A letter from Simon Callow

On the day of the first same sex marriages in England and Wales, while we in NI still wait for equality, I thought it might be a good time to share this short note which I received last year.

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I had been to see Simon Callow in ‘The Man Jesus’ at the Lyric in Belfast. It was a moving play offering a very human interpretation of the life of Jesus and ending with an appropriate critique of what his followers had become. As people stood to applaud at the end I looked around the room and thought about how many people were Christians. Probably quite a few and, if not, then there would at least have been many there who were familiar with the Jesus story; there aren’t many people in this country who go through their lives untouched by religion in one way or another.

I felt compelled to write to Simon Callow when I got home. I wanted him to know that, to me personally, it meant a lot that he had brought that rendition of Jesus to Belfast- the human Jesus, the one that I think is missing here sometimes, the one whose love was not a victory march but a cold and broken hallelujah. I think we could use more of that Jesus and less of the one who is obsessed with winning, obsessed with power, obsessed with control. I told Simon how difficult it can be for people here who wait and wait for the equality that some followers of the control-freak Jesus would deny to them, and how I was glad for a couple of hours to consider that there are many people here who are in favour of the other Jesus- the man Jesus.

Here is the letter he sent back to me:

‘Dear Shirley, Thank you for your lovely, touching letter. I’m sure eventually all those taboos and prejudices will disappear- the improvement is already extraordinary. Such changes in my lifetime. And think of how other stigma- illegitimacy, for example- have disappeared. That doesn’t help today’s victims, but it’s a sort of comfort. All the best, Simon C.’

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