The more I learn about religion, the more I learn about Judaism, the more I learn about the Hebrew Bible, the more I study it – it’s kind of a paradox because in many ways I feel closer to G-d, but in other ways I feel farther because I learn so many things about like the construction of the text and so on and so forth that, like, I don’t know any more, I don’t know the answer. I don’t know… what G-d is anymore. I don’t know. I mean I know—I know the Hebrew Bible, that I know, but I don’t know what that means… I think that… that’s just, it’s scary, I mean there’s something liberating about it, but I think it can be kinda frightening too. Like it’s easier just to know – that’s what’s so easy about Christianity… it’s… just, Jesus is [inaudible]. That’s so easy.
The reason that Monica's in my top-ten friends list is what she says in the first half of this soundbite. It seems so deeply true to me that knowledge brings a kind of sadness, and that the more we learn about G-d, the less we feel that we know. In my experience, it has been the rare person who is able to express this point as authentically as Monica does, and to (nevertheless) go on living in the unknowing. As I complained yesterday, almost everyone I know seems to know what they believe in, whether that's "Obama" or the Bible or Darwin or ABC's LOST or whatever... most days I feel like the only person I know (except Monica) who is utterly confused.
Read my post from yesterday. Nothing seems as complicated to me as trying to bring people to agreement on what Jesus was... undoubtedly, Monica would be frustrated by the strange and calcified orthodoxy of my Southern Baptist students who seem to imagine Jesus as a kind of clean-cut business man along the lines of Clark Kent. But what about Jack Kerouac's Jesus? What about Philip K. Dick's Jesus? What about the Jesus of African American theology? Or the Jesus of mystical theology, as presented in St. John of the Cross or Teresa of Avila? What about Simone Weil's Christianity? And most importantly, what about the Jesus of my meditations?--my understanding of Jesus is absolutely too complicated for words, so complicated that I haven't even begun to convince myself that I know what G-d was, and how (or if) Jesus fits into that. The widespread reaction to Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright ought to reveal precisely how deep the divisions of interpretation run within Christianity -- but it has been anything but "easy" for Jeremiah Wright's congregation to continue supporting him. It has not been easy for me to agree with his views while mainstream Christianity has been appalled by his "radical" interpretation of the life of Jesus. Read about Philip K. Dick's experience in Christianity (seriously, take the time to read PKD's essay!) -- no one could call that "easy." What about Kierkegaard's Jesus? Or Dostoevsky's? Or Gabriel Marcel's? To pick on "easy" Christianity is no different than to "pick" easy Christianity instead of selecting a more complicated version (including even, possibly, a version that leaves behind the label "Christian" altogether?).
While I agree that the Jesus of Sunday school and Christmas plays and the Methodist Church of my parents seems uncomplicated, I recognize that I am and have always been fully able to disagree with that oversimple (and possibly entirely misrepresentative) presentation. After all, the Adam, Moses, and Abraham of Sunday school seemed just as two-dimensional.
I used to dislike Classical music. Then one day I realized that my "dislike" probably revealed much more about me than it did about Bach... the problem was with me, not with Bach's music. Watch Letterman interview Lauren Conrad, and watch the look of surprise on LC's face when Dave asks her if she might be the problem (right around the 1:10 mark):
So... well, I guess I'm trying to kindly ask Monica to stop bashing a big part of my secret religion!
THE SOUL selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.
Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.
I ’ve known her from an ample nation
Then close the valves of her attention