Russell Brand ignores the significance of baptism


One of the joys of my priestly life is when I am asked to perform baptisms. Sometimes it is a baby held by a parent, but often it is a mature person who has come to know Jesus Christ and desires this sacramental connection with the family of God. I welcome every one of them.

I feel the same way about Russell Brand, who just announced to his millions of online followers that he was baptized on Sunday. He said he felt “incredibly blessed” and that it all “nourished” him. I am happy for him and hope that he becomes a true follower of Jesus, dedicated to God, loving his enemies, standing with the poor and marginalized, and putting others before himself.

But there is more to do. Baptism involves transformation, living differently, and what we might think of as great, glorious cleansing. This new covenant is not just for us, but for ourselves. In other words, it is not something passive, but rather a manifestation of action and movement for adults, and it also requires humility and remorse.

Sins can be forgiven, but there needs to be evidence that the truth of those sins – errors or mistakes, if you will – has been understood and accepted, otherwise it all might look like the public tears of politicians. Have we learned the lessons, are we paying the price, are we working to repair the damage done? Accepting Jesus means accepting what He requires of us, and that’s not easy.

Bland was accused by four women of sexual assault, rape and emotional abuse and was interviewed twice by police on suspicion of other crimes. One of his accusers was 16 at the time of the incident.

He denied the accusations, arguing that while he was “very, very promiscuous” he only had consensual relationships. Therefore, it is absurd to expect him to admit guilt when he claims innocence. But whatever the legality, he clearly hurt people deeply. If he apologizes for this, I haven’t seen it. I don’t see any sign that he has changed either.

What I saw was Russell Brand focusing on Russell Brand: “Something incredible and overwhelming happened during the baptismal process, It was really overwhelming because I was obviously underwater and it was the Thames and, “like it says in Galatians: you can live as an enlightened and awakened person”.

This is not all Paul says in his letter to the Galatians. His letters, the entire New Testament, and the teachings of Jesus are not just another form of self-help or the latest health technology. Yet Brand writes that he is “someone who has taken many, many substances in the past, but was always disappointed by their inability to provide the kind of tranquility, peace, and even transcendence that I was looking for.”

So, has he found the right medicine, the effective solution, the latest solution to the chaos? No! While Christianity does bring peace, it teaches that we should “become” better because of our faith, not that we should “feel” better about ourselves.

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