someone was asking recently about the effect of a Christian childhood on my current spiritual life. (since I didn't have a Christian childhood, that's a really interesting question, to me.)
it seems that there's a revitalized interest in the essential Jesus, rather than the Jesus of Christian Religion, lately, what with all the fuss about The DaVinci Code, and tons of books about Jesus & Magdalene emerging, etc.
to my way of understanding, all of this 'repositioning' Jesus and his life and times is not at all accidental -- it seems that the runway is being foamed in our culture, in Western culture in general, to start accepting that the grip of Christianity isn't strong enough to contain the truth of Christ, his messages, and his real teachings and life story (which is RADICALLY different from the pop cultural stuff that seems to be flowing in all directions, these days).
that being said, I was raised agnostic in a family that prized science and reason above all things religious -- and yet we had a deep humanitarian, quasi-spiritual thread running through the house... despite his fierce agnosticism, my dad's heroes were, ironically, all spiritual people -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Schweitzer.
so I KNEW about Christianity but we didn't practice it. except we were all Christmas-mad, completely insane Christmas geeks, and I especially really got hooked on the Nativity scenes, the entry of Jesus into the world, and the underlying meaning of Christmas, not the commercial reindeer thing it had morphed into.
the kicker was Catholic school -- they made me go because our local school was progressive, in terms of education.
I was the only non-Catholic there.
I went to Catholic mass three days a week, and would sit there in wonderment, trying to figure out WHY, HOW, Jesus really let himself be crucifed like that. it just blew my mind, and kind of drove me crazy.
so -- the relationship I had with Christianity was to really dislike the structure of the Catholic Church, and its beliefs and way of imposing itself on people's lives... and other forms of Christianity, the bible-thumpers, really pissed me off.
at the same time, I had a deep, inexplicable connection with Jesus -- staring at the crucifix in the church, endlessly trying to get my mind around the sacrifice this semi-mythical figure had made, of his own body, 2000 years ago.
it just didn' t make sense.
& honestly, I was dismissive of the Jesus of the midwestern religious nuts, since the televangelists were running rampant and everybody who had half a brain could tell these guys were scammers. I felt they really gave him a bad name.
Jesus the towering spiritual figure, in my mind, belonged in one compartment, and Jeee-zus the icon of white southern men shouting "HEAL!" in his name was a parody of itself.
decades later, I found myself in India, researching through meditation and intense spiritual practice, about this creation and how it operates. what the miracle energy is, what the healing energies are, where they come from, who is god, what is enlightenment, etc.
and -- in India, through the yogic traditions, you could say I finally found Jesus Christ.
talk about a cosmic joke!
only this third impression of Jesus, as that of an extraordinary soul who came to this world in order to help it heal, and trained as an Indian yogi (as referenced, in addition to others, by Paramhansa Yogananda) in miracle energies that were well-known, codified, and communicated since time immemorial in India, has really, finally, utterly, made sense to me.
so -- I guess I went from an entirely non-Christian background into a deep relationship with the Jesus energy, in India.
my brain is still reeling.
& my heart is singing....!