In 1932 Jimmy Gralton returns to Ireland from exile in America and re-opens the hall that originally got him expelled. It becomes a place of learning, community, art, sport and dancing. But because Jimmy operates independently of the local church he is seen as the enemy. One of the local priests, Father Sheridan, will do anything to stop him.
Another local priest, Father Seamus, is far more sympathetic towards Jimmy. When one of the local cops quotes Father Sheridan, saying that it’s a choice between Jimmy Gralton or Jesus Christ, Father Seamus tells him that if Christ were around today there are those who would see him crucified all over again. And that for me strikes at the heart of the issue. Religion without compassion. Missing the point all together. Jimmy himself accuses Father Sheridan of having more hate in his heart than love.
The same day that I saw this film I came across Philip Yancey’s video introduction to his new book Vanishing Grace. He has written this because so few people in his culture think of grace when you mention the word ‘Christian’.
Jesus was himself seen as something of an outsider. Operating apart from the religious establishment. He was accused of breaking the law, going to the wrong social functions, and befriending the wrong people. Grace was his watchword. He brought life to beleaguered communities, and like Jimmy Gralton, he got into serious trouble for it. Have a look at Luke 15 verse 1, or Luke 5 verses 27-32.