Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Which came first: the Jesus or the Pope?

This morning I returned my students' first exams. It amazes me still how lost the art of composing even the most simple of sentences is. I scolded them for "random acts of capitalization," and told them that, for the most part, I was "disappointed in their writing capabilities." I even made them name aloud some of the most basic and common rules of capitalization - much like I was required to do way back in fifth grade.

A huge component of my humanities course covers religion. And I always have at least one Jesus-freak. (I have decided that that name is much closer to the truth than the milder "fundamentalist" who knows nothing about the sheer shit they spout concerning their religious tradition. Can't have a fundamentalist that knows nothing about the fundamentals of their god!) When asked about when you capitalize "God," she replied, "When you're talking about the One True God." Instead of my usual smart-ass answer ("Who? Ahura Mazda?"), I, with my back still turned to her, corrected, "When you're referencing the god of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims." And I love how Jesus-freaks get a bit squirmy when I insist that their god's proper name is Yahweh, as if mentioning this angry desert god (and cheap Ahura Mazda-knockoff) is blasphemy incarnate. (It is, as far as I'm concerned ... but hey, I'm not the one worshipping him!)

One of the essay questions I sometimes ask is:
Both Christianity and Buddhism were originally attempts to reform earlier religions. What were those earlier religions, and who, in your opinion, did a better job at reformation?
My student who earned a whopping 27 points (out of a 100) wrote that Jesus attempted to reform Catholicism by changing their beliefs. Praise G-d from whom all ignorance flows.... For the opinion part, I accept pretty much anything as long as they somehow back it up with facts: "Jesus (and his followers) were better reformers because today Christians outnumber Buddhists" is always a good start. But then I always have to chime in: "Yeah, but Siddhartha's followers didn't go around burning non-Buddhists alive if they didn't convert." (One day, they will ask me not to mention religion when I teach humanities.)

I don't remember if I've written about this before or not, but here's my twisted view of the Second Coming: Jesus returns to earth to copyright & patent his name so that so-called Christians cannot reference him unless he signs some licensing agreement with them. Jesus will finally take back his name (but not in vain, hee hee!). He'll still let me use the derogatory "Jesus-freak," I hope.

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