Thursday, July 1, 2010

dress-up Jesus

Once upon a time, the Los Angeles Times, a fairly-influential west coast newspaper in a time when newspapers were more or less serious, ran an article speculating about what the Christian personality Jesus might have looked like.

It wasn't some smarmy, blog-bolstered bit of speculation, but rather relied on the results of archaeologists and other scientists familiar with the time and place. In other words, it was fairly-well-founded guesswork.

In the article as I recall it, Jesus turned out be roughly five-feet-six-inches tall, nut brown and sinewy. This image contrasted sharply with the Hallmark calendar/Easter card depictions of a pink man with a snowy beard and doe-like, caring eyes.

At the time, I read the article from end to end -- not because I was especially curious about what Jesus might look like but because it made me wonder what happens in spiritual life after anyone dresses up their heroes. Is anyone better off or more convinced because they know what someone looks like? Does it support them in some important way?

And of course clothing is not the only way to dress up our chosen dolls. Ideas and precepts and bits of wisdom twinkle along the boughs of imagination or 'proof.' There are stories to be told, some more credible, some more miraculous, than others. So even those who forbid images, like Muslims, are not exempt.

Having dressed our heroes, is there a next-step -- some effort to disrobe what has been so carefully robed or are the dress-up versions really enough to sustain and support what is clung to?

Just noodling here, trying to see how and why our advisers might gain a greater force according to what they looked like.

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