Paul... not the one from Tarsus


There may be dangers of this becoming a review site given the number I've posted recently, particularly film reviews, but I tend to just comment on what strikes me rather than offer any profound critical analysis of the films that I see... which is a good job when it comes to reviewing "Paul" the latest offering by Frost and Pegg, as there isn't much profundity to be had in it.
Two trips to the cinema in a fortnight to see vaguely adult films almost speaks of a social life. But the rating is where the overlap between "The King's Speech" and "Paul" ends, and I won't try to compare them. I've reviewed "Paul" through LivingSocial on Facebook, so if you can be bothered with what I think about it you can check it out there. All in all it's an amusing but relatively "safe" "slackers-do-sci-fi" comedy, taking potshots at fairly obvious targets. And as I noted on the review, on of their targets is (and this is not a spoiler) religion, particularly fundamentalist Christianity, and creationism, but also theism in general.
Now Jesus warned his followers that they may not be received with open arms by everyone, after all, the establishment didn't think much of him, therefore we shouldn't necessarily be surprised to be, at best the butt of jokes, and at worst subjected to state persecution. I've expressed my frustration previously concerning some people (including the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey) bleating about the persecution of Christians in Britain, especially against the backdrop of very real persecution of Christians (and people of other faiths) across the world. But I am getting tired of lazy laughs at the expense of Christians within the media. Without going all Daily Mail on you, they wouldn't be quick to do the same about Muslims (with the notable exception of people like Chris Morris who has a laudable habit of annoying everyone). There also seems to be a tendency within the American media of importing Brits like Frost, Pegg and the insufferable Ricky Gervais, to be the lightning rods for these "funny forays" into the backwoods of Christian fundamentalism. Perhaps it is easier for the outsider to poke fun at something that runs deep in American society, and it is also easier for studios and networks to ship the limeys out if things get difficult. This seems to be the comic end of the New Atheist wave that is sweeping the world at the moment, and is lazily dismissive of issues of faith, seeing it as something for people of feeble minds (the irony is that this is all within a film which is about people who believe in aliens that would travel billions of miles to visit earth).
It is invariably the fundamentalist end of the Christian spectrum that is the focus of the "fun" and the lens through which all of Christianity is viewed by the contemporary secular media and this also causes me concern. Not only is this a lazy generalisation it is also (wait for it) unfair on fundamentalists.
Now it may be unusual, for me to defend them but not all those from a fundamentalist Christian background are foaming at the mouth evangelistic firebrands, determined to squeeze the fun/sin (the words being synonymous anyway) out of life. I may not agree with their theological outlook, but many if not most are sincere and good people who genuinely want the best for themselves and others around them. The apathetic, wooly headed, sold-out to the world Christianity that makes up the majority of the church in the west is perhaps more deserving of a good comic slapping.
However, it doesn't take much trawling around the internet to find much emanating from church that is ripe for mockery (I miss Scotteriology for his regular round-ups of the worst examples out there). The religious right in particular have produced enough rope to hang us all... And what makes it worse, is that they see the subsequent mockery by films like "Paul" as a vindication of their "counter-cultural" stances and activities. But just because Jesus said we would be persecuted for following him, doesn't mean that mockery and persecution is a vindication of our faithfulness to following Christ... Sometimes it is just because we deserve to be laughed at...
But whether we deserve to be laughed at or not, lets remember the words of that other Paul, the one from Tarsus, who wrote to the church in Corinth saying:
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (ANIV)

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