Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I was looking at pictures of Hamas on Google when I came across an image of Christ that bore the caption "Christianity: The belief that some Cosmic Jewish Zombie, who is his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force in your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Makes perfect sense." My gut reaction was indignation, to say you've got it wrong. But the truth is, it's not really a misrepresentation. Irreverent, sure, but fairly accurate.
It's embarrassing sometimes to look square-on at what I believe. God, who speaks and creates light, laying there as a baby. Roly poly and smelling like milk.
I've felt this disconnect before: the shock of seeing what you know framed so differently you don't recognize it, you almost want to shove it away. A Muslim friend told me (speaking slowly, so patiently) You believe that Jesus is God but that's crazy. God cannot die. I had nothing to say. Just yes, it is crazy. I tried to explain that that's how great his love for us is, that he would do the unthinkable; he would walk as a man and bear the full weight of our punishment. He was God in the flesh, covered in sin, and he was God the Father, holy and righteous, eyes too pure to look upon such an ugly sight. There are times when I talk about him that I can almost hear the angels singing. And there are times that the words sound as if they're coming from someone else's mouth, and I'm standing by thinking "Do you hear what you're saying? Do you not realize how absurd that is?"
But what is this absurdity if not a measure of love? This love that is deep and high and wide and long and cannot be measured but with the recognition that it is completely crazy. If love could be a noun, it would have been that: God hanging and bleeding, dying for people who mock him. Jesus scorned the shame of the cross. I do as well.
He existed before time but was born as a baby; he was tempted in every way and was both 100% God and man. He stood alongside God and created the world knowing we would fail and need this tremendous act of redemption. He made us anyway.
This is the fourth week of Advent. Jesus, author of salvation, you wrote a story so magnificent it's hard to believe.
But I do.

*And now, a short story. A smart man would say that for reasons of integrity alone, a person's intellect should align with their beliefs. I am okay with the disconnect. I know that my mind cannot keep up. Here is one (of many) events that I hold to stubbornly when it all feels too unreasonable. I was at a show with some of my friends. Bush was playing. Veruca Salt opened. (Surely you remember Glycerine?) I was way up front and the crowd was getting crazy. I was way too skinny to be there. The weight of the people around me was so much. I couldn't breathe; literally could not expand my lungs. I knew that within moments I wouldn't be able to keep my feet under me anymore (was being swept to the left and the right with the crowd); I would collapse and would be crushed by their feet. They wouldn't be able to control it, even if they noticed. I prayed a single word, Jesus. I felt him say "Turn around." A logical mind would have known if I couldn't move, I certainly couldn't turn. But I did. I turned and the crowd parted like the Red Sea; a two-foot wide path a hundred feet long. I didn't even bump a single shoulder. I simply walked out. As an added kindness, my friend was there, standing at the end. She didn't even see; it was as if I had appeared from nowhere. I know him, I do. Let my mind be silent when it is wrong. He is real.


missy said...

i love your advent reflections, jenny!
and i remember that night. ;)

john haskins said...

you sound like a roman catholic but without the mary. very intense and pretty words.

The Goodfellas said...

hey hey, john haskins! if i could send you a prize, i just might do it. of all the people i don't know who somehow end up here, you are the first one to leave a comment.
thank you!

Anonymous said...

So I read your latest blog and I think it is beautiful and so thought filled. Thanks. You make a very good point in the beginning about zombies ;-)

But I think your Muslim friend's comment that God cannot die, is perfectly right: He can't and He didn't. The point is that the flesh died, not the Spirit. If the Spirit had died, we would not be able to be with Him on a daily basis through the Holy Spirit which is our constant guide. If the Spirit had died, God would have died becuase He is a spiritual "being". I think that the disconnect we feel is partly because all we "know" is finite, therefore it is extremely hard to believe in, let alone understand, the infinite.

I was in a Bible study once, and we were on a verse about human death and how it is ok for us to grieve and cry even though we know that person's soul is going to Heaven. It made the point that we resist, fear, despise, and even hate death for the very reason that it's just not right. Why doesn't it feel right? Because it's the very meaning of finite, an ending to a part of life, when our very soul screams there is no ending in God. In the beginning with Adam and Eve there was no death, until sin came in and our soul knows it.

I think a greater lesson to learn here is why do WE put such a chasm between our fleshly being and eternal soul? Life would be so much easier if we were just in tune, don't you think?! At times we are in sync, and are infinitely happy; and in the times we are not, we feel "disconnected". Being disconnected with the soul is being disconnected with God and His eternal understanding, wisdom, and grace that is sufficient for us.

Life is hard a lot of the time, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be worth it. I think this is one of God's greater gifts to a wretch like me.

-m. lange

The Goodfellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Goodfellas said...

ms. lange: what you said is amazing. simply put, i love it. all the more so, to talk about belief, intellect, and the mind with someone who has spent the last (how many years?) studying the brain!!

(interesting to think how often we -people in general, i mean- begrudge God the right to write a story that's interesting. i don't know if that made sense. i mean it's so much easier to believe in a vague life-force than in the God who would place a tree of life in a garden and let a snake talk and let what would unfold unfold. again, because it's crazy; but more than that. because it is just so fantastic - in the antiquated meaning of the word.)

i appreciated so much your slant on things. i sincerely thank you for putting words to thoughts that are so hard to grasp.

Anonymous said...

It is good to have our neat, tidy, and bland sentimental view of our faith stirred up with a stark and critical viewpoint.

I could see Solomon using words like this in II Ecclesiastes. But, somehow I don't think he'll get around to writing it.


Very anonymous

You can call me B.... said...

i love your thoughts & words. love.