The Blessing of Thomas

Doubting Thomas 390pix (2)

I call it the “Blessing” even though we are lead to think the “Doubt” was a flaw in the nature of Thomas and that Jesus admonished him for his failure to believe without proof.

The “Doubt” of Thomas is taken to refer to his scepticism about the physical re-incarnation of Christ as reported to him by the apostles – that Jesus had indeed beaten the “death-barrier” The other possibility that Thomas simply wanted to be certain that it was indeed Jesus and not an impostor is somewhat underplayed. “Doubt” is therefore vilified as being unchristian – at least in John’s gospel.

This excerpt from a sermon I pulled up on the web, seems to support my contention…

“~The question is, will we be a doubter, or will we be one of those who Jesus said were blessed because they believe, even though they have not seen?

Dear Father, help us to believe in our heart those truths we find in your Holy Word, even though we have not seen them with our eyes. Amen.”

I personally find the above quote rather invidious, in that a member of a Congregational flock (especially a child) really has little choice but to try to believe without question, in order to remain part of the group. In one fell swoop, the prayer above brands anyone who doubts as being wrong and therefore not blessed by Jesus. The conclusion, that it is in some way unchristian to doubt and question, cannot be avoided. The conditioning is further underlined by the fact that the excerpt comes from ‘Sermons for Kids’:

‘Questioning belief’ therefore becomes a secret process, carrying with it the guilt of deception, together with a sense of inadequacy and ‘wrongness’.

All the translations of the Holy Bible I have looked at, including the modern-language ones, read in a steady scholastic way, probably due to the influence of the translators, who were probably ‘bookish-monkish’ and almost certainly cloistered.

So let’s go back 1,974 years and look at the scene in the familiar ‘human’ way of newspapers and contemporary writing:

~ Jesus has just been crucified – his disciples are in great danger from the authorities, who having ‘seen to’ the group leader, are now keen to ‘mop up’ his possibly disorientated followers. It would have probably been wiser for the sect to disband, at least for a while, until the heat died down; but no – their elation at having seen Jesus eight days earlier when he was supposed to be dead has brought them together again, this time with Thomas who wasn’t at the first meeting.

I cannot understate the danger they must have been in:

Ciaiphas had persuaded the Romans, through the political face-saving manoeuvrings of Pilate, to remove any remaining threat to their authority. The establishment would no doubt be hoping that the group would attempt to meet. Roman and possibly Jewish spies would be dispatched to merge and infiltrate the close community. Every move made by the disciples and Mary would be tracked. One can imagine bribes, rewards and promises of promotion being given, together with threats to the Jews to reveal the whereabouts of the criminals – the blasphemers.

I can imagine the thoughts of Thomas:

“Mary didn’t recognise Jesus at the tomb”

“What if he is an impostor and a spy?”

I can imagine him listening to Mary and asking:

“But why didn’t you touch him? Why didn’t you touch the wounds?”

Mary’s response “he told me not to” would only raise the suspicion that the wounds were false and painted on the body of the impostor.

Thomas was probably aware that Mary touched Jesus often; bathing and anointing him…she would know by touch or smell if Jesus was genuine.

“Maybe that’s why the man claiming to be Jesus told Mary not to touch him, and now he’s probably tracked us down to one of our risky meetings behind closed and locked doors.”

Thomas may have come to the conclusion that the authorities were trying to capture them all. He had not been there when the disciples saw him the previous Monday, eight days ago – plenty of time for a possible Jesus-spy to sort out an ambush.

All that would be needed would be a signal, like the Judas-kiss and they would all suffer a slow painful death.

So it is understandable that Thomas would consider that the only practical way of being sure that the man was not an impostor, would be to examine the wounds to see if they were real. If they were real, then that would be the proof he needed.

So here we are the following Tuesday. Again a clandestine meeting behind locked doors; fear and danger are palpable. Suddenly Jesus or the impostor is in the room –

Perhaps he was there all the time, although John does make it sound like a miraculous materialization…

~“And after eight days, again his disciples were within and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace be unto you.

Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”

“…and be not faithless, but believing.”

How often the above statement is used to quell doubt; to bring conformity and obedience within religious groups. How many of a congregation in a church, temple or mosque, would have the courage to stand up and say:

“I’m not sure if a God exists, but I’m looking and thinking, analysing and praying that one does exist because if there is no God and no Afterlife, then all I have left are of few years on this planet before final oblivion.”

Of course those are my words and fears and yet my Doubt is what actually motivates me and drives me on. It is my doubt that spurs me to attend meetings; to read and meditate on the concept of eternity. Sometimes I think that if this planet and this three-dimensional existence were “all” then maybe we would take better care of it and of ourselves, instead of putting up with this life and its problems as merely an annex to a “better place.”

It’s no use leaving this world in a mess, or destroying it because there’s a Heaven to go to.

Meanwhile, back in the locked meeting room, “Doubting Thomas” has got the proof he needed:

“And Thomas answered and said unto him, “My Lord and my God.”

By uttering the words above, Thomas at once exposed himself to the greatest physical risk if caught or betrayed. He had not referred to Jesus as the Son of God, but as God Himself – as God incarnate – total blasphemy to any establishment surveillance. Death would be a blessed release from the torture he would have to endure if reported and captured. No wonder Annas Ciaiphas, Pilate and the Jewish community wanted rid of Jesus. The upstart Christ had the potential to destroy the Jewish holy order – not that the Romans would have minded too much, except as an occupying force, they would have sought to keep the Jews “in their place”. Pilate would be keen to “keep the peace” – as the envoy from Rome, he would be blamed if dangerous uprisings threatened the stability of the Roman occupation. How very modern and News 24 it all sounds…

It is the final statement of Jesus that is used most often today, to quell doubt and the inevitable questioning that follows – questioning that might destabilise the current religious establishments, much in the way Annas and Ciaiphas feared the influence of Jesus:

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Of course “They” or blessed; “They” do not have the gnawing doubt; “They” do not have the moments of elation, followed by misgivings. “They” are the believers.

But then, what is “Belief” and would you die for your belief, without the proof Thomas needed? Perhaps more importantly, would you take the risk of losing that belief in the light of critical analysis, or would you prefer to embrace what you perceive as “The Mystery”, and are afraid that investigation will reveal “the light” to be an illusion? It may be more virtuous to doubt courageously, than to hide behind a group-screen of blind belief and conformity.

The Blessing of Thomas for me is that I do not feel so alone in my doubt.

illustration at top of page:

Directing Jesus and Mary Magdalene

jesus and disciples

Craig Price as Jesus in Bill Kenwright’s Production of Jesus Christ Superstar

~ I have always been fascinated with the characters of Jesus and Mary, so when the chance to help to direct a new actor in the role for the National Tour of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” came along, I naturally grabbed it with both hands.

In order to prepare, I turned first to the Bible and re-read the accounts of Jesus’ brief ministry. The New Testament seemed to exhibit the signs of censorship and ‘spin’. Was Jesus really like my childhood hero, Marshall Matt Dillon in the television series Gunsmoke? If Matt was Jesus with a Stetson on his head and a star on his chest, did Mary Magdalene work behind the counter of the Last Chance Saloon, in the guise of Kitty the barmaid? A celibate hero of fairplay and humanity and his platonic relationship with a tarnished woman of the world?

Tim Rice seemed to think so:

Judas: “It’s not that I object to her profession. But she doesn’t fit in well with what you do and say.”

Times have changed and today’s action hero’s are more vulnerable, flawed, lusty and three dimensional than my pure and innocent stereotypes of the 1950’s. Could the canonical gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, be presenting a cleaned-up version of the Jesus-story? Could the New Testament be simply an authorized biography, compiled and edited for the purpose of evangelistic recruitment and the promotion of the central figure of Jesus as being supernatural and divine.

When I have the choice of an ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’ biography, I invariably choose the ‘unauthorised’ version. The other may have been censored and airbrushed to project an approved image of the personality in question. This is usually for the benefit of that person and the organisation surrounding them.

“Let me try to cool down your face a bit.” Mary sang and glided across the stage, through the excited apostle-dancers. “Oh Mary, that is good” Helen the actress playing Mary, hugged Jesus close and lovingly, as she massaged his forehead with ointment. I worried – was the scene going too far? Outside the Bristol Hippodrome, Christian fundamentalists were picketing the entrance. Would their presence increase or decrease ticket sales?

Was I wrong in thinking about money? What about the reviews? I compromised, “Craig love – can you stop looking so turned on?” Mary giggled. Suddenly Craig launched himself at Mary “Stop it Craig!” blurted Helen. Somewhere underneath the mass of white robes and long wig that had been Jesus, her giggles had turned to shrieks of laughter. The apostles sniggered and the bellowing laughter of Ciaiphas echoed in the wings. “Ok guys – let’s have a break.” I went for a short walk in the fresh air to mull things over. Standing on the theatre steps, I was confronted by an unhappy protestor. “This is blasphemy” he said. As I walked around the theatre, I thought about the angry, unhappy faces and how they contrasted with the hilarity I had just witnessed on stage. Surely Jesus had laughed and teased Mary and the apostles? I made a mental note to find places in the production for a laughing Jesus.

I realised that Jesus had become a symbol and a bridge of belief that for those outside the theatre was being threatened. Yet during the evening performances, other Christians were being moved to tears and even non-believers were being made to think twice about their discarded beliefs.

It had started to rain, so I pushed through the earnest crowds and walked down the central aisle of the theatre stalls. Jesus and Judas were sharing holiday photos with Annas and Ciaiphas. “Ok, Let’s pick up from where we stopped” Craig’s face became ‘visionary’, Alistair and Steve retreated to their high balcony on stage right, to look down on them as the ominous Ciaiphas and Annas and Helen once more became the loving ‘redeemed’ Mary. Well almost; “Helen! Put those photos away!”.

Even though Jesus Christ Superstar is about Jesus the man, the transformation became two dimensional. I remembered Jimmy Porter in John Osborne’s last play ,Déjà vu and his cynical remark on society “Stereotypes all” Even John Osborne became the stereotype of the foppish country gentleman in his last days.

What I mean about two-dimensional is the physical appearance of Jesus and Mary. As you can see in the illustration at the bottom of this post, there is an expectation that Jesus will be tall, slim and with a handsome aesthetic face. Jesus should also have white robes and preferably blue eyes.

Mary the Prostitute: Mary Magdalene has become so linked with the prostitute in the bible (although that is not certain - I will write about this soon) that she is seen as having dark hair and is usually dressed in red (see illustrations at top and bottom of article). A squat, swarthy Jesus would not do - neither would a plain studious woman fit the public expectation in the part of Mary.

Jesus the symbol and the stereotype: The protestors did not want Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus to be a three-dimensional man. Superstar or not – to have Jesus as a man, would imply that Jesus would have had human failings, as well as his sanctity and divinity

Judas sings: “If you strip away the Myth from the Man” “You’ve started to believe the things they say of you. You really do believe this talk of God is true”

Later the spirit, (or is it the soul?) of Judas, descends a staircase (from Heaven?) and admonishes Jesus:

Every time I look at you I don’t understand, how you let the things you did get so out of hand. You’d have managed better if you had it planned. Why did you choose such a strange time and such a strange land. If you’d come today, you would have reached the whole nation. Israel in BC had no mass-communication”

Mass communication or not, the life of Jesus had spread rapidly throughout the east. Jesus became a prophet of Islam; the Jewish God YHWA became also Allah and Jesus ascended as a symbol to be found in Tao and Buddhist philosophy. In a sense the spirit of Jesus was released from his earthly body at the moment of physical death and is still radiating outward, touching and affecting people in such a personal way, that he is represented as Asian, Caucasian, Oriental, Negroid. That is the Spirit of Jesus

But what of the Soul of Jesus and is that different from the Spirit?

In the beautiful translation of the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup, Mary receives a vision of the resurrected Jesus:

Then I said to him: Lord, when someone meets you in a Moment of vision, is it through the soul (psyche) that they see, or is it through the Spirit (Pneuma)?

I doubt if the Gospel of Mary Magdalene will ever be accepted into the church establishment. The thought that Jesus may have been a vision and not re-incarnated flesh and blood may be shattering and casts immediate doubt on the account in the Gospel of John (and only in the Gospel of John) of ‘doubting’ Thomas placing his fingers into the wounds.

But Jesus answers Mary: It is neither through the soul nor the spirit, but the nous between the two which sees the vision, and it is this which….

(My father had the “Nous”) -

Tantalisingly, the next four pages are missing. Could they have been censored? Would the revelations of the supposed Jesus-vision have destroyed the symbol and therefore the stereotype Jesus the early Christians sought to create?

Certainly the next pages after the omission resemble the journey of the soul toward the light, as found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Perhaps the Gospel of Mary Magdalene was written by a Taoist monk, himself reacting to the story of Jesus and integrating it to his beliefs.

Nevertheless what follows is stupendous in its spirituality and mystery:

“I left the world with the aid of another world; a design was erased, by virtue of a higher design. Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence.” Having said all this, Mary became silent, for it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her.

That silence is something that every Spiritualist and Quaker; every monk and nun who has taken a vow of silence will understand. Only when the relentless chatter that goes on, both inside and outside of a person’s head, has been silenced, will the “still small voice” be heard.

Directing Craig as Jesus, involved finding the spirit of Jesus within the man. As Elaine Pagels says so clearly in her book “Beyond Belief”, in the conflict between the Gospels of John and Thomas:

“For what John rejects as religiously inadequate – the conviction that the divine dwells as “light” within all beings – is much like the hidden “good news” that Thomas’s gospel proclaims. Many Christians today, who read the Gospel of Thomas, assume at first that it is simply wrong and deservedly called heretical. Yet what Christians have disparagingly called Gnostic and heretical sometimes turn out to be forms of Christian teaching that are merely unfamiliar to us – unfamiliar precisely because of the active and successful opposition of Christians such as John.

So Craig and I looked at the Queran (Koran), the Holy Bible and also the Taoist “Guru” Osho, who in his book “The Pathless Path” states that the teachings of Jesus indicate that he must have spent some time in the East - strange but not impossible as there are three “lost” years just before Jesus commenced his teaching.

The lyrics of Tim Rice also give a thoughtful slant on Jesus “the Man”

“I only want to say, If there is a way

Take this cup away from me, cause I don’t want to taste it’s poison

Feel it burn me, I have changed, I’m not the same as when I started.

Then I was inspired, now I’m sad and tired…”

For me, the vunerability of Jesus is as important as his Divinity. I can identify with him as a human being and through him, rather like a lens, I can perceive something of “The Light.”

I can accept the right of the Christians outside of the theatre to protest and try to stop the performance – but at the same time, when a belief becomes so set and rigid that the believer attempts to stop others from following their own pathway, that belief becomes frozen, petrified and without the prospect of further growth and development.
Oh yes – Craig and Helen were


wonderful as Jesus and Mary.

ps - that’s not Craig and Helen above, but an illustration of the stereotypical perception of Jesus and Mary. Now go and look again at the photo at the top of this post.















































































 - have a look at other Jesus Christ Superstar production photos.





Elaine Pagels “Beyond Belief” The Secret Gospel of Thomas.







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Sexy Spirituality (1) ~ Something for Breakfast

Jesus Christ Toast   Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese photoWas Mary Magdalene really the ultimate toastie and was Jesus her star-crossed lover?

That’s a provocative opening statement, but there is quite some evidence to suggest that she was a remarkable woman - the counterpoint to Jesus.

Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code have awakened an interest in Mary as a woman and of her relationship with Jesus. There is a liberal contemporary view that tries to find the “Man” in Jesus and the corresponding “Woman” in Mary.

Of course what I am really referring to with “the Man” is the idea of Jesus as having earthly desires.  Without Jesus having experienced them, I cannot see how he could really comprehend the essence of the life-force that is who we were then and are now.

I resist a personified, moralistic concept of a God; male and authoratitive, who dominates the religions of Christianity and Islam - quite unlike the more feminine religions of the East - of Buddhism and Tao.

So I admit I am biased when it comes to any discovery of a sexual side to Jesus - and of course to Mary.

Much of religious doctrine boils down to sex ~ and the avoidance of it.

“Anyone who has read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is aware that his entire novel revolves around the alleged historical fact that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child together (2003, pp. 244-245). Brown bases his claim on the following brief statements from the non-inspired, gnostic Gospel of Philip, which apparently was penned during the second or third century (cf. Meyer, 2005b, p. 63; Isenberg, n.d.). [NOTE: Brackets indicate missing words.]

Three women always walked with the master: Mary his mother, [] sister, and Mary of Magdala, who is called his companion. For Mary is the name of his sister, his mother and his companion (Meyer, 2005b, p. 57).

The companion of the [] is Mary of Magdala. The [] her more than [] the disciples, [] kissed her often on her []. The other []…said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” (Meyer, 2005b, p. 63).”

mary magdalene

You see - I want the translation to read “The Saviour Loved her more than all of the disciples, and kissed her often on her Mouth. The other (and that indicates that Mary was a disciple also) disciples said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?”

That indicates that Mary was the Nurturing Goddess, fused to the earth and that Jesus was the brilliance of the God ~ a combined personification of “The All”.

I’d go with that.

The toast pictures are from ~ it looks a good site tho’ I’ve only skimmed it so far.

excerpt from ~

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Mohammad the Teacher and the Teddy Bear

almanack teddy bear news shotI’m so angry about the Sudanese Teddy Bear Gillian Gibbons situation. The initial threat of forty lashes, six months in prison and a possible heavy fine was disgusting. It may have made people relax when it was reduced to fifteen days in reasonable accommodation, but even the notion of punishing her for allowing her pupils to name the teddy bear Mohammad; not directly after the Prophet but after a school-boy in her class, is as dangerous as it is ridiculous.

The hardliners in any branch of society usually win and the subdued and politically-correct response of the British Government to this Sudanese political side-show seems to have been bland. Amanda Platell in the Mail wrote: the British Government could have suspended the 300+ million we give in aid and threatened the 2000 visas we give to Sudan each year.”

The Muslim Council of Great Britain is shocked; I watched their representative on BBC News 24, listening in incredulity and disbelief, to a Sudanese representative as he defended this most stupid and hurtful of convictions.

There is also the possibility that the Sudanese government now finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Extreme fundamentalist religious pressure has forced them to imprison an innocent woman over the naming of a symbol of Love after the Prophet and founder of Islam; if they release her too early, they will alienate the fundamentalists in the society they govern; if they keep her in captivity for the offence of accepting the name chosen by the children in her care, they will attract widespread derision and damage even if only slightly, the international perception and standing of what is one of the largest and most devout religions in the world.1. OSAMA BIN LADEN

It is counter-productive to see extremist Muslim behaviour as in any way representative of the Muslim faith, which preaches tolerance. There are too many examples of religious/political terrorism world-wide, but the extreme level of the violence shown in the twin towers and the London bombings has cast a shadow. Christianity, Judaism and Islam spring from the same root and are related to each other. Relatives however often understand each other least - and fight the most.

The teddy bear saga is as relevant to the Christian as it is to the Muslim, and it would be well for the Christian who thinks that Jesus was a fair-haired aesthetic handsome Nordic man of perfect western morals, to consider what he must have really looked like and to look at how the Christian and Muslim forms of worship interlink - Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa and (Jesus) Jesus is very special, no matter what religion is practiced.

jesus-face-29 As long as it is sincere and from the heart, people of any faith or belief must have the right to say what they think, believe in what they desire and worship as they please and their actions should be seen in the light of the intention behind them - as should the actions of the unfortunate Gillian Gibbons. The Teddy Bear is a symbol of Love which has been responded to with hostility. The Sudanese should have sought to understand that symbol before denouncing it and in consequence, damaging a world religion even if only slightly, through the actions of a few who have the power to control the many.

One of the chief tools of the Priest or the Politician is Fear, aided by Indifference. The punishment of God and the Fear of Hell has kept congregations under control until recently. Now that only a relatively few people really believe in eternal damnation and the punishment of God; church attendance has declined, except for weddings, funerals and other theatrical events. I have been to many excellent churches however - it’s just that in relation to the number of people who don’t attend…

I received a reply from a theoretical physicist in response to my question about the existence of God: (search for thread 77816 ~ A God for an Atheist)

“If God exists, and I firmly believe he does, He is a matter of definition. His existence is implicit to the 800px-OurLittleTeddiescosmos, and in certain very definitive ways, very explicit too. [……] I compare God with a “Shark” out of deference to my atheistic friends…to let them and everybody know that 1. God is not the property of any religion, 2. to infer that God is inscrutable…we can not understand his ways, which sometimes seem “shark-like” to us, and 3. to emphasize that God is in total control of what goes on in the universe…that at its core, the universe is a very deterministic place…QM (quantum mechanics) notwithstanding!”

“God is not the property of any religion…”

But Love is Universal.

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Wednesday 18th July 2007 ~ Is the Queen a Demi-God?


 Is the Queen a demi-god? Certainly she is a strong woman, judging by her reaction to Annie Leibovitz, who was photographing her at the time. Also the other sequence of her, striding down the corridor at high speed, whilst remonstrating with her Lady in Waiting, showed a woman, who at 80yrs, possessed the strength and fitness of a young woman – neither the robe, nor the poor footman seemed designed for such a high velocity. The whole thing seemed to have something of Jesus throwing the merchants out of the temple, or indeed Elvis aiming a hail of bullets at an unfortunate television receiver.

Ladies First however –

Was the BBC’s Blunder only a smokescreen?

In my opinion Yes. I personally think that it was a very deft piece of ‘attention deflecting.’ Amongst the hand-wringing apologies and indignant press reporting (even Helen Mirren gave a little poke at the Beeb’s misdemeanour), I could see the image of a little boy singing, “The King is in his altogether, his altogether, his altogether…” there he stood in my mind, a copy of Hans Christian Anderson under his arm…

You see, I don’t think it matters one jot if the Queen was filmed walking into or out of the photo session. It is of little consequence to me, if she was remonstrating with the Lady in Waiting or Annie Leibovitz or if she was going to, or coming from, the photo session; the almost amazing thing was that she ‘lost it’ and had a ‘go’ at someone – (and this is the important point) - whilst she was being filmed. The double-decker hamburger was the sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors furore that was subsequently presented to the public.

Like a conjurer pulling focus from the hand that would produce the rabbit, the media hyped-up the ‘disgrace’ of getting the sequences the wrong way round. So much emphasis was put on the ‘fact’ that the Queen had been wrongly represented by the BBC, that the actual dialogue between ‘Lillibet’ and Annie was in some way vilified and lumped together with the Beeb’s ‘misdemeanour and therefore the ‘untruth’ of it all.

“No, little boy. The King IS wearing his clothes – I’M telling you!”

Consider the exchanges:

Us photographer Annie Leibovitz looks at the Queen in her full regalia and states: “I think it will look better without the crown, because the garter robe is so extr…”

Before Ms Leibovitz can finish, ‘Lillibet’ appears, straightens her back so quickly that her head raises by around 3”; she fixes the Lennon-spectacled Annie L with an icy stare and retorts (indicating her robe)


“Less dressy?” – “What do you think this is?”

Later (or earlier) the Queen berates her Lady-in Waiting, whilst striding down a corridor (or up a corridor – does it really matter):


“I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this thank you very much.”

Notice how, in the corridor sequence, the Queen punctuates her anger with a double-handed gesture of rejection, the cut of her arm movements separating her from everything below…,,30100-1274866,00.html( footage taken from a new BBC documentary entitled A Year With The Queen.)

Reverse the sequences; does it change or falsify the fact that the Queen had indeed, ‘flung a wobbler’?


The Queen’s full title in the United Kingdom is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

She is a Symbol


Is there no room for Lillibet?


Jesus is a spirit, a guide and a prophet in many religions, Christianity; Judaism, Islam all embrace him. Osho the Taoist guru even considered that his parables and teachings indicated that he must have travelled in the East. But what about Jesus the man? Did Jesus ever laugh? I don’t mean a gentle smile; I mean a great throbbing guffaw – a laugh that would bring tears of mirth down his face and catch his followers up in a burst of Joy. Take a look at the pictures below; do they offend or delight you?

Jesus is the Son of God


He is a symbol.


Is there no room for Jesus the man?


no time ago
or else a life
walking in the dark
i met Christ

Jesus my heart
flopped over
and lay still
while he passed as

close as I’m to you
yes closer
made of nothing
except loneliness

~E.E. Cummings


“My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

That for me is the moment of gestalt; a flash of imperfection that touches me, and like my own father when I first saw him falter - The moment I can love him.


It could be considered that we create everything. Many years ago, I used to choreograph for the ‘Theatre of the Deaf’, a professional group of deaf actors. I remember an enthusiastic, very hippy-like girl, who had come over from the States and attached herself to us.


Koo Stark was enthusiastic and warm. I remember her visiting Liz and I and racing my young son up a small hill; then having coffee at our small flat in Addlestone Surrey. I liked Koo a lot and got on with her in an easy way…

A few years later, I arrived back in England, after working in Sweden, to see posters of young Koo as “Emily”.


This elevation of a friend to celebrity status has occurred many times in my life; the latest candidate for elevation is Lee Mead as the new “West End Joseph”. It always produces a slight distancing effect in me. It as if my ‘ordinary’ friend has become in some way more ‘special’ than an ordinary person. A sort of ‘God-Light’ has begun to shine.

An artist friend of mine remembers seeing Paul McCartney and Jane Asher, standing in the foyer of a London theatre. Trevor later remarked to me that “There was a light around them. They seemed to glow”…


Scrolling forward to early 1986 and I again found myself working with Koo. Koo was appearing at the (aptly named) Duke of York’s Theatre in St Martin’s Lane at around the time that Prince Andrew, who was previously her boyfriend, married Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson. It had been arranged that I would do some ‘movement’ classes with Koo. No matter how much I tried to recapture our easy friendship of our ‘Theatre of the Deaf” days, something within me kept a little distance….because she had become ‘different’ and ‘special’ – or perhaps I had created the separation?>



Elvis Presley is depicted on an altar candle in author Gregory Reece’s collection of Elvis art. Reece, a native of Limestone County who now lives in Montevallo, says Elvis is a popular religious figure in today’s culture.

One of Elvis’s favourite television programmes was “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and his favourite character was the Eric Idle “Nudge nudge Wink wink” sketches. The concept of Elvis rolling about at the antics of John Cleese and Co, are somehow at odds with the image of Elvis the King…


I remember sitting in the BBC canteen, during a break in recording “The Old Curiosity Shop”. I was around 18yrs and totally overawed by the “names” I was eating with. I tried to appear relaxed and friendly with the ‘special ones’ Michelle Dotrice (later to become Frank Spencer’s “Betty”), Patrick Troughton (a wonderful actor, later to become the second Dr. Who), and Anton Rogers, who I idolized, largely because when I turned up on the first day of rehearsals, managed to make me feel at home by making me a cup of tea.

There we all sat in the busy self-service area at lunch-break (me and the stars!) Anton and I (wow!) went to get the ‘afters’ - I chose apple pie and custard. I remember thinking how strange it was to have the custard in a glass jar with a metal screw cap and a spout. Nevertheless undaunted, I poured the yellow contents over my portion of apple pie and went back with my idol to the dinner table. I really adore apple pie and custard, but despite Michelle’s smile and Anton’s ‘Is it ok?’ I found it very difficult to eat my portion. Was I Overawed by their ‘special ness’? I undoubtedly was, but at the same time, it’s very difficult to rehearse after consuming apple-pie laced with half a jar of salad cream.

And yes…I did eat it (all of it)

And what of the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene?

The Gospel of Philip records: […] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples […]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them,” Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”

Whatever the relationship, it would seem that Jesus regarded Mary as of possessing a high spiritual evolution, higher than the male disciples and perhaps close to that of Jesus himself.

Were the Disciples Jealous?

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene states:

Peter said to Mary:

“Sister, we know that the Teacher loved you Differently from other women. Tell us whatever you remember Of any words he told you. Which we have not yet heard.”

So far so good, when Mary answers however, does Peter’s green eye of jealousy flash?

And Peter added, “How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a woman, about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant?”

How about this one ladies…

“Must we change our customs and listen to this woman? Did he really choose her and prefer her to us?”

I am now in Da Vinci Code territory and it is easy to see why Dan Brown’s book has been such a success, even though the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels in Nag Hammadi occurred back in 1946. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was actually unearthed in Cairo in 1896, some fifty years before. So why has their success been so long coming? My ‘take’ on it is that as a society, we are no longer so subservient to our ‘betters’. We now have a dual need:

Need 1

We need a Symbol to aspire to – to be greater than us - even supernatural

Need 2

We need to see that the symbol relates to us as human beings; that the symbol is personified as human - but without failings – In other words ‘a perfect person’


We cannot tolerate absolute perfection; are as a society becoming increasingly secular and like to see a tiny glimpse of ‘human emotion’ on occasion – Jesus throwing the merchants and tradespeople out of the temple is an image that should give our Queen a certain re-assurance.

Now I think it can be seen more clearly, why the BBC went to such lengths to smokescreen the Queen’s betrayal of her natural anger. (Perhaps the ghost of little Lillibet had made an untimely appearance and smiling at the little boy with the Hans Christian Anderson book - just ‘went for it’). But the spirit of Lillibet is too human to be a symbol and must stay quietly in Elizabeth’s heart. Her Majesty need only have answered ‘I’d prefer to keep it on’ with a slight and meaningful smile and all would have been well, but no, King George’s strong spirited daughter shone through and in doing so, became for a glorious instant, the same as us all. (and I loved her for it.)


“They’re just like us really,” Christina my mother used to say. Well they are and they aren’t. We need our symbols and our leaders and we do need a touch of their human roots, but we also need to know that they are different; that they are something more than us.…and so we help make them into ‘something more’.


(woe betide them if they fail)‘till the next time


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