I never got the chance to meet Jesus, despite our common heritage. 2000 years ago, we might have been classmates in Yeshiva. I feel like we could have been friends. After 10 days in Italy – – his principal place of business, even though he never actually went there – – I have seen, touched, imagined, heard, and discussed his life enough to get a sense of Jesus. Yes, most of his paintings and sculptures depict a Caucasian, when he was Middle Eastern. And, many of his depictions are with nuns, pre-crucifixion crosses, priests, Rome, and other things that could not have occurred or existed during his lifetime. Not a single representation shows Jesus with a yarlmakah, or in Jewish Study, or at the Temple, or doing any of the other things that history has proven were vital aspects of his life. Some paintings show his birth perfectly aligned with the Star of Bethlehem, forecasting his birth. Although, it is scientific fact that this particular stellar alignment could have not occurred anywhere near December, the universally accepted month of his birth. In fact, most of the historical details of his life were written hundreds of years after his death, by people who never actually met him. Yet, these details seem lost on the people who paint, sculpt, record, and write about him.
This is not an attack on religion; nor is it intended to express skepticism about Jesus’ legacy or divine nature. I have my beliefs and you have yours. Anyone who presumes to know the truth is merely expressing his own doubts of faith. My beef is not with those who believe in Jesus as the son of God but with those who call him a son of God, but then insist on dumbing him down by turning him into a man. Christians are not the only offenders. People of all faiths, including my own, desperately try to relate to God by attributing to Him human characteristics and inhumane traits that cheapen His high stature. Did I say high stature? I meant impossible stature. The kind of thing that Humans should not be able to comprehend. Faith shouldn’t be easy and it shouldn’t be cheap.
I may not believe in Jesus as God, but I respect those who do. However, you could spend a year in Rome, and see, literally, a million depictions of him and his life but still have absolutely no sense of him as a person – – or as a god. In fact, the Vatican is full of similar statutes and paintings of Popes, Saints, and other religious figures that are larger than life. Assuming the Ten Commandments still mean anything to the Church, I cannot understand how it justifies the graven images that fill every church and Cathedral of Rome. It seems that the decoration of Jesus has consumed his message.
It is beautiful. Even for me. I was stunned by the beauty, majesty, and volume of the art. I was actually able to appreciate it without being offended by the superficiality of the experience. But, it makes me wonder: how does God feel when we – – Jews and Christians alike – – focus our faith on the things that don’t matter while overlooking the central tenets of His will?