Religion & Beliefs

Can I Be Friends With Jesus Freaks?

One of the more subtle issues I have with living in Nashville is the constant role Jesus now plays in my life.  I’ve lived in some pretty strange religious environments before, but I’ve never even seen a place like this, … Read More

By / February 16, 2007

One of the more subtle issues I have with living in Nashville is the constant role Jesus now plays in my life.  I’ve lived in some pretty strange religious environments before, but I’ve never even seen a place like this, where the trendy coffee shops are full of cute girls with cat-eye glasses, pink hair, cowboy boots, and a Bible.  In bars and at shows and always always at the coffee shops where I sit to work I overhear people talking about Jesus.  Yesterday I was next to two pretty girls who were reading Luke together and discussing how to find a church they liked (one of them had finally settled on an Eastern Orthodox church even though her parents are Lutheran).  Today I eavesdropped on a conversation between a preacher who runs an anti-capital punishment group and two people he’s hiring to help him with marketing.  When that group left they were replaced by a couple who were clearly on their third or fourth date, talking about how hard it is to motivate themselves to get to church.  And that’s just in the last 36 hours.  Whenever my friend Danny, a Judaic Studies grad student, and I go study together he mentions how uncomfortable it makes him to walk around with a stack of Bibles, even though we’re always surrounded by people with their own well-worn copies.   Of course some of these people make my skin crawl.  We’ve got all kinds of slightly sketchy and very smarmy Jesus freaks in Nashville, and if at all possible I try to steer very clear of them.  (It doesn’t help that half of my wardrobe has either Hebrew or Arabic lettering on it).  But one of the things that I’m finding is that a lot of these Jesus-loving hipsters are actually very much like me.  Last Friday afternoon I was sitting adjacent to a huge table of preachers from Nashville who seemed to be in book group.  They were talking about how to deal with people who want the church community but aren’t ready to call themselves believers yet, and all I could think is, “That’s half of my rebellious friends from high school, except with shuls not churches.”  And I meet these cool, attractive young men who are Christian, and talk about Jesus constantly, but don’t see how that has to have any effect on, say, whether or not they’re members of a death metal band, or are considering becoming professional graffiti artists.  
But even these cool smart Christians haven’t cured me from my viscerally negative reaction to Jesus.  I just don’t like having anyone else’s God imposed on me.  And I don’t like having to deal with the look on anyone’s face when I tell him I don’t believe the hype about Jesus.  I understand why it’s offensive when I say that, but I wish more people were cognizant of how offensive it is to me when Jesus comes up every five minutes.   I used to think I was being hypocritical, because I really want the Jesus people to stop talking about Jesus already, but I don’t feel bad mentioning that I’m Jewish whenever and wherever I like.  Here’s the thing, though: If I don’t bring up Judaism with a Jesus freak, he probably won’t think or talk about Judaism all day.  And if he doesn’t bring up Jesus, well, I’ll still end up listening to Jesus conversation that afternoon and that evening as well, and I’ll still be living in a Christian country run by a born-again man.  But am I just coming up with excuses so I can maintain my angry loud Jewish girl status?  I don’t know.