I met my doppelganger today.
Calm down. She was a doppelganger of me twenty years ago … it was like looking in some kind of warped time-displaced mirror. The only difference was that I would never have worn a sweatshirt that said “LOVE PINK” on it (neither the color, nor the singer). Frankly, as long as I can remember I’ve never liked pink. I was a tomboy when I was young, and later, pink was just never one of my colors, not even when I’ve dyed my hair blonde or black. It clashes with my skin and definitely my personality.
RELIGION ALERT: Opinionated sermon follows.
If you have read any of my prose, you’ll know that I’m Catholic. You might say I’m a puritanistic, ultra-left Catholic. I’m pro-choice, for gay marriage, and I’m for women priests … but I do think priests and nuns should be celibate. (That’s my puritan side.) Why? I’ve always thought that Catholic priests seems more altruistic and unbiased than their Anglican and Lutheran counterparts, who are basically Catholics that don’t believe in a couple of things (like the Pope, virgin birth, transubstantiation, and celibacy). (Marriage divides their priests’ loyalties.) There are a few other things, but their rituals are essentially the same, and in some ways more “Catholic” than Catholics, although (Anti-)Pope Benedict and JPII did their best to haul us back to the dark ages. Francis appeals to my puritan side, but I knows he’s just another arch-conservative in sheep’s clothing.
Anyway, you can quibble with that, but it isn’t the point of why I brought it up. At Easter mass this morning, I was staring up at the cross, which had returned to its normal position. (They removed it altogether for Lent.) I like the symbolism of that, but while I was looking at it, all I could see were lies. There ain’t no way Jesus was a red-head with the accompanying fair skin. Yes, there are rumors passed down through the ages, that he was fair-skinned, but frankly, I don’t believe them (especially not if he was a direct descendant of King David). On our cross, he appears Irish. He’s also fully-clothed, and is stepping away from the cross. The crown of thorns is almost unnoticeable, and the holes in his hands are mostly healed, surely not deformed in such a way that Thomas could put his fingers through the holes. This Irish Jesus had a benign crucifixion. The only thing that looks vaguely realistic is that it looked as if he hadn’t eaten in a couple of months. (He probably wasn’t that tall either and would have been crucified naked.)
Jesus was a Hebrew long before the diaspora. He would have had dark skin, a large Arabic or Roman nose, and probably kinky or curly, thick hair. His beard would be fuller, and he most certainly would have had one, unless his torturers shaved it off to emasculate him. He was whipped, and that crown of thorns would have left his body bloodied (the thorns were supposedly razor sharp and an inch long). The holes in his hands and feet would have been large bloody painful wounds that held his body up for probably eight hours. The holes probably would have stretched after he died since the muscles around the (likely huge) nails would have stopped providing additional support.
Jesus’ death was horrific, but all we are given is this idealized northern European. I understand clothing him (at least minimally, there are children at church), and I can understand cleaning up his wounds a little, but changing his race is designed to distance him from what he was – a Jew – because we are afraid of Jews. They killed Jesus and although they have spread through the western world, they retain some of their own “foreign” customs. That is the root of the racism that we inherited through our European ancestors. Arabs and Persians have different reasons for hating Jews and that go a little further back to tribal rivalries. They hate Christians because of our Imperial, crusading past. (But that is further out of the scope of this rant.)
Back to the lie. That misguided crucifix promotes the lie that Jesus was one of us. He never was. He died a Jew and even if he married, that woman and child/children would have been Jews. It was only when Paul (perhaps a Roman?) preached to the gentiles that the religion became ours. Yes, there were Christian Hebrews, but they were soon far out-numbered by European gentile-Christians who claimed Jesus as their own, even to the point of changing his race, giving him European attributes. Was Jesus in the line of David? Possibly, but not as directly as is implied. Through many generations, his bloodline would have pervaded the community, especially since royal polygamy was common. But the census they would have been travelling for at the time of his birth would have been to his father’s city, hence Joseph’s people, not Mary’s. If it was a virgin birth, Jesus wouldn’t have carried Joseph’s bloodline (unless magically through the Holy Spirit – but then why bother with a virgin birth?). Joseph was a direct descendant of the royal line, but Mary was a descendant of Solomon’s brother Nathan and 15 generations further removed from David. 40 generations in all. Think about it: 15 generations takes me back to the time of the discovery of North America. The number of my ancestors is vast from that era. 25 more generations, would likely take me back another 800 years, or possibly less because they procreated younger. I could conceivably have genetic ties to the Holy Roman Emperor, and I would probably share a bloodline with most of Europe and European-descended Americans (North and South). At that distance, Mary’s genetic bloodline to David would pale to insignificance. Even at 25 generations, Joseph’s is a stretch, although at least the royal bloodline stretched through half of the generations between David and Joseph.
Oh where, oh where is this going? (Oh where, oh where has it been?)
We have been taught various things through the ages based on nothing else but dogma, little rules the church has put together to keep us in line. We have a set of rules that we follow (some of which aren’t in the Bible), and a set that we ignore (that actually appear in the Bible). We follow the teachings of a church that has demonstrably manipulated us into submission. The Pope has been leader of the church for a long time, but we know that some Popes bought their position, and many abused their power and most of them were even married (some may have even had multiple wives). (Celibacy is still less than half of our history.) The Bible does not say that marriage is between one man and one woman – in fact, it says that if a man’s brother dies, he should marry his brother’s wife and provide for her (in addition to his own family). There are only a few mentions of homosexuality (most from homophobic Paul – who was probably gay himself – but one from Leviticus, which has loads of other laws that we don’t follow – none from Jesus). We have lapped up what the church taught us – which was convenient for the church at the time. It has always been an evolving, living church, so maybe it is time to evolve further, not retract into a very traditionalist past. It is, perhaps, time to find the truth that is the core of our beliefs, rather than obsess about the minutiae of a compendium of dogma.