Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

14 May 2010

Jesus and Representations

I really love the idea
of Jesus.

If you do a Google search on "pictures of Jesus" it's amazing how many results you can get.  All for a guy who lived during a time when they didn't have cameras. 
This picture was in my grandmother's house, during the 1960s;
it's so soothing and passionate.  
One of the reasons I love the idea of Jesus.

We don't have pictures of Jesus, but we have accounts of how he acted.  We have stories.
Stories give us the pictures
the remembrances
of events where we forgot our camera.
Kind of like the Book of Genesis:
and other Creation Stories -
they're attempts to capture 
the impressions of a really important event
when God forgot his camera.

Stories are really important,
each little word
is like a snapshot
of a gesture,
and expression,
an act.


The word - Jesus - is a representation.

I love the idea of Jesus for what he represents: 
peaceful solutions
a rejection of the 
Old Testament philosophy of 
an eye for an eye:
turning the other cheek.

When 9/11 happened, I was in
Ankara, Turkey,
and as I watched the towers tumble,
I thought:
this is the equivalent
of the hole that was blasted
into the side of the 
How would my nation
respond to this
I was afraid.


In March of 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq,
I was in Ankara, Turkey.
On the night of the invasion,
I was sitting in a bar with a couple Turkish friends,
and I was in total despair.
This was the answer I feared the United States would give.
My friends and I were talking about
we were talking about the 
Christian world and the Muslim world.
I said to my friend Onur:
what do you think would have been the best way for America to respond to the attack of 2001?
And he said:
Enact, purely, the teachings of Jesus.
Turn the other cheek.
No self-respecting Muslim could attack
a nation that opted to practice
an act of pure love.
the radical Islamic sects
would not have the sympathy and/or support
of the Islamic world if they continued to attack after we simply
turned the other cheek.


Of course, that's not what we did.
And any arguments about the voracity of my friend's claim
would be purely academic.


At the time, 
I agreed with Onur;
I still agree
with what Onur 

This is not to say we would have avoided war;
(we were already in a war,
it's just that, 
on 9/11
Americans was made aware of the fact
that we were
at war)
we just would have avoided the kind of war
that we've been having.

A stumbling point
between the world of Islam
and the world of Christianity
is, of course,

We both share him, by the way.
is in the Koran,
and Mary his Mother 
is the only woman who is named
in the Koran,
for the very simple reason that
men in the Koran are identified by their father's name --
Ishmael and Iaac, sons of Abraham, for instance --
but Jesus has no father,
so he's identified by
his mother's name.

Which leads us to the rather troubling question
of who his father is.
Christianity teaches
Jesus is the son of God, 
and somehow that blurs into him being
Islam says there's no way
he could be God;
God is God,
and Jesus
was a great prophet.

I've also read and heard the argument
from Muslims that, if God is everything,
why would he want or need a son?
Well, hey, if God is everything,
why the heck
would he have wanted to create

He created us
and everything we occupy
in his own likeness,
and then, well,
we kind of made a mistake.
It's been our job ever since, to correct that mistake.
I tend to believe that
every now and then
some human takes form
who has a really big clue
about how to correct that mistake.
(Please see my earlier contemplations on the creation & the fall; and the second coming)

One thing that is remarkable
about reading the Koran
is that it actually presupposes that its readers
have also read the Old and New Testament.
It talks about the Creation,
and some major figures in the Old and New Testaments
as if the reader already knows about them,
therefore leading one to believe that
the best way to read the Koran
and the Bible
is together.

One of the great sins of each
of the Abrahamic religions
is that we don't read
each others books:
Muslims generally don't read the Bible,
and Jews and Christians
rarely read the Koran.

However, put those books together
and there's a very interesting story that emerges,
and its central idea is this:
Jesus belongs to all of us.

Christ is the population of the world,
and every object as well.  There is no room
for hypocrisy.  Why use bitter soup for healing
when sweet water is everywhere?
(Jelaluddin Rumi)

Late at night, when I've been writing on this blog,
I start looking at other people's blogs.
If I simply move through
blogger, I find
that my neighboring blogs
are often
lovely family blogs
with really lovely pictures
of lovely families,
Christian blogs,
with really lovely pictures
of Christian families,
and I really like seeing them.
Occasionally, though,
I find a nut case like me.

I know that most people
in the United States
would say my ideas about Jesus
are blasphemous,
but they're not,
just like
my ideas about the United States
are not blasphemous:
I deeply love
what both the U.S.A. and Jesus
and I mourn
what the two, combined,
have become.

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