What Would Jesus Do? Read the Book.

I recently saw a woman standing on the side of the street holding a sign reading, “The Jews didn’t take Jesus’ life.” Okay-you’re right.So maybe I should stand on a street corner holding a sign saying, “Pi equals 3.14159-” That would both educate and improve the lives of thousands and perhaps save the world from global mathematical ignorance (and also make a few eyes roll). I have no problem with being enthusiastic about your beliefs or interests. Believe me, I can list 20 reasons why Law & Order: SVU is the best crime show on TV, so don’t get me started. But there’s no reason to go around picking fights or making T-shirts to support a cause or religion that’s actually quite private. It’s silly to take something so seriously; it’s possible to have faith without proclaiming your good deeds before others.So here’s what I spent my Sunday doing instead of homework: thinking about why it’s so important to some people to openly display their religious views.We mention Jesus in our everyday lives-like when we’re praying or when we miss the nail and hit our hand with the hammer instead. Remember “What Would Jesus Do?” I’m all for conforming to trends as much as the next peer-pressured and brainwashed teenager, but I was pretty psyched when Catholic guilt no longer compelled me to wear a WWJD bracelet. We all know it’s great fun to be exactly like everyone else, right down to the same shade of blond hair extensions, but those itchy bracelets pushed religious adornment a bit far.I understand that the teachings of religious faiths are based in deep-rooted tradition and should be respected, and by using exaggeration and sarcasm I mean no offense toward anyone. Yet, I do not think that by asking what Jesus would do in certain situations we can implement a similar behavioral scheme. The Jesus of the past would have to catch up to and adapt to the Jesus of today because, as Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a-changin’.”What wouldn’t today’s Jesus do? He probably wouldn’t kill anyone. Personally, I doubt He’d hang glide, since what’s the point of gliding on air when you can walk on water? I’d like to use Him for my causes: He wouldn’t watch Harrison Ford movies or reality TV shows. He wouldn’t chew with His mouth open. He definitely wouldn’t keep a journal. Why would He need to when He has scribes who are at his heels to do it for Him? Besides, His life’s pretty well planned-out anyway; we know the story by now.If you’ve got something, anything, to believe in, that’s fantastic: Stick with it. But I’d argue that it’s almost worse to adorn yourself with religious medals or trendy faith bracelets, because you risk being labeled solely as, say, a Catholic zealot or a Baptist fanatic.Religious exhibitionism is often taken to such an extreme that the line between false prophet and sincere believer is unclear. People scoff at the woman swaying in church with her eyes closed, even though her emotions could very well be genuine. Religion is voluntary, and no one should ever feel pressured to conform to any ideals; yet, sometimes religion is forced upon us, because some believe that their way is the only way. Some people appear rapt with drawing public attention to private worshiping- but being a relaxed believer doesn’t mean being less of a follower.For example, watch a music-awards show. I would bet that more than three-fourths of award recipients proclaim something along the lines of, “I want to thank God, our Father, without whom nothing would be possible.” While this may be the view of that particular individual, it isn’t the view of everyone. Making public statements like this may make people of other religions feel uncomfortable and alienated. Americans disregard the line between public and private life and find no shame in doing so. Just take a look at the tabloids in the grocery line.Authoritarian and severe religious exhibitionism is not spiritually lucrative. It’s unnecessary to proclaim from a street corner that our imminent futures are in jeopardy unless we repent and publicly praise and worship. All of us know exactly what Jesus would do; there’s a whole book about Him and the family. Katie Lewis is a sophomore studying [email protected]