Friday, November 10, 2006

Black Jesus

Click on the heading above to see the review for a new movie that's out, Color of the Cross.

I don't go to the movies a lot, so I doubt that I make a big effort to get out and see this one, but what struck me as quite amusing...and actually pretty ludicruous...is the whole idea of it being a controversial movie because Jesus is cast as a Black man.

How do we have the nerve to tell Black people that they need to get past race issues, yet it's us (White people) who are the ones causing an uproar because Jesus is cast as a Black man?! If there were any justifiable uproar, you would think it should be the Middle Easterners getting upset because all of these years we've shown Jesus as a White man with brown hair and brown eyes who reaches out to White children.

Now, I suppose you could argue we were taught to be more inclusive than that. After all, many of us probably grew up singing the song, "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his site." But "talk is cheap," as they say. Go take a look at your Sunday School curriculum. Look at your Vacation Bible School curriculum. Look who is largely represented.

I have to admit, I haven't looked into Sunday School or VBS curriculum in a few years so perhaps it has changed. In fact, the last VBS our kids went to did have pictures of several different ethnic groups. But Jesus was (and is) always White.

On the way home from church several years ago, one of the kids told me, "Miss Janet, I love you!" I told her I loved her, too. Then she proceeded to say, "I'm supposed to say that." Confused, I asked her why. She explained, "Jesus was White and you're White. So I'm supposed to say that." Baffled about her rationale of loving White people because Jesus was White, I wasn't sure how to approach that. I asked her how she "knew" Jesus was White. She looked at me dumbfounded like it was really stupid for me not to know that! She explained, "Because I see pictures of him!" I explained that we have never really seen Jesus and we don't really know what he looks like. She was undaunted. For the rest of the ride home she explained to me all of the pictures she had seen--in her Bible, in the Sunday School lessons, on the windows in churches, etc. It gets a little hard to contradict a 9-year old's reality--because, despite the fact that Jesus grew up in the middle east and never set foot in middle class, White America, that's exactly who he favors in all of our reproductions of him.

I've always heard that Jesus is all things to all people. I don't see why it should offend us that he is represented as Black (especially considering the reality that he was probably closer to Black than White if we look at where he grew up)...unless we are willing to admit that race IS still an issue in 2006.
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