I know being a Christian is the hip thing to do these days. I guess that’s good and bad… I mean, if we crazy kids are going to get swept up in anything, I’m glad it’s spirituality and not, say, the Kylie Jenner lip challenge (although that’s gained more momentum than I hoped). But there’s a downside, too: Christianity can be made out to be something it isn’t, totally inadvertently by a bunch of do-gooders who just want to jump on a well-meaning bandwagon (not that religion is a bandwagon, but when it’s made to be something that’s ‘fashionable,’ it noticeably picks up social media steam).
I grew up Catholic. I was baptized only a few months after birth, and these past two years at the University of Alabama were my first time not at a Catholic school. There are pros and cons to being a cradle Catholic: for starters, it gives you a super sturdy moral compass to adhere to as you grow up. At first because you innocently believe there’s just no other way to live, and later because you’re so used to being a certain way that it seems almost inconvenient to be anything else.
There’s nothing I would change religiously about my childhood (although I’d change my second grade haircut, because bowl cuts flatter nobody—picture included below for your enjoyment). I’m glad that I was raised in the Catholic Church and held to high standards by my parents. I fell short (a lot), but having a high benchmark means that even your shortcomings aren’t too devastating.
Then college rolled around. Ah, sweet freedom. Freedom to sleep in on Sundays, freedom to meet and talk with people who grew up on other paths, freedom to question the very beliefs I was graded on in high school in my various religion classes. Freedom works in a funny way, though, because after your leash gets cut, you find yourself wandering back to it on your own.
So, in honor of my Catholic upbringing and my reborn interest in Christianity itself, I’m going to share with you some reasons why Jesus is really cool (and no, “He loves you!” is not one of them, although that is very true and awesome). I know not everyone reading this is a believer, but these reasons are far more based in historical accounts than Biblical records.
1. Jesus was an extremely brave, radical dude. Everyone paints Jesus into this meek and mild corner like he was some rule-following do-gooder who went his whole life being the perfect prophet. I mean, if you want to imagine Jesus as a guy who would’ve just racked up gold stars for coloring inside the lines, go ahead, but I love acknowledging the political side of Jesus. Jesus came to Earth for reasons that are incredibly hard to wrap our minds around, but he also wanted to switch up the social order. Excuse my language, but he was crazy! Crazy in the best possible way. He looked at the way Pontius Pilot was running the Roman Empire and said “not on my watch.” Obviously, the Bible is loaded with spiritual imagery, beautiful language and double meanings, but if you look at the purely historical facts, Jesus was this rebel who wanted to improve life for those who were oppressed. If he lived today, you’d probably get CNN alerts about him on your phone: this guy in the Middle East who’s going up against one of the strongest empires in the history of FOREVER and putting up a fight? That’s incredible. He was like Jewish Batman! Kind of.
2. Jesus didn’t want you to “turn the other cheek” in the traditional sense, but stand up for yourself respectfully. I learned this my sophomore year of high school in a Scriptures class. Turns out, the passage in which Jesus instructs us to “turn the other cheek” actually references this weird custom in his time where slapping a man on the left cheek with the inside of your palm signaled that they were inferior to you, but slapping a man on the right side of his face with the outside of your hand implied equality (I don’t know what kind of crazy world they lived in back then where you’d slap your friends to say you’re on their level, but I think I’ve seen people do it in bars before). SO, when Jesus told us, “Hey, if someone treats you bad, just turn the other cheek,” he didn’t mean, “Let them walk all over you,” he meant, “Demand respect and equality in a respectful way.” Present the opposite cheek. The right cheek. Your best dang cheeky self!
3. He won’t limit you to “the one,” he wants you to love whoever YOU want and have an amazing, fulfilling, supportive relationship with whom you see fit. I know this one might sound a little different, but I promise, there’s a point. Everyone knows that rumor floating around society that there’s “the one” out there for you, probably riding a unicorn in a strawberry field just waiting for you to log on to Match.com and be algorithmically paired with them forever. Some people believe that this idea came from Scripture, that God fashioned “the one” for you and threw him or her somewhere on the planet for you to find like a romantic Where’s Waldo. While I do believe that there are certain people more well-suited to you than others and that God wants y’all to love each other and grow together, I’d like to put “the one” rumors to rest. This doesn’t come from the scriptures, it comes from Greek mythology—specifically a writing by Plato, the Symposium. In this work, Plato says that humans were originally androgynous beings: containing both sex organs and four of everything that normal humans have two of. Then, one day, Zeus got all pissed, as Zeus commonly did, and split each one in half to gain more worshipers (imagine that today—Zeus wants to double his Instagram following and cuts everyone in two). Therefore, Plato writes that ever since then, we’ve been searching for our “other half.” And alas, “the one” ideal is born. Jesus, however, doesn’t view you as an incomplete half-human who needs someone else to be whole. He lets YOU pick that for yourself, and I think that’s pretty cool. Allowing God to work in your life and relationship to make it the best that it can be…well, that’s a conversation for another day.
I know religion can be a touchy subject, but that’s what blogs are for: to express your own (sometimes unpopular) opinion. Thanks for reading.
And, as promised, here's a Pic Stich of me in my two uniforms about 15 years apart: my Catholic school jumper complete with red glasses and bowl cut, and an Alabama game-day dress from freshman year.