bonar crump

bonar crump
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Jesus for reals

Jesus for reals

Let me just say this right up front—if you cannot imagine a Jesus that was charismatic, lively, likeable, engaging, and smart COUPLED WITH sometimes agitated, melancholy, sorrowful, angry, woeful, and frustrated then you don’t have a relationship with the REAL Jesus. If your image of Jesus is wholly beatific then you don’t understand what’s going on in the Gospels. 

One more thing before I blow into full rant is that in order to have a relationship with someone you’ve never physically met you have to contemplate, meditate on, and understand the information that they have put forth. For instance, in order to relate to C.S. Lewis one must read, contemplate, and contextualize his ideas. That’s the only way to claim a relationship with a dead person. Likewise, if you want to get to know someone that you will probably never meet like Anne Lamott you have to discover her personality, humor, and views of truth through the study, contemplation, and appreciation of her writings. 

Why, oh why, does the RELIGION of Christianity place prerequisites on each and every access point to Jesus? Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. If you feel the sudden kneejerk reaction to answer that question you aren’t going to get what I have to say so save us both some time and stop reading now.

If the fundamental, basic, rudimentary, meat-and-potatoes desire of Jesus was to connect us to God then I argue that the prevalent, fundamental outcome of the RELIGION of Christianity has proven to be limiting access to Jesus. RELIGION (or the belief system) establishes and maintains the checklist of access. The RELIGION is an extremely effective bouncer controlling the velvet rope and administering the clipboard of sanctioned individuals allowed access to Jesus.

Try getting access to Jesus with too many piercings showing. Try getting access to Jesus while you’re smoking pot. Try getting access to Jesus if track marks are obvious in the crease of your elbow. Try getting access to Jesus if you’re wearing a frilly pink tutu and you’re 5 o’clock shadow is rather noticeable. Try getting access if you are honest about your disbeliefs. Try getting access if you are simply curious but noticeably a skeptic. Try getting access if it’s obvious that you have nothing to offer as a gift. Try getting access if you are a sex offender, pervert, indigent, or gangbanger. You getting the picture?

Martha Woodroof’s discussion in the Washington Post, Why can’t we just let Jesus be Jesus? , asks the question, “why [is it] essential to believe in…the magical deification stories” in order to obtain access to Jesus? Good question. Anyone experienced with the RELIGION of Christianity has to stop a moment and sort of grit their teeth a bit in preparation of inching their way up to this question almost like trying to catch a live alligator. Quick! Grab the electrical tape so we can bind up its mouth. 

I’ll spare everyone my tirade on the voluminous flow of RELIGIOUS gatekeeping schemes proliferating every corner of modern society. In the interest of brevity I’ll ask this question—how am I supposed to get to know Jesus if I’m never allowed to spend time with him alone? I’ve got some questions I’d feel more comfortable asking him directly the same way that I ask questions of C.S. Lewis, Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Mohandas Gandhi, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.

The RELIGION of Christianity is a very poor publicist. The philosophy, teachings, and person of Jesus have been marketed as far too complex, mysterious, and sophisticated to be fully understood by anyone other than knowledgeable and well-trained scholars, sages, and renowned theologians. But that marketing doesn’t make sense to outsiders who see a very simple man teaching very simple lessons to a very simple crowd of people. What looks rather simple [Matt  18:2-5] but is touted as very mystical results in a distrust of Jesus, Christianity, and the toadyish following of the ORGANIZED RELIGION INDUSTRY. 

Why not ask the obvious questions? 

“Because the magical deification stories seem both silly and unnecessary - beginning with Jesus being the hybrid son of Mary and God. Could someone please explain to me what, exactly, that's about? And why it's essential to believe it in order to follow Jesus?” asks Woodroof.

Why not anticipate the logic of the atheist?

“I think we need to grow up. If you had a society in which everybody believed in Santa Claus, you might say it's harmless. But I think it would be an impoverished view of life if you think the good things in life come from some bearded figure. Similarly with God, it would be a good idea if people grew up, stood on their own feet and learned that this life is the only life we have and [people] should make the most of it, not just for themselves but for others,” states Richard Dawkins.

Why not acknowledge the misgivings of newer generations?

“Fewer young adults belong to any particular faith than older people do today. They also are less likely to be affiliated than their parents' and grandparents' generations were when they were young. Fully one-in-four members of the Millennial generation - so called because they were born after 1980 and began to come of age around the year 2000 - are unaffiliated with any particular faith,” reported  the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Why shouldn’t an individual’s interactions with the person and teachings of Jesus be unique, simple, and free of restrictive ideologies?

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” 
~ Mohandas Gandhi

Those of us leaving behind the RELIGION of Christianity aren’t walking away from Jesus. We’re walking away from the Jesus analog we’ve been duped by. If you want to contemplate the Jesus of scripture maybe it’s time to pull him into the discussion group of atheist, platonist, cynic, environmental, epicurean, humanist, pragmatist, rationalist, scholastic, stoic, utilitarian philosophers that congregate in your mind.

The Jesus I know would have relished the opportunity to discuss life, love, and truth with the great philosophers of the ages. It certainly would have been more stimulating than hanging out with fishermen all day. 

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