It’s that time of year again folks. A time to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus. What a complete waste of time that was. He turned up, got hairy, told a few stories to make us feel better, died for our sins, came back to life, realised we were a lost cause and then vanished. We know he left a note on the mantlepiece saying he would come back again, but that’s what Uncle Teddy said when he went out to get a paper and a pint of milk 23 years ago. Let’s be brutally honest – Jesus is never coming back, and the closest thing we’ll ever get to the second coming is the Stone Roses’ album of the same title, which is probably a lot more fun than the real event would be anyway. But I’m not here to talk about the second Stone Roses album, much maligned on it’s release but in actual fact just as accomplished as their debut, and in places very successfully smothered in some premium copycat Led Zeppelin swagger. No. I’m here to talk about Jesus, who probably foresaw the rise of Led Zeppelin and realised he didn’t stand a chance of being anywhere near as good. You really do have to be the best to be better than Led Zeppelin. Jesus doesn’t come close.
Anyway, as it’s Easter we must get back to the topic in hand, and I am here to tell you that we now have conclusive proof that Jesus didn’t actually die from being hammered onto a cross. He didn’t die from being whipped silly by some muscular Romans, or from dehydration, or a nut allergy, or even swamped under the burden of all our sins. No. The Times today features an article explaining that according to the Rev Professor Patrick Pullicino (whom we shall call Pat for the purposes of brevity) Jesus finally came a cropper because he dislocated his shoulder dragging that bloody cross up that bloody hill. Pat is described as a doctor-turned-priest and he has been doing some serious, totally fact based research into the death of God’s eldest and he reckon he’s really nailed this one, if you’ll forgive the expression. Now, normally to solve these kinds of mysteries we would just use all kinds of crap like hard evidence and CCTV footage, but Pat has dug much deeper than that, even going so far as to study The Turin Shroud a bit more and to lean hard on a key new witness. And what he’s definitely, probably, not really proved at all is that the dislocated shoulder led to internal bleeding, which in turn caused a heart attack. And that was curtains for poor old Jesus. If only someone had thought to bring a defibrillator.
God only knows (seriously, who else would?) why no-one else has had the wherewithal to take a closer look at The Turin Shroud. I mean, it almost certainly must have possibly not at all been the cloth that Jesus was buried in. We definitively will never be able to prove this but it has an image of Jesus’ face on it (because that’s what happens when you put a cloth on a face – a permanent imprint is left on it) so it must be the real deal, and Pat has noted that abrasions on the cloth must show that Jesus switched shoulders at some point during his walk up the hill – we don’t know at which point exactly but for arguments sake let’s say roughly half way. They simply MUST show that. There is absolutely no other explanation why this cloth, that was just as likely to have been used to wrap up a wheel of cheddar, would have been damaged in such a way. Scientists have suggested the shroud could only date back to the 13th or 14th century, but that was probably Jesus playing a little trick to test the faith of his fans. Besides, what do scientists know?
But Pat was never going to rely on one granite hard piece of evidence so he also looked really closely into an account related by a 12th century abbot, who says he questioned Jesus really quite vigorously about his suffering during a visitation. Honestly, why didn’t someone say something before!? What, an actual, real visitation? From Jesus? Now that really is striking detective gold. Come on Pat, give everyone else a chance to prove that Jesus died from a dislocated shoulder! And thank goodness that after the abbot had been visitated by Jesus in a wet dream he had the sense to write it all down (using the parchment and quill he very likely always kept by his bed, in case he ever woke in the night and needed to jot down a particularly good joke he had remembered, or a few ideas for a collection of erotic poetry), because otherwise we just wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. I wonder how many other things we could find out about Jesus through accounts of his visitations. I’m surprised he hasn’t visited anyone to tell us where he is now and what he’s doing. My guess is that he runs an ice cream van in Cromer, but unfortunately I can never prove this because I just don’t have the case file of solid investigative work that Pat has so painstakingly put together, and so people will just assume I am a blithering charlatan and a big fat liar to boot.
So that’s that. We now know how Jesus died. We have cast iron proof of how he met his maker; or Dad, as he would have called Him. But suddenly knowing this for absolutely sure seems to me to sap a bit of the fun out of being a believer. I mean, isn’t your faith supposed to be based on, well, faith? And if so how will the Christian community respond to clever old Pat playing smarty pants and trying to finally lay down all their doubts and assumptions by hitting us with the kind of stuff that even Columbo would have struggled to dig up? I think it would be better to just let everyone’s imaginations run riot and make up their own ‘truth’ based on their favourite image of Jesus: that he died in a yachting accident, or was hit by a pigeon and fell off a wall, or in an acid bath at the hands of a Peruvian drug cartel, or that he went the full rock and roll and choked on someone else’s vomit. It’s quite nice to think that there is a rock and roll version of Jesus out there. Thought very few rock and rollers die from a dislocated shoulder. He might even have put together a pretty good little band, back in the day. Good enough to be as good as The Stone Roses even. Though to be fair they wouldn’t ever have been as good as Led Zeppelin, because only Led Zeppelin had a John Bonham. Happy Easter, just believe what you want. Everyone else seems to get away with it.
G B Hewitt. 16.04.2022