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Hijacking Jesus By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 13, 2002

WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE in 2002 Anno Domini, this Year of the Lord?  One plausible answer is a Chevy Suburban, able to carry 12 disciples plus lots of loaves and fishes safely across rough terrain.

But this answer is Politically Incorrect, according to evangelical minister Jim Ball, one of the founders of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He preaches that Jesus would avoid any sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that guzzles gas or pollutes the natural environment.

Others have criticized the travelling stage shows called “Chevrolet Presents: Come Together and Worship.”  The reason? “America is increasingly multiethnic and multi-religious,” said one critic. “So, for an American icon like Chevrolet to link itself to one religion, Christianity…is divisive.” 

Huh?  Does it seem divisive to you when major corporations underwrite Fiestas to celebrate Hispanic heritage or otherwise honor specific ethnic groups?  Do such critics want social diversity, or do they want a homogenized world in which all cars, companies, and people look, act and think the same – governmental gray?

Speaking of icons, the hot new gift this holiday for pseudo-religious Leftist parents is “Huggy Jesus,” a “collectible, soft and cuddly, hypoallergenic” doll through which young children can “enjoy the warmth and comfort” of snuggling up to this blue-button-eyed, yarn-mustachioed Messiah.

“What if Jane or Johnny get Jesus dirty?” asks Joel Miller, sardonic columnist for WorldNetDaily.com.  “No sweat, just toss ‘machine washable’ Huggy Jesus in the laundry and a spotless savior will rise again. Moms can really impart Gospel lessons to kids by having Christ emerge from the dryer on the third day.”

“Huggy Jesus,” as Miller sees it, teaches children to embrace a small, material Jesus. Missing is the multidimensional being who drove moneychangers from the Temple or the awesome Jesus of the Book of Revelation.

This touchy-feely doll, created by unemployed Seattle machinist Sean Pinkerton after what he describes as a near-mystical experience, sells at HuggyJesus.com for $29.95 plus $7.00 shipping and handling.

To the iconoclastic Miller, this one-dimensional toy Jesus is not even appropriate as spiritual training wheels for the very young. By reducing the founder of Christianity to an infantile physical plaything, “Huggy Jesus” as he sees it seduces children into something verging on I-doll-atry.

For pseudo-religious Leftist adults, of course, there are stylish action figures of Jesus in modern lifestyle and garb, notes Miller. One such statuette “Jesus decked out in a headband, basketball jersey, shorts and tennies, slam-dunking a ball. The caption: Air Jesus.

NBC’s Late Night comic Conan O’Brien recently proposed extending the range of such Jesus products, his culmination of which was Bobblehead Jesus, who would appear to be nodding with approval at whatever you were thinking or doing. 

Amidst the 2,200 pages of new documents released by Boston’s scandal-torn Roman Catholic Archdiocese, reporters found the story of Priest Robert V. Meffan.  Father Meffan, now 73, confirmed in the December 4 Boston Globe that he had made it his mission to show young girls, including ones preparing to become nuns, “that Christ is human and you should love him as a human being” in a “spiritual relationship that was physical and sexual.”

One of the women ministered to by Rev. Meffan told church officials that he “used to suggest to her that she imagine Christ touching, kissing, having intercourse with her.”  Three young women said Father Meffan told them to “be brides of Christ” and described himself as “the second coming of Christ.”

What if a young woman became pregnant?  No problem, according to Rev. Mark Bigelow of the Congregational Church of Huntington in Centerport, New York, who also serves on the Clergy Advisory Board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“One thing I know from the Bible is that Jesus was not against women having a choice in continuing a pregnancy,” says Rev. Bigelow. “Jesus was for peace on earth, justice on earth, compassion on earth, mercy on earth, and choice on earth.”

Jesus, according to this United Church of Christ Congregational minister, approved of abortion. 

Planned Parenthood Federation, America’s largest abortion provider, this year reportedly sent its supporters a seasonal greeting card the banner of which reads: “Choice on Earth.”

Jesus was probably short and far from good looking, according to Italian writers Elisabetta Broli and Roberto Beretta.  Their new book The Eleven Commandments, which carries a preface by Vatican cultural committee member Gianfranco Ravasi, speculates that Jesus lived well into his 40s – much longer than the average 25 year lifespan in Roman-occupied Palestine.

And far from poor, the real Jesus in their interpretation grew up in the home not of a humble carpenter but of Joseph, an affluent and highly-respected architect who got commissions from the nearby wealthy Greek-speaking town of Sepphoris.

Once upon a time, the Christian ideal was to live in imitation of Christ.  Today it increasingly involves reshaping the image of Christ into an imitation of ourselves – of our morals, lifestyle, values, ideology and politics.

Once upon a time, Christians echoed the words of Mary: “My soul doeth magnify the Lord.” Many now contort their God into a lens they use to enlarge themselves. 

(As for politicians, five centuries ago Niccolo Machiavelli observed that the Prince must always appear to be religious.)

What would Jesus drive? Or drink? Or eat? Or smoke? What perfume would he wear? Are we talking about the Christian Messiah or somebody’s marketing gimmick?

Remember how a year or two ago a vegan group proclaimed that Jesus was a vegetarian?  They fell silent only when reminded that the Bible describes Christ feeding the multitudes with the flesh of fishes.

The U.S. Supreme Court now grapples with deciding whether it should be protected free speech to burn a cross, so long as it is your own cross. And New York City public schools have honored Ramadan and daily prayer time for Muslim students, but they reportedly have forbidden display of Christian creches.

During recent shopping trips to mall stores, I’ve seen many handsome creche sets for sale. Most depict Joseph, Mary and Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes. The few that offer a dark-eyed, dark-haired Jesus come from China and its unfree labor market. This might reduce sales and profits, and hence the amount of money China has to acquire weapons….or SUVs.

These communist factory bosses, too, want to hijack Jesus for their own profit and self-aggrandizement, but ironically they also see his face in their own.

Perhaps behind all of this, some force is at work larger than any of us can comprehend. It’s something to ponder in this season of short days and long hopes, in this time for crossing fingers and fingering crosses.

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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