Friday, November 7, 2008

Fighting Jesus Takes A Loss

by Christine Wicker

Tuesday night one American Jesus won. The other lost.

Whether American Christianity will be strengthened or weakened remains to be seen.
As I listened to Barack Obama eschew any note of triumph, praise John McCain as he has so many times, and call for the country to be united, I thought, He sounds like what most Americans think Christians ought to sound like.

He didn't sound like Sarah Palin. Or John McCain. Or George W. Bush. Or many of the evangelicals rousing their troops before the election. As voting began, one of those leaders said that evangelicals would vote for the devil himself rather than give support to Obama. Another warned that Obama could be the Anti-Christ and not even know it.

Their talk represented the Jesus that lost this election. That Jesus, let's call him the Fighting Jesus, is angry, punishing, highly concerned about sexual behavior and about keeping women in certain roles. He favors battle terms, focuses on his enemies and is vigilant against evil.
(This Jesus is also straight from the Old Testament.)

Only those who repent and believe properly will go to heaven. He divides the world into the sheep and goats, the saved and lost. The saved are his people. No one else is.

The Fighting Jesus protects his people, hears them and answers their prayers. He also punishes them, but he punishes those who reject him even more.

His followers, who call themselves God's people, feel compelled to speak boldly against evil and unbelief. They must rebuke and correct those who don't follow their Jesus. The Fighting Jesus is a divider.

He never changes.

He is in the Bible. Those who believe in him often know the Bible quite well and so are justifiably unapologetic before those who accuse them of being un-Christian or mean spirited.

The Jesus who won on Tuesday is also in the Bible.

This Jesus responds mildly to criticism and threat. He's respectful of others. He favors peace. He focuses far more on the needs of the poor than on sexual behavior. He is less concerned with the letter of religious law than its spirit. He isn't much concerned with deciding who is evil and who is good. For him forgiving enemies is more important than battling them. He is a uniter.
A growing number of his followers think he allows even nonbelievers into heaven.

Some of his followers know the Bible quite well. Barack Obama appears to be among those. His Jesus might be called the Peace Jesus.

He might also be called the Popular Jesus because many Americans are convinced that this Jesus is the true one. These people often judge followers of the Fighting Jesus harshly and say that they aren't acting like Jesus followers at all.

These nonbeliever delight in declaring that they like Jesus; it's the Christians they can't stand.
For decades Fighting Jesus followers have held the spotlight. In the popular mind, they've won most of their battles. They have come to represent American Christianity as a whole, as though they are the only Jesus followers.

Barack Obama didn't preach his faith nearly as much as Sarah Palin did. He didn't oppose abortion as the Fighting Jesus followers demanded and as John McCain did. But when news of Palin's daughter's pregnancy surfaced, he forbade his staff to capitalize on it and said he would fire anyone who did. Then he stopped all stone throwing by noting that his own mother was young when he was born.

I thought, somewhat ruefully, He's acting like Jesus.

In the debates when John McCain refused to look at him, when McCain answered derisively, when McCain sneered and smirked, Obama did not respond in kind. He praised McCain's virtues consistently. He ignored all opportunities to humiliate or deride McCain. He passed up easy scores, even on policy matters.

I thought with a groan, He's acting like Jesus.

And then Tuesday night, he talked of coming together, of caring for one another, of sacrifice for the common good.

I thought with delight, He's still acting like Jesus.
The Peace Jesus.

Many people are terrified of the Peace Jesus. They think he's weak.
But it didn't look that way Tuesday night. Obama didn't look weak. And neither did the Peace Jesus. They looked like hope and strength and a new way.
Let's pray they are.


It wasn't only Fighting Jesus that lost on Tuesday, it was also a loss for all of our bishops who support Fighting Jesus. All those bishops who told us we would go to hell if we voted for Obama will now have to deal with the fact almost 60% of their flock opted for hell rather than McCain/Palin. So much for the threat of hell.

I can see how threats of hell may influence a few believers, but I am at a complete loss as to why our bishops thought this was a credible threat for educated thinking Catholics. You know, the kind that know Africa is a continent and not a country. Even John Paul the Great never sank to this level. He didn't even believe hell was a place. Maybe some of our bishops haven't made it to that part of John Paul's writing, having apparently gotten stuck in Theology of the Body.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of next week's USCCB gathering in Baltimore. I wonder if there isn't going to be a little battling going on between proponents of Fighting Jesus and proponents of Peace Jesus.
It would be nice if the proponents of Peace Jesus realized they have voices too, and finally used them, because the proponents of Fighting Jesus are becoming an outright embarrassment to the majority of the laity. This is not to say they weren't that way previous to the election, but their vehemence and fear mongering in the last week was over the top, and in retrospect impotent.

Impotent, that's an interesting word. Impotence may be the fear powering the fear mongers. Unfortunately for these bishops, there is no Viagra pill which can cure this particular form of impotence. Advocating for Fighting Jesus is not seen as virile, it's seen as venal, or more accurately as theologically infantile.

Come next week, our bishops would do well to really ponder these election results and not blind themselves to the fact that saber rattling from the pulpit had the opposite of it's intended effect. An adult laity said 'no' to the use of childish threats. An adult laity doesn't need to be parented. It has a right to be heard, not a need to be herded. This is a distinction too many of our bishops don't want to acknowledge.

That being the case, they and their true believing followers ought to follow the lead of the evangelicals who they so admire, and start their own version of some Catholic mega church, based out of, I know, COLORADO SPRINGS. They already have their media empire in EWTN. This way they could leave the rest of us heretical followers of Peace Jesus in peace.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I dont know anonymous, I think its kind of cool seeing a picture of Jesus that looks like me. Just wish I had his hair. Premature baldness is a little chilly this time of year.

  3. Pax vobiscum, anonymous. So REAL you have to be anonymous.

    Colleen, I found your blog via Bilgrimage and have been enjoying it for a while, though I have never commented. Your writing is spirited, moving, and witty. And, as a liberal Catholic and proud of it, I find it wonderfully enlightening. I particularly like the phrase "deserve to be heard, rather than herded.

    May the Peace be with you,

  4. A lot of venom from anonymous. A slithering snake of a tongue crawling out of the woodwork post-election to vent anger and hatred. The correct spelling is Messiah, so the play on words with Obama's name doesn't REALLY work. Nice try.

    Colleen, I share your view about Obama. One would have to be a moron to not see the positive example Obama showed throughout the campaign and your blog does an excellent job of highlighting these very special and beautiful qualities. People who were too busy hating him couldn't see the truth if it walked on them. Many did not see the love of Jesus either and they crucified Him. They called Him lots of names too as I recall from reading the scriptures.

    I heard that some person or persons made a cross out of Obama signs and burned it on an Obama supporter's lawn after the election. This is what lies and hate speech from Palin breeds and fuels. They say they love God and Jesus. It's all talk, because who would know of love from all the hateful venom spewed by Palin and the so-called Christian right-wing on Obama and Biden and all Democrats.

    I pray they find the real Jesus. The Jesus of love.

    Look in the mirror anonymous and judge not others that you do not know. God is bigger than you think, and more loving. Get rid of the venom and replace it with love for your neighbor. We are all your neighbor, like it or not. We like to point out the truth here. If you have trouble with the truth, you haven't found the REAL Jesus of love.

    Peace! As always Colleen, I am always inspired by your writing, your insight and ability to see the truth and communicate it.

  5. The nice thing about America is we have the right to speak about what ever Jesus works for us.

    The Old Testament Jesus of Sarah Palin does not work for me, and under President Bush it didn't work for America or Iraq or the Sudan or Somalia or the Congo or etc etc etc.

    Technically, I'm not disregarding half of Christians, I'm disregarding about 15% of Catholics and 1/3 of our bishops.

    By the way, no body owns Jesus, we only own our opinions. Sarah Palin and you have your opinion and I have mine.

    Carl, anonymous isn't talking about the photograph he/she is talking about the article. I chose the cartoonish article because it analyzed the situation in language Palin supporters and other morons could understand.

    Thanks for the comment dad. Glad you like the blog. I suspect the heard vs herded point wasn't heard by a certain commenter.

    Butterfly, Old Testament Jesus followers would feel quite moral burning a cross of Obama posters on someone's lawn. It's the old eye for eye tooth for a tooth fear/anger dynamic.

    Apparently real Christians don't want a Jesus of love which is why they are inspired by the Holy Spirit of righteous anger, to take over the world for the Jesus of love, who then is His own version of impotence can safely take over the cleansed world. This is assumes I guess, that His self appointed Apostles will actually let Him.

  6. Colleen I know, my comment was a polite way of expressing how I felt about his comment and a somewhat cryptic way of expressing where his head was located.

    As always, you are so dead on with your analyis.

  7. The way some people respond to different ways of seeing reality by different Catholic minds, is as hateful and indecent as the Inquisitors' responses to claims based on the elucidation of scientific knowledge could have seemed some hundreds of years ago. Your comments are very legitimate and your expository language is acceptable in terms of the clarity of your message and the logical interrogations posed for the reader to work out independently. I appreciate your postings and hope you keep up the good work, for the illumination of those who are still awaiting legitimate responses by the hierarchy.

  8. anon said: "What a bizarre cartoonish polarization" ... it is indeed bizarre because its TRUE!! Truth is not always a welcomed thing when one becomes sooo attached to their own ideas and perceptions... Jesus was known for challenging the people/society of his day... and HE continues to challenge the society today... I for one, choose the wounded healer... opposed to being a wounded wounder.

    God Bless and Protect Pres. Elect
    Obama and his family.


  9. Del if you haven't yet, check out this post of Bill's:

    He makes your very point quite elegantly.

  10. Yea, you're right Colleen, they would see it that way. The reason being that they have a huge beam in their eye which obstructs their vision. Their light is darkness. Their fear rules their actions.

  11. Butterfly, I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree with you on your comment.

    I think the beam is in a different part of their anatomy. The same part where their head is located.

    Although, I suppose it is possible that the beam could be in both. I mean if they have a beam in their eye, and their head is in their ... must be getting really crowded in there. No wonder they act like they are constipated.

  12. What you are referring to, Carl, is as I recall it, is the HUTA effect. Right?

  13. Butterfly, as always, you hit the nail square on the head :-)