Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jesus: So Hot Right Now

Let me start out by saying that, despite my love for Flannery O'Connor, I know very little about Christianity. Not much more than I've picked up from the occasional Christmas song and the Chronicles of Narnia, and that's about it. In short, I'm not the first person you'd come to if you wanted to learn the fundamentals of the faith, not by a long shot. But that's exactly what I had to teach a couple weeks ago.

I was supposed to tutor this Korean kid in American history, which I know (more or less...). But there was some kinda mix-up, what with his parents not understanding English and me not understanding Korean, and so I found myself teaching him world history instead. And, as it happened, the chapter his class was working on was The Rise of Christianity. I gave it a shot, I figure why not - as Evelyn Waugh put it in equally absurd circumstances, it's amazing what one can teach when one tries.

Dude didn't know a thing about Jesus. Not. A. Thing. Never heard of the crucifixion or resurrection or anything. So I had to teach him. I wish I could show you the scrap paper, with my hastily-scrawled stick figure Messiah (sure, drawing stick figures is easy, you might say - but try drawing a stick figure Jesus on top of a crucifix! No simple feat, let me tell ya), my Jew-Christian diagrams, my Old Testament-New Testament bullet point comparisons, I'm telling you, it was great. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I don't think it went through.

The best part is what he wore, around his neck, every single day, to each of our lessons: yep, you guessed it, a cross. A shiny silver one. So when I mention Jesus' name for the first time and meet a blank stare, I figure maybe I was speaking too fast, so I slow down and point to his neck and say, "You know, Jesus Christ." No hint of understanding. Rather flummoxed now, I ask, "Why are you wearing a cross if you don't know who Jesus is?" Now it's his turn to look at me like I'm an idiot. His reply? "Oh, this is just for fashion."

UPDATE: Well, at least I'm not the only teacher ignorant about Christianity. What a relief!

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