The Boatless Waterskier Bit Always Kills.

I was replying to Kenny’s comment when my browser froze. It probably had something to do with the ridiculous number of things on my desktop. I cleaned up and everything’s dandy. Anyway, it was a long comment. I ended up at Mr and Mrs Mayweather’s to chat with Bruce and Jorge, who had come by to visit. In the course of conversation Bruce mentioned that he was moving and that his previous roommates were named Moe and Larry. I asked if they insisted he be called ‘Shemp’. We then fell into a discussion in which we clarified that since Shemp was Moe’s brother and a part of the vaudeville act he was a legitimate replacement for Curly after his death but that Curly Joe was the Cousin Oliver of the Three Stooges. It was at this point that Miss Mayweather laughed at our solemn considerations of these finer points and I responded by reminding her of how highly she regards her ‘stories’. Jorge expressed disbelief that her addiction remained uncured and she proudly confirmed her undying love of ‘All My Children’. A complex dialogue ensued in which we explored the various ways individuals become involved in the minutae of fictions and fantasies that form a very real part of their identity. I mentioned how Gargunza and I had lengthy conversations as to how Superman’s home planet of Krypton might have exploded and my comment to Kenny came flying back to me and I said that nobody is a single thing and you don’t need quantum physics to prove that.

Jesus was a son and a brother, a teacher and a student, a carpenter and fisher of men. Jesus was a friend to tax collectors and prostitutes, he was a healer, a prophet, and a condemned criminal. He was all this and more. All saints are sinners and every sinner experiences moments of grace. All of us are more than any single thing.

Of course, I understand that the discussion Kenny was referring to involved Christology, the speculation as to the nature of Christ which essentially comes down to pondering whether or not Jesus had superpowers. One can call it the Divine, but it’s all the same thing for me. The role Jesus played as a teacher was far more significant that the role he played as Wedding Caterer, Boatless Waterskier, or Miracle Herbicider. Jesus wanted His parables to be contemplated and probably would find the eternal obsessing about how He did His tricks to miss His point. I mean, really, what is the point in being all impressed by someone walking on water? Jesus may have walked on the Sea of Galilee, but Neil Armstrong walked on the Sea of Tranquility. Still, I’m not going to advocate worshipping Mr Armstrong as a divine personage even if I consider the dust he walked on to be sacred. If it is solely the miraculous nature of Christ that compels one to follow Him than they are going to be susceptible to all sorts of delusions and mistaken beliefs. Having faith in the miracles means having faith in Peter, Paul, and the writers of the Gospels who were not even firsthand witnesses. Having faith in the teachings is putting your faith with Jesus. The miracles are mysteries to be contemplated for our own enlightenment, not puzzles to be defined and solved.

In my own wrestlings with the miracles I have looked at them from many angles and have come to see them as the outside surface of Christianity: They are the metaphors and narratives that carry the message. Over two millenia of obsessive elaborations by generations of mystics they have become quite ornate constructions that obscure the treasure within. Put in another way, Jesus would not care if I believe without a doubt that He waterskiied without a boat on the Sea of Galilee but would have an opinion as to how well I lived the parable of the Good Samaritain. I imagine that if I had students of my own that I would not care if they believed any of the outrageous stories I told them to get their attention but would hope very much that the lesson contained within resonated with them. For example, if I were to tell them I knew someone who once lost his company $25 million dollars because he Fed Exed a photocopy to Japan rather than the original document, it doesn’t matter if it happened or not; the point about the importance of attention to detail is well made.

In my original comment I had said something about Hanuman and his monkey army. I wish I remembered how I got there because that was my favorite bit of the whole thing. Instead, I’m thinking about what the Dalai Lama said when asked if science could disprove one of the central metaphysical tenets of Buddhism, like reincarnation. The Dalai Lama considered this and said that Buddhism would have to change. But then he added with a smile, disproving reincarnation would be very difficult. This is sort of how I regard Jesus. If I were confronted with irrefutable evidence that the Resurrection was a hoax along with all the other miracles I would still strive to follow the teachings of Jesus. I would still regard His insight and wisdom as the measure to which compare all others.

Now I recall how I got to Hanuman. It’s easy to write myths full of epic magic and impossible deeds. Humans do it all the time and every generation throws up fantasists who delude followers into believing their daydreams and wishful thoughts as divine reality. What strikes me about the miracles of Christ is that for the most part they are very mundane. There’s no vast monkey armies or fleets of flying chariots. This is what makes them feel more authentic than tales of giants and dragons. But this alone is not evidence of their literal truth. What cannot be dismissed as mere fictions are the teachings and actions of Jesus. Even if Jesus, Socrates, and Buddha were fictional creations their authors were then as profound as their characters and the truth they imparted is just as valid in either case.

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