RELIGION MADE TO ORDER WITH A MESSIAH ON THE SIDE

God may be dead and long gone, but religion is a horse of another color. Religion is more about godliness than God himself. If necessary to create Him, then do so. Draw the hair long and the beard wild, or put him in a business suit with clipboard and calculator. The Chinese portray Buddha (and always have) as a sitting laughing bald guy with a belly bigger than his considerable buttocks. The Thais portray Buddha (and always have) as a tall slender stroller with eyes half-closed and an empty palm extended gracefully. On the other hand, the legendary Avalokitesvara, exporter of Buddhism beyond India’s borders and Bodhisattva par excellence somehow invariably morphed from a man into the woman Kuan Yin/Kannon/Kuan Im everywhere he/she entered the pantheon of worship. Go figure. If Jesus has ever been portrayed as anything other than a well-tanned surfer dude breaking bread with the buds or gazing above invariably back-lit halo-like, I’ve never seen it, but that all started with renaissance ‘hippie’ painters with agendas, or so a high-school teacher assured me. Likenesses of Muhammad are proscribed, of course. Religions tend to give the region of their acceptance the message they need, like it or not. Violent Europeans get the love-priest. Sexually obsessed Arabs get the head wrap for women. Possessive face-obsessed Asians get the religion of renouncement and passive withdrawal.