negotiations.
Last month the Palestinians welcomed France’s initiative to hold an international conference aimed at kick-starting a new round of peace talks after the two sides failed to reach an agreement in April 2014. But Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the French initiative, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is through direct, bilateral negotiations.”
Representatives of some 20 countries, including US, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will attend the French-backed ministerial meeting on the topic next week. Israel and the Palestine will not take part in the conference. The French hope to convene a full blown international conference in the autumn, with Israelis and Palestinians in attendance.