Monday, September 24, 2007
I found Jesus.
Before all my Christian mates get excited I’d better explain that he was buried under a persistent pile of bills in my front room. There’s an irony in there somewhere—I found Jesus through paying my bills.
He’s actually a Jesus action figure that my brother gave me for my 39th birthday in August. I can’t remember getting a better gift, and I’ve had some doozies—exotic foods and musical instruments, a whole garden full of plants and some four-packs of black beer. Mmm. Black beer. And there’s Jesus. He has poseable arms and smooth gliding action. Wouldn’t seem right without the smooth gliding action. I wonder if the next model up can do the smooth gliding action on water? That would be cool. That would be like a Spiderman action figure that actually shoots web.
I nearly called Him a ‘doll’ but that’s so wrong. He’s not cutesy—he’s a man of action and that’s much closer to my inner vision of Jesus. Spidey shoots web, Supsey can fly and Jesus can heal people with a single touch. That’s a pretty cool super power. Like a Dr Fred Hollows from 2000 years ago. It’s better than x-ray vision (though I’d have to admit perving through clothes would be fun for a day and a career in street radiography would be an awesome community service).
There’s a punchy little story called The Turning in Tim Winton’s book of the same name. It’s about an abused woman who finds strength and solace in a little plastic Jesus in a snow dome. With his gentle eyes and his six-pack stomach, he’s a vision of a man and, at the risk of alienating my Christian brothers and sisters (and two-thirds of voting America) further, I think that sums up what Jesus means to me: a superhero, a vision of all the good things that man can be.
I haven’t finished reading the Bible but I’ve seen the movie and I know how it ends. I wish there was a Marvel Comic version. He wouldn’t have died in a Marvel comic. They wouldn’t have stood around and watched their hero being nailed up. They would have asked themselves ‘What would Brian Boitano* do?’ and executed a daring rescue. Like a streak of light, he arrives just in time. That would have left room for a raft of sequels. Jesus and the Pharaoh Queen. Eric, Son of Jesus.
Jesus: good. Religion: fan club? Nah, religions have a habit of getting nasty and self-righteous. Even Trekkies don’t doorknock. And when was the last time a Star Wars fan ran a light sabre through a Stargater? That would go against every tenet of the Jedi. The religious right are so close to the religious wrong and when the leader of the modern world—our Caesar—can invoke Jesus’ dad’s name to justify going against everything that Jesus represented (what ever happened to compassion and forgiveness and the brotherhood of humanity?) then he’s missed the point. And if the other guy’s invoking his own god to justify the terror then he’s equally misguided. I haven’t read the Qur'an either but I’ve got a condensed version and while it’s not as bloodthirsty as the Old Testament, it’s not far off the mark. Their superhero, Muhammad, was in the same league as Jesus and Buddha and Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr and John Lennon; people who united tribes, believed in loving your neighbour, peaceful solutions and harmony.
The whole superhero thing turns messy when you factor in Batman fighting the Penguin or the Joker. Blam. Kapow. Kazam. Jesus wasn’t in to giving the bad guys a thumping but reading the Bible I got the distinct impression that his dad was. Put a statue of an eagle in your driveway and he’d give you the pox for worshipping false idols. The ‘one and only’ syndrome. Like a Collingwood supporter. Unless you barrack for Collingwood all the cheering and booing can get a bit tedious to listen to.
I think the religions of the world need a Greatest Hits album. Something that celebrates the ideas that are universal and human. We need faith, but without the dogma. I think we need more action figures. I’d collect the full set. Maybe, if I ask nicely, I’ll get them for my next 39 birthdays. What do you say, bro?
*Brian Boitano—Italian-American figure skater immortalised as a superhero in the South Park cartoon.