Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good Old Jesus and Me

We had a great Jesus Seminar on the Road with Robert Miller and Jarmo Tarkki. Here are some pics on my Facebook.

The subject was Jesus in the first and twenty-first centuries. Bob Miller stayed an extra day and participated in our adult forum and preached on "The Historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God."

It has taken me a long time since seminary, when I first had to wrestle with biblical criticism and critical analysis of Christianity, to make my peace with Jesus. At this point on my journey, I find that the Christ of creed is flat, dated, and oppressive for the most part.

In a liturgical setting, hymns and prayers to the "Cosmic Christ" are tolerable. The Cosmic Christ, Buddha-Nature, God, Goddess, etc. all speak to that transcendent aspect of reflection and experience. Even more so, does good poetry about nature and life.
I like liturgy to reflect the creativity of the human spirit. I can appreciate some of the traditional hymns (especially the classical ones) as long as the words aren't too supernatural, archaic, or bloody. I like "secular" music in worship as long as it's good. Moments of silence are nice.

But when it gets right down to what it is about, that is,
what I want my life to be about, I find the historical Jesus a good resource. He wasn't perfect. As Bob Miller pointed out on Sunday morning, he died young before he could mature and reflect on his vision and mission. He appeared to be impulsive. He cut himself off from his roots and demanded that others do the same ("let the dead bury their own dead") and it is doubtful that he could have sustained an itinerant lifestyle through middle or old age.

But he stood up against the powerful on behalf of the marginalized and that is enough for me. I don't need much more religion than that. I certainly don't need miracles or afterlife. I don't need supernatural beings telling me what to do. Nor do I need supposedly supernaturally derived books as proof-texts for decisions I need to make on my own.

Back to Jesus. He poked and prodded his listeners to live a life with courage. Be bold. Take some risks. Leave the zone of comfort. Stop whining about whatever isn't going your way and have some compassion for others. I mean, really.

Bob preached on Luke 10:1-9, where Jesus instructs his followers to wander around and heal in exchange for food and in the process tell the good folks that this is the kingdom of God. Or in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, tell them, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

For some people, religion should be more than that. They need miracles, angels, resuscitated corpses, reincarnated souls, complex ladders of being, and life everlasting. Not me. I'm good with good old Jesus, the socialist prophet who thought if we shared and healed we would be doing all right.