Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the classic satire of religion and Christianity, was a very controversial film upon release. There was a question of whether it was okay to lampoon religion, and I think any reasonable person would say that the Python boys came out on the right side of that particular debate.
The BBC talk show series, Friday Night, Saturday Morning, did a show at the time of release featuring Michael Palin and John Cleese defending the film from attacks by Malcolm Muggeridge and Bishop Mervyn Stockwood. It’s truly one of the great episodes of television.
What’s amazing about the episode is seeing the Python members having to defend their right to openly question ideas. The two Christian men are so concerned with their own personal beliefs being offended that they deny the value of open, critical thinking. The Bishop is too perturbed by the sight of men on the cross being taken lightly as an affront to Jesus to realize that the image in the film is actually used by the film to inspire positivity in life even in the face of death.
There’s no question that Life of Brian pokes, but it pokes in areas worth poking. Even if somebody watched the film and remains religion, it might at least get them to consider the way they think about new and old ideas. Certainly thinking is not a bad thing.
UPDATE: I also found this hilarious sketch from the BBC sketch show, Not the Nine O’Clock News, which parodies the Life of Brian debate. Apparently a film was made about a man named Jesus Christ, who’s clearly just a stand-in for blaspheming against the great and holy Monty Python. Check it out: