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Patrick Crewdson - heathen, Auckland

Friday, September 03, 2004

This was originally written as a column for the latest issue of the AUT journalism school paper, Te Waha Nui (out today). Despite my protests, they chose to censor it (Update: to clarify, Te Waha Nui did publish the column, just in an edited form). Here's the unexpurgated, too-hot-for-AUT version:

Life of Brian

And so it was that Jesus of Nazareth was called to a town where a man was said to be possessed by a demon.

The man with the unclean spirit was given to loud proclamations and was exceedingly fierce. He was called Brian Tamaki of Destiny and he commanded a flock of followers. His disciples harkened to him for he was good-looking and rich and spoke with authority, and they did tithe to him 10% of their income. Their name was Legion, for they were many.

And when Jesus saw their faith he was disturbed, for Brian was a false prophet and he preached an unforgiving doctrine. Brian was afflicted with hate, and he spread his anger like honey on unleavened bread.

At this time Brian was marshalling his apostles for a journey to Wellington - the seat of the Governor - where he intended to persecute the homosexuals, the prostitutes, the single mothers, and the rational.

So Brian commanded his flock: "Get thee down to Hallensteins. They've a sale on black Haines Beefy-Ts. Could come in useful." And when they returned he did teach them how to goosestep and salute.

They gathered under a banner upon which was written "Enough is Enough", by which they meant to condemn sin.

The townsfolk pleaded with Jesus to help, so he sought out Brian to counsel him. Although his security guards were belligerent, Jesus would not be denied.

Jesus was already of some renown throughout the region, because he wore sandals and flowing robes and was generally a bit of a hippie despite coming from working class roots. And Brian consented to sit with him for a simple meal of fishes and loaves.

"Now Brian, you know me," said Jesus, who is called the Lamb of God.

"I like to think of myself as a bit of a rebel. I'm always hitting the Pharisees and the Sadducees with some wisdom, talking about giving some respect to the meek and the peacemakers for a change. Now I've got this new thing. I'm calling it 'love thy neighbour'. "It's all about tolerance and not throwing stones at other people because, y'know, you've probably done some bad stuff yourself. What do you think?"

But Brian was not persuaded and his laughter was scornful.

And Jesus did counsel him further: "You talk in riddles, Brian. Homosexuality occurs in nature, yet you call it unnatural. You call it a sin, yet you are guilty of myriad sins yourself."

And Brian considered his pride, his wrath, and his avarice and saw that it was true, yet still he was unrepentant.

Taking to his feet, he quoted aloud from the ancient scripture: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination."

And Jesus, Son of Man, said unto Brian, Son of a Bitch: "Quit being such a bigot. You take all the fun out of fundamentalism."

But it was as though Jesus was sowing a seed on stony ground.

"The men of Sodom and Gomorrah are wicked and sinners without exception," said Brian.

And Jesus asked: "Dude, have you ever even met a gay person?"

"So it is written and so is the Word of the Lord."

And Jesus said: "Word of the Lord? When was the last time you slaughtered a bullock for the Lord? Or used the blood of a bird to cure your pimples like it says in Leviticus?"

And from Brian there was much wailing and gnashing of pearly white teeth.

Jesus said unto him: "Look, all this about the 'decline of society' basically stems from competing moral paradigms. On one hand, you have tolerance, science, reason and the values of the Enlightenment. On the other hand you have a conservative theology based on a literal interpretation of the Bible and supported by your personal charisma."

But the unclean spirits held Brian tightly and would not suffer him to forsake his sinful ways.

So Jesus commanded Brian: "Repent, and cleanse your heart. You're not the Messiah. You're a very naughty boy!"

At this time, Jesus cast the demons out and Brian was exiled to the desert wilderness, to wander where he could cause no harm. Alone and bereft of Brylcreem, Brian threw his hands sky-ward and lamented: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

And there came a voice from heaven, saying: "Thou art my beloved son, but it's like I always say. Love the sinner, hate the sin."