Alien to humanity depictions make Jesus unreal and provide yet another congenial identity theft.
In the past several posts, we have been talking about committing identity theft on Jesus. American Christians almost always can’t stomach a Jesus not buying American values. Like so many others, we throw away the real Jesus in favor of culturally-congenial idols like “the Intellectual Sage” and “the Great One.”
Among U.S. Catholics, there is a tragic preference for another disingenuous way of looking at the Galilean peasant nothing-person, one stripped of the uncomfortable stink of humanity. I am talking about depictions in kitschy religious art where Jesus, as well as Mary and the other saints, become alien lifeforms.
To explore Jesus the alien lifeform, check out the video presentation here:
Devotion to an Alien Lifeform
Spend some time with your average Catholic parish Marian group, and you can’t miss what I mean by alien lifeforms. It is an outer-space invasion happening all over the walls, splashed on the little tables with the candles next to the never-read Bibles opened up like on the cover of a Hallmark card. The “art” passed around in these cliques is unrelatable to the human condition—it is alien.
Looking at all the counterfeit Jesuses that are culturally congenial to American Christianity, perhaps none are as insidious as “Jesus, the Alien Lifeform.” It is a Docetic redux in kitsch.
You see this alien lifeform identity theft of Jesus on so many “holy” cards. It—“he” would be lying—is found in statues and paintings. You can hear it sung about in sentimental songs and see animate gifs of this bizarrely-off creature on social media. It is ridiculous but widespread. And the U.S. versions of this alien, counterfeit Jesus, are more congenial Jesuses to some pretty terrible stuff.
To any Christians reading this, here is a holy exercise for you. Watch your emotional states when you say the following words:
How do you feel about saying that? Bad? Why? It’s true, no? Would you rather disavow that Jesus farted? Or that he was incapable of flatulence?
What messy God the Holy Spirit is, huh? Those men we call “Church Fathers” whose theologies won out at later ecumenical councils, are unanimous. If there is something about the human condition Jesus didn’t assume, that is not redeemed. Flatulence, though embarrassing, is part of the human condition. God the Word became human no, like us in all things but sin? While it may indeed be irreverent for a Christian to admit the truth that Jesus farted, to claim otherwise is blasphemy. When it is a choice between being irreverent and blasphemous, I hope to choose the former every time.
Try again with this:
“Jesus experienced erections.”
Feel bad saying that? You might just be a Docetist in the closet. Wow! Here you thought you were “o” orthodox in Christology, but really all along, you were simply thinking in material heresy. Or maybe it isn’t that dramatic. Perhaps you’re just a typically ignorant Western Christian who is devoted to “Jesus the Alien Lifeform.” See what progress we are making in your own understanding of yourself? No need to thank me—I am just performing a corporal act of mercy by blogging this.
The penis needs to oxygenate and does so regularly for many reasons. Jesus is human and biologically male. He was also socialized into one expression of Mediterranean hyper-ethnomasculinity, and the Gospels reflect this despite your misreading. We should all abandon these Docetic and Gnostic heretical notions and begin to be “c” catholic by making the correct conclusions. Irreverent? Perhaps. But “o” orthodox? You bet.
Concerning Jesus, the Alien Lifeform
The real Jesus was unlike sexless alien depictions of Jesus and the saints from Planet Kitsch. Do you want an example?
Take the wonderfully human devotion called “the Sacred Heart.” God help me if I were to slam or detract from the anthropological riches of genuine devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The infinite love that God poured in messy ways through the human heart of a Galilean peasant crucified and risen? Sheer awesomeness. Read the great Karl Rahner explain it.
But why the alien lifeform depictions of it? I am not knocking sacred or religious art, mind you—I don’t expect or demand photorealism. But I do demand humanity, by God! Not a silly, pedantic Western Docetism pretending to be “o” orthodoxy!
Alien Jesus = Escape Into Fantasyland
Jesus, the Alien Lifeform, is used by Catholic fundamentalists for evil ends. It is a sentimental attempt to time-travel back to a never-was 1950s fantasy land, a supposed golden age before all “the bad things of Vatican II” came about. Watch the garbage of EWTN, and you can’t miss this identity theft.
Such a fake Jesus is almost totally removed from human life. It is especially removed from Jesus’ own first-century Middle Eastern culture.
Look at the expressionless features of the alien lifeform “Jesus.” They aptly communicate both its true home and concerns exist far removed from humanity and Earth. How could such an alien “Jesus” ever be concerned with rape culture, systemic racism, or any injustice, be it social, political, economic, or religious?
Insidious Alien Jesuses
Jesus, the Alien Lifeform, is so handy for certain U.S. Catholics. With it, they need never be concerned about being consistently pro-life. With such identity theft, U.S. Catholics can imagine themselves orthodox while being a supreme incongruity in matters of justice. Their politicians can pontificate about saving unborn babies and spout “Jesus!” meanwhile raping justice. I mean caging migrant children, waging unjust wars, serving the interests of the ultra-wealthy, tanking the environment, and staging coups.
Jesus, the Alien Lifeform, is the idol of the dangerously stupid. With it, Catholics can vote to keep an existential threat to all life on Earth in office. Worse, they can claim he is the only possible option Catholics can vote for.
Straight up, I am disgusted by Jesus the Alien Lifeform. Versions of this are found all over South Florida parishes. It is sickening. Don’t ever be fooled when you see a multitude of people devoted to it. Ask how many have been driven from the Church because of it. For every American you see pouring over it, guaranteed there are 100 or more repulsed by it.
Alien Jesus is Fake!
Jesus, the Alien Lifeform, is a fake Jesus. It is from another world, a fantasy world. It suits the sentiments of hordes of Americans who misuse their intelligence and cherish such images. The mission of this alien lifeform is entirely spiritual. Moreover, any “church” produced by it must also be wholly spiritual. That means one that is disinterested in “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted” (The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, n. 1). And that cannot be good!
What a contrast is this fake Jesus fancied by so many to the authentic prepaschal Jesus! The real Jesus was very much messy and at home in the world. The real Jesus was political. So were the later Jesus groups who wrote down their updated memories and interpretations of his story. “Messiah,” “king,” and “kingdom of God” are political categories. Jesus proclaimed Israelite Theocracy. “Jesus Christ” is an Israelite political-religious expression.
Over two-thirds of what Jesus’ says in the four canonical Gospels concerns peasant economics. Jesus healed starving poor people, and his healings happened in the world. Jesus wasn’t alien to the human condition. Denial of his humanity means that you deny him. Don’t do that for feels, Christian.