Have you seen the Saturday Night Live "Djesus Uncrossed" sketch? If not, you should check it out, it's a brilliant encapsulation of the kind of violent revenge fantasy that motivates a lot of current popular culture, and a great send up of Quentin Tarantino's directorial style.
It's also an ironic indictment of the way in which American Christianity actually does want its Jesus (or perhaps Djesus?) to be an ass-kicking, name-taking bad motherfucker. Those on the Christian right who are taking offence at the skit, would do better to direct their criticisms toward their own stunted, narrow, nationalistic, violent faith, which twists the message of Christianity 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
David R. Henson states the case extraordinarily well:
we’ve been trying to uncross Jesus for decades in this country, long before SNL got their pens into him.
We have tried to arm him with our military-industrial complex, drape him with our xenophobia, outfit him with our weapons, and adorn him with our nationalism. We’ve turned the cross into a flagpole for the Stars and Stripes. We have no need for Tarantino to reimagine the story of Jesus into a fantasy of violent revenge. We’ve done it for him. We’ve already uncrossed him, transforming him from a servant into a triumphalist who holds the causes and interests of our country on his back rather than brutal execution.
The SNL sketch reveals the paucity of American popular theology with its camouflage and flag-draped Bibles that segregate the story of God for American patriots only. It pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names. And maybe the names of a few godless Democrats. Definitely the Muslims. And the atheists. And the … I could go on.
He goes on to state the ground truth which has been obvious in the United States for a long time, and has been undeniable since September 11th: "In the wake of horror, we like revenge."
Slacktivist adds to this by noting that, compared to the Jesus who shows up in the apocalyptic novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the Djesus of "Djesus Uncrossed" is practically a pacifist. He offers the following example from the books:
Rayford watched through the binocs as men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood. It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.
… Tens of thousands grabbed their heads or their chests, fell to their knees, and writhed as they were invisibly sliced asunder. Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of the glory of Christ.
… Their flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated.
… And Jesus had killed them all.
There has long been a disconnect between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus who appears in the more explicitly Christian versions of American civil religion. The Jesus of American civil religion is emphatically the Jesus of our national aspirations, and our most cheauvanistic impulses to dominate and subjugate the world. The Jesus of American civil religion is the one who believes that it is right and proper for the United States to have the largest military in the world by orders of magnitude, in order, apparently, to "defend Christianity."
The Jesus of American civil religion is by no means a new figure. He has existed since the Roman Empire. He led the crusades and presided at the Salem witch trials. He bears a much stronger resemblance to the Satan of the Rolling Stone's "Sympathy for the Devil" than to the Christ of the Gospels, showing up througout history to cause mayhem and suffering.
Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil by oggys
This is not the Jesus of redemptive grace, but the Jesus of violent conquest. This is the Jesus of the Left Behind Novels, and of American triumphalism. All the SNL sketch really did was give him a more appropriate name. He is not the Jesus of Christian faith. He is Djesus. And, yes, the D is silent.