The Problems of Religion as Seen Through Monty Python's Life of Brian

Topics: Monty Python's Life of Brian, Monty Python, Monty Python and the Holy Grail Pages: 9 (3504 words) Published: November 13, 2007
The main teachings of many the world's most popular religions are to spread peace, love, and kindness, yet each of these religions cannot seem to refrain from arguing, attacking, and scapegoating each other. Hardly a day goes by where one cannot turn on the news without hearing about people killing each other in the name of religion. In Israel, Palestinian terrorists suicide-bomb crowds of Israelis. In India, Hindus fight with Muslims. Such violent religious dissent is not only attributed to those of different religions, even people who follow the same religion, but of a different sect, are known to do battle with each other. The Sunni and the Shi'ite Muslims in the Middle East are constantly at odds with each other. Although not violent, all the different sects of Christianity argue about which one is best following God. In the film Monty Python's Life of Brian, directed by Terry Jones, nothing illustrates more how a religion can forget its true goals than the People's Front of Judea. Their main goal is to support each other in unifying the Jews and regaining the rule of the Holy Land of Judea from the pagan Romans, but their anger towards the Romans is forgotten and redirected towards the splinter groups: the Judean People's Front and the Judean Popular People's front, who have identical goals but different methods. As exemplified by the warring religious factions in Monty Python's Life of Brian, many religions in the world today are hypocritical because they obsess over trivialities and procedure and lose sight of the true goals of group's founders, causing in them to act in a manner that contradicts the teachings of love, kindness, and respect for all human beings.

Early in the film, Brian meets a group of Jews discussing how they are oppressed by the Romans. He also feels oppressed by the Romans and wants to join them but when he mistakenly asks if they are the Judean People's Front he is met with hostility and learns that they are, in fact, the People's Front of Judea. Brian apologizes and assures them that he too hates the Romans. The People's Front say to him, "Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you'd have to really hate the Romans. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front. Splitters. And the Judean Popular People's Front." The P.F.J. shows that despite their common goal, they hate the J.P.F. and the J.P.P.F. more than anybody simply because they split off with different methods of resisting the Romans. In ABC's of Scapegoating, Gordon W. Allport explains what scapegoating is an why people do it. Scapegoating is where "some of the aggressive energies of a person or a group are focused upon another individual, group, or object: the amount of aggression and blame being either partly or wholly unwarranted" (9). So, in other words, when someone is unable to deal with a problem he may take out his anger on someone who had nothing to do with it. Similarly, on a larger scale, when a group of people faces a large social crisis, they may place the blame for that crisis on another undeserving group based on their prejudice for that group. Allport provides a good example of the idea: In times of social crisis our deprivations are multiplied many times: prices are high, so too are taxes; war threatens; the H-Bomb hangs over us; we grow fearful. There is no direct action we may take to do away with these deprivations and threats, therefore we respond to our frustrations by scapegoating the Government, the Negro, Labor, the ‘Reactionary' or the ‘Communist' or the Foreigner, or the religion of the other fellow. (9) Clearly the People's Front of Judea has misdirected their frustrations. Since they are only a small minority group, there is no way they can challenge the Roman Empire. So they have redirected their frustrations on the Judean People's Front; a much more convenient enemy. But in...
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