Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why Jesus is confusing

OK, please note that I am in a random state of mind right now, so I totally started thinking about this in a weird manner. I was curled up on the couch in closed-eye bliss when a character in the movie (to which I'm not paying attention) said "cavalry." For some reason my brain seized upon it and I started saying "cavalry" over and over in my head. Then I started saying "Calvary. Cavalry. Calvary. Cavalry." I've always been fixated on how similar those words are. As a child I had to often say them both before I figured out which word I wanted.

So there I was in my head thinking about sending in the cav-cav-cavalry, and about CaLvary/hiLL, and I started thinking about Jesus dying there on Calvary, "for us," as the story goes. So I lay here thinking about this bloody, violent death by crucifixion and all the world has done with it. (I told you I'm in a weird state of mind, just accept that.) Here's the thing: this used to puzzle me when I was younger, too, but you're supposed to just kind of suspend your disbelief, I guess. Right now I'm not in a disbelief suspending mood, though, and my inquiring mind wants to know.

How does Jesus die, for us? What I mean is, how is it for us? Even if you buy the legend. You've got crazy Roman colonial terrorists occupying Judea or whatever and they crucify this Jesus of Nazareth. So, how does that become for my sins? What is the deal? I mean, like I said, even if you are into the whole atonement, forgiveness, repent for your sins, God loves us, blabbity blabbity blah.

The whole thing just doesn't make any sense. I mean, he's up there bleeding and suffocating and starving on a cross, and then dies. What on earth has that got to do with me? How does his blood do anything? I am not asking for some faithful testimony about how much it means to someone that Jesus saved him/her. That won't answer my question. I'm asking how is it even SUPPOSED to work? Like, God is sitting around saying, "Boy do I love these crazy wayward humans o' mine. But they're really messed up. Hey, I know! We'll have Jesus die. That way, humans can be forgiven and have eternal life." Huh?

How does that give me or anyone eternal life? How does that even make sense? Seriously. My poor little brain has been puzzling over this. Nails + blood = forgiveness? It seems so arbitrary. Like, what if I said, "Hmmm, this is a problem, I have a bad grade in law school. I know! We'll have the subway drivers play poker and one will end up with all the chips by the end of the night. Then, we can be better off!" It's so random! I mean, how does nailing anyone -- human, divine, or otherwise -- help anything? What does it even mean?

I'm serious. I don't get it. And here's a final thought: all these right-wing Christian, Protestant, or evangelical sorts are questioning whether Mitt Romney can be the President, what with him being a Mormon and all, and I've seen more than a few articles explaining the Mormons' weird beliefs. But, um, where exactly do they get off? I think they'd best stick to explaining their own fundamental Christian belief. Why do people who think nailing someone to a cross all of a sudden makes everyone else acceptable to be in God's presence get to call anyone else's belief bizarre?


Kim Diaz said...

I never totally got this either; it is somehow supposed to be related to the concept of grace, or God's favor, regardless of whether one is "deserving" or not (is this where W. got the "deserving poor" fucked-up idea?), ask and you shall receive and all that; but, did he have to die in such a fashion for people to receive grace, or salvation, or rent control, or single-payer universal healthcare? I think would not have been my first choice. Then, remember Lenny Bruce said that if Jesus had been killed in the 20th century all those Christians would be walking around with little gold electric chairs around their necks. Enough said - it is perhaps merely an attempt to justify the death penalty - in any century.

jnap said...

Whatever you believe about Judeasm, Christianity or the Romans,(or anyone else, for that matter) we know that Jesus was a person in time who died. The Christian teaching is that he died for our sins, but, really, he died to make a statement about how the rest of us live.

Why did Ghandi have to die?

Why did Martin Luther King, Jr. have to die?

They, too were making statemnts about how the rest of us live...

We are all made "in the image and likeness" of whatever higher power there is, only some of us are better at it than others. So they make better statements, do better deeds. And, maybe, die uglier deaths. If Jesus had not died such an ugly death, would we be thinking about him today? It was his life that was the example, not his death. His death was just the punctuation mark to make sure we did not forget his life.

I disagree with what Kim is saying. I think if Jesus lived in the 20th century, there would have been an assassin in the crowd, and he, too would have been shot...

I think Jesus gave us the highest, purest statement of all who have lived, about who we are and how we should live. No one has yet achieved that awareness since him, although some have come close....

This then gives us hope that each of us can attain some state of "grace" not in belonging and practicing a religion, but in living in the purest state of humanity we possibly can.