It's time to recall who Jesus really was and what he looked like
He didn't shout "Ho, ho, ho," but more likely "Oy, oy, oy"
By Walter Brooks
Growing up in lily-white, upscale Litchfield County Connecticut, I was even then confused by the image of Jesus Christ as depicted in my Congregational Church like the photo on the right above.
I had an inkling that a first century Jew probably didn't look like he was hired for the job by Ingmar Bergman from Swedish central casting.
Later after I left the isolated womb of Woodbury, I heard at prep school the antisemitic rantings of some fellow students, and it began to dawn on my innocent mind, that many Christians were decided unchristian in their beliefs.
I had been taught in Sunday School that the historical Jesus was against corporate greed - remember the the story of him throwing the money-changers out of the temple in Jerusalem - and his attitude about tolerance, as when he said, "Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone."
Who's birthday is it again?
Lest I be accused of more hypocrisy than usual, let me assure the reader that I love the idea of gift-giving, a yuletide tree and the rest.
But I also know that the historical Jesus would be appalled at today's excess. After all, it's a birthday party for Jesus, not a month-long sales event we celebrate today.
So who are the real Christ-like Christians today?
These are the characteristic required;
Many will not agree with me, but I think I just described the "Occupy" folks both here on Cape Cod and across America today.
And maybe it's also those Muslims willing to die for freedom in Syria.
That's why our Christmas homepage photo is of my favorite Jew, Paul Rifkin.
But with Paul it's not "Ho, ho, ho." It's "Oy, Oy, Oy."
Photo sources: This image of Jesus around 30 A.D. on the left above was made for a BBC program broadcast during Easter week in 2001. It was created by a production team which took into consideration medical, archaeological, geographical and artistic evidence from the time Jesus lived in what is today called Israel.
We are celebrating
Jesus Birthday, aren't we?Since Jewish heads are very different today compared to 2000 years ago, the team looked for a Jewish skull from the first century found near Jerusalem.
Using a plaster cast of the skull discovered from that era, forensic medical artist Richard Neave from the University of Manchester began to reconstruct the face by building up layers of clay to represent muscle, fat and skin. Details such as the hair were decided by considering the hair of men in the Middle East, which tends to be thick, dark and curly, together with hairstyles current in the time Jesus lived.
Not your average Black Jewish face, and he wasn't Scandinavian
In 2004, Jesus was voted greatest black icon of all time by the New Nation newspaper, which prompted a debate about Jesus’ skin color.
“Despite the common depictions in Western cultures of Jesus as a blond, blue-eyed hippy looking man, all reasonable evidence points to the fact that Jesus could not have been of Scandinavian extraction and certainly was a brotha of color,” said the newspaper.
The debate is not new. Throughout the last century, black theologians argued that showing Jesus as a white-skinned European is not only historically inaccurate, but profoundly alienating for non-Europeans.
Some 20 million Africans were taken as slaves to the New World by Europeans between the 16th and 19th centuries, and images of a white Jesus reinforce the idea that Christianity is a “white man’s religion”.
And Christmas is really Jesus' Birthday, not a month-long sales event, right?