He reached over and turned the radio up. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Freedom requires religion”? “Religion requires freedom”? WTF was this pendejo saying?
Right, you stupid guero, Jesus thought. Just like the freedom the Afghans had under the Taliban. Or the Jews had under the Inquisition. And “religion requires freedom”? What the heck? What was it that all those Jews in the camps were practicing?
Jesus shook his head.
Would it never stop? Would these pinche politicians ever quit using so-called “religion” to sell their weaselly lies?
No, they wouldn’t, he knew. They hadn’t for thousands of years.
Jesus checked his one good mirror.
He looked over his shoulder to make sure he could merge. The old Corolla coughed blue smoke, trying hard to accelerate. The freeway wasn’t too crowded at this hour. Jesus had to get to Home Depot and pick up three of his éses. They had been lucky to find work hanging rock at a big remodel in Toluca Lake. It had been a good job so far. A week and a half already. All cash, no questions, no papers. The job site was a couple blocks from where Robert Blake shot his wife. Oh yeah, you shot her, Jesus thought, and we both know it. No manches. Don’t think you won’t get your eternal reward, either, Señor Blake. No automatic appeals process in heaven.
But what was I thinking about, again? Right, Jesus thought: those politicians. They figured out a long time ago they could take my name and use it for themselves. What was it that mentiroso Huckabee said? Oh, yeah – he owed his poll numbers to divine providence. Divine providence! What a cabron! Didn’t he also say gay marriage would end civilization?
He dropped in behind a black Navigator. Twenty-two-inch wheels, blacked-out windows, spinners. Bumper sticker: “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.”
Not Jewish – Mexican. And not a carpenter – a drywaller. And, mijito, I’m not your boss. So quite trying to pin everything on me.
And then this idiota Trent Lott says he decided to retire early because his pastor read a passage from Ecclesiastes. Pinche mentiroso.
Jesus spat – he cranked down the window and hocked a big greener into the next lane.
He was tired of hypocrites who used God’s name like he was some kind of pro athlete lending his credibility to their screwed-up product. And – ¡hijole! – did they screw it up.
Dragging a girl behind a truck at a “Christian” “boot camp” run by – Jesus winced – Love Demonstrated Ministries. Oral Roberts University’s chancellor’s wife accused of consorting with underage boys. Ted Haggard. David Vitter. Pastors fathering children with their brother’s wives. A “Christian missionary” who uses his clown persona to gain access to young boys – and then dies in prison. And these idiots who believed that they were “putting God back in the classroom,” or wherever. As if God could be removed from there. As if God needed their help.
Everything had gotten so out of hand after his execution. Actually, he’d seen it coming, even all the way back to that sermon at Karn Hattin. And that entrance into Jerusalem with the palm fronds and the cloaks and the pony ride and the people touching the hem of his garb – it had gotten a little scary, actually. So he wasn’t really surprised that after he died, so many people had gotten it so wrong. He wasn’t some superhero, he was just some ordinary guy, like his friends Buddha and Mohamed. An ordinary guy with extraordinary insight – the kind of insight you get after you’ve spent several lifetimes around this place, he thought. But it was the “rock star” thing at work: people needed to make it something more than it was, and so his real story got embellished and added to. It was like that game, “Telephone”: one person hears something, then passes on to the next person what they thought they heard, and the next person tells the person after them what they thought the first person thought they heard, and so on. By the time his story had gotten to the 21st century, Jesus was almost unrecognizable.
It never ceased to amaze him how down through the centuries humans had purported to be interpreting his words. No meat on Fridays? What cabron made up that rule? Obviously, no one who had ever had any of his tio’s carne asada. Holy water? Incense? And the robes – and that hat!¡Hijole! He shook his head. What a waste, he thought. And worse – killing people. Starting wars. Making a scene at soldiers’ funerals.
I wish they wouldn’t use my name for that, he thought. Why is it, he wondered – although he already knew the answer – that the ones who spent the most time worrying about other people’s behavior were the ones most guilty of that behavior? And why was it that the ones who most often invoked his name to justify whatever it was that they were doing were the ones who would never even consider living the kind of life that he led? It’s like he was some kind of pro athlete, lending his name to their screwed up product. Only, he didn’t endorse most of what they were doing: I’m Jesus, and I do not approve of this message.
Please, Lord, help these people find something better to do with their time.
And my church, the church I founded, the one that I told Peter to build – how badly has that been screwed up? Crucifixes made in sweatshops are sold in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And right here in L.A., our own beloved Cardinal Mahoney – who managed to find places to relocate child molesters – now can’t seem to find money to relocate three good nuns, whose convent is being sold to pay for the damages caused by Cardinal Roger’s stupidity. And the Vatican had to resort to riot police to evict some nuns in Poland who refused to leave their convent on orders from Rome.
And then this Benedict, this “Pope,” has the cojones to declare that all other churches are “defective” because they don’t recognize his spiritual leadership! What a culo!
But, Jesus thought, while sometimes it was awful what they did in God’s name, sometimes it was just hilarious. There was a Baptist group that passed a resolution calling on its members to repent for saying things on a blog that church leaders took as criticism.
I love chocolate, he thought. Some people just don’t like the idea of a brown Jesus, I guess.
And then there was Kathy Griffin – she nailed it when she told the audience at the Emmys that Jesus had nothing to do with her winning. Ooh, the Catolicos were pissed about that one! Funny how they didn’t have a problem with Salma Hayek when she gave God credit for her chichis.
But the best, the best, was the Vatican’s “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.” “Thou shalt not make rude gestures behind the steering wheel” always cracked Jesus up.
And, “Those who know Jesus Christ are careful on the roads” – are you kidding me?!!
¡Órale, guero! They must have seen my driving!! Jesus laughed hysterically. He was pounding the steering wheel.
he was laughing so hard. He thought he might pee his pants.
He cut across two lanes to make the Sherman Way exit.
People are loco, he thought. The things they get upset about, the things that are important to them, the things they value.
Coño, I met a dog on the subway the other day named Jesus, he thought. He was a Yorkie. He had blue hair. His owner was some wack British goth girl from Yorkshire. She said she liked the name. She said she rescued him because he was from Yorkshire, like her. She had, like, a half dozen piercings on her face and about the same number of tattoos on her arms that he could see. Her nails were painted black at the tips.
Did it bother him? Not at all. He was honored, actually. But some uptight cabron on the subway gave that girl a hard time about the dog’s name. He said she was probably a terrorist, and said she should go back where she came from. She told him to fuck off.
He realized that most people in this country wouldn’t know him for who he was if their lives depended on it. They would no sooner listen to a poor, dirty Mexican laborer with bad teeth and no papers than they would to a Martian. Sometimes the realization bothered him.
But mostly he actually liked it that way. He liked talking with his vatos that he hung out with most mornings in front of the Home Depot, better than to a group of five thousand. He always felt that those five thousand were all looking for someone else to give them an answer to a question they weren’t even willing to honestly ask themselves. And that’s why all the miracles: because with enough magic and bells and whistles, no one had to look inside and pay attention to the work they had to do themselves.
And these people – always confusing my message with the message from the Old Testament. I thought I had spelled it out for them when that scribe asked me about it. And besides, he knew that they weren’t really looking to obey all 613 of the laws from the Old Testament;. If they were, they wouldn’t be having pepperoni pizza, eating lobster, and wearing cotton/polyester blends. No – they were just looking for an excuse to go hating on other people.
“Hay-ZOOS!” his friends called. It always cracked him up: Hey, Zeus.
Jesus pulled into the Home Depot parking lot.
It was time to go to work.
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