Sunday, December 24, 2006

Jesus Superstar

Give most adults two drinks and ask them whether Jesus is Santa for grownups and they will seriously ponder the question. For many grownups and even some kids, Jesus is the invisible friend who never goes away, like Santa, always watching. They set the voice of Jesus as chief among the inner voices that tell them what to do. It gives them control.

Granted that there was a person born 2007 years ago who spent his years from age 12 to 30 among the Essenes, the Sufis of the time, a people who made a science of spiritual practices. Granted that his followers taught a path so radical that 11 of the 12 primary disciples were martyred by the powers that be. Granted that their followers created a new organizational order, with churches linked by message and messenger, hidden in the crevices, distributed rather than centralized. A newer, more democratic order.

What we have made of Jesus reflects our needs. Just as what we have made of Saint Nicholas reflects the needs of children.

If we need Jesus to be strong and reassuring, Jesus is strong and reassuring. If we need Jesus to be warm and enfolding, Jesus is warm and enfolding. If we need Jesus to be militant and vengeful, Jesus is militant and vengeful.

What children learn from Santa Claus is that they have the power to believe. They believe in Santa for a few years. As they grow, they learn to distinguish theater from reality and faith fades into reason. At this point many of them are introduced to Jesus and are told that if they can have belief, they will have Jesus' presence in their lives. If they can conjure up belief, they will have their savior.

On top of the politics, on top of the personal self-delusions, sits a spiritual message that Jesus taught, ignored but serene.

Man is holy.

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Original blog entry edited and polished a bit 12/31/06. DM.

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