Jesus in a Bright Red Cup

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Although Slopers have proved themselves a passionate lot, even when it comes to as pedestrian a topic as Krazy Glue, I’m going to remove my shoes and go tromping through the verboten topic of religion, because it’s been on my mind, thanks to the widely-reported kerfuffle that the management of Starbucks, by way of changing their holiday cups to a simple red design with no holiday imagery, have proved that they hate Jesus.

The chap declaring this ostensible war declares “I think in the age of political correctness we become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head.” It’s not surprising, I suppose, that such a fellow would commit so many verbal pratfalls in the span of a single sentence, but I’d rather set aside the syntactical foibles and misuse of “literally” and focus on the bigger picture.

I’m a lifelong Christian, but probably an unconventional one. I was confirmed in the church at age 8, and I did the whole Sunday School and Summer Bible Camp thing, and I even went to a Jesuit college. In spite of this, I don’t get worked up about whether or not Christianity is festooned on to commercial paperware. I have no interest in eternal life (hell, I can barely even stand this one). And, oddly, even if someone could definitively prove that Jesus wasn’t the son of God – – or even that God didn’t even exist – I’d still consider myself a Christian, for the same reason I’ve always offered about my faith: because it makes sense to me.

See, this is a very big universe – – far larger than human comprehension – – indeed, I think virtually all humans are incapable of even conjuring how incomprehensibly vast it is. Whether or not there is some invisible force zipping around, checking up on us, and making sure we follow a list of rules really doesn’t ring my bell. I’m far more motivated by one overarching theme: gentle wisdom.

To see what I mean, take a couple of minutes to look at this tribute to Bob Ross:

And now that you’ve absorbed that, likewise take a few minutes to bask in the confident charisma of what surely must be one of humanity’s most loved figures, Fred Rogers:

These, to me, are Christ-like figures. Indeed, I would just as easily say that Jesus was a Fred-like figure or a Bob-like figure.

These are the kinds of people that bring life to life. What kinds of lessons do they teach? Creativity. Tenderness. Compassion. Empathy. Understanding. Virtues that, I think we can all agree, would make the world a far better place if they were more broadly-embraced.

It’s a shame to me that 9/11 gave religion such a bad name. The savagery exhibited in the name of a proclaimed deity tossed the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, and since those attacks, a condemnation of all religion and a celebration of atheism has taken hold. I actually don’t have a problem with atheism; as I’ve mentioned, some of the best Christians I’ve ever met were flamboyantly atheist.  I just think it’s a shame that some people won’t give Christian doctrine so much as a look-in since it’s declared so backwards and medieval in some quarters.

The bottom line, for me, is that Starbucks doesn’t hate Jesus, love Jesus, or care about Jesus – – nor should it. Starbucks cares about profits and happy shareholders. The fact that so much media attention can be focused on this suggests the next topics will be Netflix’s views on the Prophet Mohammed, Google’s understanding of Talmudic law, or where Alibaba comes down on The Four Noble Truths.

It’s all silly. Focus on your own life and your own relationship with the eternal. As Fred Rogers opined, deep and simple is better than shallow and complex. Bravery. Honesty. Dignity. Clarity. Kindness. Compassion. That’s what really counts.

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