Monday, September 05, 2016

Thank you, dear Bishop of Londrina. Thank you everybody...

The performances of my play in Londrina have been condemned by three archbishops.

This may be a record.

Here is a courageous and forthright public letter of support from the Anglican bishop of Londrina. 

Someone who actually saw the play:

"Londrina 31st August 2016

Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil - the Anglican Diocese of Paraná
The Parish of St. Luke, Londrina.
Rua Mossoró, 678, Centro, Londrina – PR 
Tel: (43) 33473616

Letter of support

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)

St Luke's parish in Londrina, of The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil is publicly declaring its total support, praise and solidarity to the play “The Gospel According To Jesus Queen Of Heaven” performed by the trans actress Renata Carvalho and to the whole production team.

As everyone knows, this company suffered an attempt to censor its work on the part of certain Christian movements and a local candidate because the play was due to be performed in a replica of the first Roman Catholic Church on the campus of the University, now used as an ecumenical chapel.

These criticisms arise from prejudice, because even before the performance value judgements were being made and the play condemned as unethical and disrespectful. These judgements were not supported. As I watched the performance, I felt in the presence of an immense respect for the message of Jesus Christ, without the slightest mockery or offence. There is nothing in the play that could offend the person of Jesus Christ, or hurt Christian men or Christian women or any religious institution.

The play is a retelling of the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus in the light of the problems, dilemmas, and suffering of the present day. Problems that are embodied in the lives of people who are abused and marginalised and who society, and often many churches, exclude. It is a contemporary reading of the words ofJesus where the parables of the Gospels are placed in the context of the present day to denounce prejudice, hypocrisy, and to promote the love of one's neighbour, justice, acceptance and inclusion of all those left out on the margins. The play is a theatrical presentation of the best of Christian theology in that it vindicates the incarnation of Jesus confronting the suffering of this world, confronting the rejection, exclusion, condemnation and murder of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people simply because of their identity and sexuality. The play is prophetic in the sense that it denounces hypocrisy and death dealing discourse. The play is ecumenical in the sense that it represents a Jesus who is not attached to any religious tradition. The play is kerygmatic in the sense that it is a proclamation of love, of inclusivity, and a call to life. It is a message of Christ. We understand that human sexuality is multiple and as such sacred to God.

“…we struggle for a change in thinking, a change in behaviour, and a change in action in relation to people who are excluded, marginalised, or discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity: in order that all barriers be broken down and everyone have their rights to justice and to inequality. […]” (The Book of Common Prayer, p 759).

When we pray for this in our own book of prayer, we cannot remain silent in the face of what we see and hear”

Dom Naudal Alves Gomes
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Paraná

The Reverend Lucia Dal Ponte Sirtoli
Rector of the parish of São Lucas - Londrina - PR"

This letter means a lot to me because Christian churches so often so viciously condemn the play.

On this occasion also it has been condemned by Catholic authorities and Evangelical authorities too. I always seem to bring these people together.

None of them have seen the play or read it, or know anything about it. That is what usually happens. Their prejudice is so strong they feel they do not need to.

This happened when I first performed the play and it happens still.

It hurts me. 

It hurts me because I never had the slightest intention of being disrespectful to Christianity. All I wanted to do, now as then, is remind people as gently and as firmly as I can what Jesus actually said.

Many church people have supported me in this. Members of the United Reformed, Unitarian, Catholic, Anglican, Quaker, Methodist and Baptist religious organisations.

I am so grateful to them, just as I am grateful to everyone who has offered support in the last difficult fortnight.

Natalia Mallo, the play’s Brazilian director and translator, reports that a group of pregnant women turned up for the play’s performance. They had no tickets or realistic expectation of seeing the show; they simply wanted to form a human shield around the actress, Renata Carvalho, and shield her with their bodies.

I am so profoundly moved by this, and by the hundreds of expressions of support me and Queen Jesus Plays have received here in the UK and in Brazil.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of Sao Paulo last night to protest against Temer’s illegal right wing government and the forces of hatred and intolerance and prejudice it represents.

It makes me very proud that our play should be a tiny part of that movement.

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