Jesus’ Many Faces

Jesus has been depicted by numerous artists across the world and throughout history.

Some ask, from a historical perspective, “What can we really know about Jesus?” but here, we look instead at examples of what Jesus and his ideas have meant to artists.  Others have compiled their own galleries; what images would you include?

There’s another direction that the faces of Jesus can go, too; people frequently report seeing Jesus’ face (usually the bearded, long-haired Caucasian Jesus) in a variety of unexpected places.  Buzzfeed lists some, and shows us how much and how little some of them look like faces, let alone how we might expect the face of Jesus to look.

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Christian Spirituality at Burning Man

Many people have found a week of creativity and community in the desert to be a spiritual experience, but not always one associated with organized religion.  Here are a few examples of Burning Man attendees, or “Burners,” who find parallels between their experiences in the desert and the philosophy of the Gospels.

Pastor Phil Wyman’s Blog

Christian Scientist Michael Morgan’s “We Are All Prophets

Interview with Lee Gilmore, author of Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man

Whatever Happened to Hippy Jesus?

This article from The Atlantic last year looks at the shift in ways that Jesus has been popularly depicted in film since 1970.  It considers the film version of Godspell rather than the stage production, but gives some insight into the context in terms of religious movements and the media landscape, then and now.

“Hippies and their religious analogue, the Jesus People, defined themselves by experimentation. … For the latter, it meant relating to Jesus in new ways. Their ‘buddy’ Jesus ‘took a bad rap.’ The new vernacular even had a new Bible, The Way, which translated biblical texts into what seemed then a ‘cool’ idiom.”

The Light Side of the “Hippie Jesus”

“Both [Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar] portray [Jesus] as a hippie opposed to the hypocrisy of the religious establishment, but they draw on conflicting impulses from the sixties in creating those images. As every student of the decades knows, the sixties went in like a lamb and out like a lion. They were peace and love and flower power: Woodstock. Then they were race riots and overdoses and Vietnam: Altamont. Superstar grows out of the sixties’ dark side. […] Godspell, by contrast, is a product of the sixties’ bright side. True, its Jesus flays lawyers and Pharisees as snakes and vipers, but […] he sings about love and harmony, thanks God for sunshine and rain, and rejoices in a community of caring friends.”

Check out Stephen Prothero’s fascinating and detailed history of Jesus’ place in American culture (American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon). In addition to his direct discussion of Godspell, the whole of the fourth chapter, “Superstar,” provides excellent historical context for the religious trends behind the concept of a hippie Jesus.