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American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politicsby Roland Merullo
"I have to say that, on a personal level, I found Jesus to be peculiar and somewhat unpredictable. This troubled me. It also made me think about how we had all come to form an image of him in our minds. If we'd been exposed to the Bible, it was usually only to pieces of the Bible, a few parables, a few key quotes. Added to those pieces were scraps of things we'd heard, paintings by people who had never seen him, and scenes from films. And added to that, I guess, were elements of our own psychology: we wanted Jesus to be a certain way--a savior, a martyr, a pacifist, a radical political figure, a quiet and gentle man of peace, a drinker of wine, a good friend, a guy who could be comfortable around women--because those things made us feel good about him and maybe about ourselves.
But in real life he defied any kind of label. Sitting up there on the bull, he had looked like nothing more than a good ole boy Texan, shoulder muscles bulging, a steely glint in his eye. At other times, he'd move gracefully down the aisle of the jet like a ballet star, or step out of his hotel room in a suit so stylishly tailored that even Wales's wardrobe paled in comparison. Talking to a university crowd he'd use words like segue and ramification, and then, out in the country someplace, he'd be having biscuits and gravy at a diner, looking like the kind of guy who'd tell an off-color joke at the VFW bar or come over the hill riding and ATV and howling the rebel yell.
In another politician, this would have felt like phoniness. In Jesus, somehow it all seemed part of one parcel. The press kept trying to squeeze him into a box: he'd talk about prohibiting assault rifles or sentencing nonviolent drug offenders to counseling instead of jail, and they'd brand him a bleeding-heart liberal who would probably raise taxes; the next week he'd be going on about real threats to American security in the coming years, and the necessity of people doing things for themselves rather than looking for handouts, and all of a sudden he was a right-wing, hard-hearted, so-and-so. What was particularly interesting was that, the more the political analysts tried to push him into one corner or another, the more ordinary voters, the ones who counted, seemed to appreciate that he actually spoke from his heart, without any calculation."
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