January 14, 2007

cool jesus

Just found this essay on www.godspy.com. It is so amazing. Just had to share.
http://www.godspy.com/reviews/Cool-Jesus-by-Rebecca-Robinson.cfm

14 Comments:

At 9:39 AM, Blogger forrest said...

Too many bs sites lately that want you to join before you can comment. (I wanted to but I don't know what I could have said...)

I have a friend very like this author, muy sarcastic & snide, proud of her superiority to everything and everyone that doesn't match certain assumptions which are not open to discussion or (evidently) reexamination. My friend is also an alcoholic, except one with no intention of "recovering," and her writing is much worse due to her love of formality and obscurity, which gives her an undeserved reputation for profundity--a quality she could achieve if she weren't so compelled to fake it.

Police chiefs and telemarketers will get in first, sorry. (I can snob and sneer as well as anyone, but I don't consider it a virtue.)

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger david said...

perhaps I like her because i enjoy satire -- and am somewhat aware of her target(s) -- and the target(s) could use a bit of "the emperor has no clothes"

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger forrest said...

I try to avoid her targets, and not just for fear of stray mudballs...

Even so, I'd rather that everyone concerned had something better to wear.

 
At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

I'd call this a pretty darn sharp critique of suburban-Christian Philistinism.

Unfortunately, it's not only sharp but also subtle -- and its intended targets, being Philistines, are numb to subtleties. Instead of getting the point, they'll simply wonder why the heck the author hates them so.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger forrest said...

My wife told me "Never use sarcasm on stupid people!"

Since she hasn't found me any other safe targets, I'm outa luck here.

People have been seeing/painting Jesus in their own image for some very long time now; these folks don't seem the worst examples. Maybe I just don't know enough Philistines? Should I look up Delilah?

 
At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Marshall Massey said...

forrest, friend, see this, please.

 
At 7:32 AM, Blogger david said...

According to James Branch Cabel (in Jurgen) the nastiest of the Philistines was the tumble bug -- an insect that carried its children around with it in cages and was quick to accuse and could consign his victims to Limbo.

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger forrest said...

I liked this part of Massey's link (though why does M. assume that I don't know things when we disagee?):

>J. D. Salinger, although he never uses the actual >word, seems to define some form of Philistinism >when character Seymour Glass writes about his >mother-in-law: "A person deprived, for life, of any >understanding or taste for the main current of >poetry that flows through things, all things."

Probably Delilah was not only a Philistein, but could make one go blind, approached incautiously. My own mission to the Philistines ended with such a woman:

"The difference between us
is that I am perfectly sane
while you are straight driveling bonkers
in a world that never was
outside your fantasies...

I have just about had it
with women who are not
into hanging out in the exile
with the true King of Bohemia


I have just about had it
(while the banks still won't honor
drafts drawn on my royal treasury
which I will surely repay
soon as I claim my rightful throne.)

I have been sniffed and left in the trash
by the best minds
of this female generation
who refused perversely
to be driven mad, refused to
let me build dream castles
on their real estate, refused to
after I laid
their foundations
good and solid

There is no woman going
to Bohemia, I'm sorry

i'm returning alone this midnight
in a coach drawn by sixty
silver cockroaches

if you're a friend of mine
wave as i pass
----------------
And then Anne came along, chased me down and commenced to improve me. Life is good.

And I still don't think I should guffaw when blind folks stumble over what's been put in their path.

 
At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Marshall Massey said...

forrest, I didn't assume you didn't know things; I just wanted to establish a common basis between us for further conversation about Philistinism.

You were wondering out loud whether you didn't know enough Philistines, whereas it seemed to me you probably know plenty. I figured the explanation might be that you are using Philistinism in a different way from me.

The examples in the Wikipedia page I linked to should (I hope) be sufficient to help clarify whether my guesses -- (1) that you know lots of Philistines as Wikipedia & I define the word, but (2) that you may perhaps define the word differently from me -- are correct or mistaken --

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger david said...

No matter how high I set the resolution settings on my monitor it just doesn't seem high enough to clarify tone of voice on blog comments.

 
At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Marshall Massey said...

forrest, you comment that "...I still don't think I should guffaw when blind folks stumble over what's been put in their path."

I really don't think that is what Rebecca Robinson is asking her readers to do. I think her goal is serious, not humorous at all.

In my essay "Confucius for Quakers: 2" I wrote, "Christ denounced the hypocrites — 'hypocrites', in the original Greek, meaning 'people who go through the motions without understanding what it’s about', or in other words, 'people without a clue'. Here Confucius points to why hypocrisy is wrong — namely, that it so often masks an absence of that absolute essential, human kindness."

I think that is the same problem Rebecca Robinson is talking about. And I think she is also telling us how it feels to be a relatively powerless loner, surrounded by such people and unable to find a way out. It is a nightmare world.

I don't think Rebecca herself is truly stuck in that world -- but many Friends can tell of having been stuck in it at an earlier time in their existence, before becoming Friends.

 
At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Marshall Massey said...

For a real-life Friend going through the same thing "Cool Jesus" portrays, and blogging about it, look here.

I note that he's not laughing at anyone.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger forrest said...

That link I liked. I think we've all felt there were too many "Christians" giving God a bad name--and the better we like Jesus, the more it bothers us.

My impression of the Cool Jesus piece was that the author felt her conventional church viewpoint gave her a superior vantage over the vandal hordes she's deploring. Ho hum. Whether I'm right or wrong about her doesn't matter a whole lot; much fuss about fuss.

The guy in Massey's second link also tends to consider his particular church as a saving remnant--but he isn't just flailing at the specks in other eyes, but explicitly counting on God to see things from a wider and deeper perspective than he does. That approach seems a lot more likely to get at the actual truth of the situation and to communicate with those stuck in it.

 
At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Marshall Massey said...

Good points, forrest. Thanks!

 

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