“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and so the idea was lost, seemingly for ever.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I was raised Catholic. I sporadically attended Catholic school, and I made my confirmation a little late, but I got there in the end. I don’t practice anymore, but I know that in the eyes of the Church, that doesn’t make me any less of a Catholic now. I won’t quibble the distinction, but I will say it’s a one-sided relationship these days. I’m not an atheist (though it would be fine if I was). I don’t know what I believe exactly (and that’s okay too). There’s a really cool frood sitting in the Vatican right now, but in my opinion, at least, there’s still a long way to go to get back to the guy who told us to just love one another.
When I was a little church-going girl, it was the 70s. My church had folk masses every week, and everyone’s hair was a little long. That’s where and when I learned about Jesus. Jesus, as I was taught, was a really nice guy. I mean, super nice. He was always friendly and considerate, and he never gossiped or had a bad word about anyone. He loved his parents. He was a carpenter like his dad (okay, stepdad). The first time he performed a miracle, it was to help his mom — come on, how sweet was that? He had long flowy robes and pretty eyes. He multiplied loaves and fishes so no one went hungry (too bad you can’t get restaurants to do that with a fish fry during Lent). He rode a donkey. He didn’t give into peer pressure. He was nice to sick people and poor people and lepers, instead of being mean to them like everyone else was. He held a nice dinner party for all his friends. What’s not to like? We’d go to church and sing nice songs about how awesome Jesus was, accompanied by a strummy guitar and maybe a tambourine. It was all uber-pleasant, and more than a little groovy.
When I got older, though, church stopped being so sunshine-y. Religious instruction became more and more about what we weren’t supposed to do, about what was sinful, what was wrong, what would send us to hell. As an adult, it’s only gotten worse. Everywhere I turn I see people who calls themselves Christians preaching hate and talking about sin with a fervor that surely, you would think, could be put to better, more productive use. They focus on judging others around them, ignoring what John said about casting the first stone, and they’re so angry. So scornful. So miserable and not at all cool.
I don’t understand it. Jesus spent his whole life being kind. He wasn’t negative. That doesn’t mean he agreed with everyone around him, or didn’t know that there were evil people, or sinners, in the world. He spoke out against cruelty and prejudice and larceny and greed. But whatever he considered sins, he didn’t spend his precious time on that. He focused on being nice instead. Considerate. (And by sometimes hiding behind the couch — whenever anyone asks me if I’ve “found Jesus” it’s the first place I look, and he’s ALWAYS there. He’s such a bad hider.) Accepting. Friendly. So would it be so hard to give what he did a try, instead of focusing on hate?
I’m not going to change how anyone else thinks, and I’m not really trying to. But every year on this day, I think, “Good Friday? Well, not for one guy, it wasn’t.” Jesus was a nice guy, and he went through a lot of crap. Personally, I don’t think spewing hate is a good way to say thank you, should one be so inclined to do so. Instead, you might want to try being a little more hoopy, a lot less judgy, and a little nicer, on the whole. Really, that’s pretty good advice for us all.