Sunday, July 27, 2014
And now we have..."Black Jesus"
I'm going to address this from 3 perspectives (as an entertainment geek, as an African American and as a Christian) and the reason why I'm doing this article that way is so I can counteract much of the criticism of my criticism right away. I'm going to preamble this by saying that I am a fan of "The Boondocks" and I find the many caricatures of African American culture within the series to be in equal parts hilarious and unfortunately accurate from the self-hating African American (ie, Uncle Ruckus), self-aggrandizing Afrocentric (ie, Huey) and the uneducated thug (ie, Riley). "The Boondocks" portrays real African American idiosyncratic personalities and enhance them to absurdity for comedic purposes in the same fashion any sit-com in the past has done from "Martin" to "Frasier". I understand that "The Boondocks" is profane in many aspects (specifically language) but if I didn't watch anything that had profane language in it, I wouldn't watch or listen to anything...that includes the news. While you'll get no argument from me of the profanity found in any TV show, film or any form of entertainment causes you to disregard it, please understand that I am not advocating their use of it, but am simply recognizing that avoiding it would be improbable. That being said, moving right along.
So..."Black Jesus"...how do I even begin this one? Immediately, I can hear the multitude of unbelievers telling Christians to "calm down" and telling us that we shouldn't get "butthurt" (offended, if you're unfamiliar with that term) and that "Jesus isn't real anyway so what does it matter if something like is out there", the list goes on and on. First of all, people have a right to be offended, especially if we hold something sacred and we see it defaced or mocked or scorned for public consumption. However, being offended is a personal problem and therefore cannot dictate the actions of others UNLESS the offense is illegal. Mocking Jesus isn't illegal and therefore no legal action can be taken in this regard AND I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT ANY LEGAL ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN! Also I am not suggesting censoring "Black Jesus" or it's removal from the airwaves as per The First Amendment, I can't stop anyone from mocking Jesus, all I can do is strongly encourage that one shouldn't mock Jesus. So if any atheist wants to claim that I am promoting censorship of "Black Jesus" or am attempting to turn my personal issue with "Black Jesus" into something others who don't share my views should care about, I AM NOT! I am merely stating why this offends Christians and THE BIBLICAL WAY CHRISTIANS SHOULD HANDLE THINGS SUCH AS THESE.
I don't expect an Atheist to appreciate our offense which is understandable, after all I don't understand why a city would riot after their local sports team lost a game. However, I'd like to try to explain just so you can see where we're coming from. We consider Jesus to be the creator of the universe, the most Holy and perfect being to ever live, He IS GOD IN THE FLESH, The 2nd person of the Trinity, The 2nd Adam who saved us all by doing what Adam DID not do and that's follow God perfectly and through this perfect fellowship with God, Jesus saved us from our sins and allowed us to return to perfect fellowship with God through Him. We believe this, we understand you don't believe this and you're more than welcome to not believe it, but because we believe this, when we are confronted with something that belittles, mocks, defaces or reduces the grandeur of Jesus, the idea that such a thing wouldn't be met with animosity is a touch foolish, no?
Also let me address this before this comes up, there are many who suggest that our offense to "Black Jesus" is actually rooted in our insecurity in our faith and we hide our insecurity by claiming offense. While I won't deny this maybe true for some people, the majority of Christians are genuinely offended because Jesus is being mocked and not because they themselves wish to mock Jesus and feel uncomfortable doing so. If anyone takes anything seriously then the prospect of having it mocked wouldn't be endured with good humor. There is a certain level of maturity that comes with being offended and THE BIBLICAL way Christians are to deal with offenses such as these are to follow the examples laid out in The Bible, let's check it out;
"38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." - Matt 5:38-39
While people may think this verse is deterrent of self-defense and a preaching of pacifism, a little Historical context can clean this up. You see in those days being slapped with the back of someone's hand was seen as an insult, don't know why I said "in those days" considering that being slapped is still considered an insult. What Jesus is saying that it's better to allow someone to insult you than to cause the matter to escalate any further. This is expanded further in Romans 12:14-21;
"14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but [d]leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
As you can see Christians are not called to action for being offended. We are allowed to be upset by whatever offense was caused against us, but we are not called to take any action for our offense. But this isn't an offense against us, this is an offense against Jesus, surely Christians are able to take action if Jesus is offended, right?! Let's go to The Bible;
"34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves." - Luke 23:34
Jesus, even after being crucified by The Romans Jesus asked God to forgive them. Jesus wasn't just offended here, He was physically assaulted and wrongfully given the death penalty (ironically for offending others). So if Jesus can endure torture and death, I doubt Aaron MacGruder's "Black Jesus" should cause Christians to do anything other than shake our heads and roll our eyes and ask God to forgive them and open their eyes to His truth so that they won't do something like this again. That's what Christians are supposed to do, any other response is not Biblical and not Christian.
"14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." -Hebrews 12:14
That being said, speaking as an African American and an entertainment junkie, Aaron MacGruder...you're better than this...honestly...you're better than this. For someone who so passionately talks about African American's portrayal in the media and how we come across as being loud, ignorant, and thuggish and then turn around and produce a comedy in which African Americans are loud, ignorant and thuggish and not only that but turn around and use Jesus to do it. Seriously, Aaron? I understand you're not a believer but I never expected you'd go the way of Seth MacFarlane (who portrayed Jesus as a profane, intoxicated, forincating man) and you're portraying Jesus as an utterly shameless African American stereotype. Why couldn't you have done Black Jesus where Jesus is merely portrayed as being of African descent and nothing more. But now, Aaron, you've furthered the ideology that "Black" implies with it a certain type of behavior that is negative. Way to help African Americans advance, Aaron, good work. And people say Conservatives are the racists ones?
Or try this on for size, why not instead of portraying Black Jesus as being a shameless African American stereotype, perhaps you could simply make Black Jesus the ONLY Black person who is NOT like everyone else and causes everyone else to be like him. How about in a neighborhood FULL of profane, intoxicated and fortincating people, Black Jesus is the ONLY ONE NOT DOING THOSE THINGS...which would be accurate because He was the only one NOT DOING THOSE THINGS IN HIS TIME! And while it's true that Jesus hung out with lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes and so on, Jesus NEVER ONCE CONDONED OR GAVE APPROVAL OF THEIR ACTIVITIES AND TOLD THEM TO REPENT! I doubt very much that you'll get a message of repentance in Aaron MacGruder's "Black Jesus".
As a Christian, I'd be against "Black Jesus" even without the profanity and such, The Bible instructs us not to make idols of the things of Heaven (Ex 20:4) as it can cause people to be mislead and distracted, and considering Mankind is still caught up in the (utterly stupid and pointless) "debate" of whether or not Jesus was Black or White and there are some people who unfortunately think Angels are actually naked babies with wings, it's not hard to understand why God would give us such an instruction. And just to prove that I'm not playing favorites, I didn't see "The Passion Of The Christ" for those exact reasons. In my eyes Jesus is not a role one can play.
Therefore, I will not see any movies where someone is playing Jesus, and if I were a studio executive and such was my decision, I wouldn't give any money to movies where Jesus is portrayed, I will have no part in it, but I wouldn't actively stop anyone from having Jesus in their movies, nor would I condone censoring any image of Jesus (profane or not) from being in their movie. There are compromises to my stance on this issue that are too murky to get into but I do have compromises and I will go on record as saying that.
In conclusion, am I offended by "Black Jesus", as an African American and as Christian, absolutely, do I think Aaron MacGruder is wrong for doing this, absolutely, do I want Aaron MacGruder to die, not at all, am I going to protest or sign any petition to have "Black Jesus" removed from the airwaves? Nope. I'm just going to shake my head, write my article and pray that Aaron recognizes what he's doing, who he's offending and pulls the plug on this show himself. Peace in Christ, all.