Sunday, November 1, 2009

I couldn't improve on this one

The Calling of Saint Matthew by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome. (1599-1600)

I haven't had a lot of luck explaining the Jesus thing. It usually comes down to a discussion as to whether or not I really believe some story from The Bible. That, or there's the shoulder shrug and "Whatever works for you."

It's OK. I'm not much for preaching I'd rather let my actions be my message. Still, just because I like the story, I wish I could get across what it was that happened to me. I wasn't a bad person that got turned into a good person. I don't think I'm better than you. If anything I felt guilty and unworthy of the loving kindness I was being shown.

I have always been a dork and a friend to dorks. In gym class the biggest whitest jocks would be appointed captains and told to pick their teams. After the real players got picked the captains would argue over who was going to get stuck with me and my dork friends. Some of us were 'brainiacs', kids who were so scared of our own bodies that we retreated into our heads and got good grades. Most of us weren't good at much of anything. Not even dodgeball.

When the door opened and the light shone on me I felt like I had just been picked for the team. My first response was, "You've got the wrong guy. I'm not good at that kind of thing. I'm not good at much of anything."

Daisy Deadhead of Daisy's Dead Air is someone I actually, briefly met almost thirty years ago. I don't remember her, but we were in the same places at the same times, protesting the Republican convention in Detroit and getting stuck in the middle of a gigantic fist fight at a Rock Against Racism show. From what she's said about those events, I'm certain that we met.

Nowadays she's an unrepentant feminist, radical, resident of South Carolina and faithful Catholic with little or no respect for the church hierarchy. She just posted something about Carvaggio's painting and All Saint's Day. It's as good a sermon as I could wish to preach, if I was the preaching type. Read it here.

How He Delivered Me- Juanita Johnson, The Gospel Tones (Buy)
I highly recommend buying the Smithsonian Folkways compilation, "Every Tone A Testimony".


@eloh said...

This is a good one, brought tears to my eyes.

You have it looped, I have been listening to for about a half hour or more.

I get it Jon. Some of us old shits took awhile, too long, to give our troubles over and be delivered.

Jon said...

Did you read Daisy's homily? It's a beautiful thing.

Joe said...

It is not easy explaining ones heart, where our spiritual commitments lie. But as you say if it is really there it does not need an explanation, people wont miss it.

Todays religion often (always has!?) is just about control. Any heart that only explains things in terms of the human and for largely the control of the same is only a part finished heart.

I am glad to read a blog that does have a heart, like mine, in progress.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Too bad Jesus did not dress a little more like Porter in your previous post. You would think the son of God would be a spiffy dresser,the sort of person you would expect to see with Dolly Parton on his arm. People who wear robes in public ought to be avoided at all costs; they are all looking to get nailed to a fucking cross.

Jon said...

What if he was wearing a Benjamin Franklin JHS gym uniform? Although I do tend to agree that I have got ahold of a pretty serious God who could do with some fashion sense. That's why I like those Renaissance painters though. They were all of the time painting the Bible in contemporary terms. Two young moderns recently did a brilliant modern translation of Dante. The illustrations are set in contemporary Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. I think the Bible would be really scary and crazy if it we pictured it happening in modern times. That might make it even better or it might push my current bad mood right into agnosticism.

Anonymous said...

'When the door opened and the light shone on me I felt like I had just been picked for the team. My first response was, "You've got the wrong guy. I'm not good at that kind of thing. I'm not good at much of anything.'

this is a lovely phrase Jon...

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