My senior year of high school I signed up for AP World History. But it conflicted with jazz band on the schedule, so I took the honors course instead – with the same teacher. (She pretty much stalked me in the hallway my junior year and told me I had to be in her AP classes the next year, so I had to stick with a fan.) Part of world history is world religions. When we got around to Christianity, she began with “Christianity was founded by a man named Je-sus-Christ…” as she wrote out the name on the board. We all laughed because it seemed silly to us – kids of the Bible Belt and no strangers to church and Christian denominations – that she would present it that way. She responded, “This is how I have to teach it” as if to say “I know you think it’s weird.” But now I get it.
We had a certain privilege and, honestly, hubris to assume the narrative should be presented in a way that favored the beliefs to which we were accustomed at that point in life. That’s a danger I see in the world today – people feeling the narrative should always fit their beliefs and be given in the way they choose. I started to recognize this more in myself in college as I was exposed to more people in more in-depth ways. There are so many stories in the world, and I can never grow if I think the only ones that matter are mine or the ones most familiar to me. And it helps me to uncover more of my own stories to commit to listening – really listening – to the narratives of others in their words/sounds/sights/etc. rather than the ones I would assign them.
And in a roundabout way, this is my response to people being upset the Google Doodle today is Cesar Chavez and not something explicitly about Easter.
Cesar Chavez worked tirelessly for people’s civil rights and for them to be treated with dignity. I would hope anyone who celebrates/observes Easter would be able to see some connection between his life’s work and that of the central figure of Christianity. I don’t presume to “have the market cornered on Jesus” – as my grandpa, a Baptist minister might say – but in thinking about what he might do, I like to think this Middle Eastern migrant worker wouldn’t trip over a Google doodle acknowledging such beauty in humanity.