I have a confession to make. Or rather, I feel like I owe myself an explanation.
Last year, I bought a comic strip titled “Zombie Jesus”, which illustrated Jesus…well, as a zombie, biting people and turning them into, yup, zombies. It also includes several sketches of Jesus as the undead and quite a few extremely inappropriate depictions of the Son of God.
Before you condemn me, hear me out first.
Why did I buy it? You might ask. How could I have picked up such a thing? Looking at the disturbing cover, I swear I just want to burn it. What prompted me back then to purchase it seems completely inexplicable to me now. Well. I bought it for a variety of reasons. What motivated such an act, I think, was a collection of incidences that happened to me beforehand regarding Christianity and some complex underlying emotions unbeknownst to me during that time.
First of all, before I get into the details, I would like to establish myself as someone “spiritual but not religious.” Most of the time I find it difficult to explain my religious “standing” to people because I don’t classify myself as belonging to any religion, however I am influenced by certain religions more than the other. I have a Buddhist and Taoist background because that’s what I grew up with, but I’ve been always opened minded in accepting new beliefs. I have later acquired more knowledge about Christianity as I active sought out Christian texts. Having that said, I still haven’t read the Bible, though I’ve been meaning to. Recently, I have been actively engaged in reading New Age texts, learning about Oneness and duality and the ego. So what exactly am I?
Personally, I don’t think that matters much. In short, I would systemize my beliefs as such: 1). I believe in spiritual pursuits and searching for a deeper meaning in life. 2). Religions are not absolute; they contain both beauty of god and the ugliness of men, and they can be equally transcendental and destructive depending on the level of wisdom and interpretation. 3). I treat all religions and beliefs with respect and do not seek to change others or argue with them for what they believe in. 4). I believe in eternity and a force greater than our present reality and existence, and that we are all interconnected and part of everything we see and don’t see. 5). I believe in forgiveness and love, and strive to live by those principles.
This system allows me tremendous freedom and understanding when it comes to spiritual or religious matters. The problem is, like everyone else, I am still human, and humans have feelings.
My problem, at the time when I bought “Zombie Jesus”, was: I was prejudiced against Christianity and I refused to admit it, because I attempted to uphold my ideals about myself: I wanted to embrace all religions as they were, and I knew it was something I should be doing, and that I shouldn’t care about what others think, and I should remain true to neutral and true to myself.
But the act of denying my prejudice simply makes it stronger. That’s how denial works. To deny is to acknowledge something is there, therefore affirming its existence.
Here’s what happened. I have encountered many Christians who attempted to convert me and in doing so, utterly disrespected me in dismissing and belittling my beliefs–to the point that I lost a lot of respect for Christianity as a whole. Of course, I know it perfectly well that not all Christians behave so negatively, and that people like this exist in all religions. But I was affected for a long while. My first encounter was with two Christian girls at my university, who upon discovering my interest in studying the Bible, immediately invited me to lunch with them. What I thought was an intro Bible study session turned into a grand advertisement for Christianity which included the benefits of joining, a survey of my current beliefs and attempts to redirect them to a Christian end, and a forty-minute talk about personal miracles from my fellow missionaries upon joining Christianity. In fact, these would all have been fine because I felt that there was nothing wrong with promoting a religion, but in truth I made up my mind as soon as they addressed my Buddhist background with these words:
“Maybe you should consider… upgrading to Christianity?”
The word “upgrade”. It echoed in my head for the longest time. They didn’t really care about me or my well-being or how I felt. They just wanted to convert me, like two salesperson promoting a product.
What’s worse–was what ensued this event. Right after this happened to me, I blogged about it to relieve the emotional tension building up in my chest. I am not a saint. To say that I was completely unaffected would be false and untrue. A regular visitor of my blog, who also happened to a Christian, read my post and commented:
“You are not ready for God. I truly hope that you will find your path.”
At that time, I was truly baffled and dismayed by the sheer amount of disrespect being thrust upon me. I didn’t know what I should think. I tried to “keep my cool” and perhaps I succeeded to some degree, telling myself and comforting myself that I didn’t have to care, but the damage was already done. These two incidents together shaped my view on Christianity, and though I denied it, I began to regard it with contempt and disdain–which I know in itself is wrong, because pride leads you away from God. It’s the first of the Seven Deadly Sins, no?
Which leads me to my initial point–why did I purchase “Zombie Jesus”, something so incredibly offensive and sacrilegious? It secretly reaffirmed my beliefs at that time, I guess. What I thought was a pretty “cool” concept–which is to compare Jesus or Christianity’s widespread popularity with the fast infestation of a zombie apocalypse, using zombiefication as an extend metaphor for blind faith–I thought it was perfect. I thought it was dark and edgy and unprecedented. I thought I bought it for curiosity, for its strangeness, for my fascination of gothic literature.
But it was merely a reflection of my prejudice and my vanity, I realize that now…and for that, I apologize to God, for listening to the voice of my ego, to abandon the principles of forgiveness. I should always forgive. I should have forgiven. I am forgiving now. I am also forgiving myself for buying something so silly, and I am sorry for offending anyone with Christian beliefs who knew of my purchase, or am reading about it now. I no longer hold such prejudices against Christianity. I now understand that it doesn’t matter what people do or think. It only takes me and myself alone to stay true to myself.
Perhaps this is too difficult for people to understand, that I don’t see it as something I did wrong. I saw it as a reflection of my internal turmoil at that time, and it was me who had wronged myself–for succumbing to that prejudice and contempt, for not staying true to my spiritual beliefs. In reality, there is no better or worse religion. There is only better or worse people. I should never have rejected Christianity simply because of some silliness. I see that now. I understand that now. I am freer because of that understanding.
I believe in Christianity. I think it’s one of the most beautiful religions in this world, and never have I sought to offend it or disrespect it. That comic strip has been thrown into the garbage and done with–for despite the artwork, I now think it is incredibly wrong to molest and disfigure a religious figure, because in doing so you are molesting and disfiguring and disrespecting the people who believe in them.
And forgive me for ever endorsing it, though unintentionally.
That is my confession.