Saturday, February 7, 2009

Somebody's got to do it.

It's appalling that my first entry here is a book proposal in theology of all things, the most nasty of all fields of writing. I'm an awful writer, hard to read. Give up now. Still here?

Working Title: Jesus for Doubters:
Values, beliefs, attitudes, decisions.
Or: Intimacy with Jesus
Or: Your Jesus is too small
My friend Karl announced in January 08 that he wanted 'intimacy with Jesus'. As you do with friends, I wrote it off at the time as a raving lunacy, something a woman might say in a fit of sentiment. Karl was off to India to set up industries for ex-prostitutes, so clearly stark and raving. That year I began to wonder how and when Karl's Jesus arrived at his values, his beliefs, his attitudes, his decisions, and began to think how difficult it is to get answers from the source texts available.
It's easier, of course, to declare that as the Son of God He could download that stuff as He wanted it from an eternal database, or to treat His attitudes and values as just another miraculous power, as you would expect from a comic book superhero. But the texts make that approach difficult too.
No, I wanted to think that the sparkling values and attitudes which have influenced so much subsequent jurisprudence, and given rise to so many of our most magnificent humanitarian impulses, were not conceived mindlessly, but thought through in very human ways. I wanted to think that, because it has implications for who we are and what we can become. Hence this book idea.
This book as proposed speculates on a fictional Jesus, a Jesus who is at best a mere projection of the wish-dreams of his followers. I'd like to write for those whose doubts about all ancient documents arise from high standards. I'd ask, “How did this fictional Jesus arrive his values, beliefs, attitudes? How did he make up his mind to do what his followers want us to think he did? This project will no doubt draw scorn and disapproval from believers who will perhaps construe it as a pit of unbelief, rather than an honest and fruitful speculation. My defence is that the opposite of something is not nothing. Although I grew up without a dad, the gates of hell did not prevail against my parenting. There’s nothing wrong with working backwards from the most enlightened attitudes and values we know, in the direction of their origins. What’s crazy is the pretence that documents more than a couple of hundred years old have the reliability of a parliamentary transcript.

I’m dismayed by the attitudes of believers certain about the ‘historical’ Jesus, whose curiosity stops when their needs are met, and who spend their lives grovelling in gratitude and obedience when (on their own reckoning) they are entitled to a mature give-and-take adult experience. A make-believe Jesus shaped by an uncertain but curious community of inquiry is going to help those with high standards of evidence more than the fundamentalist construct of Christian fascists who think there’s ultimately only one way to read ‘holy’ text.
In subsequent 'posts', I'll put up some of the thinking I've done so far. Some of that thinking has been in letters to friends, from whom I'll need permission before I post it. I'm not in a hurry, and I'd value feed-back from those who'd like to encourage/support the project.

1 comment:

jnxyz said...

Lovely to read you on the web Mac! I've always had an idea to write a scifi novel on another planet with other-God-crated beings who hadn't experienced a fall and have a human somehow visit it - how different would Jesus in that context be?
Regardless, our relationship with Jesus should be - a relationship - we're modeled on a triune relational being who created us so as to have a relationship with us (so I think). Law? Who would choose that after reading that he came to set us free?