The many colors of Jesus

“The timing is not good. We are black. We are Muslim. We are Somali. We are all the negative stigmas.” – Omar Hassan, speaking in reference to the country’s increasingly intensified anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim fears

I thought about this quote again last night. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. When I was a young child, my family was a member of a very conservative Southern Baptist Church in Charlotte. An interesting story that I will write about soon. As you can imagine it was a lily white congregation who worshiped a Jesus certainly more white than brown.

jesus-the_head_of_christ_by_warner_sallman_1941

Warner Sallman “The Head of Christ” 1940

This was the portrait of Jesus you found at this church. In every hallway, Sunday school class and hanging above the baptism pool in the sanctuary. This was our Jesus; serious, attentive, reflective, smooth, and tanned. Not brown, not black, but a nice Myrtle Beach butter gloss with long, brown, wavy locks of hair. This Jesus was cool, California cool.

Now in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when my family was a member of this church long hair and beards were reserved for hippies, beatniks and bums. This guy strolling down Tryon St., in sandals no less, in conservative and southern 1970 Charlotte, NC would have turned more than a few heads. Why? Because this was the face of America then:

nixonfamily

See the difference? So I asked myself, how could Christian American’s of the 1960’s and 1970’s, an America of crew cuts, and bouffant hairdos tolerate a hippie Jesus while they couldn’t even tolerate their own hippie sons and daughters? I didn’t come up with an answer.

In 2001 the BBC, for their history series the Son of God, had a model created by a forensic anthropologists which showed what a Galilean Semite might have looked liked around the time of Jesus Christ. Basically, what Jesus probably looked like;

jesus-what-he-really-looked-like

BBC-the Son of God

Kind of a big difference wouldn’t you agree? So what does America look like today?

obama-family

But is this where we are headed?;

trump-family

So back to the quote; “The timing is not good. We are black. We are Muslim. We are Somali. We are all the negative stigmas.” Think about this for a minute. If Jesus came back today, just suddenly appeared standing on the corner in Times Square as not the Warren Sallman Jesus but as the BBC’s Jesus what do you think the reaction would be? Could He make it through security at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport? Would He be invited to speak at the Southern Baptist Convention if He walked in off the street proclaiming to be the Son of God? Or would we hear Him say; “The timing is not good. I am brown. I am a Jew. I am a Galilean Semite. I am all the negative stigmas.”

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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20 Responses to The many colors of Jesus

  1. William Tell says:

    My parents taught a Sunday school class at my childhood church for decades. In the course of watching them prepare, I had occasion to view portraits of Jesus from all around the world. In every case, the artist portrayed a Jesus of her or his own ethnicity. Japanese artists made him Japanese; Indian artists made him Indian.
    Black artists were the sole exception.
    There are two art galleries on the first floor of Baltimore’s City Hall, where I worked for ten years. They have rotating exhibits. One was of religious images from African artists. All the persons portrayed in them were black — but one. There was a painting of the Crucifixion. The two thieves were black; Jesus was white. I looked at this and said, “We’ve got a problem.”
    And it seemed to me last night I saw it playing out in the WJZ-TV 17:00 newscast, where one image after another of some suspect in violent crime, horrible crimes, and I mean it WAS one after another, were all of people of one single ethnicity. Whereas Baltimore is far, far more diverse than that.
    How white folk might relate to a non-white Jesus is of far less concern to me, than how black folk relate to the divinity within themselves. And, as also with the question of whether or not black lives matter, this is a decision in which white folk ultimately have no say.

    Like

  2. It’s the ultimate irony that Jesus would probably not make it out of the Bible Belt alive. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The timing is horrible. Our American christian culture has taken a truly spiritual egalitarian of olive skin, dark hair, small stature and made him WASP. What’s worse is that they have bastardized his message. Thanks for your words.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Nan says:

    Your talent for putting “everyman’s” thoughts into words is unsurpassed. (Ladies, don’t be offended … just using a common idiom.) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow Nan thank you. I try to use a voice that speaks in simple terms, thoughts and ideas which isn’t very difficult for me because my simple mind turns very slow and is aided by an even simpler vocabulary. Thank you, thank you for reading.

      Like

  5. This post actually made me quite emotional…love and kindness are what matter ultimately. Great post x

    Liked by 1 person

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