This Christmas Season, Jesus Is a Grown-Up ; in the Wake of 9/11, Public Interest in Jesus's Teachings as an Adult Is Outshining the Traditional Emphasis on the Bethlehem Babe

By Kim Campbell writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 12, 2002 | Go to article overview

This Christmas Season, Jesus Is a Grown-Up ; in the Wake of 9/11, Public Interest in Jesus's Teachings as an Adult Is Outshining the Traditional Emphasis on the Bethlehem Babe


Kim Campbell writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Take a look at newsstands and other pop-culture outlets and you'd think that Jennifer Lopez, rather than Jesus, is the reason for celebrating this month.

To be fair, J. Lo probably isn't bumping the humble Nazarene off magazine covers. Images of Jesus - as an adult, at least - aren't usually as abundant in December as they are around Easter.

And it's unusual to find much about the religious meaning of Christmas in mass culture anyway, unless you catch a performance of Handel's "Messiah" or watch Linus's sweetly earnest retelling of the nativity on "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

But the smattering of references to Jesus in pop culture this season suggests a post 9/11 interest in the grown-up Jesus and his teachings - as opposed to an emphasis on the miraculous aspects of the story of the Bethlehem babe.

"I suspect that the manger is not going to get as much emphasis this year as the adult man or the message that he came to give - to the extent those can be separated," says Phyllis Tickle, author of "Godtalk in America" and contributing editor in religion at Publishers Weekly. People are "trying to get at him - get at the heart of [Christianity]," she adds.

The search for the grown-up Jesus stems from a trend in learning about the mature leaders of other religions after Sept. 11, and not surprisingly, it's being communicated in pop culture in the "Entertainment Tonight" fashion of the day.

The media are covering the modern search for Jesus - and other figures - in much the same way they cover celebrities. What Jesus looked like is a popular topic - the cover story in the December issue of Popular Mechanics is about using forensic science to figure out "The Real Face of Jesus." A recent novel "Cloning Christ," explores what would happen if his DNA were recovered from the cross. And Abraham - who was the common ancestor of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity - got pop-star treatment on the cover of the Sept. 30 Time magazine.

"It just says 'Abraham,' just one word. Like Cher, like Madonna," notes author Bruce Feiler, who wrote "Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths," the bestselling book that prompted the cover story.

The Bible is "perpetually now," explains Mr. Feiler, and is more relevant to everyday life. " 'Now' is celebrity culture. So we're basically making Abraham into a rock star. We're making Jesus into a movie star. What did he look like? What did he eat? It's sort of making them relevant to the 'E.T.' culture," he says.

Interest in the historical Jesus - his teachings and actions, rather than the more symbolic stories about his birth - was strong in the past decade, but is heating up again thanks to curiosity about the teachings of other religious figures post 9/11. People are turning to Jesus, Ms. Tickle suggests, after they get up to speed on Muhammad.

"Politically, we've had to engage the question, What did Muhammad say? What was the core of what he was a conduit for?" she says. That leads to similar questions about Jesus and Christianity, "because there's a political necessity, as well as a cultural one, for understanding what these two men had to say and what their adherents see as their obligation," she explains. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

This Christmas Season, Jesus Is a Grown-Up ; in the Wake of 9/11, Public Interest in Jesus's Teachings as an Adult Is Outshining the Traditional Emphasis on the Bethlehem Babe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.