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Old 02-17-2004, 03:53 PM   #1
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Jesus and American Idol.....

This article caught my attention:

[Q]BOSTON -- There’s Jesus the distant symbol, and Jesus the gentle friend. There’s Jesus the pacifist and caregiver, and Jesus the gruff, muscular warrior.

There’s black Jesus, and white Jesus. Homely and handsome, capitalist and socialist, stern and hippie.

Readers looking for the one true Jesus won’t find him in Boston University professor Stephen Prothero’s new book "American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon." Instead, they will discover the extraordinary range of identities Jesus has assumed in American culture -- in art, music, literature and more -- over the past four centuries.

The range testifies to a power and flexibility in Jesus’ message that has made him a source of fascination not only among Christians but other faiths.

"I kept running into Jesus when I was trying to study Hindus and Buddhists," said Prothero, who was inspired in part to write the book after coming across a portrait of a meditating Jesus while visiting a Hindu temple in San Francisco.

But Prothero’s interest is less in what that says about Jesus, than in what the "malleable and multiform" Jesus says about America.

"Jesus is on the agenda because of the public power of Christianity," Prothero told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "The kind of Christianity that now dominates is Jesus-focused. But we have the First Amendment. We have a culture that highly values religious toleration and even, I think it’s fair to say, diversity. In such a culture, Jesus won’t become a national figure unless he can move outside Christianity."

"American Jesus" reflects scholars’ growing interest in the dialogue between particular religions and popular culture, but also in themes stretching across different religions. In the process, it surveys the transformation of Jesus from the detached figure of the Puritans -- more "principle than person" -- to the rationalist Jesus who survived the Enlightenment, and to the humane presence dominating the current evangelical movement.

"The colonists for the most part are God-fearing rather than Jesus-loving," Prothero said. They revered Jesus as the sacrifice of an awesome God, but Calvinist theology emphasized the distance between a perfect God and sinful man -- and a part-divine, part-human bridge did not fit neatly.

Prothero credits, among others, Thomas Jefferson for making America the kind of place where Jesus could evolve and flourish.

It was Jefferson who used a razor blade to cut out the portions of the New Testament he couldn’t accept, like the virgin birth. He was left with just one in 10 verses, but he found in them a true Jesus who could be reconciled with the rationalist thought of the Enlightenment.

"He had the genius to be able to realize that he could say ‘yes’ to Jesus and ‘no’ to Christianity," Prothero said, noting that tradition remains among evangelicals who emphasize the spiritual "come to Jesus" call over the strict dictates of organized religion.

Jefferson, of course, also helped ensure there was no established religion in American government, which made possible the competitive milieu in which conceptions of Jesus rapidly evolved in popular culture.

In the mid-19th century, for instance, a softer Jesus came to the fore in art and literature, a Currier and Ives figure often seen with children on his lap. Driving the change were preachers trying to appeal to women, who predominated among churchgoers.

Inevitably, though, there was a backlash, a re-masculization of Jesus that coincided with the era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, the rise of football and the fame of military men. Jesus was simply too feminine for male churchgoers.

Both traditions have merged in modern evangelicalism, Prothero said, which has also borrowed from other Jesus traditions like the "Jesus Christ Superstar" musical of the 1960s and ‘70s.

But readers expecting to follow in Prothero’s book a line from the Puritans to the "What Would Jesus Do?" evangelical Christianity currently ascendant may be disappointed. There is also comparatively little on the Roman Catholic view of Jesus.

Prothero’s focus sets his book apart from other scholarship that has focused more on Jesus as a figure within Christianity than as someone who transcended it.

"He’s a scholar of religion. He is drawn to the stories of how other religions think about Jesus," said Richard Fox, a University of Southern California historian and former teacher of Prothero’s. "He’s suggesting Jesus is operating in the contemporary world, that you have to see Jesus as a transnational figure."

Fox, whose own, soon-to-be-published book "Jesus in America" takes a somewhat different approach, said Prothero’s book lays the groundwork for a new approach to Jesus that will prove fertile for other scholars.

Prothero said plenty has already been written about, for instance, the evangelical view of Jesus.

"Is it a big story that born-again Christians think of Jesus as their friend?" said Prothero, who says he was raised as an Episcopalian and now occasionally attends Lutheran services. "We all know that, so explaining that didn’t seem interesting. But explaining why every major Reform rabbi in the United States between 1860 and the 1920s wrote a book about Jesus, that seemed more interesting."
[/Q]


I found this to be a very interesting point.

[Q]"Jesus is on the agenda because of the public power of Christianity. The kind of Christianity that now dominates is Jesus-focused. But we have the First Amendment. We have a culture that highly values religious toleration and even, I think it’s fair to say, diversity. In such a culture, Jesus won’t become a national figure unless he can move outside Christianity."[/Q]

Does the modern Church prohibit Jesus from reaching out to others? Have we as human beings limited Christ by our own doctrines and teachings to the point that we cannot spread the good word?
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Old 02-17-2004, 03:59 PM   #2
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I think this book illustrates mostly as to how much religion changes, even if the text doesn't; which is why "fundamentalism" is anything but constant.

Melon
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Old 02-17-2004, 04:16 PM   #3
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There’s black Jesus, and white Jesus. Homely and handsome, capitalist and socialist, stern and hippie.
And don't forget this Jesus...
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Old 02-17-2004, 04:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I think this book illustrates mostly as to how much religion changes, even if the text doesn't; which is why "fundamentalism" is anything but constant.

Melon
I thought you would appreciate the Thomas Jefferson part...
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Old 02-17-2004, 07:56 PM   #5
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I really liked this article, Dread. I'm going to re-read it later, when I'm less tired because I think it would be worthwhile. Thanks for posting it.

On a lighter note, I looked at your thread title and laughed because there is a guy named Jesus competing on today's American Idol episode.
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Old 02-20-2004, 06:58 PM   #6
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Ya this is a interesting article.. I think hmm.. I think that people see Jesus how they feel comfortable seeing him or how they need to see him.. and it is probably different for everyone.. But it is interesting how has been portrayed which is also why I am looking forward to see how he comes across in Mel Gibsons movie

I suppose my overall thought is not getting caught up in the visual or the marketing of Jesus.. I think if you have to rely to heavily on religion to find Christ then you might be in trouble.

I guess since I have a belief in God but not the organization of religion or Church I've always spearted image form the man. It's kind of like taking the bible to literally and not seeing the moral and parables behind it I suppose.. If you want to find God you shouldnt have to go to church and to know what Jesus is you don't have to look to an image that someone else has painted for you.. paint your own picture!!!

The message of Jesus trancends .. even if the image changes


p.s my fav jesus.. buddy jesus
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