God Is Mocked. Not.

I went to see Brit comedian Eddie Izzard perform live this weekend.  He was hilarious; great.  He did one bit illustrating the idea that Latin became a dead language because it was just too complicated.  A Roman legionnaire comes running to tell a centurion that Hannibal and his elephants have crossed the Alps but he can’t get the verb conjugations or noun declensions right and keeps stammering:  “Elephantis…  elephanti…  elephantitis…”  while the puzzled centurion says, “Quid?  Qua?  Quo?”  It was genuine comic genius and nearly killed me.

Now along with being a brilliant comedian, Izzard is a couple of other things I’m not:  a transvestite and an atheist.   The transvestism is whatever it is – he mentioned it but did not, as he sometimes does, dress the part.

The atheism, on the other hand, was central to his routine, which included some very funny mockery of Bible stories and religious beliefs – including mine.

Now I know this sort of thing bugs some believers, but it doesn’t bother me at all and here’s why – two reasons.  First, Izzard comes across as a person of good will who works hard at his humanity.  The honest atheism of a man like that is, I feel confident, far more pleasing to God than rote, Pharisaical or fanatical faith.

But more than this, faith is central to a person’s interior world – and that world is the raw material out of which artist’s make art.  As someone who has written atheist novels myself, I’m painfully aware that an artist’s spiritual journey becomes perforce a matter of public record.  And if he’s a good artist and honest, that can be an important force for good.  T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland is a brilliant evocation of a world without God – it was also a stepping stone on Eliot’s journey to Christ.   It was a stepping stone on my journey to Christ, for that matter.  So, having been exactly where Izzard is in this regard, I was actually delighted to see him making something so wonderfully entertaining out of it.  What God makes out of it is yet to be seen.

Anyway, he’s a terribly funny guy and it was a great show.  If you’ve never seen him, try this – Darth Vader in the Death Star canteen – Not Suitable For Work…  unless, of course, you work at the Death Star canteen.

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  • http://facesoflions.wordpress.com Dave Wilson

    Andrew,

    Interesting perspective on atheism vs. fanatical faith. Do you think that position of the godless and those “having a form of godliness but denying its power” is equally precarious?

    Dave

  • Mason Maurer

    I have the same opinion of Eddie Izzard. I think he is one of the funniest comics out there. I’m hoping that preforming as the voice of Reapacheap in the Chronicals of Narnia. will be a stepping stone for his journey to Christ.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/KnightOwl2006 Tempus Fugit

    Izzard’s impression of Christopher Walken doing Iago in Othello had me howling. Intelligent humor.

  • David

    Why is it considered funny to denegrate anyone or their beleifs. I suggest that a true comedian, in the sense of the older commedians, made us laugh without denigrating anyone but themselves, i.e. slapstick comedy. We have been trained that parody, sarcasm and satire are elements of civilized communcation, however, the basis for this is dis-respect. A lurking dislike of others and an their beleifs is the truth here. Why give your money to someone who hates you just so you can be called civilized and “you can laugh at yourself”? The point here is ridicule and that is never funny. From what little I’ve seen of this man, he is a disorganized and confused individual, having no skills except the ability to offend with language. And why are we being subjected to british actors, comedians, etc,,, don;t we have our own? I do not feel smarter because I watch house or applaud this comedian.

  • Dave

    I agree that Eddie is probably one of the funniest comedians working today. He has a perfect sense of timing and interplay with the audience, where even flubbed jokes become comic gold.

    I saw his last tour as it came through my town, and he was utterly brilliant…and blasphemous. I can certainly appreciate an honest athiesm, as you describe here, but there came a point during the performance where I became really uncomfortable. Not for myself or my beliefs, but for Eddie. Because if what I believe about God and reality is true, Eddie will have to give an account to Him for his “honest” mockery and flippant words. My hope is that Eddie finds a Righteous Advocate to speak for him, before that time comes.

  • http://www.mekong.net Bruce Sharp

    Andrew,

    You caught me off-guard: I arrived here after following a link from Big Hollywood, and the last thing I expected to see was someone being tolerant of a different perspective. Very nice review, and I agree: Izzard is brilliant.

    Regards,
    Bruce

  • Neecie

    I love his comedy too. I have hope for him as well. He strikes me as a Truth Seeker and if he keeps seeking, he will find.

    Interestingly enough, I was introduced to his comedy by a liberal friend of mine who showed me a bunch of YouTube videos. I was shocked because she is against the Iraq War and her she showed me this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6omQ5JjjLsE
    (also not worksafe) where he is talking about “mass-murdering @#$*-heads” who got away with mass-murdering because they murdered their own people and “we seem to be fine with that.” I guess we should have never gone after Saddam.–I mean, the first Gulf War was okay because he was killing his neighbors. But once we made him go home and he was content with just slaughtering his own people, we should have left him alone.

  • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

    A wonderful, generous review, Andrew. As a fellow writer whose “spiritual journey” is a matter of public record (albeit a smaller public), and whose route was similar to yours (right down to The Wasteland!), I agree that honesty is key. Give me a good-hearted atheist sincerely struggling with The Question over an unthinking Pharisee (or condescending Sadducee) any day.

    Am loving your new site. Keep up the great work!
    Margaret

  • Mike

    Andrew,

    The Death Star Canteen bit is funny.

    And I agree that it is important to recognize where another might be on their spiritual journey. I feel an atheist will be more compelled to consider a faith system if those followers offer sincere kindness rather than fervent condemnation.

    But there may be a point where you have to quietly walk away and leave him be. I am at this point with Ricky Gervais.

    I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Office,’ to the extent I have never seen the US copy: it could not offer me anything more than I already had. I even found him like-able in his few US movies, in spite of these movies being uniformly weak.

    Then he showed his atheism and I laughed as you did for Eddie Izzard. God as the ultimate babysitter was a funny observation. I took the shot, fully aware of the consequence of killing that “babysitter”: it’s called CCTV. God provides a morality that supplants the State. Individual liberty is further established when you know He is real, rather than just a useful construct.

    But now I have no time for Ricky Gervais given his very serious advocacy for eugenics. To support his view, he gave random examples of people with “stupid, fat faces,” and “a woman in leggings, eating chips with a fag in her mouth,” as those suitable candidates for sterilization. Like so many of this ilk, he feels that “If they all had a good quality of life, no one would complain,” but, since their lives do not meet the standard he has set, they are dispensable.

    I hope Ricky will have some change of heart but, until then, I cannot bring myself to further patronize his work. Everyone’s point is different; he has crossed mine.

    We’ll see where Eddie’s journey takes him.

    Mike

  • stuart hillyer

    I agree completely about Eddie Izzard. He seems to be a brilliant, warm and wonderful person. In my introduction to him, a DVD of a live show included a bit that was anti-gun. It fell kinda flat (about the only thing that did) and he moved on. He did not move on to anti-everythingelse. I am not entertained by a comic whose act is simply a desire to be welcomed back to their idea of Eden by revealing their hate for everyone. Personally I am a heretic and I believe that Eddie Izzard is just the sort that will be found in heaven; Perhaps a special executive section.

  • red923

    I saw Eddie’s show last weekend in LA, and although I dearly love Eddie’s humour and think he’s brilliant, I felt beaten to a pulp by the end of it (I’m a Christian). It’s one thing to have beliefs, whatever they are. It’s another to use a world tour as your own proselytizing tool for those beliefs. Not to mention, not very “golden rule” of him to do so. I hope Eddie finds his way to truth as you did.

  • Christopher Nelson

    “The honest atheism of a man like that is, I feel confident, far more pleasing to God than rote, Pharisaical or fanatical faith.”

    Really? Where does it say that in the bible? The bible calls atheists fools. Psalm 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. ”

    Is this the same God you claim to be ok with , pleased by, an”honest” atheism, and bible mocking? I highly doubt it.

    The problem is, you have to pass your assumptions using the bible, instead of emotions or humanism. The way you “feel” has nothing to do with what is a fact with God. I assure you that God does not enjoy himself or his word being mocked. And is not happy that someone is an unsaved atheist, who is hell bound and unrepentant. God takes no pleasure from that. And any comparison to Pharisee’s or Sadducees is not biblical. All of them, including atheists, are unbiblical people. Being biblically correct is not being a fanatic. That would have made Jesus and his followers fanatics.

    Romans 10:3-4, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”