After posting about the "restoration" of that Jesus painting, the one that became a worldwide sensation and led to a boom in tourism as well as numerous lawsuits, I got to thinking. I got to thinking about one of those things. I got to thinking about one of those things I haven't thought about for a long, long time.
What do you call those, you know? - those images, usually religious, but not always religious, and there's two of them and they flash back and forth? I mean, two images that appear on the same, what, thingie, not paper or cardboard like a photo but a sort of plastic thing. It's like a photo with a double image, except it's not. What's the NAME of those things, if they have a name?
It's hard to find them now, but as a kid they were ubiquitous and represented an extremely refined form of technology. You could even get a ring with Jesus on the cross flashing back and forth with the Last Supper. The material was sort of - how do I describe it? Thick and plastic-y, sort of rough with little lines running across it. It had a weird texture. The last time I saw any of these was 15 years ago in a little Quebec town called St. Anne de Beaupre, a place with a beautiful cathedral which vibrated with everyday mysticism. The gift store had mostly tacky things in it, but I still have a hand-carved wooden pendant of a descending dove which only cost about $2.
Maybe this is all that's left of that Crackerjack-box miracle of my childhood: images of Jesus that sort-of move, usually in a wiggly or jerky way. You can't wear them like a ring, and most people think of them as pretty ridiculous.
Cynical though I may be, and I am plenty cynical sometimes, some part of me has never let go of the dizzying wonder of the Nazarene. He is a mystery I cannot begin to fathom. Attempts to debunk or mock or make-look-stupid are too easy. Jesus represents the awful vulnerability we all share at the core. Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light.
Jesus may have not so much walked on water as hopped, or maybe slid if the water was frozen. But never mind the manner of locomotion. What disturbs me about this one is how he suddenly disappears, just as I am starting to warm up to him. Too true.
This one reminds me of my last migraine: you just think it's never going to end.
Something about this one, though. . . It's supposed to be a gif and rippling away, but so far it isn't doing very much. But this Jesus is nice-looking and has tender, compelling eyes. They look blue and that isn't very likely, but we'll forgive that. I might sit down and talk to this Jesus if he were only real.
Was there a Jesus after all, or did we just wish or will him into being? A thousand layers of pretentiousness, cruelty, fear, false worship, hypocrisy, suffocating ritual, sexual abuse and shameful coverup, and all those things that sicken me unto my soul, have covered the truth over, and over, and over, encapsulating it as if it were a disease, and obscuring what may or may not have been there to begin with. A vast civilization has been built up, a massive edifice founded on a possible myth, a good story that we are pretty sure never even happened.