Saturday, December 21, 2013

Was Jesus White?


Lately there seems to have been an outbreak of truly sand pounding ignorance on the internet. You might say, “Dunnevant, I’m afraid you’re going to have to be a little bit more specific.” Fair point. Ok, over the past week or so, we have become embroiled in raging debates over the 1st Amendment rights of a millionaire Louisiana reality television star. Petitions of support and threats of boycotts are flying around Facebook faster than a Kim Kardashian sex tape. The victim in this case, meanwhile, will sell more duck calls, camouflage pants, “happy happy happy” t-shirts and coffee mugs than anyone in the 2000 year history of  Christmas retail. Such is the grave state of Christian oppression in 2013 America.

But the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle pales in comparison to the most embarrassing, infantile internet debate ever unleashed. I am speaking of course about the burning question upon which the future of civilization hangs …Was Jesus Christ a white man?

Fox news info-babe, Megyn Kelly opened Pandora’s Box when in a particularly hard hitting interview with two people who agreed with her, she flatly denied the fledgling theory that Santa Claus might have been black. Of course, any discussion of Santa’s race inevitably leads to speculation about the racial makeup of our Lord and Savior. This is where it gets tricky. Initially, Ms. Kelly seemed quite sure that Jesus was white and said so in no uncertain terms. But later, after time for reflection, offered the view that she might have jumped the gun since Jesus’ race is “far from settled.” Well…thanks for clearing THAT up.

I’m no anthropologist. I can’t even spell anthropologist. However, when I look at news footage of Palestinian kids throwing rocks at Jewish policemen on the West Bank, I see dark black hair, heavy eyes and very brown skin, exactly the sort of person who one would never see at the Commonwealth Club unless they were serving drinks. My gut tells me that if in 2013 we are debating Jesus' race, we are missing something profoundly more important about him. But, we have no pictures of the Lamb of God, so I guess Megyn is right, it’s far from settled.

So, as we enter the final Christmas shopping rush, I offer the following answer to this burning question, provided by Alfred Burt from 1951 in his beautiful Carol, Some Children See Him.

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav'n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus' face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
'Tis love that's born tonight!