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Jesus on the net

Bruce Mullan takes a quick look at how Jesus can be found on the World Wide Web.

A Google search for the word “Jesus” produces a not-so-surprising 205 million results for the character described by Wikipedia as “The central figure of Christianity… much revered by most Christian churches as the Son of God and the incarnation of God”. But what does the web say about Jesus? Just about anything that can or can’t be said.

The site www.jesusdressup.com shows Jesus hanging on a cross in his y-fronts and gives you the chance to dress him up by dragging various clothing items to him with your mouse. “They’ll snap right into place!”

Many of course tell the familiar story: Jesus is Lord. God himself, was crucified for YOU! You can recieve (yes, that’s how it is spelled) eternal life if you’ll accept his free gift. He is comming (spelling again) soon. Are you ready?  I’m certainly ready for them to start using their spell-checker.

The site www.rejesus.co.uk talks about Jesus as one of those most talked-about and influential people who has ever lived and explores his life, character, teachings and followers. If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, they suggest, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of Crosses. The site included online games: “You may have pitted your wits against the Spanish Inquisition in our regular pub quiz.”

School of Rock star Jack Black appears playing Jesus in an in-ternet film, Prop 8 – The Musical (Google it), written by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) as a protest against a new piece of Californian legislation limiting gay rights. Mr Black appears to a bunch of evangelical Christians (played by John C. Reilly and West Wing’s Allison Janney) and points out that they seem to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they follow. Jesus goes on to suggest that they should pick the bits that talk about love and not those that are about hate. The film gained an incredible 1.2 million hits in its first day, and reached the 2.5 million mark within just five days.

Complete with the traditional Sunday School picture of Jesus suffering the little children to come, is the “Parenting in Jesus’ Footsteps” website that claims to be a resource for gentle Christian parents and other caring adults.
Now we all know Jesus didn’t have his own offspring, but this website examines the teachings of Jesus and applies them to the parent/child relationship, explaining how the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes, the Prodigal Son story and other teachings teach us how to treat children?

There’s ethereal looking Carrie Underwood’s video for her country music song Jesus, Take the Wheel; the website “Jesus of the Week” – this is the kind of Jesus that would bite his lip and snap his fingers while dancing; “What would Jesus buy?” – Rev Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse; and “What would Jesus drive?” – a discussion initiated by the Evangelical Environmental Network on preferred transport options for Christians.

And then of course there is Marcelino de Jesus Martinez from California who was arrested after arranging for his 14-year-old daughter to marry a neighbour in exchange for beer, meat and $16 000.

One can’t help feeling that the Church has a lot of work to do to help people find their way through this e-volving maze of information in an online world that has dethroned the theological gatekeepers who used to extol some things over others and help people to sift the wheat from the chaff.

As Marshall McLuhan said years before there even was an internet, “All the conservatism in the world does not afford even a token resistance to the ecological sweep of the new electric media.”