I was watching a recording of the new Stephen Colbert Show at breakfast with my dog Rafa. Rafa and I like it because this is a good way for us to keep up with the hottest stars, which we have been ignoring until now. Colbert reported that celebrity Blake Lively is launching her own brand, the main focus of which is “living a one of a kind curated lifestyle and how to achieve that.” What? A curated lifestyle?
What if Jesus had a curated lifestyle? What if some Madison Avenue salesperson, who did not consult with Jesus, created a designer brand of tunics, sandals, baby mangers (more comfy than the original one, of course) and woven crown-of-thorns hats (“a fashion statement!”). This might sell to a segment of the Christian population seeking a curated lifestyle like Jesus, all the better to walk in His footsteps. After all, people have been willing to do stranger things.
A.J. Jacobs wrote “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” about his experiment of taking many of the commandments from the Hebrew Bible and living them out. For example, he tells the absolute truth at a dinner party with disastrous results, in an effort to never bear false witness. He also does silly things like not wearing mixed fibers and beginning to play a ten-string harp. Also, Rachel Held Evans wrote “A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How A Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master'” about literally living out the biblical admonitions regarding women on the same basis. Enough said. I am impressed by how much one can mess up one’s life with such endeavors.
It is remarkable how much escapist religion is out there. People can be preoccupied by the oddest things to avoid the deeper truths about ourselves and our world. What if we opened ourselves up to hear deeper truths? It would have to be “a teachable moment” for us and we would need to listen to someone we could respect.
There seems to be some real public interest in Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, not only among Catholics. Could this be an occasion when people are ready to hear some deeper truths about economic injustice, compassion for the poor and unemployed, ecological concern and climate change, and unity in working on common causes? Perhaps so. Michael Bales writes for Sojourners, “Pope Francis’ visit is an opportunity to present an alternative vision for what life with Jesus can look like. This pope is connecting with millions of Americans who don’t consider themselves Christians, but who find themselves resonating with the simple, radical faith of Jesus.”
Perhaps this is a time when deeper truths may be told. Let all those who have ears, hear.