Decency, respect, moderation – Britain built on christian values – the Channel 4 programme was about bringing people the message of faith to answer problems of modern living and transform the life of volunteers with three mentors of different denominations headed by George who backed firefighters in Scotland refusing to hand out leaflets at a Gay Parade, started the Christian Party, and in a previous life wrote the song “So Macho” below
The people chosen are:
- a biker who’s a tattooist and a militant atheist (Martin)
- a young man who was brought up Christian until he was 12, and now has a girlfriend who is 10 weeks’ pregnant
- a lap-dancing manager who can’t live without continually acquiring expensive designer shoes (Faye)
- middle-class parents who are so professionally busy that they have hardly any time to spend with their children
- a man in his 20s who, unbeknown to his girlfriend, goes out every week drinking and womanising (Kevin)
- a man who found Christianity unfulfilling and has converted to Islam
- a lesbian who sometimes sleeps with men (Laura).
These individuals are up for conversion – or at least not be the same after three weeks with the mentors. The start is York Minster, where they are told that god loves you no matter what you have done and we are a christian nation. I will allow you to guess which one of the above did not go in who thinks it was built to keep the peasants in line.
The word of god and the person of Jesus – now at the teaching centre in Leeds and Martin is very much making himself felt with a joke that the last thing Jesus will want to see again is another crucifix; and disrupting proceedings by asking questions. The reason given that we should believe the Old Testament is because Jesus believed it. George deals with Martin by shouting over him and telling him to listen rather than ask questions.
Next off to their homes to remove anything which may be a hindrance to living a good life. The family household have 6 televisions in the house; the suggestion of family time together seems like a winner (even if bible reading). Laura has DVDs and art which reflects her sexuality (“The big book of Lesbian Horse stories”) which is removed from the house.
Father John however brings something for the house of the expectant family – a picture of the Pope and a crucifix. The lap dancer manager Faye however is into Wicca books and memorabilia. George declares this as engaging in demonic powers and declares her a witch. Thankfully a lecture on bible teaching rather than a burning ensues. Perhaps more interesting is how much she is spending on designer gear for her self image (the mentor helpfully suggests she is on the road to hell).
The issues that seem to be coming up are not explicitly ones to do with faith, but rather well known psychological issues and things that people do. The programme annoyingly keeps telling you what they are doing at the end of every commercial break and recapping what has already been shown. It looks like the repetition of a central message – but it gets a tad annoying.
Now on to “Lynx lad” Kevin who is being visited by the female Anglican vicar Joanna – unlike George that gave Faye a hard time about sex, her concern is him being unfaithful and the recreational use of sex. She goes through his phone and deleting said ladies’ numbers on his phone.
A saviour forces us to deal with our sins; the christian life cannot be led with a life of sin and George is having problems with Martin over this. Revelry, fornication, adultery, abortion, drunkenness – George suggests avoiding these in the next three weeks.
So off we go to an abortion clinic – where the number of those that die from unprofessional abortions is mentioned. Vicar Joanne mentions Isaiah where god would not break a reed because he cares for the vulnerable (1 Samuel 15 and the instruction by god to Saul to commit genocide and kill babies?). Kevin is now set up to be tested for STDs – to be confronted with possible consequences of his behaviour which includes not practising safer sex with multiple same partners. The answer is the bible rather than safer sex and perhaps just getting an early night alone. George helpfully suggest that he will have Aids by 30 and gives him a mantra for when he starts lusting on his night out. If only Kevin had said the problem with the women is because he is so macho.
There is nothing like empowering people’s self worth, showing them the need for change and how it will benefit them and their family. But this programme is not about that, and if George is going to be the head liner for Christianity on TV Christians up and down the country may be tempted to throw themselves to the lions.
[EDIT review of episode 2 here]
[EDIT review of epsiode 3 and entire series here]
Thanks to Fiona for giving me a heads up about the programme.