Baby trouble

Lost Lake, Beartooth Wilderness in Montana

Four days after the solstice, you are more likely to catch COVID than Jesus. If you do catch Jesus on Christmas, it will probably be asymptomatic. The theological antibodies will be gone by Easter, which is the main point anyway.

Don’t blame Jesus, his parents or Paul for the confusion. None of them cared about the birth stories (Rex god via Emperor Constantine), or Santa (Coca Cola) or the tree (Teutonic tribes) or run-amok accumulation (Jeff Bezos and Sam Walton). Mary’s baby trouble would have shaken all of them—and should, us.

Very little of the Jesus story in Luke is fit for children. Ask Elizabeth: “brought down monarchs..humble sent empty away.” Ask Herod, who responded rationally by killing all the boys under two years of age. Or ask why John Lewis responded by taking on people like Herod and getting arrested forty times seeking Jesus’ “beloved community.” Or why a variant of the Jesus virus a century ago caused thousands of adults to gather in hundreds of church basements to invent things called hospitals. Troublesome and costly adult behavior.

The children came to Jesus in spite of, not because of, their nervous parents. The adults knew he would heal seven days a week, if you dared the desperate crowds. Jesus never sought political or theocratic office. But the parents also knew his generous life scared the powerful, who would inevitably kill him and anyone standing nearby. The kids recognized love when they saw it and came anyway.

I wrote a book of prayers last year in which I tried to sort through all this for myself and others who disagree with our younger selves about some of the answers. We are repelled by religious claptrap but still compelled by the Jesus almost lost in the fog of Bezos and our latest COVID wave. Bill Davenhall–a man of no claptrap of any kind–thinks my book of prayers is about leadership. I’d say followership. It belongs in the adult section, not on tepid “spirituality” shelves. That makes me happy and then scared, which seems closer to what Luke was writing about. John Lewis arrested 40 times for disruptive justice-making; Gary zero. But later on in his life he spent more time in committee meetings just like me. He was fighting the same fight that got him hurt; not always true for me. Maybe this is the year I hear the grown-up story, too. I pray for that.

Here’s the prayer about Jesus and John Lewis:

You can buy the book here with the money going to Stakeholder Health (on Amazon, ironically):

These are trees Jesus probably would have liked better than the ones in Home Depot

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Professor, Faith and the Health of the Public, Wake Forest University School of Divinity. NC Certified Beekeeper Author, Leading Causes of Life, Deeply Woven Roots, Boundary Leaders, Religion and the Heath of the Public, Speak Life and God and the People. God and the People: Prayers for a Newer New Awakening. Secretary Stakeholder Health. Founder, Leading Causes of Life Initiative

One thought on “Baby trouble”

  1. Dr. Gunderson,

    Your reflections awakened the memory of a poem by William Stafford titled “Easter Morning.” Here it is:

    Easter Morning
    William Stafford

    Maybe someone comes to the door and says,
    “Repent,” and you say, “Come on in,” and it’s
    Jesus. That’s when all you ever did, or said,
    or even thought, suddenly wakes up again and
    sings out, “I’m still here,” and you know it’s true.
    You just shiver alive and are left standing
    there suddenly brought to account: saved.

    Except, maybe that someone says, “I’ve got a deal
    for you.” And you listen, because that’s how
    you’re trained – they told you, “Always hear both sides.”
    So then the slick voice can sell you anything, even
    Hell, which is what you’re getting by listening.
    Well, what should you do? I’d say always go to
    the door, yes, but keep the screen locked. Then,
    while you hold the Bible in one hand, lean forward
    and say carefully, “Jesus?”

    In touch,
    Jerry Winslow

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