Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Jesus is a macho man
Since Bush and Blair began their ‘crusades’ against terrorism and invoked god as their leader, Christianity entered a new era. They’ve managed to do for modern Christianity what Judas did for it in its early days and he isn’t much loved either.
This new form of macho Christianity has now been taken up with gusto by the Christian right. They feel that the idea of Jesus as a Palestinian Jewish wimp is a historical conspiracy, and argue that he was more a combination of Rambo and Arnold Schwarzenegger. You probably don’t believe in the idea of Jesus being the son of god anyway and aren’t that much interested in arcane theological debates. But for the Christian Right the image of Jesus is a hot issue.

Most of us, in the western world grew up with images of Jesus as portrayed in the soft hues of Renaissance paintings or El Greco’s lurid sanctimoniousness and then that romantic image, so beloved of the Victorians, of a trans-gender figure, bathed in ethereal light, by Pre-Raphaelite Holman Hunt that used to hang on the wall in every school in the country. All these images were of handsome bearded, mild, fatherly figures. Such images were not fortuitous, but intended to reinforce the church hierarchy’s teachings of subservience, loyal obedience and acceptance of one’s lot in life. The last thing they wanted was for Jesus’ revolutionary and rebellious spirit to be communicated.

It’s not easy to wage a battle against Islam and ‘communistic atheism’ and also to promote and defend the US role as a Christian crusader, with imagery and a message that calls for tolerance, turning the other cheek and even, god help us, pacifism. That’s why some key figures on the Christian Right have decided that Jesus needs a face-lift, an image make-over. They don’t want a feminised wimp as their icon, no ‘Jesus meek and mild’, and have set about creating their own Jesus, not in god’s image but their own fantasy one – a long-maned, Terminator-like figure, resplendent with Christian tattoos, more reminiscent of a handsome Hell’s Angel than a peaceful evangelist.
Such a figure is being promoted in books from the Christian Right with such alluring titles as: ‘No More Mr. Christian Nice Guy’, ‘The Church Impotent – the feminisation of Christianity’, ‘Why Men Hate going to Church’ and ‘No more jellyfish, chickens or wimps – raising secure assertive kids in a tough world’. Paul Coughlin, author of ‘No More Christian Mr. Nice Guy’ hosts a radio show in Southern Oregon and his writings and talks receive wide coverage in the USA. He is also a ‘life coach for passive men’. To give you a flavour, chapter two of his book is titled ‘Jesus the bearded woman’.

Artist Stephen Sawyer is also tapping into these new demands by offering a new iconography. He has his own website ‘Art for God’, and is instrumental in promoting Jesus as muscular Titan. What’s more alarming is that such an outlook is gaining ground in Britain too. Women have always outnumbered men in their adherence to the church and fundamentalists want to redress that balance. Eric Delve is one of those in Britain calling for a more macho image for males to follow. He is founder and chairman of both the Spirit and the Bride Trust and Revival Fire Conferences Ltd and vicar of St Luke’s, Maidstone. Others prefer to use poetry to get their image across, like this ‘poem’ posted online, titled, ‘Jesus Was A Macho Man’:

‘Some, even though Christians, feel that Jesus was a wimp
He taught of love and had to turn the other cheek
I'm here to attest to his mighty strength
And to say that he was not weak…
He could have saved his very own hide just to rebuke the word
But he took the cross on his shoulders because Jesus was a macho man.’
So forget ‘Wesley’s popular hymn ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,’ and start re-learning Monsell and Boyd’s 1863 hymn: ‘Fight the good fight with all thy might - Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right’!