Sunday, September 23, 2012

Made-for-TV Jesus

Most of what I know about Jesus comes from Mom's stories and a made-for-TV movie.  We weren't regular church goers when I was kid.  Mom had left the Catholic church when she divorced her first husband, but she read the Bible every day, paraphrased stories for me, and answered all my questions.

My older siblings had all been baptized in the Church as infants.  I was not.  When I complained to my Mom about feeling left out, she told me that she baptized me in our kitchen sink when I was a baby.  I honored my mother too much to argue, "Mom, I think that's called taking a bath," and anyway, she reminded me that Jesus himself was not baptized inside a church, but in a river.

We rarely sat next to each other in a pew, but I remember crying on the couch with Mom as we watched Zeffirelli's miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth" like 1977 was last year.

I grew up loving Jesus, but I would hardly say I'm a Biblical scholar.  I realize now Mom censored much of her stories.  And I'm thankful.  She didn't want to scare me.  So I grew up pretty ignorant about things like the Anti-Christ, and Biblically-condoned slavery, rape, and war.  Mom gave me the GL version.  She taught me God is Love.

So when I read this article about Ralph Reed's political comeback, my first thought was, I remember Mom's version of the story of Jesus walking out into the wilderness, but I don't recall the one where he walked on any campaign trails.  Jesus was apolitical.  So it confuses me when people mix politics and religion.

I'll give Ralph Reed credit, though.  His new group's got mad scholarly skillz:

"To identify religious voters most likely to vote Republican, the group used 171 data points.  It acquired megachurch membership lists. It mined public records for holders of hunting or boating licenses, and warranty surveys for people who answered yes to the question “Do you read the Bible?” It determined who had downloaded conservative-themed books, like “Going Rogue” by Sarah Palin, onto their e-readers, and whether those people also drove pickup trucks. It drilled down further, looking for married voters with children, preferably owners of homes worth more than $100,000.  Finally, names that overlapped at least a dozen or so data points were overlaid with voting records to yield a database with the addresses and, in many cases, e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers of the more than 17 million faith-centric registered voters — not just evangelical Protestants but also Mass-attending Catholics. The group is also reaching out to nearly two million more people who have never registered to vote."

Because that's what Jesus would do?