Not Alone: “Ironic Faith,” The Comic Worldview, and Process Theology in Monty Python’s Life of Brian

  • Author(s): Kathleen J. Cassity
  • When: 2016-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Steven Benko points out that far from being anti-religious, Monty Python’s Life of Brian posits a type of belief he calls “ironic faith,” though he believes that the version evoked by this film falls short of calling for social transformation. If, however, we consider the resonance between process theology's "becoming-over-being" and the open-ended “humorous outlook” as articulated by philosopher of comedy John Morreall, we can interpret Life of Brian as suggesting the possibility of social transformation through its concluding evocation of a shared humanity that surmounts isolation, hierarchy, and socially constructed barriers by promoting what sociologist Robert Putnam calls "bridging social capital." Understanding Life of Brian as an evocation of ironic faith-in-process rather than as a fixed point of theological conclusion allows us to consider the later Eric Idle stage production Spamalot as a potential realization of themes pointed to implictly in Life of Brian, lending additional complexity to Benko's reading.

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