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My personal relationship with Christ. . .
(Aug. 4, 2004)

        I was shooting the breeze with my friend, Jesus H. Christ, the other day. He has a hell of time, Jesus, given the remarkable similarity between his name and that of the man regarded by many as The Lord and Savior.
        Jesus H. likes to call himself "The Lard and Savoir-faire."
        "People often prostrate themselves before me," said Jesus H., "and try to kiss my feet. I tell them they need an immediate prostrate examination. Har."
        We sat in the patio of a Coffee Bean in East L.A., watching the merry SUV's prance by, trailing plumes of burned R.J. Reynolds product and spent fossil fuel. Jesus H. wore jeans and a black T-shirt with white letters curiously spelling out the words, "NO ONE" on the front.
        "What's with the shirt, Christ?" I asked.
        "Well, no one knows. No one has the answers. No one is right. Everybody is so damn sure they are right, and that's the whole problem. And everybody thinks they're somebody, like the big camera is on them, and they're starring in their own movie.We're all one big no one living in a big nowhere."
        "You sound like John Lennon."
        "Thank you."
        "You must get razzed about that name," I said.
       "It can be quite a cross to bear," said Christ, with a wink. "In school, everybody wanted me on their team, you know, even though I was mediocre at sports. 'The team with Jesus is the team that wins'---that sort of thing. Every time I've ever been in a swimming pool, well, you can imagine. It gets old fast."
"Well, have you read the 'Left Behind' crap? Jesus Christ comes back and slaughters the non-believers. All the nice people in the world who happen to be Buddhists or Hindus or Jews---Jesus wastes their asses! They explode in pustules and bile, and die um, Biblical deaths. That ain't my savior, bro."
        I wondered how women tolerate it.
        "No sense of humor," he said. "You know, in a tender moment, I like to sing 'Yes, Jesus Loves You,' but they don't seem to appreciate it."
       I asked Christ about people bothering him in church, but he said he only goes at Christmas, where he gets the usual "happy birthday---nudge, wink." It's been many years, though, since he listed himself in a phone book.
        "Heal my uvula! Can you do something for bunions? If you're the son of God, why the hell do they call you the son of Man? The calls never ended. Women used to speak in low tones and ask if I was 'risen.' I remember one guy, a drunk, who said he couldn't believe in me anymore."
        "What did you tell him?"
        "I said I have trouble believing in me, too. He made some confused, grunting noise, and hung up. And then this guy named George kept calling, asking me to help him kick booze. I told him I really wasn't that Jesus, but he kept calling and calling, so finally I said, "Okay, yeah, right, I'm Jesus Christ, and you're President of the United States! I often wonder. . ."
        I asked about the current wave of so-called Christianity.
        "It's not Christianity," he said, sipping a decaf iced blended mocha through a straw ("don't know why I order decaf---the damn chocolate keeps me up, anyway.")
        "What is it, then?"
        "Christianinanity. Christianinsanity. It has as much to do with the teachings of Jesus as chocolate has to do with mud. It's just an ugly reaction to the salacious aspects of popular culture that took root in the last thirty years, as well as the sometimes runaway humanitarian impulses of the left. You know, political correctness and such. White middle-America grew tired of being villified and ignored."
        I told Jesus H. that this is easy to see.
        "Yes," he said, with a wink, "it's no revelation! But it's gotten all out of hand, with the White House and congress invoking Biblical scripture. You know, using code lingo for the pseudo-Christian crowd out there. And remember that prisoners at Abu Ghraib were forced to renounce Allah for Jesus, presumably after they were made to eat their lunch from a toilet."
        This reminded me of a statement by Robert Reich, secretary of Labor during the Clinton years. He said that the great battle of the 21st century will not be with terrorists, but "between those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma."
        "Yeah, he nailed it! Heh, heh, couldn't resist. It's the new Dark Ages, Rense, the Scopes Trial all over again. Science Vs. Superstition Smackdown! And Christianinsanity has not come near peaking yet. It's a massive retreat into fairy tale in the face of fear. He is risen? No, He is Reason. That's my motto."
        "You mean you're. . .you're. . an ATHEIST? With a name like that?"
        "What do you think the 'H' stands for?"
        "Uh. . .Heretic?"
        "Hellifiknow. I believe in what I don't know. People with 'faith' think they know what they don't know. It's so arrogant, presumptuous. They often kill over it. Does it make me an atheist because I don't believe in any of the available myths from various religions? Except as nice metaphors?"
        "Well, what is your religion, then?"
        "That's my business," said Jesus, looking a little cross.
        "Religion isn't a business, J.C.."
        "The hell it isn't! It's big business in the USA, tax-free, and all gummed up with government. First you have the 'faith-based charity' ploy, part of the 'Christianization' of previously secular social programs. So you brainwash the prison population, and the poor---much as the Islamic fundamentalists seek to do the world over---converting them to their crazed interpretation of the Koran."
       "Wait a second, Christ. You're comparing Christians who seek to 'spread the gospel' with Islamic fundamentalists?"
        "Well, have you read the 'Left Behind' crap? Jesus Christ is a warrior who comes back and slaughters the non-believers. That's correct, all the nice people in the world who happen to be Buddhists or Hindus or Jews---Jesus wastes their asses! They explode in pustules and bile, and die um, Biblical deaths. That ain't my savior, bro."
        I told him that most churches don't subscribe to this lunacy.
        "Maybe, but too many so-called churches in this country, too damn many of 'em, are fronts for arch right-wingers, like that D. James Kennedy jackass in Florida. He calls for Christianity, or his stupid view of it, to be the very foundation of all media and government. He says voting is a Biblically-endorsed duty! What a nutball. What a punk. He goes on the tube every Sunday morning, coast-to-coast, tweeting like a sanctimonious cuckoo-bird."
        "Oh, what's a little Biblical scripture in the hallway of a government building?"
        "Tell you what," said Christ, lighting up a Lucky Strike, "when you have a couple of hours, go to the library and look at the history of nations where religion became officially mixed up with government. Look under 'death.' What is the difference between what D. James Kennedy wants and what the Taliban want? The Taliban want a government run by Koran-stitution. Kennedy and all the Christianinsane want one run by Chist-itution. And how come all these TV Jeezo bastards all look like Howdy-Doody after he died, anyway?"
        Jesus H. Christ gulped the dregs of his mocha, wiped his beard, adjusted his sandals, and looked me right between the eyes.
        "Don't go printing any of this, goddamn it," he said, "Or they'll crucify me."
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