Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Worshipping an Orb called Christ" The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury

[EXCERPT] "Consider the Chinese," replied Father Peregrine imperturbably. "What sort of Christ do Christian Chinese worship? An oriental Christ, naturally. You've all seen oriental Nativity scenes. How is Christ dressed? In Eastern robes. Where does He walk? In Chinese settings of bamboo and misty mountain and crooked tree. His eyelids taper, His cheekbones rise. Each country, each race adds something to Our Lord. I am reminded of the Virgin of Guadalupe, to whom all Mexico pays its love. Her skin? Have you noticed the paintings of her? A dark skin, like that of her worshippers. Is this blasphemy? Not at all. It is not logical that men should accept a God, no matter how real, of another color. I often wonder why our missionaries do well in Africa, with a snow-white Christ. Perhaps because white is a sacred color, in albino, or any form, to the African tribes. Given time, mighn't Christ darken there too? The form does not matter. Content is everything. We cannot expect these Martians to accept an alien form. We shall give them Christ in their own image."
"There's a flaw in your reasoning, Father," said Father Stone. "Won't the Martians suspect us of hypocrisy? They will realize that we don't worship a round, globular Christ, but a man with limbs and a head. How do we explain the difference?"
"By showing there is none. Christ will fill any vessel that is offered. Bodies or globes. He is there, and each will worship the same thing in a different guise. What is more, we must believe in this globe we give the Martians. We must believe in a shape which is meaningless to us as to form. This spheroid will be Christ. And we must remember that we ourselves, and the shape of our Earth Christ, would be meaningless, ridiculous, a squander of material to these Martians."
Father Peregrine laid aside his chalk. "Now let us go into the hills and build our church."
The Fathers began to pack their equipment.

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