Deacon Greg has a way of finding the perfect graphic to go with a piece, and he has done it again here – using that painting (which I have shamelessly cribbed) to illustrate this excellent piece by Shu-Fy H. Pongnon
“What if I told you Jesus was a Black man?”
How I came to ask Marie this entirely provocative question five minutes before the start of 7:45 a.m. Mass is a mystery to me now, but I never forgot her answer and its delivery, “Jesus can’t be Black, because I would never bow down to a Black man.” Her voice was firm and her eyes darkened under the memories of abuse she faced at the hands of various Black men in her life, including her then-husband, Max, whose fatal bout with cancer did nothing to inoculate her from his venom.
Say what you will about her logic, but her Jesus, and by extension, her God, had to be the opposite of everything — including color — of the pain she’d experienced her entire life. Her Jesus, and by extension, her God, was blonde, with blue, maybe green eyes. He was gentle, kind, patient, and best of all, loved her — black and blue — to no end.
Those of you who perused Patheos’ summer series on the Future of Religion might remember Shu-Fy from the her touching essay, The Future of Catholicism is the Beautiful Mess of Me. Once again, in answering the Patheos question “What Does God Look Like,” she manages to be both provocative and moving. We need to develop that singular voice of hers!
Also writing on the topic with a sweet and singular voice is Marcia Morrissey, the wife of Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey. Having lost her sight at a young age, Marcia brings a fresh and unique perspective to the question:
Everyone wonders what God looks like, but the question can’t be answered on this side of heaven. The Bible gives us glimpses, but God is a mystery, and Spirit. We have the Lord, Jesus Christ who came down to earth in human form — the Incarnational mystery. We have Moses confronting God in the Burning Bush; his very name, “I AM” denotes mystery. When Jesus identifies himself to soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, he says “I am he . . . ” and the soldiers fell back, because the power of that name — the name of God — knocked all of them down. Or, perhaps, it was the name combined with the face of God, revealed in Christ.
In some ways I think that my blindness gives me an advantage. Not being able to see people with my eyes, when I meet new people I “see” them in perhaps a deeper, more accurate way. I “see” who they really are, and I am not stalled or prejudiced by outward appearances.
What about you? What does God look like, in your world?