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Saturday, 14 March 2015

A Case of the Puffed Up Presenter

In my last blog I opened with the case of a university vice chancellor drawing on expense allowances to jet around the world in business class. This was to encourage foreign students to come into the UK to study at Bath University. In order to highlight the difference between a celebrity and the commoner, I then made the comparison between Expense Allowance, and Benefits, which is exactly the same thing - revenue contributed by the taxpayer - but with very different meanings. While I was writing that blog, something was going on in the celebrity world elsewhere which, once having gone public, would be controversial enough to split the nation.

It's about the BBC presenter of Top Gear, a hugely popular programme about cars, and fast, sporty cars in particular. Hosted by Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May, this show has attracted a wide audience to the television channel, a reflection of how the topic of posh cars goes down well with national pride. But I must be one of a minority who have no interest in the show. That is because I had never driven, let alone ever owning a car, throughout my whole life. Instead, for local travel I use a pedal cycle, and rely mainly on trains for longer distances. Then again, I can relate stories of long distance cycling: burn-ups, flat tyres, time trials, triathlon, and simply touring, but I suppose all that is for another day. Rather, what I have found astonishing was that over the last few days, the Media had not ceased to publish ongoing articles about one presenter in particular, Jeremy Clarkson, whose recent behaviour not only had served to endorse his character, but his present suspension from his post had split the nation down the middle whether he should be sacked by the BBC, or reinstated. 

With my interests roused, by reading various newspaper articles, I managed to piece together the events which led up to all this publicity, so at least I believe. Apparently, the Top Gear team had a hotel booked up in Yorkshire, where they were to spend the night after a full day filming. At the end of the day's filming session, they went into a pub, where they spent up to three hours, before arriving at the hotel late in the evening, about an hour after the chef had gone home. As a result, the programme producer, Oisin Tymon, could only dish up a "cold platter" instead of the hot cuisine of sirloin steak they were expecting. It was at this point when Clarkson flew into a rage, and using plenty of expletives, punched, or threatened to strike his boss, in an altercation which lasted up to thirty minutes. The story goes that he felt compelled to admit his tirade to the BBC after persuasion from his team mates.

As I see it, this was a reaction of a spoilt brat, like a child throwing a tantrum when he does not get his own way. As a result of this, the presenter was suspended from his post at the BBC pending further investigation, and as far as I know, the final three episodes of Top Gear will not be shown as scheduled, although I would not be at all surprised if the BBC was forced to change their minds and present these programmes after public and international pressure. And this is what surprises me - national support, mainly from Conservative voters, for Clarkson to be reinstated despite such truculent behaviour. Even our Prime Minister, Conservative leader David Cameron, who is second in Government only to the Queen, backed the presenter's reinstatement. Then came the article one would expect from a right wing newspaper, The Daily Mail, written by Richard Littlejohn, and headlined:
Too White. Too Male. And Too Damned British. No wonder the Beeb wants shot of Clarkson.

How amazing. Not only that such wording has made its way to the public press, but rather it's content. Aside from being inaccurate, it's also a revelation that our nation glorifies wickedness! Now, how different the whole scenario would have been if something like this had taken place that evening:-

It has been a hard day filming Top Gear. But there were a couple of spare hours before the need to return to the hotel. So Jeremy Clarkson, himself a millionaire, invites the entire team into the pub restaurant and offered to treat the entire crew with a sumptuous meal of sirloin steak, or anything of each member's choice. At table, Clarkson phones the hotel reception to announce that they were all eating out, and asked for the chef be relieved of his duties. Then the whole atmosphere is instantly transformed from work stress to that of camaraderie.  

Now that is being a British male. And at the same time his popularity soars among all in the team, including producer Oisin Tymon. And he would have the approval not only from every Top Gear fan in the entire UK, but from the BBC as well. But instead, and quite contrary to Littlejohn's opinion, the broadcasting corporation had to cover for the presenter's past gaffs, including rhyming Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, which contains a racist insult, as well as apologising to a local council on behalf of the celebrity, who drove deliberately into a horse chestnut tree to test the strength of the car, together with other wrongful acts which when combined, would have gotten any other employee eventual dismissal.

Yet according to the latest statistic, up to 875,000 supporters had signed a petition for Clarkson to be reinstated. And I think this is rapidly growing, and I wouldn't be surprised that the number will break the million barrier before the weekend is out, particularly by Sunday evening, when the programme would have been aired. Going by numbers, 875,000 is nearly 1.4% of the entire UK population of 64 million. That may be a tiny proportion, but I believe it represents a much larger number of supporters who for some reason either could not be bothered to sign the petition, or simply hadn't got round to it, or even needed encouragement to do so. What ever the total number of supporters might be, I felt dumbfounded when I saw on Facebook that one of those who had signed the petition was a true Christian believer.

Statistics on who attends church on a regular basis is difficult enough to analyse, let alone how many true believers found among them. But the last time I read the stats, between two to three percent of the UK population attend church on a weekly basis. Taking the lower estimate, two percent of 875,000 would amount to 17,500 Christian supporters who had signed the petition, a minuscule proportion of the entire British population, but still, in my mind at least that amount too many! Of course, such a statistic could be misleading. There could have been far, far fewer Christian believers who had signed the petition without throwing the statistics out of balance.

Am I being political correct? Or judgemental? I don't think so in either case. Certainly not politically correct, for I myself hate the garbage that is associated with this modern way of thinking. Just as any commoner who violently throws a wobbly at his boss or team mate would be instantly dismissed from his post, why should this guy be reinstated just because he is a celebrity? Does this reflect God's point of view? Then, going by what I have read in the Media, there seems to be a leaning towards Conservative values among Clarkson's supporters, including our own Prime Minister. There was even voices heard among Chelsea football fans backing the presenter - the same crowd from where a group of racists had recently insulted a black man at a Paris subway.

Ah, the land of Hope and Glory, so the British love to believe, which by the way, a phrase originally referring to the land of Israel, as Jesus Christ will one day reign as King in Jerusalem, Israel's capital. For a country such as ours referring to itself as Christian, or with a Christian Constitution, I have wondered how much the Brits are able to see how supporting Clarkson flies in the face of Bible principles. Does the Bible encourage God's forgiveness? Yes it does, but usually on the condition of repentance and faith. But what about forgiving others? Yes, certainly among true believers, especially if the one in the wrong repents. Then again, it is true that love covers a multitude of sins. However, going by what I have read, there seems to be no sign in the presenter of a change of heart towards faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. If that proves to be true, then to whom the British idolise, after death he will face Judgement.

Contrary to the heading of Littlejohn's article, there is nothing either British, white or male about Clarkson's tantrum at that hotel. What he had demonstrated was sheer selfishness, inflated by pride in his celebrity status, and adored by a large percentage of Brits. The true definition of masculinity is found in Galatians 5:22, which reads:-

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.

What a contrast to Clarkson and his British supporters! Really, when you think about it, one is not a real man unless he is a believer in Jesus Christ and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. As Isaiah, has written, ...and by his wounds we are healed. In other words, unless a fellow has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, he is not all there, and such drama by the presenter and his supporters is proof of this. Oh the English bulldog spirit, which is a substitute for the Holy Spirit. The bulldog might be strong, courageous, unemotional, have the stiff upper lip - along with carrying the threat to punch the producer on the face for getting Clarkson into trouble - which in reality, he didn't - springing up among Internet trolls, all of these pandering to the self rather than glorifying God. Maybe tying with the Darwinian concept of Evolution and the survival of the fittest. Such thinking has no room for the Gospel of Christ, as this would mean death to self, to be born again to serve God and others.

Yes, I would support Clarkson's reinstatement as a Top Gear presenter, but on one condition: That he would turn to Jesus Christ and trust God to save him, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. As a result, he will be feeling new desires within. No longer would he look down on the non-white man, but recognise that he too is loved by Christ, who desire him, along with all mankind, regardless of colour, race or nationality, to come to the knowledge of the truth. His presentation will be softened with grace, a virtue which could cause him to lose a number of fans. It is unfortunate that there are many Brits who, like Richard Littlejohn, regard Clarkson as a model of the true English Bulldog - tough, arrogant, conservative, xenophobic, patriotic, racist, proud, aggressive, confident, lacking compassion for the poor or needy, loving wealth, and finding joy in fast cars. Many viewers adore such a rugged character of a man. That is why such a large number has signed the petition.

But unfortunately, his type does not reflect the character of Jesus Christ, who did not find it shameful to weep in public, and on two recorded occasions as well. The tremendous amount of good he did to others is well known to us over two thousand years later. Fighting over food? I can't see the Lord doing anything like that! Rather, he would have happily gone without if this meant others receive their share. And not to mention his time of fasting, I believe over several weeks, while preparing for his ministry. And during his ministry, finding time to bless little children, as well as showing compassion towards women steeped in sin. The difference between the Lord and our hero is at present as wide as the Grand Canyon. But believing on the Lord and being filled with his Spirit is that bridge which can bring the two opposing sides together.

And only then will Jeremy Clarkson become a real man.


  1. Dear Frank,
    I think you should start a line of T-shirts that say "Real men trust Christ!" I would certainly buy one for my husband and son. But pride is what keeps all sinners, male and female, from trusting Him and accepting that there is nothing we can do in our own merit to save ourselves, and that without Him, we can do nothing.
    Thanks for the great post, and God bless,

  2. Sadly, the people we set up as heroes become the models for the younger people. that many who consider themselves Christians approve such behavior reveals just how far we have moved from a godly, spiritual attitude.