Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ian Hislop: a modern Ezekiel?

For the 2nd week in a row, the Radio Times is asking questions about faith. Last week Tom Hollander, this week Ian Hislop. Hislop is following up his excellent series on the Victorian 'do-gooders' with a progamme on 'When Bankers Were Good'. With all the talk about putting a new ethical basis at the heart of banking, perhaps Hislops programme should be required watching in the Square Mile.

Hislop is also quizzed about his faith:

Hislop, who was at the helm of Private Eye when it portrayed the then prime minister as a trendy Church of England vicar, described himself as "an occasional Anglican".

He said: "I'm not sure that a lot of what I do is particularly charitable or Christian, so that worries me. I remember being in church and the vicar noticed I was there and included me in a rant in his sermon against those who bear false witness. That put me in my place. So I am pretty confused about my position. But I go."

I was wondering if Hislop is too hard on himself, and was put in mind of the prophet Ezekiel. Here is someone who cooks over dung to make a public point, graphically compares Israel to a prostitute, and repeatedly satirises and slams the rulers of Israel for their vices and sins. Part political commentator, part performance artist, Ezekial would have worried the lawyers at Private Eye, and been post-watershed material on Channel 4.

Though I guess if the CofE embraced Hislop too openly, that might devalue his currency as a commentator and prophet. After all, if you want people to hear you speak from the church steps, not the vestry.