Easter 2018

For my friend Lola White who is sick (and tired) on Easter. 

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Once upon a time, in a medium-sized city called Jerusalem that seemed to be constantly occupied by people who wanted to oppress its residents, the government killed a local prophet who had been spreading some really radical anti-capitalist, pacifist, feminist messages that scared the shit out of them.

After he was buried in a make-shift mausoleum and his male followers ran for the hills, the women who clearly loved him the most came to honor him and clean up his body. When they got there, the stone had been rolled away, and an angel was chilling in the cave.

“Where’s Jesus’ body?” they asked him.

“It’s cool that you came to see him, but homie took off. Remember how he could make all those predictions about the future that kept coming true? Well, when he came back from the dead, he looked two thousand years into the future and got super-pissed. So he called up his pops and said, ‘Beam me up, Scotty,’ which is a reference y’all won’t get for a couple millenia, and then God sent him to a country on the other side of the world.”

Mary Magdalene made her hand flat, stared at it, and then flipped it over. “The other side?”

“Nah. The world is round. Like a ball. The Greeks have already proved that. But some of y’all are still going to be saying it’s flat in two thousand years. That was one of the things Jesus was pissed about, now that you mention it. Be glad he took off. He really was resurrected on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Consider yourselves lucky that he split.”

 

Jesus teleported into a crowd coming out of a megachurch on Easter morning in 2018. They had just been singing a bunch of happy songs, so they were exceptionally patient with the clearly mentally disturbed man wearing a sheet with blood all over it.

“Okay, dipshits, I have some things to say, and then I’m ascending to heaven to chill with my dad. So listen up!”

“I see y'all are the majority now. Congratulations. Quit pretending you're an oppressed minority. Not only is it embarrassing to you and to me, but it makes you do stupid things out of fear. On second thought, go ahead. Vote for the racist sexual predator who promises to build a wall to keep out people who need protection. Wreck your own country. I don't give a shit. You assholes just killed me.

“In fact, why don’t you just pretend I was totally kidding about that ‘Blessed are the poor’ line. And that ‘Take all you have and give it to the poor.’ Fuck those guys, am-I-right? I can tell from the way you’re all dressed that you have worked very hard and earned everything that you’ve got, so you’re morally superior to the poor people who didn’t bother to show up today because they are at their third jobs, those lazy bastards. Go full Smaug to your greedy little heart’s content. You dickholes crucified me, so taking foodstamps from children will be small potatoes to you pricks.

“While you’re at it, why don’t you keep on throwing more people in prison than anybody has ever. And applaud the idea of killing more criminals. Old Testament justice, right?” He pointed at the cross on top of their church. “It’s not like killing criminals should give you all pause or anything. Idiots.

“You know what, why don’t you just destroy the whole world. Dad considered it once and then changed his mind. But you can do it if you feel like it. Put the CEOs of the most rapacious oil companies in charge of everything and make the whole planet Dad gave you into an unlivable Venus-Earth hell-hole. Natural consequences, bitches.”

Just then, two police cruisers rolled up. They didn’t have their sirens on, and the officer climbed out slowly, clearly not very concerned. “We got a call from your pastor about a person disturbing the congregation,” one began. Then they saw Jesus.

“Holy shit! Get down on the ground, motherfucker!” they shouted.

Jesus started to raise his hands.

“Gun!” one yelled.

Then they shot him twenty times because he had brown skin.

As he fell, he just had time to say, “Not again.”

Response to Pastor Sean's Non-Apology


In case you managed to miss the viral video, a pastor in North Carolina named Sean Harris amused his congregation by advocating that they beat their children if they suspect the children of being gay. “Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK?" I was one of the folks who sent Sean Harris a letter demanding an apology. To his credit, he responded. He didn’t apologize. Not really. But he replied. He sent me a link to his blogpost on Pastor Sean’s Blog in which he made his non-apology apology. There, he claimed that when he had said, “Can I make it any clearer?” and then proceeded to advocate breaking your child’s wrist and punching him, he was not making it very clear, because, “Clearly, I would like to have been more careful with exactly what I said, but sometimes I say things without enough clarity.” Pastor Sean sure talks a lot about clarity, doesn’t he? He now claims that, immediately after asking if he could make it any clearer, he “misspoke.” He doesn’t want people to do the thing he clearly told them to do. He just “was speaking in a forceful manner to emphasize the degree to which gender distinctions matter to God.” I guess that means these distinctions matter so much to God that He inspires people to misspeak to the degree that, “Parents should not punch babies or children,” becomes “Give them a good punch,” when stated forcefully. It’s so important that God caused Pastor Sean to say the opposite of what he believes? And yet, Pastor Sean continues his apology by writing “Either Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 are true and we should communicate the truth in love for fear of not entering the Kingdom of God or the entire Bible cannot be trusted to be the Word of God.” I would guess that’s pretty important to Pastor Sean. I would think it’s pretty important to his God, too. Is it so important that God might cause Pastor Sean to say the exact opposite when speaking forcefully? Would Pastor Sean misspeak and communicate something other than the truth in love for fear of not entering the Kingdom of God? Would that misspeaking include some hatred instead of love?

Pastor Sean ends his non-apology apology by whining about how he’s been called mean names by the LGTB community, “using ungodly and profane words.” It’s a good thing none of the men of his congregation are around to act on his advice, “Man up,” and whoop Pastor Sean for his whining. It’s also a huge relief to know that, now that his congregation has been made aware that they shouldn’t hit their children, when they abuse their gay kids verbally they will do so using godly and holy words instead of the ungodly and profane ones that have so wounded their pastor. He closes by criticizing the LGTB community for being intolerant. Yeah. Seriously. 

But I’m not in Pastor Sean’s congregation, nor am I a Baptist, nor am I a Christian anymore. When I posted the video, I made some crack about how I refuse to be associated with any religion that included Pastor Sean or his congregation. One of my Christian relatives accused me of dismissing an entire religion because of a “fanatical nut job.” But I hadn’t written that I lost my faith because of people like Pastor Sean. In fact, as a Christian, I tolerated them, even though I resented the association, precisely because I felt it was my obligation as a Christian to look beyond our disagreements and focus on what we agreed upon. I lost my faith for more fundamental, epistemological reasons. This is just a bonus. Now, from the outside, I'm very glad to not be wrestling to justify my belief in any religion which would associate me with people like Pastor Sean.

It’s too easy to point out how obtuse, cowardly, hypocritical, and heartless Pastor Sean is. Plus, it hurts his tender feelings. I'm more upset that his congregation laughed at their pastor telling them to beat their children, and that none of them had the courage to stand up for their own sons and daughters and the sons and daughters of their fellow congregants when he made those “jokes.” I wasn’t raised Baptist, but in our Presbyterian churches, when a child was baptized, we all stood up and made a very solemn promise to that infant and to his parents, saying that we would help raise them in the love of God. As I’m no longer a Christian, I won’t tell those congregants what that should mean to them, but I’ll bet the Baptists, no matter how homophobic, don’t interpret the love of God to include child abuse, and I doubt their rejection of infant baptism is a loophole for allowing it. So if they ever made a similar promise to the children of their congregation, someone (someone more qualified than Pastor Sean) might want to remind them of what that means.