Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Some Thoughts on the Wwjd? (What Would Jesus Do?) Bracelet

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Some Thoughts on the Wwjd? (What Would Jesus Do?) Bracelet

Article excerpt

GARDNER GATELEY [*]

THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, there are thousands of people, including unknown numbers of children, who wear a small bracelet inscribed with WWJD? ("What Would Jesus Do?"). I became aware of this when my grandson wore one of these home from elementary school. He was quite proud of it, and told me that one of his classmates had given it to him. I asked him how he would use his, and he said he wasn't certain. He thought he was to ask himself this question when he wanted to do something, and also do what Jesus would do. [1] When I asked him how he would know what Jesus would do, he said he didn't know, and turned on the television to watch cartoons.

I did not trouble him with the questions, "What would Jesus do about what?"; "When would he do this?"; and "How would he do it?" because I did not want my grandson to suspect my sanity, a fate that often befalls general semanticists.

I continued to ponder the matter, wondering about the thinking of the thousands of people who undoubtedly believe that the question on the bracelet is an important question that can be answered with some certainty. I thought about it some more when I learned that the two leading Presidential candidates share the philosophy implied by the bracelet. Mr. Bush declares that the most influential person in his life is Jesus Christ, and Mr. Gore has said that he is a "Born-again Christian" and stated that when he is faced with a decision, asks himself, "What would Jesus do?"

I have no objections to people wearing the bracelet, if it helps them become happier and more productive, but suppose you adopted the philosophy implied by the question the bracelet asks: How would you answer the question?

To be specific: What would Jesus do as a female, age 16 years, who was pregnant as a result of rape? What would He do as a child, age 6 years, who was a victim of sexual abuse? What would Jesus do as a black person repeatedly abused because of his race? What would Jesus do as a gay high-school student? Neil Postman said that he would be interested in what Jesus would have to say about human cloning (Postman, p.12), and I share that interest. You, no doubt, can think of some other questions that reflect actual conditions.

You might try to find the answer by reading the New Testament, but there are some major problems presented by this approach. We do not know that Jesus made any of the statements attributed to Him, but suppose the accounts are accurate and that He uttered every word the writers of the New Testament attributed to Him. He did not often explain His messages, and when He did explain them, as He did when He interpreted some of His parables to His disciples, readers may not understand the explanations.

There are several texts that might give a thoughtful person some concerns.

Take the passage that says "Whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath no forgiveness in this life or in the life to come" (Mark 3:29). What does that mean? How can we know whether we have done this, and, if we were to take the statement literally, would it be a good thing or a bad thing if we have done it and were to find out about it?

According to one of my friends, a psychiatrist, a frequent complaint of people in mental institutions is that they have committed this sin against the Holy Ghost, and, according to my friend, none of these people could come up with the evidence that they had so acted.

I once tried to comfort a lady who thought that she had committed this unpardonable sin because she had ridiculed a TV evangelist who appeared to be working miracles on his programs. Had she?

And what about the statement that we should cut off any member that offends us, even plucking out an eye or cutting off other members that might lead us astray? (Matthew 5:29-30) Another of my friends, chief of surgery at a large hospital, told me that, on occasion, he had attempted to undo the work of people who had attempted self-castration, and that some of them cited this passage as proof that they had done the right thing. …

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