Talking Jesuses with a student journalist

Yesterday I said I was going to meet up with a local university student yesterday for an interview. She’s a journalism student taking a religious studies class, the interview was for a project in that course.

I said in the last post that I didn’t know what the focus of the interview would be but that can be chalked up, not to her not telling me, but to me not recalling that she told me in our Facebook messages.

We met up in a coffee shop downtown. The interview was on “the Jesus.” Who or what was he and what does it mean to me a nonbeliever.

She asked about my personal history just a bit for background and then we talked about Christs. I told her that while the historicity of Jesus is an interesting topic it isn’t something that keeps me up at night. My atheism isn’t affected by whether or not there really was a guy or guys that the legends are based on. The legends are what people work with. They are what’s used to justify and excuse all sorts of craziness and differing agendas.

In answer to why people still talk about this character thousands of years after the original tales were birthed I responded that while the stories can appeal to all sorts of themes that people dig, such as redemption, or the triumph of the underdog, politics and social forces play as big a role as any in the popularity of the myths. Christianity hasn’t been successful on the force of its arguments so much as on the force of its force. What if Constantine had embraced, not Christianity, but rather the worship of Isis? What if the Catholic Church hadn’t been able to wield the power and influence that it did for centuries? These aren’t questions of how “real” or “worthy” Jesus is or was.

The interview was short, about 20-25 minutes and I think it went really well. And like I said in the last post, it’s for a class project only, so you’ll have to make do with my retelling of it. We had fun and I hope she does well with her project, she seems pretty sharp (like most all the journalism students I’ve met) so I bet she will.

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