In 325 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine rewrote Christianity to make it more palatable to the Pagans that dominated Rome at the time. Referred to today as the Council of Nicea, it created modern Christianity as we know it. However, as humanity moves forward and even the most dogged dogma is left by the wayside, right-wing Evangelicals in the U.S. continue to rewrite the original teachings of Christ to make it more palatable to their political leanings. Let’s look at the minutes of a hypothetical Council on American Christianity…
Alright, folks, let’s get started. We are here to rebrand Christianity so that it supports a more conservative base. Now, we have a lot of work to do, so let’s just dive right in, shall we? Brother Albert, what’ve you got for us?
Well, I think right off the bat, we should start with the name.
The name? Ah, yes, “Jesus.”
Right. Now as you know, this sounds a little too ethnic for our purposes. I mean, how many Mexicans are using that name today?
I think they pronounce it ‘Hey, Zeus.’
Well, however they’re spicing it up, it’s still spelled the same. I think we need something a little more…
Well, now, I didn’t want to go there, but, sure, okay…
How about John Christ?
Well, that’s what I was thinking, but there’s already at least one John, and he’s already a disciple. It’d be like having two guys named Paul in the same band.
Yeah, that’s also a good one, but again, we run into the same problem.
Honestly, weren’t all these people from the Middle East? Why do they all have such American-sounding names?
I think that’s where we got them…
People, stay focused. We have a lot to cover and if we can’t even get past the name, I mean…
Alright, alright, so anyway, we want to keep the initials the same, you know, so we can keep our WWJD bumper stickers and such.
Well now, wait a second, I took a religious studies course at the learning annex, and they said his real name wasn’t even Jesus.
Yeah, because there’s no J in the Aramaic alphabet.
So what IS his name?
Yeah, that’s even worse than Hey Zeus!
Right, I know, and I agree, so if I may…
(sound of a PowerPoint clicking. Pause)
Yes! But you say it with the middle initial, too – Jeff S. Christ. Still sounds pretty close to the original, and yet very white-bred American.
Jeff Ess Christ.
JEFF Ess Christ. Hm. Not bad.
Wait a sec, let me try something… JEFF Ess CHRIST, would you get off the damn car?! … Yeah, I like the feel of that!
OK, then, everyone in favor of Jeff Christ?
Wait, what does the S stand for?
What do you mean?
Well, people tend to be sticklers about names and origins and such, so they’ll likely ask.
Ah, yes. So… um… Savior?
Jeff Savior Christ.
Sounds a bit like ‘save your Christ.’
Yeah, but still better than Hey Zeus. Jeff it is. All in favor?
Alright, moving on. Now that his name is Jeff S. Christ, we need a new back story.
Well, what do we have for him now?
Come on, Carol! Read your Bible!
Seriously? It’s huge! Have you read it?
Alright, we’re not going to get anywhere staring at each other like idiots.
Megan, bring my Bible in here, please.
Wasn’t he a shepherd or something? That sounds pretty cool. Camping out under the stars with his flock all night, he’s bound to have had some inspirational insights.
No, he wasn’t a shepherd. I think he was a carpenter?
(Brief knock, door opens)
Ah, thanks, Megan. You can take your lunch break now, if you like. I think we’re gonna be in here a while.
Okay, let’s see what we have here.
Well, I’ll be damned. He’s not even in the first half of this thing!
Oh, that’s the Old Testament. That one is the basis for Jewsishness and Islam, as well.
So… cut it?
No! It’s got a lot of the good stuff, too. You know, like Adam and Eve and killing the gays.
Oh, yeah, gotta keep that.
But we share it with the Jews and the Muslims?
But that’s at least a common ground, right? That could play out in our favor later. So let’s just stick a pin in that for now.
Right. Back to the topic at hand. Was he a carpenter or a shepherd?
(Pages turning… goes on for a while)
Hmm, this thing is huge. It’ll take us all week to find anything specific.
(Sound of a heavy book hitting the floor and a laptop opening. Keys typing.)
Here it is. Bible Gateway dot com. Ah, here we go, yep, he was a carpenter!
No, no, that’s a good trade skill. He was good with his hands. I say we keep it.
Yeah, I agree. My brother-in-law is a carpenter and he does alright.
Just carpentry or does he do wiring as well?
Moving on. Family life.
Oh, good point! So parents are Mary and Joseph?
Now hang on, Mary is the mother, but…
Uh-oh. I don’t like where this is going.
People, he’s the Son of God! I think we can overlook a little adultery here.
Hell yes! In fact, I think adultery should be allowed.
I mean, if God did it…
Alright, stick a pin in that, too. We’ll circle back.
That reminds me, is Megan still here or did she leave for lunch already?
Megan? … I think she left.
So about the fatherhood issue…
Son of God. Says it all. It stays. I mean, it’s kind of the whole point, isn’t it?
Mary was a virgin anyway.
So Joseph didn’t tap that, even after they were married?
So… what was Joseph’s deal? Gay?
Erectile dysfunction? Shooting blanks?
Sure, maybe God just didn’t want him tapping his side piece?
Side piece? Jesus, Albert!
If she was the side piece, then who was God’s main gal?
Oh, come on! Now you’re just being ridiculous.
Okay, okay, focus, people. I want to be finished with this by thee o’clock. I have a tee-time scheduled.
Alright, so Jesus…
… Jeff, sorry, was born to the virgin Mary after God intervened to give her a son on Joseph’s behalf.
Ooh, I like that! God helping out the poor impotent husband. It has a very humanist feel to it.
Yeah, so Joseph wants a son, but he can’t get the job done. He prays to God, God intervenes on his behalf and boom — God’s your uncle!
Or in this case, Joseph.
I’m not sure about any of that, but sure, let’s run with it. So Jeff is born to his virgin mother, Mary.
Right. I think the closer we can keep this to the original story, the better.
Except for all of that Arab shit.
Right. Speaking of, what did our art department come up with?
Well, we read through scripture and went through some old religious paintings, and we came up with three choices…
(sound of PowerPoint clicking)
Hmm. I don’t care for that one on the left. A little too mocha, if you get me.
Right, right. But number three…
Yes, I like that one. Could we maybe lighten the hair a bit, maybe a light brown?
I love the eyes! Such a piercing blue.
Yep, that’s our Jeff!
Okay, let’s go with number three. See if you can get the art department to lighten the hair a bit. And maybe get rid of the tribal tattoo.
Sorry, my daughter thought that was cool. Said it might appeal to a younger base, bring some younger people back to the church.
Hey, I like that idea!
Megan? … Megan, sweet-heart, you back yet?
What do you need Megan for now?
Nothing, I just like to… *ahem* where were we? We got Jeff S. Christ, and he’s born to virgin Mary mother and impotent Joseph?
Yes, and he’s a carpenter.
Good. So… what else do we need to update?
Let’s see, he is born in a manger…
Good, good. Keep that born-in-poverty angle. The poor can really identify with that.
Wait a sec… I mean, what is a manger?
It’s like a barn.
Yeah, but we can’t say Jeff was born in a barn. Every time I ask my kids if they were born in a barn, they’ll throw that back in my face. Manger sounds a little better. Maybe a little cleaner?
Right, and it sticks with that Christmas song my wife likes. Anyway, three wise men come, bring him gold, frankincense and myrrh…
See, now the gold I get, but what’s that other shit?
They were valuable items back then.
Yeah, but what are they?
And who are these so-called ‘wise men.’ Where were they from?
Just says ‘The East.’
Well, I don’t like that.
They followed a star to find the baby Jesus.
Hm, from The East, followed a star… bring weird presents.
I’m sorry, are they a major part of the story?
Hmm… nope, they disappear right after that.
Well, fine, then, as long as they don’t hang around.
And it gives the colored people something to cling to.
Well, they’re represented, aren’t they?
I suppose. Okay, the wise men stay. We’re okay with them being called ‘wise men’?
Sure, maybe they were fortune tellers or something. Gives the story a sort of mystical spin.
That’ll play well in the box office receipts.
(everyone agrees with ‘Right! Right!’ and ‘Good thinking!’)
Maybe in the animation version, Robin Williams can voice them. You know, like he did for the Genie in that Aladdin movie?
Pretty sure Robin Williams is dead.
Oh. Well, then maybe Eddie Murphy?
Oh yeah, that’s good. Keeps the ethnic angle going!
Alright, so the Wise Men stay, just long enough to drop off their weird gifts and satisfy the inclusion aspect, then they’re gone. What’s next?
Well, then there’s a flash forward, and Jeff is preaching in the temple.
The, um, the one with the rabbis.
Rabbis? Like a Jewish temple?
Well, Jesu– I mean, Jeff, was born a Jew.
Well, what else was he going to be? He hadn’t established Christianity yet. Okay, he’s in the temple…
Can we change that to a church?
No, there weren’t any churches yet.
Maybe he builds the first one? I mean, since he’s a carpenter?
Like it. Put a pin in that.
Okay, so he’s preaching… what’s he preaching?
(Keys typing… for a while)
Wow, for the Lord and Savoir of all mankind, he really didn’t say a lot, did he?
Ah, here’s something… “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
In spirit, right? Not the actual poor?
No, just says ‘poor in spirit.’
Good, good. I’m not giving up my Bentley!
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Psh, after we’re done with it? They can have it!
Okay, so this guy doesn’t really say that much. We can pretty much fill in the blanks as we go.
I’d say that’s what Jeff wanted. Otherwise, he would have said a lot more.
Well, actually, there is quite a bit here, but…
I mean, it’s not exactly what we would call “Christian.”
What do you mean?
Well, listen to this crap: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” What hippie libtard came up with this shit?”
Sounds like he’s feeding a bunch of naked immigrant criminals!
And this: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none…”
Screw that! I have four houses — one for each season! I’m not sharing so much as the guest house with any god damn naked homeless immigrant!
(silence, more typing, muffled mumblings)
And what about all this healing? Who’s paying for that? It smacks of socialism!
Well, surely this shit’s been doctored!
Must be a liberal conspiracy!
Who could do that?
God damn Hillary Clinton again!
Or that socialist communist pinko Bernie Sanders.
People, people, please! Remember why we are here!
Really? No one? … Because God called us to establish the true church! The Mega-Church! A church for the entire world! For everybody!
Well, yeah, not everybody, but you know what I mean. And I am sure Jesus…
Whatever! I mean, these books are over a thousand years old! We must update the Word of God to fit our times. Obviously, Jeff didn’t mean this shit for today! In his infinite wisdom, he knew we’d need to do some tweaking.
Right, he knew we’d be filling in the gaps.
Right! And this is why we’re here.
Agreed. So let’s get to the good stuff. What about judgments?
How do you mean?
I mean, how do we judge the undesirables? You know, the atheists, the homosexuals, the liberals… those people.
Says here “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
What? That can’t be right. Lemme see that… oh, shit.
Speck of sawdust in brother’s eye, plank in own eye… No, that’s got to go.
Right. Scratch that.
Done. Moving on.
Ooh, look at this, just below that non-judging bullshit. “”Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
Yes! Now that we can use!
Just think about it, Joel. Do not give dogs what is sacred! ‘Dogs’ can be anyone we judge to be unfit. We can exclude all sorts of people!
Exactly! Dogs are Democrats.
Well, NOW we’re getting somewhere!
Oh good, she’s back! Megan, honey, could you come in here a second? And bring your notepad.
What do you need Megan for now?
T-Shirts! That little line has marketing slogan written all over it.
(soft knock on door. Door opens)
Hi, Megan. Wow, you look terrific! Did you get your hair done on your lunch break?
No, sir, I just…
Write this down. I want that on T-shirts, grocery bags, flags, bumper stickers… Shoot the works!
Yes, sir. Can you email that to me?
Email? Just write it down. It’s only seven words. … Just, uh, just lean in here…
Mmmmm, yeah that’s nice.
You know what? I-I’ll just email it to you. No mistakes that way. Thanks, Megan!
Alright, now we have a slogan! I think that about covers it…
How old is Megan?
What was that business about prostitutes in the Bible?
Ah, yes, thank you, honey. I almost forgot. Yes, there was something about a prostitute, wasn’t there?
Yes. That never sat well with me. Seems a bit unsavory.
Right. Let me see here…
“Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Well, that could be any one of us!
Right! I like it. Goes well with our ‘No dogs’ slogan.
Here she is — Mary Magdalene. Well, that’s no good! Same name as his mother?
Yeah, that’s kind of creepy.
And they were throwing rocks at her because she’s a hooker?
Yes, but Jeff stopped them.
“Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.”
So he wanted the first shot?
No, none of this makes any sense. Maybe just get rid of her?
“Just get rid of her.” I swear, that’s your solution to any problematic woman. “Roll her up in the carpet!”
Now hold on a second. Alright. Maybe we can give the hooker a bit of a rewrite as well?
In that religious studies class, they said there’s evidence that Jes– Jeff was actually married to Mary Magdalene. And she wasn’t a prostitute at all, but from a respectable family. The House of Benjamin, I believe?
House of Benjamin? What was that, like a brothel or something?
No, it was her family’s house. She was nobility.
Are you sure about this?
Well, it depends on who you ask, but from what we talked about in that class, there are a lot of historians that believe…
Well, if we start bringing history into this, I’ll never make my tee time! Let’s just cut to the chase — Was Jeff married or not?
Well, to be honest, a single guy hanging out with twelve other fellas all the time, going camping in the desert together and such… I never really liked that. It’s got kind of a Brokeback Mountain vibe to it. Never sat well with me.
Agreed. It would support the sanctity of the family a bit better if Jeff had a missus.
Fine, so was he married to Mary Magdelene?
Well, not is she was a hooker!
Right, but as I was saying, she might not have been.
So what then?
Love it! Try this: Magdalene was a school teacher, and one day Jeff finds her, and her students are pelting her with rocks and he intervenes, tells the little bastards to knock it off, and boom – married!
I like it!
It’ll play well in the motion picture. Sort of a Life is Beautiful kind of a story.
Oh, I loved that movie!
Right! Man, this is easy. This shit writes itself!
I know, right? Muslims have been killing themselves and everyone else for thousands of years, here we are banging this shit out in an afternoon!
(cheers and applause)
Alright, so there we go, Jeff S. Christ, born of a virgin mother and impotent father, grows up to become a carpenter and marries a school teacher, starts a little club and begins preaching and establishes Christianity.
A bit simplistic, don’tcha think?
What do you mean?
Well, I mean, now he sounds like he could have been anybody.
Right! A Joe Everyman for the masses.
But what about his miracles? The healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, all of that shit?
Well, he still does all that, of course. Like we said earlier, try to stick to the original story as much as possible.
Right! Only now he’s a married heterosexual white guy. What’s not to love?
Can we make him Texan?
No, Bob, he’s not gonna be Texan. Texas didn’t even exist then.
Well, at least American!
Same problem, Bob.
Well, I never liked all of this Middle Eastern origin story stuff in the first place. I like my saviors American, like Donald J. Trump!
Of course! But it doesn’t really fit the timeline. We’re just gonna have to go with the original version here or this whole Jeff the White Savior thing will sound ridiculous.
Maybe Trump is a time-traveler?
Christ, Bob, can we, can we just keep this in reality, please?
How about Roman, then? Could he be Roman?
I though the Romans killed him?
No, the Jews killed him.
Then why do we all support Israel?
Because Israel’s gonna bring Jeff back!
How exactly is that going to work?
Beats the shit out of me. Something about a great war with the Arabs and the Apocalypse, and Jeff comes back down to Earth and rescues all of us from the End of the World. It’s in Revelations.
So we all take off with Jeff to Heaven and leave the Jews and the Arabs here to kill each other?
Exactly! That’s that meek inheriting the earth crap. We take all the good stuff and leave them with the hellscape we created.
I love it! It’s like a heist movie.
And this is why I’m a Christian.
Still, though, the story seems a bit flat as is.
That’s what I was thinking…
So how do we beef this Jeff guy up a bit?
How about a fight scene? Every good movie has a fight scene.
Well, we already have a villain. Satan, right?
Right, of course.
So what’s Satan’s deal again?
A fallen angel. He got kicked out of Heaven for challenging God.
Right, and now he’s on earth, running the Democratic Party.
(Boos and hisses)
So Jeff can fight him, right?
I think he does that in the original story, too.
Right, but it needs more pizazz. How do they fight?
Like with guns?
I like it, but no guns in that period.
Hey, he’s Jeff! He performs miracles! If he wants a gun, he can get a freakin’ gun.
Right! Walks on water, raises the dead, but can’t make a fuckin’ gun? Come on!
No, no, it goes against the established theme.
Oh, ‘established theme’! Listen to the literary theorist over here.
I’m serious! And besides, let’s face it. You’ve seen those Marvel movies. Jeff’s gotta be like that, like a super hero. That shit sells. Super heroes don’t fight with guns. They use magic powers and shit.
So what, Jeff’s gotta be Spider-Man now?
No, but if he’s squaring off against the Devil himself, they’re not gonna be wasting time shooting at each other with AR-15s. There’s gonna be some epic mythical magical shit going down.
Think Doctor Strange.
Fine, fine. I get that. So Jeff is casting out demons, and Satan pops up and they go at it.
Right. And Jeff kicks his ass and says something cool, like “To Hell with you, asshole!”
Right, but we can’t really have our Lord calling Satan an asshole.
Why not? That’s what he is, right?
Well, yeah, but it’s gotta be a good Sunday school story for the kids. Kids love that super hero shit, but not with them dropping ass-bombs and F-bombs. Clean it up a bit. He’s the Son of God, for Christ’s sake!
Fine. I’ll sit down with my nephew next week and punch up a good fight scene. He’s a comic book nerd, so he’ll have some good ideas.
Good enough. So, Jeff beats the shit out of Satan, throws in a good catch phrase, and then… what?
(Pause. More typing.)
Oh, they crucify him!
Right! The crucifixion. That’s a big part of the story. Gives us that surprise twist at the end, sets up the sequel we’re all waiting for.
So they drag him up to that hill and nail him to the cross, and, what, he just dies? Seems kind of anticlimactic.
He comes back, though.
Wait, what about the stuff before that?
You know, the last supper, that business with Judas?
Holy crap, I forgot about all that!
We can’t forget the last supper! There’s that big painting and all.
Right, so again, we stick to the original story. Right up to the crucifixion because, yeah, that’s a bit weak.
It could use a punch-up.
Right, maybe help bring in those younger crowds you talked about.
Damn it! (pounds table)
“I’ll be back!” That would have been such a great line! Fuckin’ Schwarzenegger owns it though.
Ooh! Yeah, that would have been good.
Maybe we can buy the rights?
Hm, no, people would know it’s not original.
Would they, though?
What do you mean?
I mean, right-wing Christians pretty much believe anything we tell them. We just tell them that Schwarzenegger got that line from the Bible. They’ll eat it up!
Yeah, but how do we get it into all of those old Bibles that people already have?
Like they ever check those things. Come on, they all think that one line is “And the lion shall lay down with the lamb.”
It does say that, though.
No, it really doesn’t. Look it up. It’s Isaiah 11:6. It’s “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb.” The calf lies down with the lion.
(pause. More typing.)
Holy shit, she’s right!
Well, still, I think ‘I’ll be back’ is too obvious. There must be something else Jeff can say when he’s crucified.
“See you next Tuesday”?
Oh, I get it!
Alright, alright, that’s pretty clever, but would it have been next Tuesday or the following Tuesday?
And we really can’t have our Lord using the C-word.
Well, maybe we just leave it as-is, I mean, the guy does come back from the dead. That’s pretty bad-ass in itself.
I’ll see if my nephew has any ideas.
Good, do that. So, crucified, gives up the ghost… wait, how long was he on the cross?
(typing… for a while)
Says here six hours.
Six hours? Bullshit. Wasn’t it at least three days or something?
No, that’s how long he was dead. He was hanging for just six hours.
Well, that’s barely anything!
Really, Frank? You ever been crucified?
Alright, fine. I guess six hours nailed to a cross would suck well enough.
Not to mention the Romans beat the shit out of him, too.
Yeah, and didn’t they jab him with a spear to kill him in the end?
Alright, we can all agree that Jeff went through some shit. Then three days later, he rises, and says… what?
Ha! Good one, Albert. But seriously, what’s he do then?
That’s about it. He meets with his disciples, Thomas examines his wounds, and then he’s taken up by God.
No, first he goes to Hell and wrestles Satan for the Keys to Life or some such, doesn’t he?
No, he does that while he’s dead.
Oh, that’s perfect! That’s where the epic battle will take place!
Man, how is this not a movie yet? It’s got everything! Epic battles, dramatic deaths, hookers…
Oh, right, we changed that.
Can’t have hookers popping up in Sunday school stories.
Right, gotta keep this family-oriented.
So basically, we just change the name, change his appearance, give him a wholesome wife…
What about kids?
No, that’s too complicated. Besides, it’s more tragic if the Romans get him before he and Mary can consummate their marriage.
So wait a sec — you really want our Lord and Savior to die a virgin?
Well… it does go along with the chastity thing. Good for the teens!
I suppose. But man… kind of a bummer.
Wait — doesn’t he get seventy-two virgins in Heaven, though?
That’s Muslims again, Bob.
Ugh, right, forget I said that!
Alright, I think that’s everything. Unless someone has something else…?
So… no love scene with Jeff and Mary?
Seems like there should be one…
Okay, I think that’s everything we can do.
Great! I’ll have Megan type all this up and we’ll finalize it at next month’s retreat.
Are you bringing Megan to that?
Of course! She’s my assistant. I can’t get anything done without her. That girl is inexpendable. Now y’all get the hell on out of here. I need to work on my golf swing.
Megan, we’re done in here. Can you come in and help me with my three-wood?
Beat it, Albert! … Hon, I’ll see you at home.