There’s a video going ’round the Web at the moment you’ve surely seen by now. If you haven’t, here it is:
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Not another post about Jefferson Bethke (speaking of which, if you do a search for Jefferson on YouTube, Jefferson Bethke is up to #4 on the list beneath Jefferson Airplane three times).” But hold on, I’m only sort of going there.
The common saying among conservative Christians, which Bethke seems to bring up here is that Christianity (or as Bethke says, Jesus) is not religion. Well, if it isn’t religion, then what is it?
We apparently don’t have a working definition for cupcakes according to the TSA. I’ve always generally assumed cupcakes to be solid, but the TSA argues it could be a liquid. So it’s amorphous, just like Christianity, apparently. It sounds good when someone describes it to you, it looks tasty and tastes sweet. But when you’re finished with it (or it’s finished with you) you’re left wondering, what was all the fuss? It’s not substantive, not filling and leaves you wanting more. Christianity sounds a lot like a cupcake.
But a cupcake has frosting, and who can argue with frosting? If Christianity had wonderfully decorated frosting, I bet more people would be willing to give it a try.
So, Christianity is definitely cupcake-ish. We have a contender.
But there have to be other possibilities.
So, is Christianity…
Timothy Tebow, age 24, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, NFL playoff phenomenon. Well, Jesus wasn’t crucified until his 30s, so there’s still a chance he’s been reincarnated into a football player’s body. His statistics in extinguishing the Satanic Steelers (dammit) are eerie. Like Christianity, He seems to defy seemingly impossible odds and stay alive, even when a large portion of the world predicts His failure.
We’ll leave that one up to the Patriots today. They might squash this whole idea. But if somehow they don’t, Timmy’s legend will continue to grow. And even if He loses, he’s a young guy, He’s got a few more years before He really gets crucified.
Though, I don’t know if an American football player would be appealing to the entire world. I mean, especially since the U.S. is one of the few countries that actually calls it football. Most places call something else football. So even if Tebow might be the savior of football, I don’t know if he could be Christianity to the entire world. Even if he tries really hard.
But let’s set Mr. Tebow aside for now.
So is Christianity…
This is what a lot of Christians in the U.S. make out to be the replacement word for religion. But it really just seems like it’s just changing the “ugly” word of “religion” and replacing it with something that sound more positive.
And it does sound more positive. I mean, look how happy those Asian people look in that picture. If God (or Christianity) were literally spooning food into my mouth, how could I not get all warm and tingly inside?
But if it’s really about a “relationship” and not religion, then it should look like a relationship.
Many Christians will argue, if you choose to buy into our relig-, oops, I mean, relationship, there are rules in this book called The Bible you have to follow to stay in a relationship.
Wait, there are rules for relationships?
In my relationships with people, I will admit there are a lot rules in place to maintain the relationship. Every time I make a friend, he or she whips out a copy of their own personal rulebook, which are pretty expensive to make, so you know, you gotta be down to be down. And then when I’m finished memorizing it, I’ll come back and recite it, line by line, chapter and verse numbers and all, to show them I am indeed down.
Actually, there’s pretty much only one rule we kind of loosely keep among my group of friends, and that’s more or less, don’t be too much of a jerk. That’s about it. And even if a little jerkery slips out here or there, as long as you don’t break any major laws (or even if you do in special cases), you’re cool.
If you want to say Christianity is more like a “romantic” relationship, I suppose you could add, “don’t cheat,” which seems a more than reasonable rule. And hell, if you’re cheating, why do you want to be in the relationship in the first place. Of course cheating also goes against rule number Duh in not being a jerk, so I think it’s pretty much all covered there.
And me not being aware of how to be a jerk to God, or in fact how to even cheat on Him, I would say, it shouldn’t take much to be in a relationship with Him. And even if I found a way to be a jerk or cheat, I assume a God who’s pretty good with relationships would still love me anyway.
But by that definition alone, Christianity sounds as much like a cupcake as a relationship. So I’m hoping there’s something more to it.
Could Christianity actually be…
If you ask non-Christians what Christianity is, they’ll say it’s a religion. Well, religion as defined by Merriam-Webster is as follows:
“1a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>
b(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”
Well, according to Sir Jefferson, Christianity (or his version of Jesus) actually sounds like all of these, except maybe 1a.
So, in terms of objectivity, a non-interested observer would call Christianity religion, ignoring Bethke’s semantics. The dictionary definition of religion matches Bethke’s definition of Christianity. They’re not cousins, they’re identical twins!
When you’re trying to provide definition to an amorphous concept, the best sources are objective ones. So, I would say Bethke himself makes a good case for Christianity (Jesusism) being religion, as well as most Christians who might argue that it isn’t. They’re just confused, give them a break.
Well, that was actually kind of a disappointing conclusion, I was hoping Christianity would turn out to be like a kiwi (either fruit or a New Zealander, both would work well) or the Dos Equis guy or technology.
Well, let’s at least have a bit more fun before we call it a day.
“Bow ties are cool.”
“Fezzes are cool.”
Actually, that sounds like a religion I could have a relational belief in.
But if Christianity isn’t any of these, what do you think it is?