My interest is on several levels. Sometimes I post about it because it gives me an opportunity to rail against censorship. Other times I remark on it because I want to mock it. Today, I’m just impressed by Stephen Sawyer.
Anyway, an interview with him is published in the Guardian.
As Kentucky-based Sawyer, 58, points out: “I scarcely think Jesus could have overturned the tables of the money-lenders and driven them from the temple if he was a wimp. The model I use for my paintings is a surfer guy who’s built like a brick shithouse.”
Okay, I amend my previous sentence; surfer guy is hot. And for whatever reason, I find it funny that he said “brick shithouse,” but I’ll move on.
I don’t know why it’d need noting, but I’ll do it anyway. People back then were nowhere near as sedentary as we are today. Jesus lived at a time long before machinery took the bulk of the work off the worker so of course he’d be physically fit enough to flip a table over and get all testosterone-y around the witnesses. He probably never even broke a sweat, and nor would have anyone else. They had to be strong people. It was the nature of the world back then; they never would have survived otherwise. Dare I say, duh!
Sawyer is one of many who promote a macho-type Jesus and apparently this approach is gaining ground in the UK. The writer of the piece, Tanith Carey, offers up some stats: women worshipers vastly outnumber men, with polls putting the percentages at 65/35. Some churches in the States and Canada have embraced ultimate fighting as a way of getting more guys to give Jesus a chance.
The Australian article where I first found the picture quotes Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney. He doubts this tactic is the best way to create more Christian men.
“I do think there’s a job to be done to show young men that the real Jesus is not the gentle meek and mild mamby-pamby that they have remembered from their past or school or Sunday school and get them to genuinely read with fresh eyes the portrait in Mark, Luke, Matt, John – that’s where the real impact is, I think,” he told news.com.au.
I presume he means focusing on what Jesus expected of his followers and how he wanted them to behave. Assuming gospel writers did actually quote Jesus and did not make it all up as they went along, then he was miles ahead of anyone else at the time in terms of equality for women. That’s one quick example, anyway. Sitting in this era where most women do have autonomy and equality (not enough in some ways), those passages maybe don’t hit as hard as they must have done in the early days. Clearly it wasn’t Jesus’ intention to marginalize women within his ministry, yet many churches did, and did for centuries. What part of the bible motivated their rationale?
I wonder if there’s a need to redefine strength, or remind people at least that power comes to a person in a lot of different ways. Physical prowess and fighting ability is one way, but so’s knowing how to use other skills so one can achieve a more peaceful resolution to a problem. Assuming people have actually taken the time to learn how to do that, of course. Jesus and the gospel writers chose parables to teach people lessons and I don’t think they collectively preached, “The only way to get ahead in this world is by kicking ass.” Instead, there were things like this:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” — Matthew 5:9
He also promoted mercy and forgiveness. The ability do to either is more evidence of strength — strength of character. Surely all of us would be better off if we could do more of that.
Sheesh. Who knew an atheist could deliver such a sermon…