This is What I Am Called

I don’t know how not to believe.

It’d be disingenuous to claim that my fascination and love of Jesus Christ as a character and figure comes from any yearning for God. I don’t think anything about God is particularly comforting. I’m actively terrified of Heaven. I think most of Christianity’s theology and mythology are the least coherent way to explain the mysteries behind life and the purpose of human existence. If it’s an explanation that works for others, that doesn’t really affect how I see them one way or another. I’ve come to peace with not really needing a guiding light, and feel all the better for it.

I think I feel sorry for him. And that’s a bit frustrating to admit. All things considered, he’s not a particularly positive figure from where I’m standing. Not that much of a good person. Even when you ignore his intent to bring the sword, there’s still the simple fact that he prioritizes loving him over being a good person for a follower to reach Heaven. Even before he became his own son, the first commandment before others asserted his dominance. And, I mean, yeah, that’s fucked up. You can’t really excuse it, no matter how hard you argue.

And yet, I can’t really blame him. He’s the greatest being in the universe, which I suppose would give any of us a bit of an ego trip, but the guy is all alone too. He had to create existence for company. That’s fucked up if you think about it a little too long: things didn’t actually exist. God’s existence isn’t even a paradox: there’re no actual rules in place for him to contradict. There’s just…nothing. You’re the pinnacle of nothing. I can’t, in good conscience, entirely blame a guy for getting a little up his own ass. I’d never claim what he’s done in his long, long eternity really qualifies as moral. But I can see why he did it. He’d never admit it like that, but I think I get it.

I’m fascinated by the implications of Jesus Christ in the world of American Gods. Though my reasons for my fascinations are at least a little cynical: considering just how little people tend to understand the Bible, often relying on pastors and evangelists to contextualize it for them, it stands to reason that the many Jesuses aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be the Jesus we can look up and read. It’s entirely possible that Jesus Prime has never once had a desire to pick up the sword, if enough people believe that he never would. Or perhaps more dangerously, he’d be all too eager to destroy others. There has to be one Jesus for that, at least one Jesus who wasn’t a stranger to Vulcan and understood Vulcan’s interpretation of bringing the sword.

But I like to think a bit more optimistically, at least sometimes. I like to imagine Jesus in American Gods as the Jesus from…well, the Jesus you’re told exists before you dig too deeply or before political manipulation rears its ugly head. The Jesus you can walk in on sitting at the pool, who’ll look at you with understanding and love when you tell him you just can’t believe. The one you actually feel like does care about you, and billions of others, on an individual level and can distinguish every single one of you. All you need to know he cares is the inflection of his voice, the softness in his eyes.

I think about this a lot. I think about existing without existence, being without the concept of being. Filling an empty void full of life, trying to build it through the only prism you understand it: yourself. Trying your best to replicate your own image and seeing humanity’s flaws, perhaps your flaws, as their undoing. Trying to be them yourself, sacrificing yourself, feeling that pain just to tell them you love them and you understand. Doing anything you can to help them, but also having a critical flaw needing, desperately, to be loved. But only after CREATING the concept of love would you know that it was missing. Seeing this beautiful thing you want to exist and then watching the species you create in your image struggle with it. The existential layers and crises are almost mind bending.

I think this is what Mexican Jesus thought about before being shot down. Creating love when the world was forming only to be shot down by the ones who supposedly love him the most. As unfortunately relevant as that scene is to our current political climate, it’s just as tragic on its own terms and my single favorite scene in the entire series. Creating love in order to feel like you are wanted and loved, only to have that love be redefined by hate and killed by it.

Harlan Pritchard
About Harlan Pritchard 20 Articles

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