So I'm still reading American Jesus by Stephen Prothero and learning quite a lot concerning the United States' journey in becoming "a Jesus nation." I've already discussed the Jefferson phase of the "Enlightened Sage" and mentioned the "Sweet Savior" era as well. Jesus went through a feminizing process where his mercy, compassion and kindness were emphasized. Still later some people masculinized (we'll pretend that's a word if it's not) him because they were tired of the pictures of him looking weak and effeminate. He was their "Manly Redeemer"! Still later Jesus became a "Superstar" with megachurches abounding, Christian music and selling Jesus paraphernalia (e.g., books, bookmarks, bumper stickers) becoming quite a widespread, lucrative business. Oh and yes, the movies and plays and such things too!
|The Manly Superstar|
The book discusses reincarnations of Jesus. The Mormon church's "Elder Brother," the Jews' "Rabbi", the black church's "Black Moses" and finally the Hindus' "Oriental Christ." The author noted while the Jews emphasized the Jesus part, the Hindus had no problem with the Christ part. To the latter he was one of many divine people who came to earth to show us how to get in touch with our latent goodness of which we were ignorant.
Here is one excerpt from the "Oriental Christ" chapter:
In an effort to define what they called "the Christ-Ideal," Vivekananda, Paramananda, and Akhilananda all called down stereotypes of East and West, linking Jesus with the Orient rather than the Occident. The three conjured those categories differently, but all portrayed the East as the land of the spirit par excellence, and the West as the land of political, economic, and technological achievement. "The voice of Asia has been the voice of religion," wrote Vivekananda. "The voice of Europe is the voice of politics." Paramananda wrote that "the Eastern heart yearns primarily for spirituality," while, in Akhilananda's words, Western civilization "emphasized the path of pleasure as the solution to the problems of men." ... "In the West, the preacher who talks the best is the greatest preacher," wrote Vivekananda. But in the East, the true holy man is the one who practices what he preaches." (pg. 274-5)
|"Jesus of the People"|
What do you think of these Oriental and Occidental stereotypes by these three men? Do you agree that the West emphasizes pleasure as the solution to men's problems? Does the East yearn primarily for spirituality? How important is a preacher's speaking ability to you? What makes a good preacher? Do you agree that a true holy man practices what he preaches? Based on your knowledge of Jesus, did he do this for the most part? If you had to coin a phrase to describe what Jesus means to you, what would you say? Would you choose one from above or come up with one of your own? Explain your answer.
What are your thoughts on the photos? Do they attract you to Jesus or do you find them distasteful? Why? These were all used in the book and I found them and an article about the book on this page.