Several weeks ago when I was researching for my video on the “Gospel According to Comedians,” I came across the graphic on the cover of today’s bulletin. At the time I thought this graphic would prove useful or provocative to me, but I wasn’t sure for what purpose, so I kept the file on my screen’s desktop. Ever since then the thumbnail image of Jesus surfing the waves hung there on my desktop, begging me to go back to it, to find out more about who created the image and for what reason.
Not surprisingly, the image was created by someone deeply involved with surfer culture, the surfer and artist Rick Griffin. Even though I am originally from Southern California, I don’t know the first thing about surfing. When I first dove into the task of researching the image, I thought I would spend some time learning about surfing culture and the lingo. As it turns out, the surfing culture is deep and wide, and surfers have a language and a code of ethics unique to them. One thing central to proper surfing etiquette is to not act out or talk about your surfing ability beyond your actual ability. Surfers have a word for self-promoters like this: kooks. For example, you are a kook if “you finish your ride on top of a toddler’s sand castle halfway up the beach” or “you’ve had a board for eighteen months, and it’s never seen surf wax.” [Read more…]