For many years I have thought about all that wasn’t recorded about Jesus’ life, especially the ‘missing years’ from age 12 to age 30 when he started preaching. Here is day 1 of my ‘Secret Jesus’ series in anticipation of Christmas coming up soon.
Jesus had to be trained as a carpenter, right? It was probably his father, Joseph, who did the training since chances are he himself was a carpenter. I know when my father and grandfather taught me how to work with wood they started with teaching me how to hammer. I hit my thumb plenty of times and I have no doubt Jesus did the same thing.
Two Types of Real
Some don’t believe Jesus was real but the evidence seems to point to that he was. However, there is more than one way to be real. One of the reasons Christianity is messed up is because of the dichotomy within the church. We insist Jesus was real but build a story about him that focuses again and again on how unreal he was.
Seeing as I am pretty earthbound man, I like thinking about who Jesus was on this earth, not his identity in some spiritual realm I don’t really connect with and sometimes am not even sure exists. If he wasn’t a real human; learning and growing, then how do we relate? What are we going to learn about how to be and do in our real world?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Jesus Trivia question
Did Jesus have a sister?
Come back tomorrow for the answer
It may be another week but it’s still the perfect day to continue my perfection series.
Do you know anyone who is perfect? See, proves my point. All perfect people are alone. And all who pretend to be perfect, they end up alone too. Maybe not physically alone, but emotionally and socially they quite likely will be. This will be especially true if they combine their perfection with judgment.
But wasn’t Jesus perfect? Personally I don’t think he was. I think he had imperfect reactions at times. For example, I think he was often annoyed and impatient with his followers (including his mother) instead of being understanding and patient. Realistically, I think he might have been grumpy and short with people if he was too hungry. He seems to have been harsh and a bit mean to whole groups of religious folks (the pharisees come to mind). He certainly was inconsiderate to his parents when he stayed behind in the temple when he should have been with them on the journey home. I think of Jesus as one who moved towards perfection much faster and with more courage than others (especially me) but I don’t think he was perfect.
Are you perfect? Or perhaps you just play a perfect person in real life? Either way you are probably much more alone than you wish to be. It’s not fun being #1 and alone. I bet you will find a lot of loving people ready to support and help you when you allow your honest, imperfect self to show through.
Drawing, quote and commentary by Marty Coleman, who humbly submits that he has perfected the art of being imperfect.
Hello to all my Napkin Kin! Here is my final Christmas Card of 2011 (well, it’s really a napkin but it plays a card on the internet)
The final words at the end of each All Souls Unitarian Church service in Tulsa is this, “Go then – be blessed and be a blessing.” I always love hearing that because it puts in 8 words what life is all about. We aren’t told to deny ourselves – it’s ok to allow yourself to be blessed, whether by God, universe or human, via a Christmas present or a cosmic blessing. But we are also told that it is not a one way street. We are to be a blessing as well. We don’t have to change the world, we just need to give the gift we can give. It might be our presence, it might be a new car or it might be a drum solo like the little drummer boy gave. Whatever it is, you are capable of blessing someone.
I hope both for you this Christmas and holiday season.
Marty Coleman, The Napkin Dad
Here is a Christmas napkin from 2010 that I like enough to post again this year. Pretty simple – Act Christmas and it will be Christmas.
I will be mixing in some older napkins (with some new ones as well) over the next 2 weeks. This is because I am busy getting ready for an exhibition of my photo-collages at Living Arts of Tulsa. It opens January 6th at 6pm. The show is titled ‘Velveteen Women’and if you can make the opening I would love to see you there!
This is my 2011 Christmas card to you, my Napkin Kin.
And the most important thing; he liked them. He didn’t hang out with all those odd people trying to convert them, feeling sorry for them, or feeling an obligation to ‘minister’ to them. If he had, they wouldn’t have trusted him. Even back then a person can tell when someone has an agenda for the relationship. What I believe is that he liked who they were. He didn’t spend his time figuring out how to appear to care for them. He just cared for them.
And guess what? He let them care for him too. I mean, after all, is there a greater outcast in history than Jesus? They liked him even with all his wild ideas and uber-serious talk about God and heaven. They stuck by their friend even when he acted really strange and seemed self-destructive (which he was when you think about it). They forgave what they probably thought of as his arrogance (Really, you’re saying you are the Son of God? Really?).
My Christmas wish is that, if you are an outcast, you will be given the gift of feeling both loved and liked exactly as you are. If you are not, then my Christmas wish is that you will tear down the fearful wall of judgment and bring the outcast in.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, An outcast lover since 1973.
Quote by John Ortberg, American pastor
It’s day #1 of Christmas week at The Napkin Dad Daily!
When I first saw this quote I thought it said, “…if you CAN’T follow in his footsteps.” That fit in well with my feelings about Jesus as a man who taught vs Jesus as a mythic figure who was a God Man who did superhuman miracles. I like Jesus the man, I can follow in some of his footsteps no and then. I don’t have much in common with Jesus the God Man, I can’t follow in his footsteps.
But, the quote actually says, “…if you DON’T follow in his footsteps.” That implies it’s something you could do if you only chose to do it. And to wonder about that question in the first place you have to take Jesus walking on water literally. You have to believe he really did it and, in addition, that he wants you to do it too. That brings the idea to a whole new area of exploration.
So, here are my questions. Do you think that Jesus really did walk on water or no? If he did, then did he really want us to attempt that same thing? And if so, for what purpose? If he didn’t really walk on water, then what does the mythical story represent? What are we suppose to learn and enact from that story?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, being a bad example of a good man since 1976.
Quote by Anonymous. Actually, since it is anonymous I could have changed it to “can’t” and know one would have been the wiser! hmmm…
|You know someone who would like this on a coffee cup. You should get it for them.
Obviously we know how this quote relates to religion, in particular Christianity. But it also relates to anyone who bullies another into silence in an argument. Being able to win an argument, something many people think is of paramount virtue, is not really winning if all you actually do is cause the other person to be silent.
When I was married to my first wife I didn’t realize how intimidating and overpowering my way of communicating was. I was from a loud, expressive and quick witted family, and didn’t have any experience to tell me there was anything negative about that. But my wife didn’t come from that same background. Her family’s way was soft, non-confrontational, non-argumentative. I liked that about her and I was under the impression that our marriage was successful because we didn’t argue like my parents had.
But I was mistaken. The reason we didn’t argue was because my wife was intimidated. I wasn’t a belligerent, abusive man. But I could be loud and defensive and I could argue until the cows came home. Combine that with her quiet style and other elements of her personality and upbringing and what actually happened was she simply became silent. Not converted, just silent. I wasn’t always like that, I have many cards still stashed away from her telling me how much she appreciated my listening and caring. But the truth is it doesn’t take much to intimidate, less than we are even aware of at times.
20 years after we got married we got divorced, in large part due to her having built up many, many years of silent resentment and regret. I know I have many of those same traits, and I am not apologizing for who I am but I have worked to be more discerning of when to be those things and when not to.
The goal for any of us who are like that is to have more control and more wisdom in knowing when we are trying to ‘convert’ rather than ‘converse’.
Drawing by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Christopher Morley, 1890-1957, American Writer
Two women with headscarves at Barnes and Noble, 2000
Religion, Other and Otherwise
In 2000 I had an argument via letter with Pastor Tom Harrison of Asbury United Methodist Church, in Tulsa, OK. I had been thinking and reading about other religions, and realized that one of the big shortcomings of the church was that they were trying to talk to (and yes, convert) people they didn’t understand or know.
The church was then promoting something they called ‘friendship evangelism’ which meant getting to know the person, befriending them, before attempting to explain what you believe and how or why they might want to consider it themselves. We talked about this in our small group and I put forth the question, what if your neighbor you are trying to befriend is a Buddhist, or a Muslim? Do you get to know what they believe, and understand it, find it’s value, it’s reasons as well as find out what sort of sports their kids like and what sort of novels they read?
There was some discussion about that, some saying yes, some saying no. It was obvious to me that it was important to treat any friend’s religion with respect, not dismissing it by thinking it’s so unimportant that you don’t have to know the basics of it.
Beyond that we were now living in a very interconnected world. Often, in business, some of the congregation were having to travel all over the world, or have to negotiate and do business from home with people of very different cultures and beliefs.
I suggested to my small group leadership that I would like to do a series on other religions. They said maybe I could do a one day presentation, that would probably suffice. I declined the offer since I knew I couldn’t do any of the religions justice in the 10 minutes or so I could dedicate to them in a 1 hour stretch.
I sent a letter to Pastor Harrison with the idea that maybe he could do a series on other religions from the pulpit. Not in detail, but just in general overview, to help people see that the leader of their church was open and willing to understand other groups, religions, cultures, etc. I thought it was needed because I had heard a lot of very ignorant and judgmental opinions put forth in the discussions I had had. I thought he needed to take the lead and guide others to be educated and open, not ignorant and reactionary.
He responded angrily saying it was not his place to talk about other religions, that enough of our culture was talking about them, that he was there to talk about our own religion. That for him to bring up other religions in that way would be tantamount to giving them all equal weight. He told me he worried about my soul and where I might go if I continued to think the way I was thinking.
To say I was stunned was an understatement. While I can certainly understand a Pastor politely declining a sermon series idea for all sort of reasons, I did expect him to be considerate and thoughtful about the idea. Instead he was angry, defensive and abused his power by putting out a spiritual threat.
Due to this and a few other reasons, I decided to leave Asbury and go to another church. Not many months later September 11th happened. The idea of understanding what others believe and why all of a sudden didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Day #4 of Religion Week at The Napkin Dad Daily
I have always been very intrigued by the Christian martyrs of the ancient and medieval era. What they went through for their change of beliefs was horrific. Not just at the hands of the Romans, but at the hands of other Christians who happened to be in power.
A recent day example is the case of Carlton Pearson. He was a leader of a huge evangelical, pentecostal church here in Tulsa. He was the darling of that part of American Christianity with a high profile in the public eye, accolades, fame and attention.
But his religious journey led him to change his mind about something. Something fundamentally at odds with fundamentalism.
Whereas his branch of Christianity had always stated that only those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, out loud and in their heads, are saved, he came to believe otherwise. He came to believe that everyone on planet earth, no matter what, was saved. Plenty of people argue about this and I am not here to do that. I am just saying Carlton Pearson had to be very religious to change his religion.
Within weeks of him publicly stating this he was anathema to those who formally embraced him. He eventually lost his congregation, his building, his friends, his money. He had a small remnant of people from his church who stayed with him, meeting at another church that lent them their activity hall and sanctuary on Sunday afternoons.
He eventually found a group of religious people in Tulsa who embraced him and his congregation. They said you can come here and worship. They said we have all sorts of people with all sorts of beliefs and they are all loved and accepted. They said if you change your mind again, we will still accept you, still love you. They said if you cease to believe at all, we will still accept you, still love you.
That church is All Souls Unitarian Church and I am proud to be a member.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Marie-Josephine de Suin de Beausacq, 1829-1899, French aphorist. She wrote 2 books of aphorisms under the pseudonym Comtess Diane.
Day #2 of ‘Religion Week’ at The Napkin Dad Daily
Well, there is Darwin Day, but besides that Atheism just can’t compete with other belief systems. Celebrating an idea without an event attached to it is not as easy as one might think. You can’t really put the Big Bang on a calendar so that one is a bit tricky to nail down.
One of the things I love best about religious holidays is that while there is usually a historical event being celebrated, there is also an idea that is being celebrated as well. You can celebrate both or one or the other.
My favorite holiday within my tradition is Christmas.
What is yours?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote origination is unknown.