If pressed for a quick answer to the question “Are you Christian?” I usually don’t answer, or reply “I don’t know”, if asked by a friend worth bothering for.
Yes, I could easily admit that I am interested in religion in general and Christianity in particular to the point of nearly being obsessed by the subject; the majority of the posts on this blog should give more than a hint in this respect. What makes me shy, when cornered to come out as this or that is, on one side, my strong aversion against discipline, communal life, hierarchy and so on, all side-effects of belonging to an organisation; on the other side, having a belief is almost the same with having faith in something or someone. By definition, having faith implies that in a certain area, the reason was not enough to satisfy the need for knowing the reality of that area so, here we are, looking out for answers on the other side, assuming there is another side to the material world.
The central character of this particular religion, Christianity, is Jesus, the Son of Man as he used to call himself according to the witnesses, aka the evangelists who gave us the story of his life in four, almost identical, texts. While his followers today are more and more divided when interpreting this or that teaching of his, one thing they have in common is that they almost never doubt that he actually lived in flesh some two thousands years ago. I confess to being one of those few who did not actually doubt but felt compelled to find, by any means, as much as I could about his life using other sources than the Bible. He is said to be the Son of God but his closed friends and disciples did not seem to tell the difference between him and other prophets or leaders of the time. I wonder if the fear of him, the distance put by the practising of all kind of rituals, and prayers, and wailings and rejecting of the reasonable doubting are what he had in mind for his followers. These does not seem to be the kind of relationship he has had with his friends during his time on Earth.
I am digressing here from the aim of this post, which is to share a wonderful portrait of the Son of Man, vivid and powerful and, by all means, the closest to the image I had lately in mind. The portrait is by Albert Schweitzer, a man who wrote a controversial book called “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” in 1906. In this fragment Jesus comes out as an non-temporal hero, whose mavericks are still unravelling and whose strength is born out of his infinite capacity to hold on to his dream of saving the mankind. Despite people’s expectations and little capacity of understanding the process, he keeps on holding to “the wheel of the world”, set to deliver whatever his calling was from the beginning.
I run out of patience to go any further in my mumblings so here is an excerpt from the aforementioned book. Enjoy:
“Jesus, in the knowledge that He is the coming Son of Man, lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and he throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, he has destroyed them. The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great man, who was strong enough to think of himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to his purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is his victory and his reign.”
Wether I can prove that he existed and/or exists is irrelevant. For me this image is strong enough to feed my hunger in my own spiritual quest. For now.