This week on The Leftovers: bla bla bla and the story of stolen baby Jesus. There was nothing particularly interesting in the latest episode, more drama about people in the cult and their former families, some barefoot weirdos with a bull’s eye for tilaka, but the baby Jesus story somewhat justified the wasted time.
To remind – The Leftovers is a TV series about time after “rapture”, when roughly one in fifty people had simply disappeared. Everybody assumes they went to heaven and those who are left, well, they are the leftovers. This changes everything for them. Suddenly they are more aware of God but also feel snubbed.
Everybody reacts in his own way, some join a cult of “nothing matters”, some try to prove that raptured folks didn’t deserve it and so it can’t be the real rapture. There’s a side story about another cult, too. Everyone seems to have ground taken away from under their feet and they just can’t come to terms with being left without God’s mercy. How would you feel if you were left down here after all the chanting and praying?
I don’t know how I would have reacted. On one hand it would prove that Kṛṣṇa is “real”, on the other hand it would prove that He doesn’t really need me so I’m free from an obligation to serve Him. It’s quite hurtful to be ignored like this by the Lord. We are supposed to develop a personal relationship with Him, it’s hard as it is and being snubbed like this isn’t helping.
Maybe that’s why this show is a product of someone’s imagination and the Lord doesn’t put is into situations like that for real.
Moving on, the town was prepared to celebrate Christmas, they setup a nativity scene in a public place – sheep, Mary, Joseph, the whole family, and, of course, baby Jesus. Then someone stole him.
Town police chief, when hearing about this, said it doesn’t look like his business but then everybody he met started asking him about it, all the way up to the mayor. He was surprised people really cared. He offered to buy another one in a department store but that wasn’t acceptable either. People wanted “real” Jesus back, not a cheap substitution.
This is an interesting insight into human psyche, I hope it is real and people would react like that in real life, too. That street display was nothing special but people thought of it as sacred and that particular baby Jesus as unique and irreplaceable, like a deity.
If we translate this into our language, baby Jesus was properly installed by the town priest and so he cannot be substituted. Deity is a deity, it’s alive, it’s not just a lump of metal or marble, you can’t replace it just as you can’t replace real people around you.
The rest of this story was about people’s relationships with this “deity” of baby Jesus.
I should mention that the opening sequence to this episode showed how that baby Jesus doll was made in a factory. Not a particularly pretty sight – how they molded the plastic head, how they fitted the eyes, it was eerie, I half suspected they were making another Chucky, the doll character from horror movies that mercilessly kills everyone. Turned out it they were making baby Jesus.
I suppose even when Indians make our deities there are stages when unfinished statues look scary, not ready for public display. There’s ugliness in birth for everyone, I guess, part of life, everyone goes through it, even the Lord Himself.
Of course when Kṛṣṇa appears as an ordinary child there’s nothing scary about Him, or so we think, but maybe real devotion is loving Him with all our heart and soul no matter how unattractive He appears to a materialistic eye. Okay, Kṛṣṇa’s birth was special, but what about Lord Caitanya’s? He looked like an ordinary baby – covered in blood and slime and with the umbilical cord instead of a lotus flower stemming from His navel.
He obviously looked better than other newborn babies but that doesn’t say much in absolute terms. One more reason to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that unless we look at the Lord with “the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love” we won’t see anything. We should always remember that.
That was just one step in creating the “deity”, however. It came out of a factory just like any other doll, in a pretty box. It was standing on the ordinary shelf with hundreds of other dolls of all shapes and colors. It became Jesus only after the priest “installed” it.
When the police chief went to buy a replacement he picked one up from the shelf but it just didn’t feel right, he just couldn’t fake “installing” it, ie turning an ordinary doll into authentic Jesus. Believers or atheists – when it comes to real stuff everybody want to do right by God. It’s not a joke.
This takes us to the thieves themselves – a bunch of teenagers who wanted to mock an object of someone else’s worship. They went full retard in that, doing unmentionable things to baby Jesus and laughing about it. Finally, they decided to burn it but then the one given the task of lighting the fire couldn’t go through with it.
I hope it’s true of ordinary people, too – even hardcore demoniac atheists won’t dare to do the Lord actual harm. Whatever their did in their mockery, they knew there are limits.
Actually, the fact that they intentionally desecrated the “deity” of Jesus should tell us that they believe he is real, they just want to relate to him in their own demoniac way.
That’s how I myself see atheists. It’s not that they don’t believe in God, it’s that they want to relate to Him in a certain way, openly defying His laws or His powers, for example.
Next morning, after the designated girl couldn’t set baby Jesus on fire, teenagers dropped him on police chief’s front steps and ran away in shame when the chief saw them.
I hope this is true for the real people, too – that at the end of the day we all want to do right by the Lord, no matter what we have done, we all hope for forgiveness.
Yes, those kids were awful, and there are many people much more hostile and offensive than them, but I hope they all remember that no matter what, the Lord is our father, in Christian speak, and we can never change this fact no matter what we try. Eventually we all come back and seek His shelter.
The police chief picked baby Jesus and later that day went to put him back where he belongs. He eventually accepted that this doll in his hands was something special, real baby Jesus. Turns out that the priest had already installed the replacement. He simply said he had a spare and he put another doll in the crib, case closed.
Police chief put the original baby Jesus back in the front seat of his truck and drove home. Baby Jesus was looking at him with his blue eyes in the dark of the cabin and eventually the chief decided he had enough of this craziness. He stopped and threw baby Jesus no one needed anymore out of the window.
Was it, though? Was it the end of that man’s relationship with the Lord? Had he been frustrated beyond his limits? Has the Lord let him down?
I’m afraid the answer is yes to all these questions, but, on the other hand, the chief has learned that there’s more to the Lord than His external manifestations. He has also learned that the Lord appears only through authorized channels. If the priest says “This is Jesus” then it is, you can’t make Jesus on your own out of any ordinary doll. The priest can, we cannot.
We, as devotees, often make the same mistake, too. We think that because we know the Holy Name, possess books, and maybe even deities, we can relate to all these manifestations of the Lord directly ourselves. We can’t. Only our guru can authorize our worship. Without his mercy and his blessings there’s nothing spiritual in our lives no matter what service we do externally.
Two things to remember from this story – we can’t expect the Lord to conform to our standards of beauty – we need to develop real devotion to appreciate Lord’s appearance, and we should never try to serve the Lord without medium of our spiritual master, it won’t work