Magazine article The Spectator

A Necessary Truth

Magazine article The Spectator

A Necessary Truth

Article excerpt

THE SPECTATOR

The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603

A few weeks ago, Jeremy Bowen, the television reporter, claimed to have reconstructed the face of Christ. There was a very small kerfuffle. What would have happened if he had unearthed not the face but the skull - the bones of the dead Jesus of Nazareth? We can say without fear of contradiction that there would have been a very large kerfuffle indeed. Mr Bowen would have been translated from a mere hack into the possessor of the scoop of the Millennium, hailed as the greatest journalist since, some would say, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But the rise of Mr Bowen would be as nothing compared to the fall of Jesus Christ. The death of the carpenter from Galilee would be the end of the Easter story.

When a great ship goes down, the reactions of those on board vary. Some dash manfully for the lifeboats. Others panic and rush around in confusion, tearing at themselves and others in their frenzy. Still others turn silently away in despair, or in what seems to be a strange last peace. Some put women and children first, and others put them last. So it would be within that creaking time-barnacled barque, the Christian Church, at the news that Christ was dead. Some of those on board would refuse to believe it: all over the world, worshippers of every conceivable variety would denounce Mr Bowen as a stooge of Satan, or the helpless tool of a Zionist-Masonic-Communist plot. Others, especially in America, would commit mass suicide, or prepare to be transported by aliens to another planet, or turn to the Book of Mormon, or blow the family fortune on a stupendously orgiastic visit to Las Vegas. People would turn from the Son of Man to a son of man: George W. Bush would be required to make a statement - or, as he would call it, a 'resurreaction'.

Others still would declare that they never had much confidence in the old ship in the first place, and would carry on as usual. These might include distinguished figures in the Church of England, who would say that Jesus remains alive in a very real sense (though, unfortunately, not in the most real sense of all). Dr Ian Paisley would blame Dublin. Anne Robinson would dismiss the Pope as `the weakest link'. The Daily Mail would run a leader-page article by a carrot-- headed right-wing columnist entitled `Just who does this Jesus think he is?'. Tony Blair would say that he `still, like, you know, really sort of believes', but would vote for more abortion and cloning (so no change there). Thought for the Day on Radio Four's Today programme would consist of well-meaning homilies about the fur trade and ethical investment (so not much change there, either). …

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