I remember sitting as a nine year old watching “The Miracle Maker” on the TV drinking banana milkshake with a killer ear ache. It was a BBC standard stop motion clay animation rendition of the resurrection of Christ intersplashed with pencil animation whenever a parable felt like cropping up. Ralph Fiennes voiced Jesus (and still to this day even as the Toothfairy in Red Dragon, he still sounds like Jesus to me) and the rest of the cast was unknown to me. I don’t know how I found it or why I became obsessed with it but I really did and am (to be honest) still quite obsessed with it, to the point that whenever someone even mentions Jesus I automatically think of that little clay man with the hint of Welsh in his voice that made me fall in love with the dude from Nazerath who probably sounded more like Osama Bin Laden than Ralph Fiennes.
Every Easter as the pancakes and eggs come out I wonder whether it will come on the TV. My Ma tried to get me a copy when I was about sixteen but it was £40 from Amazon and she did not think it was worth parting with that amount of money for. Then as an adult when I had my own money, it mysteriously disappeared and I have never been able to find another copy and even though Jesus and I have been on better terms, there is something about that movie that rekindles the love that was snuffed out during those faithful “teenage” years.
Most people look forward to Christmas but I cannot stand that time of year, for numerous reasons. Surely Christians would see more magic in his resurrection? Everyone is born, mortal or not, but it takes one gnarly dude to come back from the DEAD! People have a lot of misplaced feeling for Jesus and that’s where me and the Christians fell out all those years ago.
There were enough people who were suprised when I had my daughter baptised because of my stance on religion but it has not always been the way it is now. I learned early on (having an Athiest for a father and a Pagan for a mother) that Christianity was not the only view point. I was also aware that I could draw what I wanted from the religion and leave what I did not want. So that’s exactly what I did. I took Jesus and the New Testament and I left behing his grumpy old dad and the vengeful Old Testament. I took his love, his wisdom and his endurance and threaded them through the fibres of my body but I never got ahead of myself and made him more than what he was – a character in one hell of a good book.
I have always drawn inspiration and guidance from characters in books and I do not see any evidence proving that Jesus or his band of merry men should be put any higher than them. Mac from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest taught me that no matter how much they try to break you (and even when they eventually do break you) its the hell you give them along the way that really matters. Grenouille from Perfume showed me that even the most vile and sadistic people on this earth are more often than not beautifully misunderstood. Sherlock Holmes proved that if you look at even the most difficult problems from every possible angle you eventually meet the answer in the middle. Lisel from the Book Theif reminded me that a pure love of the written word can be a guiding light to anyone who finds themselves in darkness.
And then there’s Roland …
Just seeing his name written in front of me makes my stomach knot. It’s hard to describe to people just how much you can actually love a character in a book. But I do love him. More so than any rockstar or even the very man that created him and got me through everything I ever needed help to get through. He is my Jesus I guess. Everything about him from his bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded denim to his heat, his intensity, his callous and unconscious simplicity, his complete lack of humour and razor sharp tunnel vision – he is everything that Jesus SHOULD have been.
If Stephen King had written the Bible Jesus would have been like Roland. He would have been ruthless in his goals with the stamina of a thousand men, uncomplicated by emotion and focused on duty. He would swear and cuss and smoke from a magical pouch that never ran out of tobacco. He would know everything that had been forgotten and would recall the days before the world moved on with a bitter nostalgia that would have made him resist every instance of happiness he happened to be faced with. He would have compromised anyone or anything to get to where he needed to be to do what he was put on this earth to do. He would have been the strongest man in the world. He would have lived for thousands of years and never noticably age. He would have chased the Devil like Roland chased the Man In Black. He would have wanted to travel alone and never wanted his followers, whether they were twelve normal men or a child, a heroin addict, a black woman with no legs and an animal that looked like a racoon.
But along the way he would have learned those things that Jesus was born with that Roland was never gifted with as a younger man. He would have learned what it was like to love someone and know that it was your fault you lost them. Then he would have known the treasured glee when that person returned to him. He would have had to learn humility, patience and humour. He would have had to face the world as if he were alone and learn in time how good it felt to know that someone had your back after years of watching it by yourself. He would have captured the hearts of more than just lost people looking for answers with no effort required. He would have enslaved the minds of young and old because Roland Deschain has one key and integral difference with Jesus of Nazerath –
Roland Deschain is real. He is your father when he is to busy to talk to you. He is the man who you walk past everyday on the street and wonder why he looks so sad. He is the argument you had with your best friend. He is the rain when it won’t give up. He is the sun when its so bright you think your corneas are literally going to melt. He is the blisters on the heels of your feet when all you can do is walk. He is the last flicker of light behind your eyes before you drift off to sleep. He is the croak in the back of your throat when you are singing too loudly and out of key. He is the feeling of your hand in the hand of the only person you ever want to hold hands with for the rest of your days.
Jesus is none of those things. Jesus is a gimmick. Jesus is a dude that sells glittery trinkets of jovial emptiness at Christmas time. Jesus sells chocolate eggs at Easter time. People feel obliged to Jesus. You feel like you can walk all over him because he will always forgive you. You can find him whenever you want and leave him just as easily. He asks nothing of you and in turn very few give their all to him. He is weak, he is false and he is not Roland.
If Stephen King had written the Bible we would have a messiah that was as flawed, as broken, as stubborn and as twisted as we all are. Jesus was not a human being, even if that had been God’s intention. Jesus was not and never was anything like anyone before or after him, so by that token never resembled human kind well enough to be called one of us. Roland is a human being. He is a human being with bombadier blue eyes the colour of faded jeans, with three fingers on his right hand, with a pain in his hip, with grey in his hair, with the thought patterns of a freight train, the memory of the seas and a heart as scarred as yours or mine.
He is my messiah, my prophet, my father, my mentor, my husband, my best friend and my hero. He is everything that Jesus could never be.