I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus lately. It’s probably why I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks – driven to distraction by Jesus. Surely it’s happened to us all at some point. Oh come on, you must have heard of Jesus! He was only around for thirty odd years but in that short time he certainly managed to make his mark. A bit like Jimi Hendrix, who didn’t last as long but was handier with a Strat. Indeed, what’s even more impressive is that he squeezed most of his best work into the last few years of his life (in fairness so did Hendrix, but at least Jesus didn’t choke to death on his own vomit – a way to go that is only mildly more dignified than choking to death on someone else’s vomit). We know very little about Jesus’ formative years; or more specifically I know very little, because I haven’t looked it up and I’m not going to bother either. We don’t know if he preferred Lego to Meccano. We have very little empirical evidence referring to his struggles with acne or growing pains or when he first discovered the charms of onanism. We don’t have his dating history and we don’t know whether he was spared the awful, twisted crush of a first love. For someone who preached so much about love you’d have thought he would have found and lost it at least once. Or maybe that’s a different kind.
Like the universe as a whole, it seems the more I’ve thought about Jesus the less I really know. What, for instance, was he really expected to do with those stupidly inappropriate gifts bestowed upon him by the three kings? Or was it the wise men? Are they the same? I forget, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the shepherds because you don’t often hear about shepherds giving away gold or aftershave all willy-nilly. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph didn’t nab the lot as some form of compensation for God knocking up his missus, inadvertently ensuring that a teenage Jesus wouldn’t be able to sell his little baby shower nest egg to feed a ballooning drug habit or a touch of gender realignment. I’m kidding, the Bible offers us several pretty firm clues that it was in fact Mary who was eventually brought to her knees by an opioid addiction at a time when the Holy Land just didn’t have the kind of outreach services and counselling that we take for granted now. I digress – ultimately what I find most puzzling about the whole manger scenario is that with so many people gathered round to celebrate the virgin birth not a single one of them thought to bring a pacifier.
So, while we are annually flooded with information about the birth of Jesus we don’t know much about the middle bit. Are we to assume he just went through carpentry college and came out with a City and Guilds qualification (if the international baccalaureate had been available to him he could have taught Latin in China, or something like that). He might have applied for a course in economics and philosophy at the University of Nazareth, but then foolishly taken an extended gap year and jacked it in after a term anyway, due to ‘anxiety’. We just don’t know! What we do know is that at some point he got older and then wandered around a bit, gave a few speeches, made some hairy mates and spent a lot more time that most of us doing things like breaking bread and washing feet, usually in that order. And we must also assume that along the way he picked up quite a lot of wisdom because it was exactly that which he chose to educate the masses, gently turning the world into the harmonious utopia that we see around us today. What a legend. In terms of preaching peace he truly was, as the youth of today would put it, the GOAT of sermons.
And that’s the rub about Jesus. That’s why I’ve been thinking about him so much lately. He did talk some sense (though if the meek really do inherit the earth then I’d say the meek had better get ready to take on some pretty soiled goods) but he didn’t quite get the results he was after. If you could hold up the world to Jesus now he would start to cry and tug on his private parts. He would then ask us to make a note of exactly the point we started to get it all wrong; the irony being that we never, ever had it right in the first place. Life is inherently Godless. It has to be. That’s why we feel implored to invent them – first for comfort and then so we can deny that humans could possibly have fucked up all of this on their own. No God could or would ever deliver us hatred that we can find enjoyable, or love that comes bridled with pain. No God would stand to have genocide, or parents that murder their children. If what we are told is true then Jesus really was a very nice chap, but when we ask ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, in the absence of Jesus being there to speak for himself, the answer will always be the wrong one. Because we don’t have a clue. So, I’ve been thinking about Jesus this Christmas. Thinking about the anointed one as he approaches his birthday. And in spite of myself a little part of me wants to reach out and ask him to make things better, but the rest of me knows we should really just leave the man alone. He tried and we failed, and what we’re left with is a beautiful sturdy turd of a planet and our awful interpretation of what Christmas is supposed to be about. And I don’t think Jesus deserves that burden. Seriously, what would Jesus do? Well, if he was that sharp he’d fuck off somewhere else and leave us to rot. If he could save us he would have done it by now. He gave us a way forward and we ended up making tinsel. Seems like a waste to me.
G B Hewitt. 16.12.2021