When I was six years old I started telling all of my friends how Jesus walked on water. Forget The Green Lantern or Thor. Jesus was the first superhero. Walking on water was the most incredible miracle to me because that’s a power I could’ve really used. Like, at summer camp, I could’ve walked on the deep end of the pool and not drown. The big kids and the counselors would be impressed. Turning water into wine was not impressive to me. Who needs wine when they are six years old? Bringing someone back to life was pretty cool, but at that point in time I had never even met anyone who later on died. So it was a useless power.
The parents of my Jewish friends didn’t like me. One said to me, “I’m keeping an eye on you.” I wasn’t sure what I did wrong but it was somehow related to my friend telling his mom about how I talked about Jesus all of the time. Even when we were sitting in the back of the class in Hebrew school I would bring up how Jesus could probably destroy Abraham in a fight.
One time, this particular parent called my house and asked for my mom. I stayed on the phone and listened to them talk. There were some words used, voices raised, and eventually she hung up.
I asked my mom, “what did […..] mean?”
My mom said, “its not a nice word. Don’t say it.”
“But what did it mean?”
“It’s a bad way of saying that you were ‘black’ . Don’t ever use that word.”
Why would the mother of someone I went to Hebrew school with say I was black?
Jesus was probably the geekiest kid in town when he was growng up. Think about it: he grew up in what was probably a very conservative, provincial, jewish village. Everyone knew that you were an illegitimate child and your step-dad was just a carpenter. Being an illegitimate child was an incredibly shameful situation to be in (even the Old Testament says that the child of an adulterous union must wait 10 generations before being accepted in the company of God). Undoubtedly Jesus was picked on by the school bullies – the kids who were the sons of prestigious rabbis or merchants. After a day of being relentlessly bullied, made fun of, and kicked around all day long, a tortured and very sad little eight year old Jesus must’ve gone home crying. He probably looked at his step-dad’s old carpenter’s tools and said to himself, “I need a kick-ass dad that could beat the shit out of the other kids’ dads.”
I feel for him. I’ve been there. And every now and then, I see it in my kids. Last year my oldest, Josie, didn’t have many friends in her school. I’d go to the school to pick her up and the wolf packs of kids would all be hanging around, talking laughing, etc and Josie would be be sitting by herself outside, her eyes lighting up when she saw me, knowing it was time to go. She was never talking to the other kids. Nobody would say goodbye to her. Nobody would miss her when she’s gone. And now that she’s moved to another school, not a single one of those kids have ever spoken to her again. That happens to kids. But it was much worse for Jesus. He couldn’t switch schools. I hope Joseph and Mary were able to comfort him on those nights.
My favorite story of Jesus (and, I’m not Christian so please correct me if I’m wrong on these details) is when the men in town brought him an adulteress and they all wanted to stone her. Why did they go to Jesus? Was he a judge? No, in fact he was doing what any guy who had been picked on for his entire childhood would’ve been doing right then. He was drawing pictures in the sand and not even looking at the men or the adulteress. He was the strange guy in town. They were all arguing around him, the woman was crying, everyone was yelling for her to be stoned, and Jesus was kind of ignoring them while doodling in the sand.
Finally, without looking up from his pictures, he said, “if you’re not guilty of anything, you can throw the first stone.” Because who are we to judge. 2000 years later, on the Internet everyone is an adulteress and everyone wants to stone everyone else. Everyone on the Internet is anonymously yelling and accusing in their own depraved ways on message boards, comments, etc. We all want to throw stones when confronted with something we are desperately afraid of: like a spouse who will cheat, or a blogger who has an opinion we disagree with. We want to throw stones until someone dies. Because we’re all still bullies throwing stones at those weaker. Hate, in all of its dark shades, crowds the corners of our mind. Its our challenge to continue our doodles and ignore the hate.
One by one, everyone drops their stones and leaves the murderous crowd. Nobody is blameless. And finally, Jesus looks up from his sand pictures, as if nobody had ever been there, and he says to the woman, “I can’t throw a stone at you either.” He knows himself. He’s not blameless either. Everyone else is so convinced all the time of how right they are. But we’re dust on this planet and in this Universe. Nobody can throw stones.
So I got the hint, back then when I was six years old. I stopped talking to the other kids about Jesus. I moved on to the Greek and Norse gods. (Thor was my favorite superhero). Then I moved onto the Legion of Super Heroes (teenagers from the 30th century who were all friends and they all had powers). Then Jeannie from “I Dream of Jeannie”. And finally I got obsessed with the damaged goods that we know of as Richard Nixon. But most of the time, I’m afraid to admit, I’m one of those guys who want to stone all of the people around me.
[Note: several questions:
A) I hope writing this is not offensive to anyone. If so, please tell me.
B) Why was Jesus drawing in the sand?]