A bobble head version of this image has made me think about Jesus. And, as I think about him, I also consider the way he is thought about in general. When we think of Jesus, we tend to think of a suffering and morose character who lacks a sense of humor. That I’m sure was the case in the final period of his life–and appropriately so–but he died when he was 35. What was the son of god like when he was 20?
Most of our lives are spent watching the river flow, passing time, hanging out, and as I do just this right now, I wonder: Would I want to hang out with Jesus? Being serene and full of wisdom is not inconsistent with a sense of humor, or, more generally, being affable.
The traditional Jesus does not make me feel good to be alive in a miraculous world. He forces me into punishing introspection by making me feel guilty for killing him with the terrible sins I have yet to commit, and probably won’t commit. The gloom cast by the acceptance of original sin induces me to keep apologizing to the world for violating its sanctity. Acceptance of original sin both makes me an outsider to the world as I seek forgiveness for trespassing, and makes the world an ugly place as viewed through the filth of my sinner self. (I don’t like the tone of those lines. It sounds angry, but I am not angry, I’m having a blast.) What I mean to say is this: Jesus had a message of love, but he offered no operational mechanism for expressing that feeling, outside of extraordinary benevolence in extraordinary situations. His love seems to be an inert one.
Am I supposed to simply radiate love at my fellow man from across the street? Or should I express it through sacrifice and industry? Neither is satisfactory, as both are lonely forms of love that do little to satiate a genuine feeling of fraternity, let alone, eroticism.
It seems that the love preached by Jesus was distant, not shared. Bosch’s Paradise pane from The Garden of Earthly Delights depicts just this. Here, the Adam and Eve that Jesus unites are downright melancholic, when they should be giggling or at least holding in a mischievous snicker! They’re in paradise with nothing to do but to make love and bask in the perfection of their environs. But, alas! They are lonely and bored to their wits’ end.
That brings me to my final point: the Christian ideal of Paradise, as founded on Christian love, is so stolid and remote, that it is not worthy of pursuit.
To obtain that ideal would be to sacrifice the shared giggle of playful love for boredom and isolation.