Sunday, April 20, 2008

Findings in the Ambulatory...

Yesterday was an amazing day. I went on a trip with Drury's Asian Culture Society to visit the Nelson-Adkins art museum in Kansas City, where we had lunch at Bo-Ling's Dim Sum restaurant, observed centuries of masterful artwork, and enjoyed the downtown life. It was incredible. Part of the fun was spending six hours in the car with a good friend and a German international student, from whom I gained lots of different perspective from (in a very good way), but part of the fun was looking at all of the religious exhibits in the museum and having lots of time to reflect on it all.

I learned something interesting while circling around the ambulatory in the medieval Christianity exhibit. Very fitting, I know. I was walking around looking at all the different Jesus paintings, portraits, sculptures, etc, and I noticed something: None of them are alike. Every artist puts his own unique touch to Jesus, be it his skin tone, hair line, or even just his facial expressions. No two Jesus portrayals are the same. Every generation paints Jesus through their own cultural lenses. To some, Jesus is black, others thickly Jewish, others completely caucasian. That led me to another point in my mind.

Every culture not only creates their own rendition of Jesus aesthetically, but also theologically. Every single person seems to encounter Jesus differently. Again, no two Jesus relationships are the same. There is no "correct" way to interpret Jesus. Granted, there are probably some wrong ways to go about it, but in the same way that no two friendships are the same, there is no orthodox encounter of Jesus. That gave me a special sense of relief. I can stop thinking about necessary and sufficient conditions for personal belief in Jesus, because it is about the particularities that I bring to the table, not about some generalization of humanity that matters most in faith. Very cool.

One thing that never seems to change is the message of love, of dedication to something beyond ourselves, of personal growth. I wish more people would start with the idea that everyone deserves to be loved unconditionally. From there, particular conceptions of Jesus get incredibly interesting and we can discuss them in an "envelope of friendship," as the new Emergent Christianity movement says. Life is good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great blog. great ideas. great pics. your journey is wonderful.