Film Friday: Mr Holmes

An ageing Sherlock visits Japan and, during a meal in a family home, he is recognized by the mother. But her expectations are a little wrong.

Mr Holmes would like to rewrite a few things, it turns out the deerstalker and the pipe were embellishments, additions to spice up his character and the stories. In his old age he is reassessing other things too, not least the case that led him to give up being a super sleuth.

Years ago I read a novel in which the character of God said, ‘Sometimes when I hear people talking about me, I don’t recognise myself.’ Sometimes when I hear Jesus described it makes me want to stand up and say, ‘Actually, you’ve got the picture a little wrong there. He never had a deerstalker.’ Or the equivalent. To begin with Jesus was not tall, good looking and blue-eyed. He didn’t have a halo, or walk around all the time serious-faced with his arms fixed in an open position. It’s so easy to take our ideas from films or stained glass images. Or even incorrect theology. The writers of the Bible tell us that Jesus was accessible and popular. Many of the ordinary folk came to see him, and women and children (second class citizens in Jesus’ day) felt at ease around him. He told parables which were funny and shocking and bucked the system. He used women and children, alongside men, as examples of his kingdom.

He argued with the religious, even got into slanging matches with them, and made them the bad guys in his stories. He was on the side of the poor in spirit (the not- very-spiritual) and those who had been ambushed by life. He called his followers friends and told them that he had not come to judge them, but to rescue them. He was full of compassion and truth, and was dead set against hypocrisy. He didn’t like people pretending they were good if they weren’t. He taught people to pray in their everyday language, not using special religious words. He was the good shepherd who got his hands dirty, and therefore didn’t wear a gleaming, Persil white outfit. And perhaps most powerful of all, he took forgiveness and the presence of God out of the religious establishment and into the streets and homes, to the gutters and the street corners. He demonstrated the accessible God who had not come looking for those who considered themselves all right, but for those who knew they were in trouble. The man of sorrows. The bringer of life. The prince of peace.

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