Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: How The Life of Brian Explains Progressive Christianity
I finally broke down, after all these years, and watched The Life of Brian. I just had to find out if it really had blasphemed. And I saw that it had. Not really so much against Christianity (there’s a little of that, more below) but against a much more aggressive, and vastly intolerant creed — the thundering Gadarene herd movement of Transgenderism.
Here’s the scene which has got our modern witch burners lighting the pyres. It depicts a man who “wants to have a baby” as a rebel against “reality.”
John Cleese, who takes part in a stage revival of the movie, faced pressure recently to cut out the scene as “transphobic.” He rightly and indignantly refused.
My “Big Three Influences”
At some point in my life, in a moment of quiet reflection, I realized what my three most powerful influences were: The Catholic Church, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus. That has been true in equal measure, from my early teenage years, right up through today.
So I think it’s remarkable that for all these years I managed to boycott Monty Python’s Life of Brian. When it came out in 1979, the film was condemned as an anti-Christian satire, so I didn’t even contemplate it. I belonged to most of the church groups that were outside the theaters picketing it, and I was too young to have the excuse, “I’m reporting on it!”
Over the years, I heard people tell me of this “brilliant” scene or that one. But still I refused to see it, afraid that there might be some genuinely blasphemous part in the movie, and worse yet … that it might be funny! So I’d find myself sincerely laughing at something sacred — a very grave sin indeed.
How Mockery Drains Away Faith
This isn’t some trivial matter. Most people don’t lose faith in Christ because of careful logical arguments. That’s not how the human will works. Instead, faith dies the death of a thousand cuts, of George Carlin jokes and Saturday Night Live sketches, of eyerolls and rib-nudges from peers. Few such attacks are aimed at the claims of Christianity. Instead, they mock church institutions, and caricature believers — drip, drip, drip — to the point where you’re not so much unconvinced of Christianity. You’re ashamed of it — which is much more powerful for most people, whom Jesus called “sheep.”
This fact of human psychology is the reason I decided decades ago to write mostly humor books in defense of Faith — mocking smug unbelief, the shoddy arguments of atheists and the pitiful rationalizations of liberal, lax Christians. I wanted to use George Carlin’s strategy against … George Carlin. There’s plenty of raw material, as readers of my Bad Catholics guides will know.
Those who have seen the R-rated movie will know well why The Stream can’t and won’t recommend The Life of Brian. It’s far from wholesome viewing, with frontal nudity, profanity, and adolescent humor. But there are some quite funny scenes, some of them mocking self-righteous leftists … and others poking nasty fun at the early Christian Church and its interminable theological controversies. The latter made me squirm. The protesters back in the day had a point. No, The Stream definitely is not recommending the movie.
There’s no mockery of Christ — who sometimes appears in the background, clearly distinguished from the film’s protagonist Brian. The latter is a hapless nebbish, whom some mistakenly conclude must be the Messiah. And that’s what’s relevant now.
New Gospels and Counterfeit Christs
Progressive Christians today, who swallow the Transgender camel but strain at gnats, are acting precisely like the goofball crowds in Life of Brian who mishear the Sermon on the Mount and rush off repeating, “Blessed are the cheesemakers!” Or those who choose the cowardly, clueless Brian as their savior, even though he’s fleeing them. Then when one of his sandals falls off, they take it as a sign, or even a miracle.
The “new gospel” preached today in churches with rainbow flags comes not from the life of Christ but The Life of Brian. These fellow-travelers of the Sexual Revolution pretend that everyone of whom society ever disapproved is an innocent scapegoat, just like Jesus.
Anybody marginalized from the mainstream (for whatever reason) is a spotless Lamb, as He was. The bearded boy excluded from the girls locker room is “despised, and rejected of men.” And therefore an icon of Christ. The “minor-attracted person” arrested for looking at child porn? He’s the next candidate for “welcoming” and “inclusion.” Give it five years, maybe less.
Worshiping the Bad Thief, Just Because He Got Crucified
Let’s remember that in the Passion narrative, there are three men nailed up on crosses. One of them is Jesus, and the other two are bandits. One thief repents, admits he deserves his punishment, and insists on Jesus’ innocence. The other continues to mock Christ, curse Him, and taunt Him.
It’s that thief, the “bad thief” who blasphemed all through his last moments of life, who now demands our worship. He wants to dress as a prostitute and dance in front of our toddlers. To foist his filthy books onto kids in public libraries. He even would seize custody of young teens from parents, if they won’t agree to castrate and mutilate them. Fake victims, real degenerates, and powerful false messiahs now crowd our altars, imposed on us for worship by Caesar, Mammon, and Sodom.
If that doesn’t merit our mockery, nothing could. Please join me in taunting the priests of Baal and blaspheming their antichrist. You don’t need to watch the movie. Use your creativity. For instance, when someone asks me my pronouns I answer that they are: “Bruce,” “Jenner’s” and “Male.” Or else say, “‘They,’ because my name is Legion.”
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”