The black Jesus

ONE OF THE reasons I subscribe to no religion is that you often must do odd stuff. The believers do not consider it odd, of course, and since I support organized religion for the societal glue that it is, I say to them: Go for it.

This weekend brings a strange Catholic event to our corner of Mexico. It is the pilgrimage to Carácuaro, a small town in our state’s “Tierra Caliente.” Carácuaro’s draw is a huge statue of a black Jesus. Mexican Catholicism has more variations of Jesus and Mary than you can shake a sceptre at.

Every year about this time thousands of Mexican faithful set off to Carácuaro on foot, on bicycle, in cars, on motorbikes, on knees, you name it. Often they tote statues and crosses of varying sizes. The walkers usually start from some town that can be near or far, depending on one’s devotion and physical stamina.

My wife, her sister, and our young nephew (the young vaquero) are fond of this trek even though neither of the adults profess to be Catholic. My father-in-law, the long deceased doctor, was extremely anti-Catholic, so they were not raised in the Catholic church. Or any church.

They only do it half-assed, which is to say they drive most of the distance and then, nearing Carácuaro, they get out and walk the last few miles. They hire a chauffeur from here to accompany them.

Once, however, my wife did it full-tilt boogie. In 2002, just before we married, she and her sister-in-law’s now-deceased husband, the fellow I used to call The Eggman, set off from a distant town and walked for two days, spending the night on the ground somewhere. They trekked down country roads and through woods over mountaintops and rural fields. About 70 miles, to hear them tell it.

Her sister made that trip in a car and brought them back the afternoon of the second day. They were laughable, grimy, limping, groaning and somehow my future wife had chipped a front tooth, since repaired.

Now they do it in a more sensible manner.

One year I accompanied them as driver. Yes, I have been to Carácuaro. I have seen the black Jesus. The only walking I did was from the parking lot in a field on the outskirts of town to the downtown church which was surrounded by throngs of faithful folks in states of exhaustion. We went and returned the same day.

Tomorrow morning, they will set off around dawn. I will spend the day here at the Hacienda, relaxing.

10 thoughts on “The black Jesus

  1. There are many, I suspect, who believe that the gringos have had their own Black Jesus in the District of Columbia, for the last six years, who makes many promises to the faithful. His followers have a tendency to call disbelievers racists and climate deniers.

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    1. Good one, Andrés! There are many who worship at his feet and his collectivist altar. I must point out, however, that Barry is no more black than white. He is the first biracial president, a mulatto, no matter how much the multiculturalists yearn to call him black. He ain’t.

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  2. Very interesting. There are pilgrimages around here too, and I’ve thought about what drives them. Penitence? The sense of ‘everybody’s doing it’? Getting away from the daily grind? Exercise? All of the above? What’s the payoff, and does it come in the process or at the goal? Who knows, maybe they’re onto something.


    1. Bliss: For most, I believe, it is religious fervor. For others, a minority, I imagine it’s one or more of the other factors you mention. Pilgrimages are very common right here in my town due to the special Virgin who lives in our downtown Basilica.


  3. I’ll have to try one of these pilgrimages one day, from the comfort of the front seat of the car, with an ice chest in the back seat.


  4. My protestant variety of Christianity has used the filter of the Enlightenment to pull out most of the symbolism of Catholicism, and brewed it down to a few essential theological points. Those points, of course, are still based on faith — and a lot of Existential experience. Mexico has taught me to seek out the points of agreement and to not worry about the areas of disagreement.


    1. Señor Cotton: Intellectualizing about “God” strikes me as futile. As my ole daddy used to say: Trying to explain God to a human is like trying to explain the internal combustion engine to a dog.


  5. There is a Martin Charlot mural (he was part of Frida/Diego Rivera movement who eventually moved to Hawaii and became a Professor of Art) in a remote Catholic church in Fiji, which was later rejuvenated by his son. I won’t expand on my incredible experiences when we visited that site other than to say not only was Jesus black … so were all of his disciples.

    I am amazed, given your historical descriptions, that your wife and the Eggman were able to travel and camp together. However, it was good to see that the Eggman, in whatever form, is still sometimes part of the fact, fiction and opinion in this new pot of yours. Some of your best entries in the old pot involved his exploits. (Way more fun than Obama bashing but, I must admit, Obama deserves a bashing now and then — increasingly more now than then.)

    Since I’ve changed the subject a little, just wanted to say your talents are not fully utilized in political tirades. You have successfully found an audience (which seems a little limited compared to the old days) while alienating, I suspect, a larger historical one. There are a significant few who will follow you through thick or thin.

    Although I peripherally remain a member of what you call the “collectivists,” I am by no means stuck in any mein of thought other than to think the whole political process sucks; is run by a minute group of privileged international individuals and corporations; and that we, the Everyman, have very little arsenal against any movement they desire. In my mind, Republican and/or Democrat are pretty irrelevant anymore.

    I know, i know. This is your turf and you can do whatever you like with it. I respect that and will continue visiting. Just saying.

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    1. Larry: When my bride and the Eggman went on that jaunt, it was long before everything went south and sour. And I only bring him up these days when he’s relevant. He’s dead now.

      And again, I do occasional polemics, not rants, not tirades. You are a hard-headed man, but I forgive you. As for the current audience being more limited than before, actually, it’s not. I have access to the numbers, and it’s pretty much the same as before. Fewer people comment. And that is because, I think, the collectivists still read, but they keep their mouths shut. They know that name-calling and sputtering has no effect here.

      So the world is run by an international cabal, you say. I do not believe that. There are powerful people, of course, but they’re not all in cahoots. And if the GOP had won the last two elections, things would be quite different on not just the national scene but the international one as well.


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