Subject: Breaking up with Jesus
I am a cultural christian. Jesus is just alright by me. Why, it is recorded in the bible that Jesus actually spoke to women! I guess if I were shopping for eternal salvation among the religions of “the book” christianity would win by default. No shaving of my head on my wedding day (girls) or prayers to Yahweh thanking Him for my penis (boys) if I were a jew, or Taliban Law if I was so unlucky to have been born muslim without a Y chromosome. Since Jesus spoke to women, christianity allows me to, well, be a mother and a wife and, uh, pray out loud in church. Certainly not in any leadership role if I were a Catholic or Fundamentalist, but if I wander into any American Protestant Church I can rest assured I won’t be thrown out (or stoned to death) for participating in the ceremony from my seat.
I am not allowed to question just how large God’s penis is; since that is blasphemous. Equally blasphemous of course, is denying his ‘maleness’, his ‘Y chromosome’. No substituting Father with Mother; no daughter was worthy enough to be sacrificed for mankind’s salvation.
Yet Jesus was not only a liberal drinking wine at weddings, talking to women and hanging out with Samaritans; he was also a socialist according to the book of Acts. I kind of dig that.
So, I pick Jesus, if I have to. Or is it Buddha? It has come to my attention, rather late in life through the miracle of google.com, that Jesus might not have been an original! He seems to have been repeating ideas written down by Buddhists thousands of years before his holy virgin birth.
Jesus and I are cool. I admit I may have had a crush. But we never had to break up since our relationship was as one sided as the one I had with Mark T in Junior High. Oh, I spoke to Mark alright. We were tight. I repeated his name over and over and over again, like a Madonna Prayer, late into the night. I was hoping and praying he would choose me for his team in gym class, or maybe sit next to me in science lab.
Mark T. is as aware of me and our relationship in the 1970’s as Jesus Christ is of Owen Egerton. I wrote this letter to comfort Mr. Egerton. (I loved Bobby Sherman, too, you know.)
Jesus is cool enough to let us unworthy humans (women, doubting men) still hang out with him. I think he even smiles and waves when we point him out to our friends as “our savior”. Yeah, he’s pretty cool. Long after we finally figure out that we were just one of dozens of girls writing his name and circling it with a heart on our homework, Jesus makes us feel special.
What a talent, huh? Almost worthy of worship!
Subject: Killing the Buddha Manifesto
I’ve been searching for a way to express my love and contempt for religion and religious dialogue for quite a while now. I’ve grown up spiritual and seeking discussion about my path, only to get increasingly frustrated with each conversation … feeling I was getting pulled away from my goal rather than closer to it. As a result, I hate this type of discussion because it ultimately gets us nowhere. Yet, I’m strangely drawn to it too … hoping to gather more from each conversation than the last.
Your manifesto captured the essence of my struggle. Thanks for helping me to put words to this thing. I would like to place a link on my own site, the Order of Contemporary Benedictines. www.oocb.org
Fr. Steve +
Subject: My Holy Ghost People
Well, you’ve gone and done it. You’ve made me nostalgic and all sentimental like (maybe mostly mental)!
Ashley Michelle Makar’s article brought back some very vivid memories of my own upbringing among the Holy Ghost people. Heck I was even a pastor. I remember praying with my two daughters at bedtime, asking the Lord to “fill them with the Holy Ghost at an early age!” I also remember my oldest daughter, she was about 7 at the time, grabbing my hand as it lay on her forehead and begging “No, daddy, not the Holy Ghost!, No ghosts, daddy!” When I asked her if the Holy Spirit was OK, she sweetly agreed, and at that moment I was transformed into a Charismatic!
I’ve long since left the Pentecostalism of my youth and young adulthood. Got a proper theological education, and even converted to Eastern Orthodoxy where I study for the priesthood some day.
But those Holy Ghosts still haunt my memories, and they ain’t all bad.
Subject: Regarding: Brand Name Buddhism, by Melissa Benner
I really enjoyed reading your article Brand Name Buddhism. Especially since I was the film director who made this commercial. I thought you might be interested to know a little more about the production team who created it.
I should say that the Karmic themes of this script were a deliberate and deeply considered aspect of the production. It’s something which was discussed at length during script development and pre-production – and actually inspired the “circular” design of the shot sequence in the commercial, since karma by it’s nature is circular. Unilever were a very open minded client, and fully embraced this unorthodox piece of advertising… And from what I understand this commercial has become something of a cultural phenomenon in Vietnam – so their gamble has paid off.
I thought you might be interested to know that the production team are from all over the place. The agency creative director and one of the writers are from the UK. The other two agency creatives are Vietnamese. The Unilever clients are from India, Thailand and the Philippines. The production company producer is French (with Vn blood, but he lived his 1st 30years in France) the rest of the support production team are Vietnamese, The cinematographer is Thai, the production company art director is Malaysian, the editor is Singaporean, and I am an Australian. We all really loved making this commercial, and the result is an insightful, clever and very effective piece of modern advertising.
Hope this has been of interest to you. Please pass this email on to Melissa. Also the commercial can be viewed online at the following address: http://www.adrianvandevelde.com/popup.asp?ID=54
ADRIAN VAN de VELDE