Simon Parke: Considering messiahs

by
26 September 2007

by Simon Parke

IT IS HARD when messiahs leave, whether it is Jesus, or José. The disciples were left really frightened, while Chelsea fans — as their manager Mr Mourinho departs — are really gutted.

It was Mr Mourinho who explained at his first press conference that he was not arrogant, but that he was the Special One. Some of us may have asked: just who did he think he was? Jesus had the same accusations of arrogance thrown at him, as messiahs tend to.

Interestingly, they both had the same favourites, John and Peter — in Mr Mourinho’s case, John Terry and Peter Cech. Jesus built a Church around his favoured ones, while Mr Mourinho built his defence. His two other close disciples were further upfield, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. These were the four he texted when news of his shock departure was about to break. All messiahs need the warmth of human contact, even if it is only a text.

Both messiahs also brought a vision. By reducing the Ten Commandments to two, and assaulting the moneylenders in the Temple, Jesus was on a collision course with both Jew and Roman.

For Mr Mourinho, it was just with Roman. Roman Abramovich wanted not only a champagne lifestyle, but champagne football. He also wanted his favourite player, Shevchenko, in the team. Mr Mourinho wanted neither.

And both messiahs were good with words. It was noted with some fury by the authorities that the people hung on Jesus’s every word. All that stuff about the meek being blessed, and the lilies of the field. Fantastic.

Mr Mourinho also had a way with words. Peter Kenyon, Chelsea’s chief executive, was effusive in his praise of the manager: “The way he looks, speaks, and philosophises — it’s all very new.” People warmed to his well-expressed nonsense. It made them feel mystical — until they sacked him.

There were other differences. For a start, Mr Mourinho left a system, and Jesus left an adventure. Chelsea under Mr Mourinho played effective but cautious football, built around not losing; Jesus was more adventurous, encouraging people to lose everything, as long as they did not lose their soul. Mr Mourinho encouraged his team to hold on to what they had; Jesus advised letting go of it all.

And, ultimately, one was guided by lack, and the other by wonder. Mr Mourinho’s mean spirit in defeat, and a certain posturing for attention, suggests that the Special One did not feel so special inside. Whereas Jesus forgave even those who killed him. Inner worth and inner despair, are not the same creatures, and create different messiahs.

It is hard when messiahs leave. But some are missed more than others.

www.simonparke.com

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)