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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
Messages 1 2 

Michael and religion? by andrewhh on 28 October 2007 11:49am
Hi everyone,

Watching the first couple of episodes of "New Europe" (I just got the DVD) has made me wonder about Michael's religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Already, in two episodes, he has referred to people's "religious experiences" AS THOUGH THEY WERE VERIFIABLE FACTS. For example, he doesn't say that those children in Medugorje "believe they saw the Virgin Mary" on a hilltop. Rather, he says that they saw her.

So, this makes me wonder... Is he just being overly-polite? Is he concerned about the potential American audience for the program? Or has he changed his religious views recently? Or was I mistaken to think he was an atheist or agnostic in the first place?

So, the reason I have posted this is to ask whether any of you could point me towards specific quotes from Michael that might shed light on his religious beliefs? (Anything on the internet or in any of his books would be fine - I have them all except "New Europe", so page references would be more than sufficient, though I don't remember noticing anything in the past that was inconsistent with my assumptions.)

Thanks very much!

Re: Michael and religion? by Godfather on 28 October 2007 2:45pm
Going by something like Life of Brian, I should imagine he is just being polite in this latest series :)
Re: Michael and religion? by flinda82 on 28 October 2007 3:46pm
I think Michael is rather tolerant with religion, he respects individual autunomy and seems always curious about different cultural customs including religious beliefs. Also he is incredibly clever about the amount of comment he adds to the travel series so his personal view does never shadow the actual material.

He was grown in a religous environment and when Life of Brian was being made he wrote that they didn't agree on what religion was, but they agreed on what it wasn't. So irrational acceptance of autocratic leaders and inhuman dogmas are not his cup of tea but the positive side of religions are all OK with him I think.
Re: Michael and religion? by Louise on 28 October 2007 5:49pm
"Agnostic with doubts" - Michael Palin, `Himalaya`
Re: Michael and religion? by Bunniegirl1979 on 28 October 2007 7:17pm
It's the BBC remember - a certain amount of neutrality of opinion is necessary ;-)
Re: Michael and religion? by mrsthing on 28 October 2007 10:09pm
It's hard to tell someone they didn't experience what they know they experienced. You can tell them it was a psychological phenomenon, a hallucination brought on by physical pain or deprivation, or whatever. But if a person believes he or she has had a religious experience, there's not much you can tell them to convince them otherwise.

So in a way, he's right. Those children "saw" the Virgin Mary. They believed with their whole hearts in whatever it was that happened to them, and with no reliable witnesses to confirm it was a hoax or the product of a child's vivid imagination or magical thinking, he didn't bother to make the distinction.

It was a travel video, so the issue was immaterial.
Re: Michael and religion? by Rheebles on 28 October 2007 11:00pm
This has been topic also that has been on my mind for while, as religion seems to be a huge focus on most of Michael’s travel shows, Reading his diaries, you can see a progressive change towards religion, to be honest with you I think Michael started with more of an atheistic outlook towards religion in his younger years, than an agnostic outlook he has now. Even though he still may not be a “believer”, He is definitely more respectful towards religion and now accepts in some countries that religion is not a way of life, but is their life. But he does make a few interesting points in his diary, one about getting William christened and my favourite bit in the diary when he is about to write he doesn’t believe in God, only for him to hear a huge thunderclap, making him wearily put his pen down.
Re: Michael and religion? by Wild in Africa on 29 October 2007 11:30am
I think I remember him describing himself once as an 'agnostic with doubts'. Interpret that as you will!
Re: Michael and religion? by Bunniegirl1979 on 29 October 2007 12:40pm
Wild in Africa, are you actually in Africa, by any small chance?
Re: Michael and religion? by Wild in Africa on 29 October 2007 1:57pm
No, at the moment I am in Oxford (UK) but will be in Africa next week travelling to Zambia and Zimbabwe for 15 days.
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