Jesus is Just a Spanish Boy's Name
Updated: Jan 14
A favourite lyric from Frightened Rabbit. JESUS IS JUST A SPANISH BOY’S NAME.
Also a teenage memory memory from when I first went to school in Tenerife. I was 13 years old and I went to El Instituto de Los Olivos without knowing much Spanish except the obligatory rude words that you pick up as a teenager trying to fit in at school.
In my first class, on my first day, the teacher wrote his name on the board “Jesus” and I kept giggling. No-one else found it funny.
“haha, his name is Jesus”
“Yeah, that’s just a Spanish name” shrugged the girl they’d paired me up with.
What I want to talk about is Religion, the apparently taboo subject. Feel free to stop reading if you feel its an inappropriate discussion, however I’d urge you to continue reading as why I don’t think it should be an avoided topic. I’m not in any way setting out to argue and definitely not to offend anyone. This side of the Atlantic, Religion is HUGE, not just in Guatemala, but lots of folk from the States too. I had no idea so many people had so much faith in Christianity, it's quite impressive to me, because I don't know anyone at home who is religious in the traditional sense of the word.
It’s not that I don’t believe in anything, it’s just that I don’t know. I believe in the possibility. I'm spiritual in my own way, I suppose with having more than just a mild moon cycle obsession. There might be something more, I'm open to it. I just find it a little narcisistic to think that God or the Universe definitely has a specific plan for you. The world doesn’t revolve around you or I- how we are born and the lives we are born into is luck, chance, and an unjust lottery. Is it fair that I was born in a relatively democratic, safe part of the world when others aren’t? Nope.
(ahem, UK is potentially no longer democratic as of last week??)
We do have control to more of an extent than people tend to believe. Serendipity and seemingly magical moments happen. That can be beautiful. And maybe beautifully human rather than Godly? I suppose with the way the world is going recently, we are scared and humans are getting a bad rep- but perhaps we need to be better? Set intentions and actually following through with the work makes sense.
The issues I have is when people have more faith in God than in themselves and than in humanity and that’s when I’m like “nah”. For example when a lady I know said that she wasn’t really a talented designer, but God did it all, I just wanted to say- “but this is your hard work and talent, you are amazing and you should know that. YOU HAVE WORKED HARD"
And another she had only ever wanted five children, but ended up with 7 because it was “God’s will” and I knew what she meant..... That’s not God’s will, that's bad people.
What church do you worship in?
When the question does pose itself with people I don't know, I usually avoid the topic. Just saying that I have been baptised as a baby. Otherwise, I’ve often been met with quite harsh responses when I've said I'm not religious.... but after being called a "prostitute" at age 10 in a church because I was wearing cool-as-fuck 1990s lace-up boots, I found the whole religious experience backwards and very tearful. I am however as an adult accepting of whatever religion people want to believe in. I’m interested in humans and nature, in a way similar to ancient cultural beliefs (without the human sacrifices of course), but if someone’s views are really extreme or morally wrong I find it very very hard. I’ve been told many times that if I don’t accept God into my heart, then I won’t be saved, all I used to say is “thank you for letting me know” which took a lot of patience. Now, that I have a way better relationship with my colleagues and they get my sense of humour I say :
“Well, I guess I’ll just burn in hell!”
And we all laugh, so ya know- we can still be silly about it sometimes without anyone getting really offended.
The worst thing I’ve had to deal with that really upset me, was being told that being gay is a sin. The first time this happened, all I could only say “That’s not true and love is love”
(“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”)
It honestly made me so, so angry that I had to leave and calm down without anyone seeing as I thought I might cry. I couldn’t be angry at the person who said it as I genuinely like her and think that she’s just been brainwashed, and everyone around backs her opinion as well, so I look like the one who has the wrong view. If it was back in London and someone had said that to me, I would have had a big old shout fest of an argument. So anything I say in response I have to say softly, and peacefully and only if I’m asked my opinion which takes a lot of restraint. I know what I say falls on deaf ears, but just maybe someone might think from a different point of view and change perspective on important issues like gender and sexual equality. This issue isn't just here though is it? There are people all over the planet who think like that. But I see it more here.
Speaking softly wherever we are... in hope that it changes someone’s thinking. Tiny changes.
I have mixed feelings about churches. Sometimes I think they are like predatory vultures, coming into vulnerable areas to take advantage of people. It’s just another cult to me at times. It’s pretty much saying that if you have faith, God will provide. And if something devastating happens- its “God’s will”. Seems very contradictory to me. A lot of what’s to be said about the area I live is that it’s not Catholic-heavy, it’s Evangelical and an extreme version of that. No-one I knew celebrated the Catholic-Guatemalan tradition of processions and rugs for Easter, because apparently that’s idolism and false, which I think is a shame because the processions are so beautiful and they bring people together. I feel sad because when faith is a big chunk of what you’ve got and that it's a huge part of community, and bringing people together, I can understand why people hold it so close to their hearts. When it’s in opposition to all other religions and different cultures I find it really narrow-minded... I feel that some religions take advantage of people in difficult situations and play on people’s fears, thus suppressing people, especially women, further. You'll not believe some of the "Well, but the bible says...." things I've heard that are just ridiculous.
The good thing in this is that I hope working in a community and trying to do alright things shows that you don’t have to be Christian to be a good person. I’m also happy to singalong to the Alavanzas at work, some are catchy AF! I’d probably draw the line at setting foot in church, they look genuinely terrifying and the singing sounds like someone is drunkenly singing karaoke songs to the combined tune of “Itsy Witsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and “She’ll be coming round the mountain” ending with crying because they’ve had a little bit too much. (if you’ve seen some of my insta-stories, you can see what I mean) It’s very intense and I find a lot of the beliefs too extreme for me personally.
I had actually found the noise of this more difficult than anything else in La Esperanza, the only time I called my mum up in tears was when this church across the street wouldn’t STFU. I was so sick because of the sound, actually ill (this was back in February and I was still adjusting). My mum was more worried about me getting brainwashed than anything of the violence happening. “Come home, I don’t want you to end up in a creepy Christian cult”.
Even everyday language is religious. “How are you?” Is met with “Bien, Gracias a dios”. A lot of shops are “Benediciones a Dios” or whatever. It even made dating hard, I was seeing a guy earlier this year and a simple question, “Are we going to Antigua this weekend?” was met with “Primero dios” (God willing”) and I was like “is that, yeah you’re coming or no you’re not?” That lead to one of many arguements (not all about religion). On of the ladies here suggested setting me up with her son once, but only if I stopped drinking wine and went to church. Nope, no thank you.
But back to Jesus, is he just a Spanish Boy’s name, and how come one man had so much pain?
I’ve always liked to think that he existed, and that the bible is an early piece of literature, with the main protagonist being the Derren Brown of his time. He could’ve had wild magical powers! I even attempted to read bits of the Old Testament the other day (parts about Plagues) to get a bit more of an understanding.
Regardless of belief, it’s not hard to be a good human without having to have dogmatic guidance. Just be nice to people and work hard.
And to another Frightened Rabbit lyric in the same song, let’s just stick with the mantra
“while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth..” <3