Oct 12, 2011
neil

What have the likes of Rowan Atkinson and Ricky Gervais got in common? Fraser Nelson thinks he knows

Fraser Nelson in last weeks Spectator magazine takes issue with the condescending tone of Rowan Atkinson;

Rowan Atkinson, the comedian and actor, this week denounced many of the clerics he has met as being ‘smug’, ‘arrogant’, ‘conceited’, and ‘presumptuous about their position in society’. He shows no mercy to the clergy, and shows no doubts whatsoever about his right to judge the church.

There are smug priests, of course, just as their are smug architects, smug engineers, smug police officers, smug politicians and, whisper it, smug comedians. No member of the priesthood, for instance, would sit behind the wheel of a sports car valued at £2 million, still less prang it, as Mr Atkinson did last month, No ‘clerk in holy orders’, as vicars used to call themselves, would attempt to raze a perfectly good house in Oxfordshire to the ground, and build in its stead a monstrous glass and steel edifice, as Mr Atkinson wants to do, in defiance of the wishes of local people. Some fuddy-duddies might consider this sort of behaviour to be arrogant. His unhappy neighbours might even suggest that Atkinson himself was a touch presumptuous about his own place in society. Perhaps Mr Atkinson is above hypocrisy.

Modern comedians have become a secular priesthood. They have their own customs and rituals, and their own language, which is not always friendly. There is a strict hierarchy among TV comics, and at the top of the profession, an untouchable, cabal, far grander and more self-important than any circle of bishops.

Many comedians like Atkinson are rich beyond their dreams. Most real priests, by contrast, live humbly, and dedicate their ministry to the lives of others without expectation of reward. If Rowan Atkinson is keen to continue his new vocation as a lay preacher, he would do well to learn from their example.

 

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