My son had an art piece selected for a school district show at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.
(“I used watercolors, pencils, and sharpies. They let me use sharpies. How come you never let me use sharpies?”)
It’s one of the art museums I haven’t been to since moving to San Francisco. And my reluctance was validated as I faced my first full gallery of Asian idols. I just get a heavy feeling in my stomach when I see them, even the fellows hanging out in the entryways of Asian restaurants with fruit and money arranged prettily at their feet. They make me need to pray.
And this gallery was filled with Shivas and Krishnas. I walked through the first two rooms quickly, trying to appreciate the artistry, the antiquity.
And then it caught my eye. I stopped suddenly at a small glowing thing, a perfect ivory sculpture over three-hundred years old entitled “Christ as the Good Shepherd”.
It was of a small boy with a lamb on his shoulder, a lamb tucked around his feet. A girl at the bottom reading the Bible was identified as Saint Catherine in the tag.
This ivory boy was so at odds with the four-armed warriors, the serpent crushing monsters, with their supernatural bodies and sharp teeth.
It occurred to me afresh how ridiculous it is to follow a God who would become an ordinary human baby, a gentle man who would submit to die for love of brothers, sisters, and Father.
I thought about Christianity’s PR machine that was going around India three hundred years ago amidst bejeweled deities trying to sell the idea of a baby born in a stable who didn’t even scare sheep, a homeless king who would submit to a criminal’s death out of love.
The other gods’ stories ring hollow, stories of vengeance and lust, of trying to prove their strength and superiority. How glad I am that my God is so confident in his authority that he would unhesitatingly submit to the only plan, the base and humble plan, that would bring me once again into his family.
Small, glowing, and brighter than the thousand more impressive sculptures, my little baby God conquered the room.