"Religion is very market driven," Anonymous wrote at 5 p.m., April 25. He or she offered the thought that even monotheistic religions adopt different gods over time, or at least modify their views of God.
"Jesus is almost portrayed as a big brother 'buddy' nowadays."
I couldn't help thinking of the movie "Dogma," which is hilarious and thoughtful if you can stand to wade through the constant profanity and juvenile sex jokes (it more than earns its R rating; even edited for TV, which is how I first saw it, it's pretty raw). In one scene, a cardinal played by George Carlin announces that the Church sees the need to update its archaic image and so has decided to replace the "wholly depressing" image of the crucifix with a "new, more inspiring" image: the "Buddy Christ." The statue unveiled shows a grinning, winking Jesus giving an approving thumb up.
What makes this scene is so funny -- apart from the ridiculous, smarmy statue itself -- is the idea that a religion desperate to attract followers would dump the central symbol of its message in order to make it more "user-friendly."
And yet ... it is good and necessary for our images of God to grow and expand. If faith is to remain relevant, it must speak to the needs of the current generation -- while also connecting this generation to the wisdom and traditions of the past. A living faith isn't afraid to find new ways of describing God. A living faith isn't afraid to see God in new light.
Christianity doesn't have to kick Christ off the cross to also embrace a laughing, accessible, warm Jesus. Buddy Christ is silly satire, but he makes a point.
Are religions today watering down their messages to attract followers? Should they change with the times? If so, in what ways? What should never change? Let me know what you think. (And thanks for the thoughtful comments on the last post. I enjoyed reading all of them.)