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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 25, 1995)
Jesus a mystical personality
I grew up loving Jesus.
And I’d say I still do.
I say “I’d say” because not
everyone would agree with me —
like my mother, for instance.
As hard as it is for me to contem
plate, my mother believes I’m in
danger of the fires of hell because I
don’t love Jesus any more.
Or not the right one.
And she’s not alone. The world is
filled with those who would con
demn my love of the wrong Jesus.
The Jesus I love is a man, like
If he is also god incarnate, then
—as another “son of man” —
maybe I am too.
But, like god, he’s inscrutable; a
deeply mystical and fundamentally
mysterious religious figure.
He offers clues and mysteries and
signs and wonders, but very few
And everything he means to say
comes out in riddles.
He was—and remains for me —
as complex, as challenging and as
difficult a personality as I ever hope
His teachings are arcane and
almost totally opaque: What does
“the kingdom of Heaven is within
you” actually mean when addressed
to a lot of hookers and lawyers and
What does his saying about the
mustard seed tell us about the nature
Or the story of the shekel in the
I’m sure I don’t know. And
neither, apparently, does anyone
Many of the teachings of Jesus
and the stories about him arc
completely glossed by modem
“teachers of the law.”
Sayings and stories that don’t fit
today’s mold are omitted.
And what is that mold?
There are two — equally
There is “gentle Jesus, meek and
mild” who lies down like a lamb to
“But, to me, Jesus is
more than all of these.
He is my mother and my
father, my teacher and
my stumbling block. ”
Who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Who
waits, knocking patiently at the door
of your heart. Waiting and waiting
for you to let him come in.
Then there is Jesus the thug—
the fundamentalist Christ.
Whose followers lay heavy
burdens of rigidly proscribed
behavior on those who would love
him... and never lift a finger to help
them bear the weight.
I can stomach neither of these
modem Christs with their blind
And every age has had its own
Jesus — reinventing him at every
opportunity; each epoch has its
personal Jesus to keep it company
on its long, dark flight.
Each person, almost, is entitled
to his or her own Messiah, made to
order: dominating or docile and
available in a surprising range of
There exist an infinite number of
Christs, all clamoring for our
It nauseates me.
Why not rather forgo the attempt
to pin Jesus like a bug to a tray?
Why not rather insist on the mystery
than attempt to pierce the veil and
come back blind — and what’s
worse, not know it.
For myself, I am content to go on
not understanding Jesus.
I’d rather listen to him like his
earliest disciples —
uncomprehendingly—than try to
cram him whole into some magic
genie’s lamp; I don’t want any
favors from him, anyway.
I want to let him be himself, to
learn from him whatever it is he has
to teach me.
And I suspect there’s still plenty
to learn at the hands of the
Because what Jesus said and did,
even filtered through the eyes of
dozens of witnesses and second and
third hand reports, is still more than
I can grasp.
Like Lao Tzu, Kafka and the
fundamental teachings of Buddhism,
Jesus constantly offers me a fresh
face, a new meaning. And he helps
to light my way.
But, to me, Jesus is more than all
of these. He is my mother and my
father, my teacher and my stumbling
Everything I feel about right and
wrong, good and evil, is informed
by his presence. His marks are all
over my principles. He has taught
me to act justly and to love mercy.
I have spent my life thus far
trying to come to terms with Jesus,
wrestling with him, and no one will
deter me from this struggle.
So — the fears of my real mother
notwithstanding—I will continue to
love, and be troubled by, the wrong
And I am not afraid of hell.
Jesus died before me and I’m
sure, when I die, all the same things
will happen to me that happened to
Baldridge Is a senior English major and
the Opinion page editor for the Daily Ne
Time has come to leave nest
I am about to graduate. Ifall goes
well, I will then find a real job.
Finding a real job and working
40 hours a week doesn’t really scare
me. But not finding a job? That
would be disastrous.
If I don’t find a job, I have to live
at home again, a fact that became
abundantly clear this weekend.
I stopped at my parent’s house to
pick up some winter clothes. My
mother met me at the door to tell me
she had just tried to call me.
Apparently, she had just seen a ,
little girl in a magazine who looked
just like me and the resemblance
had moved her to tears.
(Which is sweet and touching and
all that, I know. I love my mom,
don’t get me wrong, but....)
Then she led me to the kitchen
and repeatedly tried to feed me
though I had just eaten.
“Why do you always eat before
you come home? I never get to feed
My mother has a long history of
expressing love through fresh-baked
goods. I’ve oft wished she would
have offered healthier rewards.
Rather than making cake or pizza,
she could have said, “Good girl, you
cleaned your room. Now we get to
do j umping j acks! ”
Anyway, back to the kitchen
where my mother has just remem
bered that my graduation is three
“Will you be coming home?” she
“If I don’t get a job,” I replied.
“Will you come home while
you’re looking for a job?”
“Will you work at Toys ‘R’ Us
Dear God. Toys ‘R’ Us. Again.
Did I really spend four years at
this university so I could move back
home and stock Barbies for mini
Did I Team European history and
the subjunctive mood so that I could
wear a red smock and help frantic
mothers find the Micro Machines?
i v mm
"Just when I’m feeling
independent, like the
non-smoking section of
a Virginia Slims ad,
Mom starts tearing up
and recalling how small
my hands ivere when I
was born. ”
My mom doesn’t understand why
that would depress me. She’s just
excited that I’m coming home.
I think sometimes she thinks this
whole college, career thing is just a
phase I’m going through. That I’ve
stayed up all night worrying about
my grades, begged for internships
and scrambled for work experience
just to keep busy.
And that will end in December.
Come December, I’ll hang out
with her all day, follow her to the
grocery store and to the thrift shops,
help her quilt and cook.
When I’m not working at Toys
I left the nest for a few years,
but she’s sure I’ll be back. No
where else is as safe. And, as she
has endlessly reminded me, no one
;lse will ever love me as much as
‘ Staying home wouldn’t be
lorrible. She’s right, I’m safe-there.
I’m loved there. It’s my home.
And if I never left, no one could
hurt me. I would stay close to my
family, and I certainly would be well
But I can’t stay home forever
(“And why not?” my mother would
demand.) I just can’t.
Neither can my siblings. I have
three younger brothers and a sister,
and they’re all hovering on the cusp
My younger brother is engaged.
My other younger brother just got
caught kissing his first girlfriend
(“Mom,” he insisted, “it was just a
good-night kiss.”) And my sister is
hardly ever home.
Even though I’m the oldest, in
Mom’s eyes, I’m the baby. I was the
first baby so everything I did was a
miracle, something to remember.
Just when I’m feeling indepen
dent, like the non-smoking section
of a Virginia Slims ad, Mom starts
tearing up and recalling how small
my hands were when I was born.
It’s tough to be tough when
someone is fondly remembering you
at your most helpless state.
Sometimes, when I’m very
stressed or very hurt or very, very
sick, I’m glad she treats me like a
baby. It’s nice to regress for a few ~
hours and let your mom blow away
your troubles with a hug (or a -
homemade spinach and potato
And it’s nice that she always
takes my side when I wage war
against the rest of the world.
And I will come home in Decem
ber. I might accompany her to a few
thrift stores or help her quilt. If she
gives me grief, I’ll even do the
But I can’t stay home forever. I
can’t hide from all the scary people
and scary places.
And I definitely can’t spend the
rest of my life working at Toys ‘R’
Rowell is a senior news-editorial, adver
tising and English major and the Dally
Nebraskan managing editor.
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