Outrage in Leamington Spa!
My former hometown is a hotbed of controversy this week. A hotbed. Because of a film – one of my favourite films, in fact – The Life of Brian.
You see, the vicar of All Saints Church in the town centre is a bit of a dude – and also a canny marketer, to boot. Father Christopher Wilson is going to show the classic Monty Python film in his church, hoping to raise funds for the church by charging £10 per ticket.
But, somewhat predictably, members of his congregation have kicked up a fuss about it because it’s “blasphemous” (one of the more stupid laws that we’ve thankfully repealed) and “anti-Christian”.
Actually, as the good vicar points out, the film isn’t about Jesus, it’s about Brian. Who is mistaken for Jesus. And it doesn’t so much poke fun at Christianity (although there’s nothing wrong with doing that); it pokes fun at humanity’s need to be led around and told what to do.
He also thinks it’s a good opportunity for the church to have a bit of a laugh at itself — and the fact that he thinks that’s important tells us a lot about the kind of man he is (a good ‘un, in case you were in any doubt).
Splendidly, a professional pianist will be playing a bunch of songs on the organ before and after the screening, including Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, Madonna’s Like A Prayer, and The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Vicar in a Tutu.
As Father Wilson said: “The Life of Brian caused upset when it was released almost 40 years ago. Most of us have grown up since then. We’ve learned to laugh at ourselves and to understand the difference between faith, which inspires us from deep within, and the foibles of human nature which are so humorously depicted in the film.”
Father Wilson is also putting on a concert entitled Music You Don’t Normally Hear on a Church Organ, to raise funds for repairs.
Why am I telling you this? Well, a couple of reasons. Firstly, because Father Wilson is a dude. He has no fucks to give. He’s made a decision, and he’s sticking to it because he believes it’s the right thing to do. I hope he doesn’t cave to the small-minded miseries in his flock.
Secondly, because he knows perfectly well that his church building needs repairs, and the cash ain’t gonna come from his ever-shrinking congregation. Now, All Saints Church is a stunning building. It’s huge, and beautiful, and peaceful, and it’s right and proper that it should be in a good state of repair (it’s just a shame about the whole religion thing).
And Father Wilson also knows perfectly well that what he and the Church of England have been doing so far just isn’t working. To raise that cash, he needs to appeal to people beyond his immediate circle, and he needs to appeal to a desire to save the building, not what goes on in it.
To do that, he’s come up with a brilliantly controversial idea or two to attract people who wouldn’t normally go near a church. Loads of people will turn up just to see the film and hear the concert – I mean, have you ever heard big hits performed on a church organ? Played well, they’re staggering.
If Joe and I still lived in Leamington, we’d be there like a shot because we love that film and we love that building. And I’d invite Father Wilson onto my podcast. Might do that anyway, in fact!
S’like I always say: look at what everyone else is doing, then do the opposite. And, like Dan Kennedy is fond of saying, “If you haven’t pissed off at least a couple of people by lunchtime, you’re not doing much of anything at all.”
If you’d like a helping hand and a bit of encouragement to enrage a few people – but grow your business in the process – buy a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS The chickens arrived yesterday! Three Calder Rangers, just about ready to start laying. I’m ridiculously excited. They stayed tucked in their coop last night, but this morning we let their ramp down. So far, one of them has found her way down and is pottering around in the little run. Next week, they’ll be allowed to free range while I’m here in the daytime.
I’ll share some pics tomorrow. And maybe we’ll have chosen some names…