by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
April 13, 2008
DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- We're a people willing to put labels on other people whose opinions do not reflect our own. So, I would expect that as you read, you will label me either a heathen or a holy joe.
I am neither. And I truly try to justify my negative feelings when I see the name of Jesus being dragged into so many causes just to justify whatever cause is on the table.
I was born and raised in a faith that holds the name of Jesus with such reverence that we bow our heads when the priest or congregation says it in prayer. Catholics, particularly in America, do not call their children Jesus in order to hold that name, so holy to us, in the highest esteem.
On the other hand, Mexico, an extremely Catholic country, frequently baptizes a baby boy, Jesus - pronounced "Hesu" in their Spanish language - as an equally reverent expression of gratitude to God.
In the last number of years, I have seen t-shirts, bumper stickers, front plates on automobiles and brightly colored rubber-band bracelets suggesting we should ask ourselves: WWJD, What Would Jesus Do.
Personally, I have never had to ask that question. Jesus would do the right thing and if anyone wonders, they let their conscience be their guide and they have the answer.
Although the expression was most widely used in the 1990s, it did not originate then. It was common in the 1890s as well. Perhaps the ending decade of a century with the usual millennium fears of the world's coming to an end prompted it. Sometimes the WWJD was more a reminder to Walk With Jesus Daily, and to the devout, that's an admonition they live with every day without reminders.
My faith is one of quiet contemplation and prayer and adhering to the tenets of the church. Imagine my surprise last week when I opened the Sunday Bulletin and saw an insert appropriate to the "going green for the environment" called: "Was Jesus a Tree Hugger?"
Now what? My first thought was that the earth he walked in his sandals was hardly the soil to promote the growth of trees much bigger than olive trees or palms. Although protecting and preserving our environment is certainly the right thing to do, why drag Jesus into it? Man was put into the Garden of Eden to work the soil and preserve the garden. There's a whole good book of such scripture before Jesus was even born. I just don't like Jesus being "used" in this way.
I've gotten with the environmental program, although I have no fear of global warming. Recorded statistics disprove much of what Senator Gore is espousing. We have the energy-saving light bulbs and although they don't brighten the room enough to suit me, I'm interested in doing whatever I can.
I do grumble each evening when I almost stumble around in the dark to reach a lamp. My husband, long a card-carrying environmentalist, wants no light turned on that isn't being used for a purpose. I first learned of his predilection toward saving our earth from the wastrels who use everything indiscriminately, when we entered a brightly lit tunnel and he turned off his automobile headlights.
"Why did you turn your lights off," I asked, "we'll be driving out again in a minute.
"I want to save the bulbs," he answered seriously.
In all my life I have never met anyone whose headlights burned out. At least it's never happened to us. Well, now I know why.
The First Amendment is important to me, as, I'm sure it is to all Americans. I'm sensitive to other's profession or non-profession of faith. When I see the name of Jesus as a front-license plate coming toward me, it is familiar to me; I'll bow my head and keep driving. But my mind wanders to those who feel an affront when many of these openly religious signs are all around them.
The closing act of American Idol starred Dolly Parton last week. (I don't know of anyone who doesn't love Dolly, our God-loving country singer,) When she started dancing and prancing to her latest hit song, about how she has something to hold her up and something to keep her down, she sang that "Jesus and gravity" are all she needs, "something to give me wings and keep my feet on the ground."
Over a hundred million people heard her sing of her personal philosophy. When Dolly wrote that song, she was telling the world what gets her through the day, not suggesting to us how to get through our own days and nights. No bracelets, no bumper stickers, no plastic Jesus on the dashboard, just her way.
It may seem like a fine line, but Dolly held Jesus in the highest regard - albeit amid her sequins, glitter and gold, she didn't suggest we grapple with our own consciences. And she didn't leave others out of those feelings. Something to hold you up; something to keep you down - in Dolly's case, Jesus. In others it could be Budda, Allah, or God on High. She was not "in my face" as they say, with her lyrics.
As always, Dolly was doing what comes naturally, and it put a smile on my face.