Adventures in Looking Like Jesus (or a Crazy Person)

If you are actually here at the blog, and not on the RSS feed, you'll have noticed that a few weeks back I changed my profile pictures. The reason for this was that my old picture, from a few years ago, showed me with short hair. But I'd been growing my hair long for about three years. So I looked very different from by blog picture. In light of that, we had my friend Tammy, a local photographer, take some pictures of what I look like right now. Thus the sidebar photo update.

Now I must say that living with longer hair has been a bit of an adventure. For example, Trisha, my administrative coordinator, seems to alternate each day between calling me "Jesus" and requesting that I "get a haircut." But what if I like looking like Jesus? That's the real question...

Speaking of looking like Jesus, a few weeks ago Josh Graves visited our church and gave a sermon about how the Lord's Supper is a participation in the ongoing eschatological wedding banquet of the Lamb. You can listen to his sermon here on the Highland podcast site. Anyway, Josh wanted to have a bit of drama to go along with his sermon, a kind of visual parable of what he was talking about. So he sends out a request to the Highland office for a "modern looking Jesus." And, of course, my phone rings.

So as a part of this visual parable there is a banquet table set up at the base of the stage. And when Josh hits a certain point in his sermon I'm to go forward, as Jesus, and wait by the table. After a few moments other volunteers in the audience come forward to the table. And as the Jesus-figure I hug them, welcome them, and invite them to the table. And these people are dressed to signify a wide range of demographics: A doctor, a mother, a solider, a mechanic, etc. They all come forward and are welcomed to the table by "Jesus."

But here's the deal. Josh isn't paying any attention to this scene playing out in front of him. The dramatic move here is to have this scene "play out in heaven" as he's preaching. Like a video montage playing silently in the background.

It all works after it becomes clear what is going on. But for the first two minutes all the church sees is me walking down to the front, fussing with some chairs (as I get ready for the guests), and standing there. Again, Josh isn't looking at me at all. And he gives no verbal cue that what I'm doing is a part of his sermon. It looks like he is ignoring me. And in light of that lack of recognition from the pulpit, because I'm almost standing right in front of him, people jump to the only conclusion that seems reasonable:

Richard Beck has lost his mind.

Seriously, for the two minutes I stood up front alone people literally thought I had lost my mind. That I had had a mental breakdown or something and was just wandering aimlessly around the auditorium. And that Josh was heroically carrying on with his sermon with this lunatic wandering around on the stage.

"Poor Jana," they whispered to each other. "We saw this coming. But we didn't know it would happen so soon."

In fact, it was so bad that when the first person--a leader in the church--came down to be greeted by Jesus, many people thought he was coming down for an intervention, to gently lead me off the stage and into a mental institution. So they were very surprised when I hugged him and led him to a chair at the table.

All this because I have long hair.

And speaking of looking crazy, here's a related story. Last fall I was at my son's school around lunchtime. I was early for my appointment so I do what I often do. I sat down and opened a book. Well, it was a windy day and my hair was just flying around everywhere. You could hardly see my face.

Anyhow, a small child saw me and felt compassion. "Teacher," she said, "do you see that homeless man over there? Could I go give him some of my lunch?"

The teacher looked over and said, "Sweetie, that's so nice. But that's not a homeless person. That's Dr. Beck. Aidan's daddy."

Yes, this is my life.

One final story about looking like a crazy person. This one is from last night.

Occasionally, you see really cool, artsy blog pictures of people and want to imitate them. I saw one the other day that I really liked. The person had close-cropped their photo where you only saw the top-right 25% of their face. You see crops like that a lot, with only half or a part of the face in the photo. Feeling artsy, I tried to do a crop like that on one of the photos Tammy had done for me. But looking at the crop I was unsure about it. Do I look like an idiot? Does it look like I'm trying to be too cool? Facing these questions I do what I often do: I go ask Jana. And the conversation goes like this:

Me: "Hi Sweetie. If I ask you something, will you give me an honest answer?"

Jana: (looking worried) "Yes honey, I will give you an honest answer."

Me: "Okay, what do you think of this picture for my blog?"

(And I show her the following picture.)
Jana: "Honestly?"

Me: "Yes, honestly."

Jana: "Well, you look like a crazy person living in the woods about to jump out and kill someone."

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27 thoughts on “Adventures in Looking Like Jesus (or a Crazy Person)”

  1. This was really funny and rang true for me. From 2001-05, qb played the role of Jesus in our church's annual Christmas pageant down at the Civic Center, and the whole thing gave qb his long-desired pretext to look like a Skynyrd guitarist or perhaps [the older] Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. My eldest son, whom I picked up and kissed as a 4-year old in the pageant during the obligatory "Jesus dances with the little children, AWWWWWW" scene, now gets harassed by his high school friends as "baby Jesus."

    And the ironies were so rich. If in fact Isaiah 53 is messianic, why did qb spend so much time in the stylist's chair learning how to use liquid hair wax to keep his hair out of his eyes? And what was all that about getting ripped down to 185/9% and then doing a big set of pushups before each presentation so as to keep those murmurs coming as Jesus dragged his cross, clad only in a makeshift cotton diaper and guns suitably flexed, down the center aisle? I mean, qb's no Adonis, as many will attest, but "he had no stately form or majesty" obviously had no influence on qb's preparations, either!

    So much of this is hilarious in retrospect. Most Jesuses in popular art, with the possible exception of the hideously disfigured post-scourging version in "The Passion of the Christ," present a much more attractive face and cut a more impressive figure than Isaiah 53 might suggest.

    Enjoy it while you can. Eventually, the aura wears off! And that's probably a salutary thing.

  2. My husband sported the long hair and mustache during his youth. His first day at his new high school when his family moved his junior year, the principal approached him during lunch and demanded to know exactly what his business was there.
    He replied, "Uh, I go to school here."

  3. A fun post. Way back in my college days, I wore a beard and hair about to my shoulders. My hair was transitioning from blonde to brown, and had natural red overtones. Apparently, just the right color to fit a certain boss's mental image of Jesus. He refused to look me in the eye, or even in the face, when talking to me.

  4. Nice post: amusing.and honest.
    Your hair looks great and I wish I had enough hair left to do the same!
    I presume from the comments of your friends and colleagues, that yours is a conservative environment so, just out of interest, why did you decide to grow your hair? Was it a statement? An exploration?

  5. It is a conservative Christian campus. I think did it, along with other things I do, to be a nonconformist. What I struggle with in this regard is how much of this is just a natural thing and how much is intentional. The former would just be natural eccentricity. The later more a neurotic attempt at self-esteem enhancement. And, to be honest, it's probably a bit of both.

  6. Thanks Richard. This was a great post (nothing new there) but I love to have a good chuckle in the morning, and this one gave me two, proper, inappropriate laugh out loud moments. Now I look like the crazy one (albeit with far less hair)

  7. so what! you look like a homeless whack job.

    i dress like a homeless whack job.

    this is the real fun walk into a church where no one knows you.
    just say this is my first time hear,my name is rich....

    i used to do that a lot,
    ask a few questions

    it is truly sad rich how people judge

    and from god's point of view he must just laugh about people like us and and say will they ever get it.

    ever take a fart machine to church...

    my oh my toooo much fun

  8. I was reading from my iphone and I didn't see the picture coming at the end. Lol!

  9. Dr. Beck, I also have long hair and I teach at an elementary school. The most common comments from the kiddies regarding my appearance are "You look like God" and "Are you a princess?" The latter certainly keeps the "neurotic attempt at self-esteem enhancement" in check..

  10. This was just hilarious. I came back to read it again, even though I am supposed to be going to Bible study now.

    Were you wearing a bathrobe? Because in order to really look like (insert name of male biblical character here) you need the long hair AND the bathrobe. A full beard helps too.

  11. No bathrobe. I was supposed to be "modern looking." Which made the task of dressing for church that day quite a theological challenge. WWJD? became HWJD? How would Jesus dress?

    Which is, incidentally, a really interesting question.

  12. Ha! First, Jana was right: that photo looks just as she described. Second, the little illustrative drama sounds just like the sort of thing I would do. I hate explaning things. I just jump right into the drama, figuring it will all explain itself in time. Sadly, sometimes it doesn't, and then people think I'm the nut since I'm the one doing the acting. I never think to get anybody else to take the rap for me.

  13. I also share the Jesus look. I often play pick up soccer games at the local park where I've been tagged as "Jesus". It's a multi-national and religiously diverse group of men running around, so naturally there is a lot of politically incorrect speech thrown around. It's all in good fun for the most part.
    Some of my favorite moments:
    1. The Muslims like to razz me whenever I miss a shot (happens often) howling "Jesus, you can't even save yourself!"
    2. After a game, a new kid asked me why they call me Jesus because his name really is Jesus.
    3. And last Saturday the sole Jewish man looked at me and declared "hey you died yesterday!" to which I replied "I know, you killed me", and he came back with "I didn't kill you, it was those damned Romans"

    I'm not entirely comfortable with playing the part of Jesus on the pitch. It does make me the automatic representative of Christianity though, and that has led to some interesting faith conversations. All because I have long hair. Who knew witnessing was so easy?

  14. I had long hair and a beard etc. when I was in the church of Christ in the 70's and 80's. I played Jesus in our Vacation Bible Schools. The problem was, I started believing I was "Jesus" in a deluded way. I ended up an adulterer with a co-character in VBS and disfellowshipped a year later. Be careful with non-comformity in the name of Christ, it can go to your head. May God protect you and give you wisdom and discernment.

  15. Laughing so hard I had to get the tears out of my eyes before I could see to comment. Hilarious story! Good going, Jana!

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