There is apparently another petition by Christians to ban a film. 260,000 Christians have come together to give an insane amount of free publicity to a film they hope no one will ever watch. The film, Habit, will apparently portray Jesus as a “gender-bending take on the religious figure” reported to include “a nose ring, tousled waves and a traditional robe”. Well, that’s brave.
People are apparently upset that the film “mocks Christianity and ridicules people of faith.” Proof, if ever it was needed, that Christians are rubbish at history, PR and most painfully, theology.
Mocking Jesus in films has happened for long enough now to actually be a tradition and so any film which joins that list is already a bit passe and bland. It’s been done before and people have the T-shirts. Christianity has fallen a long way in the eyes of the mainstream that mocking is not clever, rarely, funny, not edgy or brave because everyone feels safe to do it. Personally I can’t quite work up the energy to be bothered by the film. Shrug your shoulders, move on. But no, we’ve got to be outraged and give these tiresome films the oxygen of free publicity. Hundreds of thousands of people seem to be unaware that films like this want you to boycott and petition against the film. So they do their work for them, for free and against their own aims. All of which seems a bit dim.
It shows a poor grasp of history because these tactics have been tried for over 40 years (at least) and haven’t worked once. Evidence A: Malcolm Muggeridge, John Cleese and Michael Palin.
Now, I happen to think there is much to commend in both Jesus Christ Superstar and The Life of Brian and both are likely to be far superior to Habit. But once a decade someone will produce a film about Jesus that upsets believers and each time they try to boycott it and not once has it worked. So why bother?
But the worst thing of all is the poor grasp of theology because you cannot mock Jesus in any way that is worse than what actually happened to him. What blasphemy is worse than stripping him naked, and laughing at him while he is dying in excruciating pain from being crucified? The cross is the great blasphemy, that we should crucify the son of God and turn him into an object of scorn and mockery.
The absolute heart of the Christian faith is not some nice moment to be protected and polished but a bloody, bruising, smelly, grimy, filthy, violent act of degradation as the powerful crushes the weak. And every scorn from that point on just demonstrates why the cross was necessary. We reject God sometimes with our hatred or violence and sometimes with our laughter and scorn. We know not what we do, even when we do it with a knowing wink.
There’s a line in the great TV series Band of Brothers about the 501st US Airborne regiment during the second world war, and the officer was warned that they would be surrounded. The reply came, “We’re paratroopers, Lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”
I’m a Christian. I follow Jesus Christ who was beaten, mocked and scorned. He said that would happen to his followers. We expect to be scorned. There is real opposition throughout the world and that can be scary. But a film trying to be edgy about Jesus? That’s just boring.