"The Oldie is an incredible magazine - perhaps the best magazine in the world right now" Graydon Carter, founder of Air Mail and former Editor of Vanity Fair

Subscribe to the Oldie and get a free cartoon book

Subscribe

Christ’s Aussie family - Bruce Beresford

Blog | By Bruce Beresford | Jun 27, 2022

The day Bruce Beresford met Jesus’s descendant in the Outback

In 1986, I directed a film of Beth Henley’s play Crimes of the Heart and then flew from Los Angeles to Sydney to visit my elderly parents, who lived in a small country town less than 100 miles from Sydney.

I took with me a copy of the film. My mother had seen few films in her life and was baffled by changes of scene, or of time, never having learned the basics of film language. My father was bored by the tale of three sisters in Mississippi, having lost interest in films after the deaths of Ronald Colman and Errol Flynn.

A day or two later, my father announced that there was someone special he wanted me to meet. With

some reluctance, I sat in the passenger seat of his decrepit car, awash with

KFC chicken bones and old newspapers, as he drove erratically off into the countryside to a remote and fairly ramshackle old farmhouse.

We were greeted by a big, elderly man my father introduced as Aub. Aub was dressed in the khaki shorts and shirt typical of the local farmers, though I thought his glowing, blue eyes and straggly beard gave him the appearance of a biblical prophet.

Aub, a man of few words, led the way into the house. My father was clearly excited by whatever the reason for our visit could be, but said nothing until we were in a neat living room, crammed with furniture from the 1920s. Then he said, ‘Aub has something to show you.’

I looked towards Aub, who said nothing as my father pointed to a huge chart on the wall.

I walked over to the chart, which was covered in names and connecting lines. I turned to my father and commented on its being an involved ancestry chart. ‘Yes,’ my father said, ‘but look at the top.’

I turned back to the chart. At the very top was a small drawing of a bearded man, identified as ‘Jesus Christ’.

‘Now,’ my father continued, ‘look at the bottom of the chart.’

My eyes wandered down a maze of names over many centuries and ended with the name … Aubrey Gillespie.

‘You see,’ said my father triumphantly, ‘Aub is a direct descendant of Jesus.’

Aub modestly lowered his eyes. I refrained from comment, hoping my silence would be interpreted as my being awestruck and so enable a rapid departure.

In the car, I calmly told my father that the chart was a fake and that he was gullible, to put it mildly, to believe Aub’s claim of illustrious ancestry. ‘What!’ he said. ‘You saw it! You don’t believe it?!’

I reiterated that there was no possibility of its being accurate.

My father shook his head, saddened. ‘You were always a cynic,’ he said, ‘even as a little boy.’