BRET: I’m here tonight with arguably the most famous person in Western Culture, Jesus.
JESUS: It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you.
BRET: And on a Sunday, no less. I hope I’m not keeping you from anything.
JESUS: Actually, my schedule really opened up this week with the Super Bowl last weekend and football season being over now.
BRET: Busy time of year for you?
JESUS: I get more requests during the playoffs and the Super Bowl than most Christmases. The only time that’s worse is the World Cup, but that’s only every 4 years. This year, most people wanted me to kill Tom Brady, but he’s on my fantasy team. I figured the opening play safety would satiate everyone.
BRET: You’re too nice.
JESUS: I try to please.
BRET: So, how are things up in heaven?
JESUS: Fine, but I spend most of my time in Hell.
BRET: Wait, what?
JESUS: It’s not what you think. I just… I don’t really like the people in heaven. They all want a piece of me. I feel like Johnny Depp, and Hell is like my France.
BRET: So… you spend time in Hell… to get away from it all?
JESUS: More or less. I also like helping people, and no one in heaven needs any help. They’re all constantly happy. Just a bunch of big, dumb, smiling faces following me wherever I go…
BRET: That sucks.
JESUS: But Hell… most people there don’t even recognize me, for one thing. Even those who do will just treat me like a normal person, which is all I ever really wanted. People in Hell just keep to themselves.
BRET: They don’t hate you?
JESUS: Not usually, but it’s okay if they do. Not everyone has to like me. It’s very unfulfilling to be surrounded by yes-men. Even in life, I tended to hang around people who questioned me, not to mention people who were a little unsavory. There aren’t many whores in heaven.
BRET: Hmm… I am not sure how to take that.
JESUS: I’m not frequenting their services, if that is what you’re trying to insinuate.
BRET: Not at all. I just didn’t picture you being this way.
JESUS: Well, I am. I’m not my father, despite what any Christian says.
BRET: Yeah, I guess it’s your dad who is all about praise.
JESUS: I know, right? He needs constant reassurance. Meanwhile, now that my job on Earth is over, I’m just an accessory for Him to parade around on special occasions, not that I want any of His attention. I get plenty of it from the masses.
BRET: Was that a pun?
JESUS: Huh? Oh, right… masses and mass… no, no pun intended. I’m not really one for jokes. I mean, I like a good joke, but I’m not one for telling them.
BRET: I know tons of Jesus jokes, if you want to hear some.
JESUS: Sure, I’m game.
BRET: Okay, what’s the difference between you and a picture of you?
JESUS: I don’t know, what?
BRET: You only need one nail to hang up a picture of you.
BRET: Okay… oh, I know. Why didn’t you walk on water after you were crucified?
JESUS: This is also a joke?
JESUS: Okay, why?
BRET: Because you had holes in your feet.
JESUS: Do you have any that don’t involve my tortuous death?
BRET: Um… no.
BRET: Fine, one more. Why do you hate jelly beans?
JESUS: Because they’re a pagan symbol?
BRET: No, because they keep falling through the holes in your hands.
JESUS: Oh boy…
BRET: Okay, changing gears…
JESUS: I came here to promote my charitable cause. You haven’t even mentioned it once.
BRET: Oh, I didn’t know you had a charity.
JESUS: I don’t have a charity, I just want people to give more to the cause of the needy.
BRET: That’s admirable.
JESUS: All people should give to the poor.
BRET: What about the poor? Should the poor give to charity?
JESUS: Of course. Even the poor have a small amount to give, and those who have little but give it all are truly giving more than the billionaire who donates millions.
BRET: Fair enough, but what about people who literally have nothing to spare?
JESUS: Then you should do something good for the needy, for the oppressed, for those who are hated by others.
BRET: And if you cannot do anything good for those in need?
JESUS: Then you should take the time to try to convince others to do good. Be a source of inspiration for others, and you are giving more than any amount of money or labor.
BRET: And if you cannot do even that?
JESUS: There isn't much of anything that this hypothetical person can do, is there? In this case, if you refrain from harming others, assuming you could harm someone, then you are doing as much good as you can do. That is all that can ever be asked of someone. I want you to be the best person you can be, not to spend time worrying about the best person you think you can’t be.
BRET: Fair enough. What do you like to do for fun?
JESUS: I like fishing. Just being out there on the ocean, swaying with the waves, the salty spray in the air… it’s like meditation, periodically interrupted by a life or death struggle. Plus, fish are delicious.
BRET: What’s your favorite fish?
JESUS: To eat or to reel in?
BRET: How about both?
JESUS: Well, to eat, it would have to be salmon. They’re fun to catch, but I like a challenge, so I really enjoy fishing for swordfish and marlin. They aren’t Kosher, though.
BRET: You keep Kosher?
JESUS: Kind of. I was raised with it, so it’s hard to overcome the stigma. Like, I love the smell of bacon, but the idea of eating it sickens me.
BRET: I’m like that with coffee.
JESUS: Ah, coffee I love, and tea.
BRET: Do you think food plays any part in religion?
JESUS: Well… see, religion is sort of not really what I’m about. Religion is really just a made up term for a type of culture. What you think of as “religion” is really just a strange mix of different cultures which have mixed and matched over time based on seemingly random criteria. You call it religion if it has a spiritual or theistic component to a particular culture, but true spirituality is its own entity. Spirituality is independent of culture, which includes diet, and even religion.
BRET: I see, I guess.
JESUS: Sorry, I sort of dodged your question. Let me try again. Diet is a serious component of religions around the world, but diet isn’t important for spirituality. I mean… I guess it can seem to be to some people, but they’re mostly wrong. Over-indulgence is truly a sin. You should treat the body you have been given with respect. You should eat healthy foods that don’t harm you, but let’s be honest, that isn’t what is at the heart of Kashrut or Halal law. Those are just blind traditions.
BRET: How do you feel about, say, Hindus not eating beef, or Jains not eating any meat.
JESUS: The Hindus are nuts. Jains, on the other hand, are onto something.
BRET: Interesting. Oh, I know something I’ve been meaning to ask you: how do you feel about all of the crucifixes and statues depicting you?
JESUS: I am flattered, but it’s really not necessary. I would honestly rather people ask, “Why is there no monument to Jesus?” than to look at what is there and think, “That’s too much.” And as for people wearing a cross or crucifix, I would hope that people can identify you as a follower of mine not by your gawdy jewelry, but by your words and actions.
BRET: I sometimes think of all the people that could be fed with the money from a cathedral.
JESUS: Indeed, that is a concern for me, but so long as that cathedral causes countless others over the years to be drawn to give and do good, then I am happy.
BRET: You don’t feel guilty for the horrible things done in your name?
JESUS: Do you think Jodie Foster feels guilty about John Hinckley, Jr.?
BRET: Fair enough.
JESUS: Why do you hate me?
BRET: You know I don’t hate you, I just fundamentally disagree with you.
JESUS: But why? We’re about 99% the same in our picture of what is ideal.
BRET: And yet, that 1% is the most important thing to you.
JESUS: True. I expect you to put God first.
JESUS: My Father isn’t in the thick of things. He isn’t everywhere, and He’s never been human. Sure, He sees everything and knows everything, but He’s distant. He’s far away. I know what you go through… well, I know what people worse off than you go through. I never had a life of privilege like you, so I can’t relate completely. But I know what it is to love, to lose, to feel pain, and worse, to see pain in others.
BRET: Yeah, life can be awful, but it’s worth it, right?
JESUS: I don’t know. I sometimes wonder how anyone can enjoy anything with all the suffering going on in the world. My heart breaks for others on a constant basis. Right now, millions are mourning. Millions more are starving. Another million are on the way to the hospital with a life-changing injury. Even the little things get me. Right now, a million waiters are being stiffed on a tip.
BRET: People can only do so much.
JESUS: Easy for you to say. Sure, you’re a good person, when the situation presents itself, but you don’t go looking for people to help. You don’t volunteer or donate regularly to charities. You’re like most good people, you’re not a bad person, but you aren’t meeting your full potential.
BRET: I’m not sure why you would care, since I’m not going to heaven based on what I do.
JESUS: I want people to do good. Just because you’re going to Hell doesn’t mean you need to be a bad person.
BRET: I agree with you there.
JESUS: Is worshiping God really that bad?
BRET: Yes, but that’s not all of it. Certain things about religion are just wrong.
JESUS: Like I said, I don’t care about religion. No one is asking for anything but belief. Everyone is a sinner.
BRET: Yeah, that’s how it starts. A year later, I’m standing outside a Planned Parenthood with a giant sign showing a bloody fetus.
JESUS: Would that be so bad?
BRET: Are you serious? I thought you said you opposed suffering. Why would you oppose abortion?
JESUS: I don’t feel the suffering of women.
BRET: You’re kidding me.
BRET: This explains so much.
JESUS: Like what?
BRET: Like the complete lack of rules in the Bible against rape.
JESUS: You can’t have sex before marriage.
BRET: That has nothing to do with rape! The Old Testament basically treats a raped woman like she just got married to her rapist, and you don’t even address the fact that a husband can rape his wife.
JESUS: How can a husband rape his wife?
BRET: You have got to be kidding me.
JESUS: She consented to honor and obey him.
BRET: I’m pretty sure if you included, “…and you will have sex with him whenever he wants” into the marriage vows, less women would be inclined to get hitched.
JESUS: Not my problem.
BRET: Yeah, this is why I disagree with your religion. It’s like it was invented by a bunch of men, and women were an afterthought.
JESUS: Women sort of were an afterthought.
BRET: That’s weird, because genetics shows us that it’s the male that is the mutation. Female is actually the default gender.
JESUS: Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Another is to say that women were created lacking a Y chromosome.
BRET: Based on the crime statistics and the way each gender lives their lives, I would cast my lot with women if I wanted a more moral, ethical society.
JESUS: Sure, if you want a society that shuts down for four or five days a month because they have cramps.
BRET: Bullshit. Even if you’re correct in your assertion that women shut down when they’re on the rag, women do more good and less evil during those 25 days a month than men do during all 30.
JESUS: Sorry. Mary Magellan and I are just going through some shit.
BRET: It’s cool. I know the feeling, but seriously, lay off women as a whole.
JESUS: Our two-thousandth anniversary is coming up after Valentine’s Day, and I’ve just been run ragged preparing everything. It’s driving me nuts.
BRET: Relax man. What are you planning?
JESUS: Well, for Valentine’s day, I’m making steaks topped with chimichurri on a bed of jasmine rice. Then we’re watching “The Notebook.” It’s not a big deal, but I have to set the time aside in my schedule.
BRET: And for the anniversary?
JESUS: I’m on the fence… either I’m going to initiate doomsday, or I’ll take her to Red Lobster.
BRET: Hmm, I wouldn’t recommend either.
JESUS: What then?
BRET: Well, why not take her fishing?
JESUS: She hates fishing.
BRET: What do you enjoy doing together?
JESUS: We both like Bob Dylan.
BRET: There ya go, why not ask him to do a private show?
JESUS: Yeah… we’re not on speaking terms at the moment.
BRET: Oh right. Um… oh, I know, where did you meet?
JESUS: We don’t like to focus on that.
BRET: What do you mean?
JESUS: We, uh…
BRET: No… tell me you did not meet her through her… work.
JESUS: You’re not helping.
BRET: Okay. What about… where did you get married?
JESUS: We got married in my family’s house, which doesn’t exist anymore.
BRET: Help me help you, man. I’m trying to get you to think of something from your shared past that will make her feel nostalgic for that moment when she first fell for you.
JESUS: I’ll put some thought into it later, in between helping someone find their lost car keys and watching an African child die of malnutrition.
BRET: Yeah, I suppose your life isn’t very conducive to thinking romantically. Wait a second… what if you renew your vows?
JESUS: We did that in 1012 for our millennial.
BRET: Well then you almost have to do it again in 2012.
JESUS: I don’t know, it seems so predictable.
BRET: Look, I’m telling you, just do it and be done with it. You’re over thinking it, stressing yourself out, and that will come through when you interact with her later. You’re not doing her or you any favors.
JESUS: You’re right. Maybe I’ll cure AIDS for her or something.
BRET: That’s the spirit. You’re a guy with unlimited power, if you can’t please your wife, what chance do the rest of us have?
JESUS: Why do you think I’m so spiteful of women?
BRET: There’s no sense in getting yourself all worked up. Come on, think about it. The only reason it upsets you in the first place is because you love her so much and her approval matters to you.
BRET: You’re supposed to celebrate these kinds of things with her, not endure them.
JESUS: I’ll be honest, I rarely get advice.
BRET: Do you ask?
JESUS: No, but I didn’t ask you, either.
BRET: Well, like you said, an opportunity presented itself, and I decided to help. I’m not going to pray to you every night and ask if you need anything, but if you’re interested in asking me sometime, I’m here. I don’t have much going on.
JESUS: I just might do that. I kind of need to wrap this up, actually. Anything else?
BRET: Well, often I let someone I’m interviewing end on some words of wisdom, or a piece of advice. You up for sharing anything you want all of humanity, or at least the 100-200 people who read my blog, to know?
JESUS: Treat each other well, even those who are different from you, even those who hate you. Your existence is poisoned by contagious hatred and anger. All of us, even I, get upset and then take it out on others. We allow someone else’s anger to make us angry, and we allow someone else’s hate to make us hate. Be the one who stops a chain of anger, be the one who stops a chain of hate. Even God Himself finds this difficult, so to accomplish this is perhaps the closest one can get to being like God.
BRET: Very fitting words.