A Chat about Jimmy Savile

Consider two conversations about Jimmy Savile on the streets of Leeds.

Less Fruitful Conversation

“My name is Don. I believe that my good deeds will allow me to go to heaven after I die.”

“You cannot earn your salvation. Just believe in Jesus.”

“I am not convinced by your response.”

More Fruitful Conversation

“My name is Don. I believe that my good deeds will allow me to go to heaven after I die.”

“Have you heard about the dark side of Jimmy Savile?”

“Of course I have. Jimmy was incredibly famous as an eccentric celebrity who raised £40 million for charity. He lived in Leeds. After his death in 2011 there was overwhelming evidence that Jimmy had raped and abused many vulnerable boys and girls.”

“Fantastic, Don, I’m glad we are on the same page.”

“But what has this got to do with my question, Rocky?”

“Well it’s vital that we understand Jimmy’s worldview. How did he understand the world?”

“That’s a fascinating question, Rocky. To be honest I don’t know.”

“Savile combined a materialist mindset with a perverted understanding of the Christian faith.”

“Rocky, you are a nice bloke but you are losing me here. Explain what you are saying in simple and accessible terms. I’m not thick but I need some help here.”

“Fair cop, boss. I apologise for my ridiculous opacity. I’ve just done it again. By opacity I mean being obscure.”

“Please enlighten me about Savile’s worldview. Keep it simple.”

“Jimmy believed that humans are just machines who have no control over their sexual cravings. Some men rape children because they are moist, chemical robots who have no free will. The craving comes and the rape and abuse of the child is inevitable.”

“Wow that is incredibly dark.”

“Savile was also a Catholic and he believed in God. Boffins call this syncretism. You mix materialist beliefs with Christian beliefs. Jimmy believed that God works a debit side and a credit side. He said in an interview that St Peter wouldn’t dare bar him from heaven. ‘What do you mean he’s led an immoral life?’ God would say to St Peter. ‘Have you any idea how much money he’s raised for charity? Or how many hours he’s put in as a porter at that hospital? Get them doors opened now and be quick.”

“That’s a fascinating story, Rocky.”

“In another interview Savile told a priest that his charity work would cancel out his bad deeds and he would be saved. Don, do you know what the Bible says about this?”

“No I haven’t got a clue.”

“The New Testament teaches that it is foolish to trust in our good deeds. They cannot save you. Jesus died for our sins and came back from the dead. It is by trusting in Him that we are forgiven and put right with God. Savile had no knowledge of this good news.”

“Thanks Rocky for this conversation. I am still unsure of what I believe but I will read the New Testament and find out what it says.”

Mark Roques
Categories: RealityBites

Mark Roques

Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Education at Prior Park College, Bath, for many years. As Director of RealityBites he has developed a rich range of resources for youth workers and teachers. He has spoken at conferences in the UK, Holland, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is a lively storyteller and the author of four books, including The Spy, the Rat and the Bed of Nails: Creative Ways of Talking about Christian Faith. His work is focused on storytelling and how this can help us to communicate the Christian faith. He has written many articles for the Baptist Times, RE Today, Youthscape, Direction magazine and the Christian Teachers Journal.


Hugh Grear · May 12, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Great article. Wonder where Savile is now, and whether he can access The Thinking Faith Network. He’s possibly left it a little bit late…. But for the rest of us there’s an excellent book that Mark recommended to me recently, called Imagine Heaven by John Burke. Loving it. It’s based on thousands of “Near Death Experiences” and it uses those details to imagine what heaven will be like. It suggests that Heaven is very, very real, and it’s main characteristic is God’s overwhelming love. Savile should have realised that raising millions for charity is no substitute for divine love and forgiveness! At the end of the day, wherever he is now, Jim can’t fix it!

Evan · May 12, 2022 at 2:59 pm

A brilliant perspective on syncretism! I wouldn’t have thought about Savile’s case in that way. Thanks, Mark!

Sareen Galbraith · May 14, 2022 at 7:29 pm

Super article, Mark.

Bruce Wearne · May 19, 2022 at 12:51 am

Well, Mark, thanks. Yes edgy story this. You’d think that hearing it, the victims of such criminal deeds and such blasphemous covering up, along with family and friends, must wonder about the “Christian motive” of such blasphemous “Pearly Gates” leniency – putting such words into God’s mouth. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this was an attempt to camouflage an earthly reputation, as if one’s reputation is the most important thing in this life and the next. I’m waiting for you to tell us what Don says next time you meet, and he has further comment for you (and us). Good stuff to get us thinking …

Gillian Adsett Cameron · May 31, 2022 at 12:03 am

Watching the Netflix doco on Jimmy Savile I was shocked to hear his views on freedom:
“- Interviewer: what would be the thing that would hurt you most if it was taken away from you?
– JS: Oh freedom, I’ve got the freedom to do pretty well anything now.
– Interviewer: What do you really do? What is it that really gives you a kick?
– JS: You don’t know, you are constrained by certain things. I’m not in your world. I’m not constrained pretty well by anything. The tough thing in life is ultimate freedom. That’s when the battle starts. Because you’ve got to be very strong to stand for ultimate freedom. But I’m alone in the world now but I’m quite happy because I borrow everyone else. I borrow their joys I borrow their sorrows. I got 56 million people in this country and the country’s like a big front room to me so I’m quite happy with them and they are it would appear quite happy with me.”

Clearly Freedom was Savile’s god and it demanded a high price – the sacrifice of many vulnerable people (“I borrow everyone else. I borrow their joys I borrow their sorrows”) as well as Savile himself who says he has no family, no close friends (“I’m alone in the world now but I’m quite happy because I borrow everyone else”). It’s like he’s sucked dry the life in others and in doing so has himself become a dry empty shell.

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