Jesus and the Gemini

I went to the 7-Eleven earlier to arm myself with Benadryl.  I grabbed a Diet A&W Root Beer and my overpriced box of diphenhydramine HCl, and stuck my card into the ATM slot.  I needed cash.  One of my regular 7-Eleven guys was stocking ice cream.  We talked idly about the NCAA championship, then Alex walked out of the cooler.  He saw me, and his eyes lit up:
"Tom! Do you believe in God?"

The ATM spat out four twenties.

"Alex? I do now."

To me, that was a God-given perfect comedy moment, so I took the easy joke.  I tried to clarify, "Seriously, I do.  I'm not the most religious person in th–"
"See? I TOLD you!" Alex nodded to the ice cream stocking 7-Eleven guy.  "Tom? We have an atheist in the house."

He said this as if my opinion were somehow definitive proof.  I collected my ATM receipt, grabbed my Benadryl and root beer, and added a pint of Haagen-Daz Pineapple-Coconut ice cream. 

The irony is that I'd been thinking and reading about Jesus this evening.  During Holy Week, I often think and read about Jesus.  Not in a liturgical sense, but just trying to wrap my head around the whole story.

Specifically, I always end up thinking how much it must have sucked to be Jesus. 

I was raised in the Presbyterian church–the frozen chosen, as I like to call them.  It was a pretty passionless church: no fire, no brimstone, and a helpful golf tip in each sermon.  God and Jesus, et al, were portrayed as your kindly Grandfather and Uncle team from Kentucky or Tennessee.  "Well, son, I don't like that you committed those sins, but since you're sorry, I won't cut you out of the will."  Like a lot of kids, I was fascinated and cheered by the whole Christmas story, then saddened by the Crucifixion.  It was the same way I hated to see Wile E. Coyote keep getting duped by the Roadrunner.  Just once, I wanted to see the coyote catch, throttle, stab, and eat that damn bird.  Also, just once, I wanted Jesus to be like Ultraman on TV, to crouch down and zap the evil Roman soldiers with his death ray.

Every year, that story bothered me.  Jesus comes into town one Sunday, and the crowds adore him.  Thursday, everything is fine.  He hangs with his friends, enjoys a meal, goes off to pray in a garden, then one of his friends plays Judas with him (quite literally), and sells Him out for thirty pieces of silver.  He wakes up Thursday morning, and everything is cool, then all of a sudden, he's dragged off in chains, beaten, whipped, nailed up, and killed.  What a crappy day.

As I said, I've been reading about Historical Jesus, not the Gospel accounts, which I know.  The guy was revolutionary, to be sure.  He angered the existing religious powers by saying that the "Kingdom of God" was inside each of us.  The church hierarchy begged to differ.  They had all these rites and rituals and codes: you could only get to God by following all manner of rules.  Dietary laws, bah.  Jesus would have eaten a cheeseburger and liked it.  Jesus said we should love each other, period.  He was against smiting and retribution and vengeance.  He also said we could be forgiven for our sins. 

What happens in the New Testament is that a religion was being formed centered around Jesus.  You have the four Gospels, three of which (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) share a common source (Matty and Luke basically copied Mark).  Then you have all these letters from Paul to various churches.  Oh, and Revelation, which was likely written by somebody who read too many graphic novel scrolls and ate Taco Bell Fire Sauce.

Jesus didn't write anything.  We don't have compendia of his essays and position papers.  We can't analyze films of his sermons, or listen to tapes of his speeches.  What we're left with is a bunch of things written by people who knew Him, but weren't him, or people who didn't even know him.  When Jesus was alive, Paul was Saul, and he hated Jesus, God, et al. 

What gets me is this: again, Jesus never wrote anything.  A few nights a week, I sit here in my cave, and I write words that people read on five continents.  Back in the day, I wrote words that were printed in a newspaper, that thousands of people picked-up every day (it had these great coupons in the back, you see).  Nobody today has heard Jesus' voice.  For 20 years, I talked on the radio.  I mention these things, because I'm a comparative nobody with nothing earth-shattering to say, and yet there's a record of me having said things. 

Today, there are millions of kids whose every move is twittered, texted, IM'd, blogged, videoed, and Lord knows what else.  When I was 15, I wanted to see a girl's breasts.  Now, 15 year-old girls take pictures of their own breasts and text them to their friends.  You can hardly do anything without another person being there to record it.  Hell, ask Michael Phelps, who couldn't even do a college party bonghit without someone iPhoning the picture to a tabloid.  I was looking for a Rickie Lee Jones song on YouTube the other night.  I couldn't find her singing it, but there were a couple dozen videos of idiots singing it themselves. 

You can get an idea of Jesus from the Gospels, just as you can get an idea of Elvis from reading books by his bandmates, relatives, or other Memphis Mafia members.  Both will have truths; both will have exaggerations and prurient stories to sell copies.  Or to build a church.

Jesus was a known associate of some shady people: prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, poor people.  He recognized that God is inside them just the same as in the beautiful people.  I can't imagine this guy freaking out because Adam marries Steve instead of Eve.  I can't imagine him giving the thumbs-up to people bombing abortion clinics, or bombing each other over differences between two faiths.  "God is inside us all, and love your neighbor.  What part of that do you idiots not get??"

It would be a hell of a soundbyte. 

Most of all, I think Jesus would be uncomfortable with all the attention he gets twice a year.  "Yes, I was born, and I was crucified.  It's what I said in the middle that matters, you dolts: love your neighbor, and remember that God is inside everyone."  I think, too, that He'd be freaked out by his biggest fans walking around wearing crosses–it seems a little morbid if you think about it–and I'm sure His head would explode trying to understand chocolate-delivering bunnies as a symbol of the Resurrection.

When He hears what some people preach in His name, I bet he'd be tempted to just death-ray all of us.  If he heard Tiffany G on YouTube butcher "Last Chance Texaco," He probably would.

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4 Responses to “Jesus and the Gemini”

  1. You once again have made an excellent point! I have more thoughts on the subject, but my brain is all scramble-y so I will comment later. Kuddos though!! :)K

  2. Totally. In the words of the great Bill Hicks, " Like a lof christians wear crosses around their necks. Nice sentiment, but do you think when Jesus comes back he's really gonna want to look at a cross? Ow! That may be why he hasn't showed up yet."
    Im pretty sure there's another one out there that likens the practice to people celebrating JFK's life by wearing a sniper-rifle pendant around their neck. Good stuff.

  3. Totally. In the words of the great Bill Hicks, " Like a lot christians wear crosses around their necks. Nice sentiment, but do you think when Jesus comes back he's really gonna want to look at a cross? Ow! That may be why he hasn't showed up yet."
    Im pretty sure there's another one out there that likens the practice to people celebrating JFK's life by wearing a sniper-rifle pendant around their neck. Good stuff.

  4. Finally catching up on my blog reading – thanks for this. Excellent.

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