While revisiting some of the more popular of Brand's previous video productions, I happened upon a clip from Series One of his American talk show “Brand X”, in which he was joined by two members of the religious fundamentalist group the “Westboro Baptist Church”. The WBC are well known for public adherence to archaic Judeo Christian morality, their opposition to homosexuality, “liberalism” and women's rights has been publicized, ridiculed and condemned on British Television staples like “The Jeremy Kyle Show” and “Louis Theroux Investigates”.
This was a perfect example of the old world meeting the new, the contradictory, regimental faith of the literal Bible preaching WBC, pitted against the flowery, free flowing platitudes of the patchwork transcendental “Brahmanism”, espoused by Brand, surely he wouldn't pass up this opportunity to ridicule and condemn the theological perversions of the ugly irrational bigots in the Westboro Baptists?
After “welcoming with love” the WBC, he attempts to disarm them using ostentatious displays of humility, speaking softly of truth, love and acceptance, he even goes as far as to accept the existence of their lord Jesus Christ, albeit with a few minor adjustments; “from what i've had explained to me, his main message was definitely; tolerance and love and truth and beauty and acceptance”.
This was more like a spectacular struggle between religious ideologies; the emerging, liberal, eastern mystical syncretism of Brand, seeking to over ride and assimilate the declining authoritarian, bible based Christian conservatism of the Westboro Baptist Church.
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain, not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower."*
This idealized conception of Jesus which Russel Brand has, “had explained” to him, serves as a fetish object to mediate his antagonism towards the WBC, he attempts to convince them they share this object of fascination, reproducing the “main message” he brought to humanity he appeals directly to the WBC to embrace a revised form of their own religion, devoid of the very laws and customs designed to retain the cultural identity of the original recipients of the book.
Thousands of years of cultural syncretism has given birth to numerous hybrid offspring, each religious priesthood incorporating their own environmental, economic or cultural conditions into a pre-existing mythological narrative, in which everything was created, pre-formed and ordered by a mystical divine intelligence, not real people, and is only comprehensible through hierarchical systems of revealed truth, compiled and bestowed by way of an intermediary Priesthood, the story is always the same, the organization of society according to divine instructions, the alienation of man from his potential, the imposition of strict behavioural guidelines and deadly punishments.
Brand glorifies this reproduction of Jesus as any Muslim, Hare Krishna, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness or Catholic would glorify their respective reproductions of “Jesus”, like these systems he has to revise the basis of the WBC's Jesus fetish, the interpretation and meaning of the “Holy Bible”, to reproduce his own version; “The Bible like all religious doctrine may be allegorical & symbolic to direct us towards one “Holy Entity of Love”, as opposed to a specific litigenous text to direct the behaviour of human beings”.
Having likely never read the Bible it's easy for Brand to innocently misrepresent it as some idealized font of spiritual wisdom, but actually it is not allegorical or symbolic, rather predominantly composed of the laws, customs and mythologised history, of a patriarchal tribe living in the Levant around four thousand years ago which has been adapted and translated numerous times by numerous cultural elites, it is and always has been used for exactly what he says it isn't, his interpretation or the inversion of the truth.
Perhaps aspects of the Bible are “symbolic”, much of it certainly appears to be nonsensical if taken literally, by selecting quotations and fragments you can essentially build up a theological support for whatever you want to push, this idea of the God of the Bible being some “holy entity of love” is particularly far fetched and more importantly highly contradictory, unless one dismisses almost completely the Tanakh, the original material known as the Old Testament. (see footnote)
With people abandoning the existing Christian faith, in no small part because of it's outdated moral imperitives, it's basis as "a specific litigenous text to direct the behaviour of human beings", Brand attempts to reinvent it, insidiously setting up a new faith beneath his attractive platitudes, an idealized "Holy Entity of Love".
The WBC -who's ideology has a firm basis in the OT- don't even accept this idealized representation of their faith; “you fashion a conception of God out of your own dark hearts”, one of the spokesmen accuses Brand and the audience, before explaining to them that God is a stern parent, to love is not to unconditionally accept, that there are commandments and covenants with God to fulfil.
The reason they preach against the 21st century and chastise people's freedom of choice, is;“because we love them (targets of their pickets) and don't want them to burn in hell” they lack the “spiritual” niceties, smooth words, and idealistic dreams used by Brand to appeal to people's emotions, they just weigh in with the heavy threats of eternal damnation and torture, strict rules and regulations.
Because somebody wrote a really scary story thousands of years ago to get people to follow their commandments, about what would happen if they didn't follow those commandments, a priesthood found that a person's life could be influenced by their concept of death, their attention and behaviour regulated by the subtle manipulation of their imagination.
The idea of a thing could be more powerful than the non-existing reality of that thing itself, in this way inadequacies, sin and shame were attributed in generous measure to all and sundry, reproduced and elaborated on through various religious systems over the ages, self persecution from which the intermediary priesthood of the age offered various forms of salvation and sanctuary.
To this Brand states: “I agree with the basics, it's just where it goes into the sex because I just think it's such a low priority when there's so many important things happening. What do you reckon God thinks about the ecological disaster and the growing power of the corporations, don't you think he is worried about that more than 'the bumming'?”, which is a fair point, if there was a God i'm sure he would be less interested in individual human experiences than in the general wellbeing of the collective lifeforms on the planet, but there's no evidence of such a being looking out for the wellbeing of any of the countless extinct and oppressed lifeforms on the Planet, so this concession to the basic tenets of their delusion can only be intended to neutralize their hostility towards his own religion, to shine a warm enhancing light upon the mist enveloped regions of the religious world in general.
This betrays Russell's agenda as if it wasn't clear from his rebranding of the Bible, he appeals to populist sentiment on the environment, against fracking, ecological disasters and against corporations, attempting to hijack or direct the “spirit” of rebellion emerging at this moment, attempting passify the vibrant criticisms and critical actions of the youth with talk of “love and acceptance and tolerance”, not to mention this glorification of religious humility, the negation of objective reality; detachment and self abandonment in the face of tasks humanity must tackle, clear sightedly without delusion, with awareness and innovation, having won through to ourselves.
“You don't give God, your maker the glory for making you and giving you that position”
“I do I do”
“No you don't”
“This is definitely due to a powerful cosmic entity, that creates all energy, and wants us all to be unified and loving, if I didn't make that clear I'm sorry”
"Look here's good old bloody Krishna, dancing on the head of evil to acknowledge that everything belongs to God"
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters does this man appear sane to you?
Demonstrating his ignorance towards the Hebrew Old Testament, Brand takes the position of an adherent of Jesus Christ and the New Testament in his misrepresentation of it...On the left are Jewish scholars, on the right are Christians:
*Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1844