Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Gospel According To Peter Kay

I've recently finished Peter Kay's autobiography 'The Sound of Laughter', and found it very funny. Some laugh out loud moments, which is bad enough at home on your own, but when you're in a public place is just downright embarrassing!

Peter Kay is a funny man, and at the tender age of 33, had written his autobiography charting his life to date, and the hilarious happenings from his school days, a multitude of part time jobs, and his move into stand up comedy, finishing off with what may have been the biggest week of his life - winning a comedy competition, meeting his wife-to-be and (eventually) passing his driving test.

Kay's comedy is simple life observation stuff, from the things his mum will come out with, to the hijinks of friends, colleagues, classmates and lecturers. There are lots of laughs in the 271 pages, although sometimes his language is a bit choice with some rudeness.

In an interesting section, Kay recounts his days as an altar boy in the local Catholic Church in Bolton, and his schooling at the hands of nuns and real people as well. When writing about sex education (or the lack of), he remembers the nuns showing an anti-abortion slideshow and plastic replica of an aborted foetus, which he says was 'completely out of order for subjecting us to that... they never gave us both sides of the story.'

It leads him to the conclusion that:

It made me realise how dangerous Catholicism could be. When I was at school I was always told that if I was bad God would pubish me and in the same breath I was told that God would forgive me for my sins whatever they were. It was a bit like being slapped one minute and getting a big cuddle the next. Catholicism sure knew how to mess with a child's head...

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that Catholicism is rife with hypocrisy and confusion. It's preyed on people like myself while people like myself were praying.

He then comes on to discussing Jesus, again with interesting thoughts:

I also belueve that a man called Jesus did walk the earth at one time but I don't think he was the superhero that the bible makes him out to be. Could he really turn water into wine? Did he raise people from the dead? Well if David Blaine can't survive underwater in a tank for seven days without needing medical attention, then I very much doubt it. I think Jesus was just an ordinary person like me and you (well, I'm comparing you with myself in the hope you're not a mentalist). I believe that Jesus spoke about peace, he spoke about turning love into hate (sic), tears into laughter, war into peace and - hold on a minute, this is Johnny Mathis. Jesus' teachings spread and quickly he built up a passionate following. People hung on to his every word, some would even walk for miles just to catch a glimpse of him... Ultimately Jesus' success bred contempt, people of power weren't fond of this hip and trendy preacher and before you could say 'Happy Days' Jesus was beaten, whipped, nailed to a cross and crucified. They didn't understand him, so they murdered him, in their ignorance and fear.

But Jesus had the last laugh. Apparently two days later on Easter Sunday he came back from the dead. Well, he'd have been daft not to with all those chocolate eggs knocking around.

After a discussion of Judas, he comes to the conclusion of his religious thought:

The reason I'm telling you all this is that basically I believe in the same principles as Jesus, or, as they've now become known in the last few paragraphs, 'The Johnny Mathis Principles'. And these fundamental teachings are at the core of most religions.

Basically we should try to follow the fundamental rules that were laid out for us in the Ten Commandments (obviously use your own judgement when coveting your neighbour's ox). Treat others like you would like to be treated (that obviously excludes people like Gary Glitter). And try to stand up for old people on public transport every once in a while (no mater how badly they smell of [wee] and biscuits). If we all did this then I'm confident that the world will be a better place for all of us.

So is this really what it's all about then? Being nice to other people and making the world a better place? Sadly it seems that Peter misses the point of Christianity, which is certainly not a religion like all the others.

To insist the Ten Commandments are just about doing to others what you would have them do to you ignores the first four - our duty to God, serving him only, not creating idols or images, not taking his name in vain, and keeping a Sabbath. If religion is just about how we treat other people, then we can do without those first four commandments.

Christianity is not a religion, but rather a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who has died for our sins to bring us back into relationship with God. The world may be a better place as Christians live out their faith in practical ways, but that's not the whole purpose. Rather, we look forward to new heavens and a new earth, made perfect, paradise restored. These are the principles that Jesus believed in, because they were all about Jesus, who he is and what he has done - yet they're sadly absent from Peter Kay's religious worldview. If Jesus is just a man, then not even his resurrection has a purpose. The miracles, the crucifixion, and the resurrection all hang together, and all have a purpose only because Jesus is God's Son, our Saviour.

Serving on the altar won't get you to heaven, nor even get a Fast track entry like at Alton Towers, as he later hopes. The only way to be sure of heaven is faith in Jesus. Nothing else is good enough, because we aren't good enough. Not even our funniest jokes, or a shiny autobiography. Just Jesus.

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