Joan Osborne's 1995 pop single "One of Us" asks questions that we don't want to know the answers to. "What if God was one of us?" "If God had a face, what would it look like? And would you want to see if seeing meant you have to believe?" The music video for the song shows a "face-in-the-hole" booth at a carnival. The cutout shows a flowing white beard and robe, like the depiction of Father Time at New Year's. In the course of the video, one person after another poses with their face in the cutout: children, adults, men, women, black, white, pierced, well-made-up. What if God was one of us?
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.