A Religious Experience
Wow, I suddenly feel so nondenominational!
Ah, the New Testament - the best-selling sequel of all time. Billions have read its pages and learned of how the vengeful, raging, smite-happy God who stole the show in the Old Testament mellowed to become the loving, caring, guest-appearance-on-Oprah-having God we all know and fear. Well, the God that Christians know and fear, anyway. We Jews are still all about the Almighty back in his Clint Eastwood-style ass-whomping days. Unlike Christians, we never interpreted all of God's biblical killing sprees as being wrathful. In our eyes, they were all justified. We learned our lessons, and now we're all chill. Fear isn't a major part of our faith. We tend to prefer a religion that provides, you know, comfort instead of petrifying terror. The Muslims press their heads to the ground five times each day in reverence toward Allah (knowing), while simultaneously pointing their raised asses at Grotmahl the Sodomizer (fear, I think). I'm not really sure what that's all about. Even the Hindus don't know which deities they actually worship and which ones were just made up by The Simpsons, so they know and fear anyone with more than two arms, which is great news for Superfluous Third Arm Henry, who could really use an ego boost. The Buddhists know and fear something, but they refuse to tell me what it is until I admit that I don't really need my computer to make me happy, and that's just not going to happen. That's what you get from a bunch of people who spend their lives trying to become one with a defunct Seattle grunge band from the mid-Nineties. And then there are the Scientologists, who know a bitter, resentful sea captain and fear the fact that their lives are based around knowing a bitter, resentful sea captain.
I picture matzah originating from a bunch of guys sitting around a table when suddenly one of them leaps to his feet and says, "Hey, you know what would be great? If we took a cracker and made it really big and brittle and took all the taste out! We're sitting on a goldmine, here!"
The point is, there are a whole slew of religions out there, and I know between crap and crap.2 about most of them. Naturally, this has not hindered me at any point in my life, as I am a white suburban American male and have the privilege of looking down upon all differences. Today, though, I find myself in an interesting situation. We are right in the middle of Passover, the Jewish holiday that is celebrated by gathering together with your relatives and boring the bejesus out of one another while you watch the food get cold. I am told that today is also Easter, one of those annoying holidays that is Christian, so we should get the day off from work, but it's always on a Sunday, so no dice. Now, I know the story of Passover like the back of my hand, which is coincidentally tattooed with the entire story of Passover. For those of you who never watched a Charlton Heston movie, here's essentially how Passover got started:
Long ago, there was Egypt. Then God came, and there was significantly less Egypt.
That's pretty much it. Obviously, the Passover story is nothing new or exciting to me, and since this website is basically a forum for me to entertain myself without getting my wrist tired, I won't be getting any further into that. I mean, I've done the Passover thing my entire life. I've read the Four Questions at plenty of seders, believe you me. Technically, the youngest person at the seder is supposed to ask the Four Questions, so my little cousin should have done it the last few years, but I did it anyway. He still got to find the Afikomen and get the prize, though. Man, that Speak & Spell was rightfully mine. That's alright, though, my speaking and spelling skills can remain in their general state of disarray, thank you very much family. As I was saying, the Four Questions are pretty much burned into my memory at this point. My computer (which I love and cherish and is a bajillion times better than inner peace, so take that, Buddhism) doesn't have a Hebrew font, so I'll give you the basic translations:
1. What's up with this thing we're doing?
2. What's the deal with these giant crackers?
3. Seriously, why can't we eat the real food yet?
4. Okay, fine, I'll eat this stuff, but do we really have to get it wet first?
5. Hey, sitting on a pillow is really freaking comfortable! What else haven't you been telling me?
You might have noticed that even though they're called the Four Questions, there are clearly five of them. I can't really explain that phenomenon, but that, my friend, is why the Jews control the banks. Anyway, I've done Passover time and time again in my life. It's nothing new or fun for me to write about. I consider myself to be a genuine journalist (I also consider myself to be the Giants' star quarterback, but that's off the subject), and that means I have to take the more challenging topics that require real investigation. That's why I decided to write about Easter. As a Jew, I know far more about killing Jesus than I do about bringing him back to life. So, I grabbed my Bible (or Myble, as I call it) and took a crash course in Jesusology.
It's a good thing Jesus died for our sins. Otherwise, this child might not have grown up properly traumatized!
I didn't have to read for long before I discovered true meaning of Easter: Jesus came back to life. Seriously, that's the true meaning. There's really not that much else to it. So I kept reading. Let me tell you, that Jesus was a mover and a shaker, yes indeedy. Born on Christmas and killed on Good Friday, he lived for four months. He returned three days later on Easter, which the good book describes thusly:
The stone which sat upon the grave of the Son bore down heavily, and Jesus could not move it from beneath, though he scratched at its underside like the frantic gerbil and whimpered like the sissy in the field. The Lord told his mightiest angels that the time had at last come for his only gotten Son to return to his Father's eternal kingdom and commanded them to move the tremendous stone. The angels performed as they were asked, and together they rolled the great rock from the Son's tomb. The Angels bathed Jesus in heavenly light as he took to his feet once more, for the first time since the sun had set thrice. He told the angels to go back to his Father and tell Him that he desired to see the world of men once more in a man's form. The angels did depart as they were told, and Jesus was alone. Leisurely did he lean against the side of the stone that once imprisoned his lifeless body. Slowly at first, then faster and faster still the stone began to roll away from the Son.
Two rabbits stood on the side of the hill, carrying out the task that the Lord God gave them, which was to couple and produce numerous offspring. With an ethereal splutch sound, the stone did crush the female rabbit in its path. The male cried as his mate was ripped away from his loins, but more specifically because he thought for a fleeting moment that his loins themselves had been ripped away. Honestly, the rabbit was sort of relieved to find that it was his mate, and not his little man-carrot that had been splattered about the hill by the tumbling stone. Jesus held his hand aloft above his eyes, so as to shield his vision from the glare of the sun, and blew wind through his lips. The whistle was one of innocence as he watched the stone roll into a clearing.
There, a bird hopped from spot to spot, searching for a worm beneath the ground as the Lord had instructed her to do. Just as the bird plunged her beak into the earth in pursuit of sustenance, the rolling stone crushed her like the walnut is crushed by the person with a nutcracker, or in a pinch a couple of books. Jesus winced, squeezing tight his soothing eyes, furrowing his noble brow, and pulling tight his regal shoulders, as he saw this. He was saddened by the loss of the bird, but a voice cut short his grieving. It was the surviving rabbit. His relief that his wiener was intact had been replaced by sadness and anger over the sudden and pointless death of his mate. He cursed the fortune that brought this upon his and his seventy-eight children, and shook his tiny rabbit fist at Jesus in a gesture that was really more cute than angry. The rabbit demanded to know what was to become of him with such a small family, and how was he to replace the hundred and twenty-two more children his mate was destined to have. Jesus stuttered for a moment, as he had no answer to put the rabbit at ease, for he truly felt like the dick. Just then, Jesus noticed a bird's nest in the branches of a nearby tree. Several speckled eggs sat in the nest, but no mother kept them warm. Jesus had no doubt that the eggs belonged to the bird that had been creamed by the stone. That is when an idea struck the Son.
He took the nest down from the branch and laid the eggs before the rabbit. In his wisdom, which was still quite good despite having spent three days in isolation beneath a huge rock, which would throw anyone off, Jesus told the rabbit that he should give thanks to the Lord that he has been blessed with the children he does have, for truly he has taken them for granted. The rabbit was overcome as he realized that Jesus spoke naught but the truth. He begged Jesus to tell him how he could repent. Jesus smiled out of benevolence and also because he was pleased that his guilt trip had worked. He told the rabbit that repentance could only be gained by ensuring that these eggs found good and caring homes, and that he should do that same task on that day for all time. And so the rabbit brought the eggs to the houses of men, and entrusted the eggs to the care of human children, in whom he saw an innocence, a purity, and possibly other qualities quantified with "a."
- George, 4: 17
What a great story. That, of course, is the origin of Easter's ceremonial mascot, the egg-bearing Easter Rabbit. I have yet to uncover the religious significance of really bad-tasting marshmallow birds, but I have no doubt that a reasonable explanation will surface. If there's one thing the Bible is good at, it's providing explanations and advice, although is can certainly be cryptic at times. In the spirit of the holiday, I thought it would be nice for me to share a few of my favorite biblical verses. In these troubled times of war, financial ruin, and reality TV shows about being on reality TV shows, a few words of inspiration could really do some good for people. Please take some time to reflect on these:
Alright, Jesus, now show me "badass." Come on, give me a tough face!
Grown to manhood and strong, Jesus suffered nonetheless from a lack of guidance and a weakness of will. For he knew in his hearts of hearts that it was he who was the only Son of God, and that he must set an example to be followed by all men forevermore. He knew not how to accomplish such a great task. Confusion and doubt overtook him, and in his despair he ran up astronomical charges on 1-900 help lines. Still, he felt adrift on a sea. At his darkest moment, he threw his arms to the sky and cried out for a sign from the Father, the King of kings. Jesus begged and he pleaded for a signal, a beacon to light his way, some symbol of proof that could affirm his identity. And God heard the plight of his Son and intervened. The clouds that swirled above Jesus parted, and the sun shone down upon his face. For the first time in his life, Jesus felt the presence of the Holy Ghost flowing through him. I mean, I guess so. The Holy Ghost does that sort of thing, right? Ah, why am I asking you? You don't know. Admit it, you don't. I could tell you the Holy Ghost did a fantastic song and dance number, and you'd have to sit there and take it, because I was a witness to the miracles of Christ and you're just some punk. So sit there and take it, bitch. Where was I? Oh right, Jesus. The Son wept with joy, or some sort of joy substitute, which was okay because back then a guy could weep like a little girl and still be manly enough to be the messiah. It was then that the Lord spake unto Jesus these words: "You're the man now, dawg." And Jesus knew that he was indeed the man, and again he wept.
- Bill, 9:11
Nine seconds to play, with the Seventy-Sixers down by two. Jesus fades back! He fakes left! Fakes right! Passes to Iverson! Iverson takes it to the hole... oh! It bounces off the rim! But what's this? It's Jesus from the outside! Jesus puts up the rock.... yes! It's good! That's another three for Jesus, who is four and O from the line tonight. That puts them up by one with just one second left on the clock. The ball is in play - and the time is out! That's the game! Jesus leads the Seventy-Sixers to another victory! Yes!
- Marv, 2:31
This statue captures Jesus doing what he did best - bawling like a little girl.
And when his weeping did at last cease, Jesus held aloft a loaf of bread in one hand and a goblet of wine in the other. "Eat of this," he said as he passed the loaf to his left. "For it is my body." Judas, he who was called Judas the Never Would Betray People... Guy, raised a brow, followed by a hand. He asked of Jesus what he did mean by the bread being his body, when clearly his body was seated in a chair before his eyes. The Son clasped his hands together and soothed Judas' roiling mind by telling him that it was naught but a metaphor, and that the bread was in fact bread, and not his body. Judas was reassured by this, as he explained that he thought eating the body of Jesus was sort of creepy and vaguely homoerotic. The apostle Paul did confess that he felt new feelings stirring within him. Jesus placed a hand on Paul's robed shoulder and told him he felt nothing more than the hollow pain of knowing that a loved one will soon die, for a traitor sat in their midst. Paul shook his head and claimed that it was not so much about the betrayal as it was that gay bread that Judas was talking about. And then Jesus and the apostles all wept, because it had been like four minutes since the last time they had a good cry.
The tears faded to smiles and streaks of crusty dried tear juice, and it was then that Jesus held aloft the cup of wine once more. "Drink of this," said he. "For it is my blood." Again, it was Judas, he who only once in his life thought of betraying someone, but didn't do it and still felt really bad for even thinking about it, who raised his weathered palm. Was it really his blood, Judas wanted to know? And just what did the Son think they were? Vampires? Jesus told him that it was in fact wine. Miracle wine, sure, but wine all the same, and not blood. Judas inquired why, then, did Jesus claim it was blood? He went on to say that he was but a tax collector and knew little of the ways of winemaking, and that someone could easily convince him that wine was really blood if they tried hard enough and did it with a straight face. Luke asked if Judas would believe white wine was blood. Judas spake that he did not know, but that it was probably possible. John was meanwhile hidden under the table, for mighty indeed was his fear of vampires. For twenty minutes Jesus did coax John to resume his place at the table, for vampires were not present, but when John did finally emerge from the aegis of the table, Judas immediately offered him a sip of Jesus' blood - er, wine, and John flew back underneath the table without delay. There did he curl up into a ball and start to cry. And Jesus cried as well, and the apostles, too. Wussies all were they that gathered to sup that eve, and roll their eyes the waiters did.
- Phil, 10:40
"I'm Bizarro Stormy."
"I'm regular Stormy."
- Sealab, 20:21
Whenever I feel myself racked by the twin pangs of doubt and doubt, I simply recall one of those passages, and their warming message soothes my troubled mind. Whether you're Christian, Jewish, or some sort of heathen infidel, you too can benefit from a few moments of spiritual reflection. Today is the locus of the spring religious holidays and so is certainly an apt time to consider your own faith. But even as today becomes tomorrow and tomorrow becomes the next day and the next day becomes Wednesday, new problems will arise in all of our lives. When you find yourself in a time of crisis, just ask yourself, what would Jesus do? In all likelihood, the answer is he would cry.