ISSUE 27

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  You’ve been siblings for thirty years—making cabinets, putting in wood floors, designing sparse Corinthian furniture for upper middle class Romans. And then one day Jesus announces over dinner he’s the Messiah, the Holy One of God, the Alpha and the Omega, and the Son of Man, whatever the hell that means. And don’t worry James, the Son of Man totally forgives you for pissing all over the toilet seat, but if He ever catches you doing it again, you will have snakes shoved down your pants for eternity. Word.   
  Sure, his brothers and sisters may have had inklings that Jesus was a bit… different. Whenever the family went to the beach, he started baptizing random Jews, and Mary had to ground him because he was blessing too many babies. Not to mention Jesus used “thou” and “ye” way more than normal, almost like he was expecting someone to write down what he said. And this weird thing: halos kept appearing around his head, and his toast always had his face on it.
     James: How do you do that? My toast never looks       like that.  
      Jesus: [Shrugs] Just happens bro.  
 But it’s not like those things would immediately suggest he’s the Son of God. C’mon, who hasn’t accidentally multiplied a loaf of bread five thousand times? So you see Mary and Joseph’s predicament. It’s hard to prepare your children for the fact their eldest brother is super special, like he had angels and shepherds and baby lambs and shit at his birth while you had your Aunt Gurdie—and she had to leave midway through because she’s an alcoholic.
  Do you privilege the kid? Or act as if everything is normal when everything is definitely not normal? Or do you go the sadistic route and punish him unfairly to humble the little righteous punk? It’s God, and he’s in your house, underlining things in the Torah, resurrecting the family fish, and occasionally shoving a bunch of unleavened bread down the garbage disposal because “God told him to.”  
  All of it would make an interesting TV show… well, an adequate TV show. Say if the only other thing to watch was The Vampire Diaries, then Raising The Son Of God would be the least worst option—though if Jesus turned out to be a vampire, it could really bring up the ratings.  
   
  Of course, after Jesus grew up and came out of the heavenly closet, his brothers seemed to like him—or the ones who didn’t, you know, had snakes shoved down their pants in hell. They liked him so much they wrote down what he said, or Jesus hired some poor public relations intern who was piddling away his days at the National Pharisee Corporation.  
  See, the Gospels are sort of like Jesus’ greatest hits album, a Bob Marley’s Legend of the first century. But what about the stuff that didn’t make it in, the underground, bootleg Jesus Basement Tapes, the unrecorded gold? Did Jesus casually mention, “Oh and guns are bad, gay people are totally cool, and in a pinch, pizza will work as a substitute for the Eucharist.”  
  Even something not incredibly cryptic about the end of the world would have been helpful. Something to the effect of, “Hey, so I’ll be back in 3045. Don’t worry about anything until then.” It could have given a lot of people a reason to politely decline the poisoned Kool-Aid.
  Without the Jesus Basement Tapes, we lose so many of the in-between, relaxing-after-a-hard-day-healing-clingy-lepers moments. The disciples probably got all the best recipes and heard how the camel came to exist and how to find the man/woman of your dreams, but we hear none of it. Thanks for nothing Bartholomew.
  But you can imagine: Jesus and his disciples stop on the road to Damascus one lazy August evening. The dusk is settling over the hills. The sheep are done getting lost in ravines and jumping in front of semis, and everyone’s settling down in a green pasture. It’s quiet. There’s a slight breeze. And Jesus leans over and whispers, “So a Jew, a black guy, and a Samaritan walk into a bar, and the Jew says to the black guy…”
  Oh, what the Bible could have been.

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