Sunday, April 24, 2011
Jesus was a Commie and Other Easter Thoughts
I may be a godless heathen who was converted to the practice of witchcraft due to early childhood exposure to Harry Potter, but Easter still means a lot to me and I still have a lot of annoying opinions about Jesus & Co. My father is the kind of Catholic that hates the Pope and eschews parochial school labor practices, then claims he's a Buddhist and doesn't hate anyone because Jesus didn't hate anyone.
My mother is Jewish and we celebrated both Passover and Easter in the house growing up. This year, due to Oberlin's academic calendar, I was unable to celebrate the former and unwilling to observe the latter, except in my own special way. I'm not a spiritual person and I'm not claiming that my "special way" was in any religious sense observant, but I spent a couple hours trying to watch "Jesus Christ, Superstar" on the internet and settling for clips on YouTube.
The truth is, as unobservant and unreligious as I am and work hard to be, I think there is value in the stories handed down through the generations. The Bible is not the only short story collection I think humanity can benefit from, but it is one of the most widely-read, and it seems the adult thing to do to come to terms with it.
Here's a short list of the things I gleaned from my parents, the HarperCollins Children's Bible I spent some time reading (and rereading) as a child, watching "Jesus Christ, Superstar" in its entirety every couple of years:
1. Jesus was a communist. Well, if not a communist, a radical anti-capitalist. And if not that, exactly, at least a supporter of unions, communal living, and a believer in fair pay for hard work. I am positive he would support welfare and living wage reform, and then cry into his hemp pillow that the rest of the world was so harsh these things are needed. The man was a carpenter (a manual laborer), and he lived in what was basically a prototype of a co-op with twelve other dudes and a hooker. Which leads me to
2. Jesus loved everyone, including sex workers. It's not some strange coincidence that Mary Magdalene is a prostitute.* I'm pretty sure she has her cameos in the Bible to make a certain few points, many of which Dan Brown can probably obscure for you. At the most basic and unassuming level, Jesus has love for sex workers. Whether or not that love extended to the physical and earthly desires is up for debate, much like whether or not Sam and Frodo of Lord of the Rings fame were getting it on in the Shire. But Jesus would probably have supported the rights of sex workers to health care, legal recognition, safety, and respect.
3. Jesus pushed aside the boulder to his resting-cave, popped out into the sun, and said something like, "Everyone can eat cheeseburgers." Thus is my understanding of the observance of Lent. Although
4. Jesus was probably vegan (excluding the honeyed locusts or whatever). Because he loved everyone, including goats and cows and chickens, and would have wept for humanity over global warming.
As we can see, my understanding of Jesus and the Bible pretty much precludes an understanding of the conservatives and fundamentalists who hijack this great work of human literature for their own nefarious gains. Have some Martin Luther King, Jr. for more persuasive intellectualizing on this point:
And have a happy Easter. WWJD? He'd probably laugh at the Peeps, pop a Cadbury egg, then cast his spell to make food multiply forever. And then give it to the children, of course.
* As a Christian friend of mine who I respect deeply pointed out to me on the Facebook, the Catholic Church made up that Mary M. was a prostitute. I had no idea. My understanding of her is predominantly informed by Dan Brown novels. My sincere apologies. Still makes the Church look hella bad to point it out, though, so I'm happy to.