Palm Sunday Special: It’s Okay To Talk About Jesus Sometimes
I walked by a bunch of kids waving palm fronds on my way to work yesterday morning. And despite what you’ve seen on Fox News that’s not normal for Wisconsin this time of year — must be Palm Sunday again. In the name of casual conversation I made the mistake of mentioning the palm-waving kids at work, using a fond tone of voice that maybe indicated I was either down with the whole Palm Sunday thing or else a pederast.
Turns out I would have done well to play up the whole pederasty angle. People are not very comfortable with religion in the workplace these days. And when you work with someone who devoutly wants you to believe in Jesus to save your soul from the fires of Hell everlasting I am okay with that discomfort, but we are talking about seriously strange looks because I suggested that palm-waving kids are kind of fun. People were not comfortable with that shit.
I’m not sure I like this trend. Biblical allusions are sort of a staple of English (language, not country-of-origin) writing. Half of those allusions may be in point of fact Miltonic rather than Biblical (and I am very impressed with the built-in spellcheck for swallowing “Miltonic” as a word, even if it still red-underlines “spellcheck”), but either way you can’t really have literature without some Jesus. That was a big part of how this writing-things-down-and-copying-them thing we all do got started. So was porn — I’m nothing if not even-handed (hur hur hur) in my love of cultural developments that make people feel uncomfortable. The point is that we should probably not be throwing this entirely out the window as a Thing We Can Talk About.
And to be fair, people (including devout atheists) are still writing books chock-full of Jesus and so forth. But I have to wonder how much longer that can go on when you can’t bring up going to church in public unless you do it in a world-weary tone that makes it clear you’re only going so the neighbors will keep inviting you to their garden parties. Once we’ve raised a few generations that are only aware of church as an unpleasant obligation, books about it are going to have a lot less meaning.
I suspect there’s other conventions that will be obsolete in a few generations as well. This was just the one that sprang to mind today, on account of the palm-waving children (who, to be fair, are evidence that I’ve got at least one more generation to work with in terms of Biblical references). What’s your prediction? Are you writing about something that just won’t matter in a hundred years? Or is your shit timeless and perfect? Leave a comment, because I could sure use some of the latter.