Ricky Gervais, the comedian who authored a controversial essay last Christmas called 'Why I Am An Atheist' is back with a religious message sure to irritate many people. It's titled, 'Why I Am A Good Christian', just in time for Palm Sunday and Easter week.
Gervais reviews the 10 Commandments, measuring his own conduct against them. He gives himself a point for each, with explanatory notes, ending up with a perfect 10 at the end. His longest musings are on the Third and Fourth Commandments: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; and Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
According to the Bible, God commanded us to keep it holy. But what does that really mean? Work is basically referring to that which we do to earn a living, or in working around the house, or any labour we participate in daily. So, if we never worked at all would that mean every day was holy? No. This absolutely is not being holy. In various places in the Bible we are told of our need to work, for in our work we honor God. So... basically you have to work for the equivalent of six days a week with a day off.
I do this. I get another point.
In 2009, Gervais took on Commandment Nine (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor) in his film The Invention of Lying. He plays a writer in a world where no one can lie - except his character. As NPR's Bob Mondello writes, Gervais has to invent organized religion, including "The Man In the Sky" who takes care of people who've died.
He's not so charitable here, criticizing Christians who fail to practice forgiveness, kindness and tolerance, and presenting the 10 Commandments as a test. He finishes with his perfect score:
Not bad for an atheist. How did you do?