Apr 13, 2006

A Personal Jesus, Chocolate Eggs & the Easter Bunny

Transforming an Icon
Easter was big in my family and for just about everyone around us. Holy week was a god-sent reprieve from school so no complaints there either. The food, well, we had to wait until Easter Sunday to stuff ourselves with all the goodies that were taboo to eat just a few days earlier, but I didn’t really care. Not as if I couldn’t get anything I wanted outside the “normal channels” [my mom’s kitchen] as long as I was careful not to be spotted eating the forbidden food. At that age, I was more interested in goofing off, scoring some cool music in vinyl, playing sports, and ..girls. I think in that order too! Religion was just a thing adults tried to pound through my head, that I had to behave in a certain way because “someone up there” was keeping track of my every move and thought. I reasoned, heck, with all the billions of people and all the important things happening in the world, my activities would either be missed or appear very ordinary, not worth the Almighty’s bother.

Easter was about family time but without the endless hours of football to distract us from family dysfunction. We always found ourselves in bigger groups of extended families, a way to share the joys and the miseries. It was like comparing notes, that no family was breaking the norm by having sensible communication between its members, and that no ..cheating was going on regarding the ascribed rituals. Much like the society at-large, where everybody plays the role of keeping the fa├žade up and acting as if they knew what they were doing! Everybody had to go to church and go through the prescribed cultural rituals. Before I went to college and learned about the division of labor, I had already observed it in our family gatherings. As soon as we got together, the women would gravitate toward the kitchen and the men toward the couch! After being interrogated by all the relatives and friends present about my performance in school, I’d be off to do whatever.

Easter was about the cultural norm, a sense of identity. I realized that all those adults around me didn’t know much about the customs and the religion they happily followed since they were kids. They seemed relieved that there was order in the universe and a moral code to govern human relations. I was amazed that no one was asking questions nor willing to entertain alternative theories. They were utterly convinced that God had written a book and had given it to the “chosen ones”. End of story.

I thought about Jesus during Easter. How could I have not? All those movies about the Ten Commandments, Moses, Crucifixion, A Thousand and One Arabian Nights (well, maybe not this one), live broadcasts from some big church where some unknown language was spoken, and the religious spell everyone seemingly was under during Holy week. I thought, poor Jesus, no person should suffer so much because of his religious or political beliefs. I guess this lesson hasn’t impress upon many of his followers since.

I love chocolate, and Easter brought me lots of it, along with eggs—that I didn’t care much for—and the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny?!! What the hell was this about? I mean, I could understand if this was the ..food of choice, but no! That bunny was for some other special purpose! It’s still a mystery to me. I like rabbit. It’s gamy and my mother could do a rabbit stew out of this world. So, yeah, I began to make up stories, that Jesus had a pet bunny that laid chocolate eggs during Easter—which hadn’t been invented yet, but it was in the works. I gather that Jesus was a very calculating guy. He didn’t do things by accident. He had a plan!
A divine plan. I think he still does. That’s why I don’t pray to Jesus. I don’t want to impose. I mean, who am I to show up one day and pray for something that may not be part of the divine plan? If things are to happen, they will, regardless of my begging or the bargaining I offer. That’s simple logic to me. [George Carlin thinks along these lines]

Anyway, speaking of planning to invent Easter. Did you hear about the discovery of the
Gospel of Judas? Fascinating stuff, I tell you. It seems (just as I had suspected 30 years ago) that Jesus had a plan, so, he told Judas to betray him to the authorities. I mean we couldn't have much of a Christian faith without the resurection of Jesus, would we? Judas complied and the rest is history as they say. The powers that be don’t take kindly to people who aren’t ready to sacrifice to the “official gods” and are challenging the socio-economic order. Nothing new here. We’ve seen this ever since Jesus passed away. Sadly, many people in our country hold this view of intolerance.

I liked long hair back when I was in high school, but this didn’t sit well with my teachers and my mother. Jesus to the rescue! If he could have it why not me? We reached a compromise: not as long, but not a crew cut either. Don’t be too quick to judge me. People have been using the Bible to justify worse things than the length of hair. We pick and choose (not we but the Church leaders over the centuries) what suits the greater purpose of maintaining a certain socio-political order in our society. Thankfully, we don’t stone to death the non-virgin women, kill blasphemous children, homosexuals and those who work on the Sabbath, to name a few “condemned” to death as the Bible commands. Unless you believe that the Bible is the literal word of God…

One day, I got smacked by my mother because I dared to compare Jesus to the Helen of Troy! I said, both appeared to be mythical persons, up to interpretation since neither bothered to write anything about anything. Homer was smart never to describe the beauty of Helen, so, go ahead, make your day… Those who wrote about Jesus did so many decades after his death, not exactly eyewitness reporters. And, nobody had any video or pictures of him. The
scholarly study of Jesus leaves too many doors open and asks too many questions for most Xtians to bear.

I don’t see why I can’t have a personal Jesus like the faithful do. Mine is definitely a liberal. Oh, yeah! A few others agree with the
Jesus as a Liberal idea. He was for uplifting the poor & the underprivileged, against social injustice, against violence, for generosity & sharing, compassion, and had no problem with prostitutes. I don’t think he’d agree with the fundies in America who told us that his father brought death & destruction to New York City and New Orleans because we had too many people like his friend Mary Magdalene practicing hedonism and non-sanctioned love!

I believe what I want like anybody else. My process of believing may be different than that of the faithful, at least when it comes to accepting "divine revelation." I like to ponder and I have many, many questions still un-answered. I'm easily elated by ideas and new discoveries. What's exciting to me is that we humans have an amazing brain power (which we often don't take full advantage of) to make sense of the world around us and peer into the depths of the universe. Moreover, we have the ability to shape the world we live in, to be the change we want to see! In a recent conversation someone said, "I don't have hope in humanity though I have hope for humanity." But, what hope there is, it will not appear in the vacuum of space nor will it be brought by a returning Jesus or any other deity. It is humanity that must choose, like the choices we make for good over evil. We are capable of both good & evil, of greatness and of utter obliteration. Like most things in life, what we do is a choice, much like a pesonal Jesus!


Samantha said...

Andros, I'm happy to see that you'll go to hell... where I believe there will be a ..congregation of persons who've done some thinking and have the courage to be inquisitive.

I wouldn't want to spend eternity with a bunch of boring souls! Thanks for another great post.

Callinicus said...

Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus... Check it out here.

Geeshus said...

Oh yeah, my personal favorite is Dear God by XTC

Anonymous said...

You didn't say anything about Passover! No matzo ball soup for you!

Brother Luke said...

What???!!! Where did you get this cockamanie ideas about killing children, non-virgins, etc? It's not in the Bible I know. I went to Sunday school for years, never heard of such stupid things.

Ascine said...

Well, the question does remain: Is the Bible the world of God, or the word of man? Something in between? What to take to heart and what to take with a grain (or pound) of salt?!

Roger said...

I do like the way you present your views. But, have you thought that liberals have been largely secular and perhaps that's why they seem "out of touch" with the rest of our society.

Andros said...

You can accept whatever suits your purpose. If you believe because of faith and not knowlege, I can't touch you. Make your own choices on how to understand the world around you and inside you.

For those of you who are a little more inquisitive, check this Skeptic's Bible. It's a great source of a searchable database with actual references in King James's Bible, and some other cool stuff. But, if you believe that the Bible is the absolute moral authority, be prepared to be challenged.

At the very least, it may prompt you to dust off the family Bible and double-check certain passages. Enjoy!

Pindar said...

There are many who suggest that Jesus was the Jewish counterpart of the Greek Apollo. Here is a source.

horseman of the apocalypse said...

Why don't you play it safe and obey the norm? It's not much to ask for eternal salvation. If you're wrong, you'll burn for eternity!

And, the end of times is nearer than you think!

The Rapture Index

Monk said...

It seems that the Gospel of Judas is part of the "zionist conspiracy" according to Greek Orthodox bishop.

"It is known that Judas committed suicide following his betrayal," Bishop Nikodemos said. "How could he possibly have written a gospel? Gospels were written after the Lord's resurrection," he argued.

What do you have to say to this? No, not about the "conspiracy" theory, but that Judas killed himself shortly after he betrayed Jesus, which means he didn't do much writing!

Gnostic said...

Why not? In the realm of miracles Judas was able to write his Gospel as a ghost writer!

Matt said...

I figured I would come check out your site after talking to you in class, and I found your thoughts on this subject different than I would have expected.
One point I would make is that many assume the Papal or Catholic Church is synonymous with Christianity. That generalization is a fundamental misunderstanding.
I too believe that a relationship with Jesus is personal, and I would challenge what many "religious" people assert Christ is. I would go as far to disagree with the use of the word religion in relationship to Christianity...I think Jesus would have been disappointed by "Religion" vs. a personal relationship with him.

I agree with you 100% that Jesus was a liberal, almost a communist in its ideal sense...but communism would work in an ideal society.

Andros said...

I don't assume Papal/Catholic Church is synonymous with Christianity. Gosh, we know that it isn't so, even by looking at the hostility, indeed cruelty, Christians of different sects have shown to each other.

This light-hearted essay was meant to point out (among other things) that Jesus can be personalized, which is good, and taken out of the official dogma. I think religion is personal as people pick & choose parts of the Bible (or any other Holy text) to suit their own comfort zone. I mean if one accepts the Bible as the true word of God, then everything in it should carry equal weight and accepted universally. Fortunately, some reason has prevailed so we don't stone to death non-virgin brides, kill those who work on the Sabbath, and sell our daughters into slavery, etc, as the Bible commands us.

Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, and many others advocated ideas that their societies didn't like. Those individuals paid a dear price, but in the long run their ideas transformed their societies. Dissent is important, just as keeping the dialogue going. However, there is a big problem when the Church or organized religion becomes one with the state and wants to establish a theocracy. The all who disagree are persecuted. I don't know for sure, but I'd imagine that Jesus wouldn't like that.

Thanks for visiting.

beepbeepitsme said...

When I think of a personal jesus, I think of Marilyn Manson.

Marilyn Manson And The cULT oF hERo wOrShIp