Article for the Times December 2010

Times – Christ on a Bike piece

Even though I am an atheist, I love Jesus. I think he’s amazing. For me it’s just all the people who follow him who tend to be such idiots. He’s like the Fonz in that respect.
So when I got the opportunity to start my tour show “Christ on a Bike” during Christmas week, I thought what could be better? It would be a rationalist antidote to the religious Festival. Sticking my oar in, by questioning the inconsistencies in the Bible and trying to find the true historical Jesus. And yet, if you look at most entertainment over the festive period, the one thing that seems to being edged out of Christmas is Christ. Yuletide is more about selling X-box 360s and making Simon Cowell even more money to put in his money-pit than celebrating the life or philosophy of the Palestinian Jew who kicked the whole thing off. At the cinema you’re offered Harry Potter or C S Lewis, which might be a thinly veiled and frankly rubbish Christian allegory, but you’re just watching it for the talking rat. At the theatre you get panto or musical versions of Roald Dahl stories. Even churches seem to be almost embarrassed to mention Jesus – the Alpha course seems just as obsessed with the Lord of the Rings as the Lord of the Dance. By which I mean Jesus, not Flately. Christ barely gets a look in. As if it wasn’t annoying enough for him that his birthday falls on Christmas Day. Well, we all have our cross to bear.
So perversely my potentially blasphemous questions and deconstructions might be the closest anyone comes to mentioning the omnipresent elephant in the room. For example haven’t you wondered what happened to the gold, frankincense and myrrh? They’re mentioned in the nativity story and we never hear about them again. Surely to a humble Biblical family like the Christs, that would be the equivalent of a roll-over lottery win. Was Joseph one of those smug types who won’t let the money change them and keeps up the carpentry business?
And my show is by no means as disrespectful to the Christian myth as all bare-faced commercialism that is going on in supposed celebration. And if our society ran on genuine Christian principles of not judging, or stone-throwing and looking after the weakest and people rather than rewarding the richest, then maybe we’d be better off.
We’d be rid of the X Factor and Simon Cowell anyway and that would be a start.