'Bishop' Declares We Will All Spend Christmas Day Worshipping Some Guy With Dreadlocks

'Bishop' Declares We Will All Spend Christmas Day Worshipping Some Guy With Dreadlocks
(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Every year as we celebrate the Nativity of the Prince of Peace, we encounter three narratives as regular as clockwork.

  1. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. (Who cares, really? Christmas doesn’t commemorate a day; it commemorates an event.)
  2. Jesus didn’t exist. (Life is too short to deal with those idiots.)

In the era of Critical Race Theory, a third critique is becoming common.

I’m not sure how the “Bishop” came by his “Bishop” status, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with religion.

Two themes seem to run through this. The first is that people are so stupid that they don’t know that Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. The second theme is that White people are so racist that if they did know that Jesus didn’t look like a Viking, they would reject Christianity. A subtext to this is “make stuff up to own the cons.” Along the way, the “Bishop” shows a stunning lack of historical perspective.

Just as Jesus was not blond-haired-blue-eyed, neither was he Black North African. Although, for the record, I’m not really sure what “Black North African” looks like, because if you look a crowd scenes from Tripoli, Tunis, etc., the people look very much like crowd scenes from southern Spain, Greece, and Sicily  I think one should expect Jesus to very much resemble the people in any crowd scene from the West Bank or Gaza.

Where “Bishop” Swan comes up with the idea of an infant having deadlocks is beyond me. Long, matted hair was known among ascetic sects. It would be a safe bet that John the Baptist wore his hair in that manner based on what we know of him in Matthew 3:4.

And the same John had his garment of camels’ hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

Long, matted hair does not equate to dreadlocks and Jesus was not an ascetic living alone in the wilderness. Until his public ministry started, he lived an everyday life as a carpenter in Nazareth. There is good reason to think Jesus wore his hair cut short. Saint Paul observes in 1 Corinthians 11:14, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Considering that St. Paul had been in Jerusalem and was in contact with the Church in Jerusalem, it stands to reason that he would not have condemned a hairstyle worn by Jesus.

Jesus has been portrayed artistically as virtually all races. There is nothing wrong with that. Art doesn’t have to be historically accurate to be uplifting.

If we peel this all back a single layer we find something I think is even more interesting.

From John 20:14:

When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

[16] Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master).

From John 21:4:

But when the morning was come, Jesus stood on the shore: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. [5] Jesus therefore said to them: Children, have you any meat? They answered him: No.

[6] He saith to them: Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore; and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes. [7] That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved, said to Peter: It is the Lord. Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, girt his coat about him, (for he was naked,) and cast himself into the sea.

From Luke 24:13:

And behold, two of them went, the same day, to a town which was sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, named Emmaus. [14] And they talked together of all these things which had happened. [15] And it came to pass, that while they talked and reasoned with themselves, Jesus himself also drawing near, went with them.

[16] But their eyes were held, that they should not know him.

And the most intriguing, from Mark 16:12:

And after that he appeared in another shape to two of them walking, as they were going into the country. [13] And they going told it to the rest: neither did they believe them. [14] At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. [15 And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Perhaps Jesus, who is Perfect God and Perfect Man, appears to us as we need to see him. Maybe St. Paul’s admonishment to the Galatians is more expansive than a commentary on nationality or legal status.

There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

Maybe the notion of claiming for your race or ethnicity the personage of Jesus to make a political point s not what Christianity is about.

One final note for the “Bishop.” No matter what Jesus Christ looked like, we celebrate the birth of the Son of God and the Redeemer of Mankind. If your ability to worship Him is based on your fantasy about his physical appearance or values you attribute to your political opponents, that is your problem, not mine or anyone else’s.

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