You could say Belle is the flipside of the brutal 12 Years a Slave. It’s a period piece more akin to Jane Austen, which tells the tale of Belle, a.k.a. Dido, an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a naval officer. She is raised, along with her cousin Elizabeth, by her great uncle and aunt in 18th century England. Her story plays out against the backdrop of a legal tale about the slave ship The Zong and whether the owner is liable for an insurance payout after ditching his ‘cargo’.
Words and phrases change their meaning over time – something we need to be aware of in the church when we try and communicate the faith. ‘Coming out’ now means something quite different to what it meant back in the days of Dido (Belle) and her cousin Elizabeth. Back then ‘coming out’ was all about being presented in society – being made available for a suitor. It’s telling in the clip above that Belle is not permitted to do this due to her racial background.
You could say that God ‘came out’ in a couple of ways when he landed on planet earth in the guise of a boy from Nazareth. He declared himself available, looking to love and be loved, looking for respect and devotion. But God was also declaring who he was to the world. No longer hiding his nature, but showing people his true self. Compassionate, religion-busting, creative, courageous and confrontational at times. God had been given a bad press over the years, and now here he was – in the flesh, treating people as equals and with respect. A humble God come searching for the lost, the marginalised, the overlooked, the hurting and the weak. (see Luke 4 –vv 16-21)