Depending on your age and comedy preferences, The League of Gentlemen is either oddball BBC comedy series set in Royston Vasey, or a 1960’s “caper” comedy, starring Jack Hawkins. In order to understand this article, you need to be aware of this fact. Also, before reading the rest of this article, please view the following clip.
I hear there’s going to be a re-make of this comedy drama, this time starring, not crooked ex-British Army officers, but a number of Christians, or at least men and women claiming to be “good Christians.” (Homework: read Luke 18:9-14.) Here’s a sneak preview of the re-working of this particular scene.
Oh, come now. You’re all crooked Christians, of kind or another. Wouldn’t you agree with that, wannabe padre?
Wannabe Padre (Matt MachMichLachen):
I’m not staying here to be insulted.
Oh, I would stay here, if I were you. After all, we’re all men of the world, so a year abroad group leader who proudly told the whole world he would remain a virgin until the day he married, yet whose girlfriend fell pregnant – Voronezh 1994, wasn’t it? – needn’t have anything to worry about. Perhaps it was an immaculate conception? Oh no, that was Nazareth, 2000 years ago. And even before then, you took to the old “dog collar” routine of boasting how you read the lesson every Sunday at church, while at the same time indulging in spiteful, idle gossip about other students in your group as to whether they were gay… or just simply boring. I thought your fellow students were a little harsh in judging you as a hypocrite, but I’m sure you going to stay.
You seem a amused, John Fraud, is it a joke we can all share?
Well, you tell me.
Well, I can’t promise to tell the same one, but try this one. It has a certain charm. Voronezh 1992, Oxbridge undergraduate, Mr John Fraud, leading weekly bible study sessions – Search the Scriptures, wasn’t it, the book? Condemned a fellow student as a “dirty old man” for wanting to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh with as many women as possible, when at the same time, John Fraud was having a full, physical relationship with Miss Jilly Scotslass, all the time while Mr John Fraud was secretly lusting after Miss Sierra Juliet, a fellow Christian. The joke being, Miss Jilly Scotslass won “on points” because she was happy to have pre-marital sex with you, and in the words of John Fraud was “a bit prettier.”
Not so amusing now? Bit near the knuckle, perhaps? Depends whose backside is on the pew, doesn’t it, Frieda Dartoff? Yours was on the church pew on Christmas Day 2010, as you elegantly and rather ostentatiously showed your face at St Nicolas’ Church, Abingdon, so your friends and family could see how righteous you were, singing a few hymns, doing good things, and not just in terms of corporate social responsibility. Of course, corporate social responsibility and indeed personal responsibility both have a strict limit. You reached yours, and arguably showed your true colours, when you did a double-take during that Christmas Day service on seeing your not very photogenic colleague, as if to say, “What is someone like you doing here?” and then duly blanked that colleague a few days later at work.
Runner, Miss Rachel Runner, with her customary money sense in these matters, which kept the locksmith from the door, accepted financial help from a friend to pay off a rather steep utilities bill, yet only months later turned down that self-same friend’s plea for help when he himself encountered financial difficulties. Matthew 25:36-40 – clearly a most inconvenient passage for you.
Terry Ball, one-time workplace bully, “Let’s remember who’s the mere employee and who’s the manager here…” Yet somehow always remembered to wear his fish logo on his suit lapel and carried his pocket bible with him in his briefcase while somehow forgetting to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Lizzy Look, talented actress and writer (in her own eyes at least), a sad case, though not deserving of too much sympathy. Save it for the clients robbed by her boyfriend, a corrupt solicitor, while she was judging others and making sure everyone knew how clever she was dating a solicitor and how Daddy always greeted the college principal every Sunday at church with, “Hello Ted,” because her family were all great church-goers and did All The Right Things. The trouble being, even the acne-covered face of your classmate looked considerably more spotless than your reputation after you dated the wrong man.
And of course, let’s not forget Sean the Shopkeeper, a fine upstanding member of the university Christian Union. We could see that from all your CU t-shirts and sweatshirts that you were so fond of wearing. Oh, and your fish logo, too. The trouble with a fish, however, is, it has a most annoying habit of rotting from its head first. And as the hall of residence shop manager, every time you uttered from your mouth your standard reply of, “That’s for me to know, and you to find out,” to most questions, your attitude didn’t “sell” the Christian faith that effectively.
So, are you a crooked Christian, full of self-congratulation and self-righteousness, proud of not being like “the others”? Would you shuffle nervously in your seat as the colonel addressed the people over the port and the cigars?
We can’t all be evangelists, but we can, and must, be witnesses and ambassadors for our faith.
Have an ambassadorial day, won’t you!