At the NW Church, we’re launching into a study of Jesus through the eyes of John, wondering how this “disciple whom Jesus loved” thought and felt about the Christ. Our understanding of Jesus shifts with maturity, with cultural change, and as we experience life with him, so our study of how the apostle with the most intimate relationship with Jesus finally came to understand him should be helpful, and I hope, life-changing.
In the process of scouting out some of the various cultural understandings of Jesus now at play in American Culture, I came across a thing I hadn’t seen before. The Brick Testament. Many of you may have seen this, but I haven’t. It’s an odd little thing, obviously aimed at young children, and I would love for my response to be “how cute” and what a great tool to teach some of the basic ideas of the Bible.
But that’s not really my response. Perhaps I’m showing a bit of cultural snobbery now, but it seems to stand as a perfect metaphor for the shallowness of culture. “Lego” are cool, no doubt. These toy plastic blocks are used by kids everywhere to build various delightful structures, and artists have proven that beautiful things–even art–can be created with Legos. But as a tool to illustrate a Bible that has been pared down to reductionist language, it strikes me as anything but transcendent. I know postmodern culture is comfortable with trivializing religious symbols and concepts–Jesus is my boyfriend t-shirts, bobblehead Jesus, Jesus as action figure–but I believe symbols and metaphors matter. They impact us as we internalize these ideas through physical means of art and product.
How do you understand holiness if God is a lego? I don’t know that it can’t be done, and I have no doubt the Brick Testament has been used by many to introduce people to Jesus. But we treat Jesus’ teaching much like we treat a bucket of legos…if we don’t like the teaching, we just dismantle it, throw it back in the bucket, and shape the understanding, lego-like, as we choose. Maybe that’s too harsh, but again, how do you get to the mystery, the power, the holiness, the transcendence…with a Lego Christ?
Does the cultural trappings through Jesus is introduced make any difference?
Am I just being stuffy?