Puppet on a stick


When I was growing up part of my responsibility as the Pastors kid was childrens church, so I learned how to do puppet ministry…usually retelling gospel stories or something along that line with puppets for children…one thing I have never seen is a puppet re-creation of the crucifixion for obvious reasons. There are some things we tend to hold at an arms length from our cultural adaptations and puppets re-enacting the passion is one of them…or so we think.

Recently I have noticed the primary political parties using Christianity as a driving backdrop for votes, I’m sure it’s nothing new but because of where I am in my journey I see things from a little further away from empire than I used to and the political mechanism is quite apparent to me now…I am honestly not appalled by it, simply amused.

The reason the political exploitation of the gospel amuses me is because it is generally launched from the umbrella of the church itself, it is typically doctrine driven denominators dressed as compassion or concern, either we are being persecuted, or apathetic, we are being shouted down or shouting at, we are either judging or being judged and each and every group/person/party/perspective depends upon one thing for the foundation…and that is Jesus on a cross.

In just about any doctrinal or political debate you can find yourself at the end of the road discussing why Jesus went to the cross, and just about everyone has an opinion and it is usually the right one…no one wants to be wrong about the cross, because if they are, then it is obvious they have made Jesus a puppet for their doctrine, a puppet on a stick.

Here’s where it starts to fall apart for me…the cross is confusing…it is a mess, it is a human execution where religion, law, society, Empire with violence coalesce into the murder of an innocent man who we have come to declare was God.

It does not make sense…and all of our doctrines stand in defiant certainty declaring that it does make sense that it was all part of a plan laid out from the beginning and because God is perfectly logical and many other attributes of perfection He knew exactly how many lashes, splinters, flies and saliva would need to intersect at exactly the right moment for divine atonements cogs all fall in place and humanity get a reprieve from whatever it was we were running from in the first place. At this point Jesus becomes Gods puppet and is thrust upon our particular stick of theology with heresy defying logic and finality.

Once you can prove your stick, then you get to hoist Jesus up behind whatever doctrine or theology that serves your agenda best…

But what if it’s not all settled and carved in stone from the foundation of the world, what if at the moment the Spirit “hovers” over the face of the deep God has basically said “Let’s wing it” and after almost 4000 years of Torah failing to make a significant impact God says , hey lets wing it some more and he hovers over a maiden in Galilee and steps into the random mess itself?

I have a hard time making the execution of an innocent man into a linchpin for all my theology…I sorta need a God who is part of the audience and not the grand puppet master I have accepted into my heart with every head bowed and every eye closed.

God is probably no different on the cross than he is in my heart and in the random events of my life…He does not need to have it all worked out beforehand because He is the definition of genius, He can figure out probably seven different ways to work it all out while they are driving the nails into his hands.

I think it’s time we took our hand out of the puppet God and stopped being so certain of things declared hidden mysterions…

And it is definitely time to disengage the puppet on a cross from our pet driving mimetic desires, you do realize you exploit an innocent mans death every time you declare that your theology is right…?

When I look back at the history of the faith it is clear the smartest and wisest were less sure than our culture tends to be…they somehow managed to keep from using puppets to push their agenda…well up to a point…

Here’s my final point…the non-religious as a general rule respect the cross a little better than we religious folks do, they avoid all exploitation of it because on some level they hope for something sacred, they want a God who can step into uncertain things without causing all of it…for them the cross remains a sacred moment because it retains it’s mystery…and for the record there is no such thing as a sacred puppet…the minute you “use” the cross you have removed the “holiness” the “apartness” the sacred from it…

I’m not suggesting there are not things we can know about the cross, but I will say that our certainty needs to be taken back a notch…some of it will be a mystery until we see it from Heaven itself…

Until then…I’m suggesting that on some level we “wing it”.