Tag. I'm it. It would appear that the Island Girl has tagged me to take part in the Jesus Christ meme. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to name and explain five things that I dig about Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus H. Christ, or whichever name you prefer to call him by. And since I haven't rambled about religion and theology in a while, this seemed like a good excuse to do so. I'll just warn you right now, this will probably get rather long-winded.
So many directions to go with this one. Both my smartass side and my *ahem* serious side would like to weigh in. Take it easy fellas, you'll each get your turn....maybe. I guess if you were to categorize my relationship with Christianity, with religion in general, it would fall into the "love/hate" box, right alongside technology and Starbuck's. I find a great deal of beauty in a lot of the things that Christianity stands for...love, compassion, kindness, peace, etc. etc. But like many, I'm also turned off by the evil that has been and continues to be accomplished under its banner. But Jesus, and figures like him throughout the ages, are inspiring to me. They were the ones to face down those who would do evil in the name of something good, the ones who called for unity where most were looking for reasons to be divided, the ones who included all those that the world excluded.
Anyway, without further ado, here's a few things about Jesus found particularly appealing by an ex-Baptist ex-cult member semi-agnostic Episcopalian infrequent church attendee kinda into Buddhism current seminary student. Hmm. I don't seem to make much sense.
#1 - Blessed are the peacemakers - in word and deed, Jesus's message was always that peace was the way. Had he wanted to, he likely could have gathered together enough disgruntled followers to stage some kind of violent coup against the local Roman authorities. Of course, it would have certainly been quelled with brutal efficiency as Romans weren't known for fucking around, not in that sense anyway. Instead, he managed to leave behind a message and an example that has inspired many to combat violence and oppression with peace and understanding. It is unthinkable to me that somebody could claim to be a Christian and think that doing violence to another human being is right.
#2 - Love your neighbor as yourself - love in our culture is often categorized, compartmentalized, and placed into neat little color-coded boxes. You have your romantic love, your love between family members, parents and children, friends. And all these things are beautiful and real and part of life, but Jesus also talked about a type of love that extends beyond that, that is not myopic in its scope, and takes into account those who we don't know, those outside of our circle, our experience. He even went so far as to say that we should love our enemies rather than get caught up in hatred for them. On top of that, I think he understood the necessity of being able to love yourself. After all, you can't love anybody very well if you hate yourself.
#3 - Enigmatic storyteller - some of Jesus's parables are pretty straightforward, but others were less so. They kind of leave the hearer thinking, wondering, not necessarily spoon-feeding everything to you. It was as if he wanted people to think about what he'd said and draw their own conclusions.
#4 - Had love for the ghetto - or more to the point, the people living in it. He came from poor people, he spent a lot of time with poor people, seeming almost to favor their company, so much so that it's enough to make one wonder if perhaps he wasn't a bit suspicious of those with wealth and power.
#5 - Valued children in a time when they were nothing - children in Jesus's time were not particularly valued or protected the way they are today. They were free to be sold, enslaved, beaten, killed. They meant nothing. But he valued them. And that's cool.
One thing I almost included in this list was that, like many of the greats, Jesus was misunderstood, but really that's not something I actually dig. I mean, it may be cool for an artist to be misunderstood, but misunderstandings of Jesus, be they willful or otherwise, have led to tragic results. That could be its own dozen posts, hell its own blog...probably already is.
So there you have it, five things that I dig about Jesus, based on my understanding of him. Oh, and let us not forget about his totally awesome blog. Every time I see the title of his blog in my Google reader, I get that Soundgarden song "Jesus Christ Pose" stuck in my head, except the Chris Cornell in my head replaces the word "pose" with "blog."