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2013 Uncategorized

Yeshua of Nazareth and Cesar of Arizona: the Google doodle issue

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.

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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.

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