The end of shock

This is an amusingly wry commentary on Christianity and those trying to use 1980s shock-marketing tactics in a world where they are decades out of date:

 ‘Dear Charles, How are you?” says the unsolicited publicity email from someone I have never met, “I would love to share this controversial new play with you… you are welcome to talk to the writer… The play discusses Jesus’s exorcism, the atheist prostitute, Mary as a polytheist, a Greek homosexual and Jesus’s involvement in a stoning.” The play – I won’t trouble the reader with its title or venue – is “provocative and radial [sic]”, she tells me. It is “bound to shock many”, she adds hopefully.

I shan’t be taking up the kind invitation. For about 50 years now, almost the only way playwrights and television producers have felt able to treat Jesus is as something that he either probably or definitely wasn’t – a gay rights campaigner, a political revolutionary, the lover of Mary Magdalene, a rock star, a member of the Green Party etc. They have tried, with ever-decreasing success, to stir up his traditional followers into righteous anger against them in the hope that this will attract a bit of attention and so increase their ratings.

Once upon a time, such efforts, despite their crudity and bad taste, may have had some value. I am just old enough to remember the last gasps of an era when Christianity in Britain was often little more than an expression of social respectability. This was a strange way of dealing with the most explosive story in the history of the world, and it deserved to be satirised and challenged. But those days are long, long gone, as dead as men in the City of London wearing bowler hats. The playwrights who think they being are “shocking” and “subversive” are colossally out of date. The religion whose moralistic, puritanical, self-appointed spokesmen badly need challenging today is not Christianity, but Islam. You won’t see many brave new would-be avant-garde plays taking that one on, funnily enough.

I loved that “she adds hopefully”. That was what can best be described as a literary glass dagger, smooth, subtle, and sharp. Anyhow, it was, and is, a mistake for Christians to react angrily towards the blasphemers-for-profit. It can be effective to calmly ban their activities and lock them up, as was done in Christendom for centuries. It can be effective to publicly denounce them, whip them, and stone them, as is done in communities with Sharia-based legal systems. But it is not effective to get angry and attempt to change the artist’s behavior with outrage.

Christendom has already been subverted. There is no power center left untouched by the anti-Christian entryists. Those trying to cash in on being shocking and subversive are simply too late; it is now those of us who reject the shiny, post-Christian secular technotopia who are the subversives. The people of the West have made a terrible mistake in opting for an equal society rather than a free one; in EQUALITY: The Impossible Quest, Martin van Creveld convincingly demonstrates that they will enjoy neither freedom nor equality.

Christians should not be outraged when they are attacked, or when there is no sympathy for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. We were told this would happen. We were warned that this would be the case. And we were told that if the world did not hate us, we were doing something wrong. So, when Christianity is attacked, when our faith is belittled, when our Lord and Savior is ridiculed, and when our God is blasphemed, don’t be angry. Smile, because the very foundations of your faith are being confirmed right before your eyes.

The Almighty is perfectly capable of defending Himself. He doesn’t need us to defend Him. We need Him to defend us.