Life of Brian was the beginning of my spiritual path
Life of Brian was the beginning of my spiritual path

Life of Brian was the beginning of my spiritual path

Monty Python’s Life of Brian opened on August 17, 1979 in New York and Los Angeles. At the time I was a 14 year old fundamentalist Christian and I was told by our leaders not to see the film.
“I am sorry, I really didn’t think that you could have a
mass initiation in the 5=6
We were told that it insulted Jesus, it was blasphemous and above all it was cruel to all those who followed Christ. Life of Brian was banned in several countries, including Norway (say no more!)
When it appeared in New Zealand some of my mates went out and picketed it. I remember one guy even bought his own cross. When the reporters asked if he had seen it yet he said “you do not need go and see a sewer to know that it smell’s bad.”
In fact many of them were parroting what other people had told them about the film. None of them ever saw it, because they feared what would happen if they snuck in and formed their own opinion.
I made a mistake when I happened to say something similar about the film to my Dad. Dad is not religious, but something seemed to really bother him about it all. He knew how much I really liked Monty Python. So much so that a Monty Python ban was one of the best ways to make me behave.
In one of the few moments I can think of where he ever made me do something I would not have done, he made sure I went to the movie. In New Zealand it was an R16 and I was 14 so he went with me in case there was any trouble.
Our crack suicide squad is prepared
to kill itself if anyone reads
King over the Water
It is still one of the funniest movies of all time.
On the train home Dad had one of those sorts of conversations that fathers have with their sons about the nature of censorship. We agreed that Life of Brian did not take the piss out of Jesus but mocked those followed it. But it also lead me to question those who had demanded the film censored without seeing it. They had become like those who were too eager to throw stones at the wrong target because he had said Jehovah. Those who don’t need to see sewers to know they smell bad, had missed a crucial point. Those who are ignorant should be informed before they speak. Moreover, those who are ignorant should not outsource their opinions to others however much they respect them.
Now there is King over the Water, which some on Amazon have insisted is “burnt” because it is an “insult” to a modern AO order. They have formed his opinion because someone has told them that it insults their order.Yesterday a writer called Frater Barabas even claimed that “ Public Interpretation is a Writer’s Responsibility” This is quite an alarming concept. It means that those who called for the death of Salmon Rushdie were actually right. It also implies that the public interpretation of your writing is automatically informed and right. In the case of Frater Barabas he is relying on the opinion of someone who regular readers of this blog will know fudged a quote to start a flame war. Barabas admits that he had never read the book either. 
So tell us oh leader, which book shall we burn today?
Like the guy outside the Embassy theatre with his cross, Barabas does not need to see a sewer to know it smells. He just needs to be told it smells and he will provide the intellectual frame work.
Barabas should also be aware of the dangers of anyone who turns up on the side which bays for blood. Choices made on the basis of a hysterical crowd meant that his name sake was chosen over Jesus. It does not mean that public mis-interpretation of his teaching was Jesus’s fault, simply that the crowd was wiped up by a bunch of people who wanted him dead.
Likewise the readers of King over the Water have universally liked it and understand what it is getting at.  It is not attacking Mathers, or any modern order which claims it is the AO at all.  It is just presenting the historical facts about Mathers and his Order which closed in the 1940s.  If you read it for yourself you can make your own conclusion.  And, having read it, you might want to wonder why someone has gone so far as demanding the book was burnt.
Occultists do not follow crowds, nor do they parrot opinions of group leaders. After Life of Brian I started to question.  Two years later I was away from the fundamentalist Christian view point for good. It might have been that Life of Brian really was the start of my occult path.


  1. Brian: …Will you please listen? I’m not the Messiah! Do you understand? Honestly!

    Woman: Only the true Messiah denies his divinity!

    Brian: What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right, I am the Messiah!

    Crowd: He is! He is the Messiah!

    Brian: Now, fuck off!


    Arthur: How shall we fuck off, oh Lord?

    Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!

    The Crowd: Yes! We’re all INDIVIDUALS!

    Brian: You’re all different!

    The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all DIFFERENT!

    Man in crowd: I’m not…

    The Crowd: Sch!

  2. Yes, laughter is the only universally effective banishing.

    “Oh the huge contempt for the limiting self which springs from the sense of gargantuan disproportion perceived in this Laughter! Truly it slays, with jolliest cannibal revels, that sour black-coated missionary the serious Ego, and plumps him into the pot!” – Aleister Crowley

  3. The thing about people who say things like, “I don’t have to smell a sewer to know it smells bad”, is that they don’t actually know that some sewers don’t smell at all. Other sayings are equally absurd and without foundation. Lightning DOES strike twice. There is loads of smoke without fire. What all the people who use these sayings have in common is 1) a marked lack of real experience, 2) an inability to think for themselves, and 3) deep enbedded predjuice.

  4. Yes, The Life of Brian remains the most remarkably astute commentary I’ve ever seen on religion and the misjudgements that arise from it. The scene quoted by Joseph is brilliant.

    Your story about picketing cinemas also calls to mind the 1990s Irish comedy Father Ted, where the priests are ordered by their superiors to picket a ‘blasphemous’ film. As they haven’t seen it, their protest involves standing outside the cinema with placards saying “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful now”. Similarly, there are a lot of Amazon reviews which manage to be full of indignation and outrage without actually saying anything.

    Once offence has been taken, it becomes its own justification.

  5. Ok, Nick, I may disagree with the facts and false allegations that have been slung around regarding this dispute, but I have to say that, on a personal level, my estimation of you just went up a notch. Humor is important, and humor from Monty Python, well it just makes me chuckle.

    I still disagree with you on the points, but it is not personal 🙂

  6. Humor; one of the more important Qualities that should be cultivated by every magician! This along with Integrity, Responisibility, Discrimination, Patience, Diligence, Service to Others, and Self-Sacrifice should be high on the list of Qualities to cultivate in our Work.

    In LVX,

  7. Sorry, I gotta cross-post, it’s just so relevant here:

    “The pedant and the priest have always been the most expert of logicians – and the most diligent disseminators of nonsense and worse. The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by these dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe – that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power and hence a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.” – H.L. Mencken

  8. In every magical group I was in, everyone loved Monty Python and especially Life of Brian (although “MP and The Holy Grail” wasn’t far behind). This movie crosses boundaries in the magical community 🙂

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