The Jesus Religious Attitudes Survey
Pollster: Excuse me, sir.
Jesus: I forgive you.
Pollster: No, I mean I want a minute or two of your time for a survey I’m doing.
Jesus: I have all the time in the world. And then some.
Pollster: We’re surveying religious attitudes–random sample, of 1200 adults. Can I ask, What’s your occupation.
Jesus: I am a messiah.
Pollster: Can you spell that.
Jesus: C-h-r-i-s-t. It’s the Greek form.
Pollster: Are you Greek?
Jesus: No, Palestinian Jew. I’ve been working here in the States for ages though. Things in Europe aren’t what they used to be. I find that in America, you can be anything you want—even a humble carpenter’s son who turns out to be divine, or an ordinary reporter for the Daily Planet who wear blue tights and a cape.
Pollster: Sir, the first question is this: Do you believe in God?
Jesus: Sure. I believe in the God my people believe in.
Pollster: You mean YHWH?
Jesus: Shushhhhh for Pete’s sake. Where I come from you could get us stoned for saying that out loud.
Pollster: Sorry. Now, do you regard this God – whatever – as having a special relationship with you?
Jesus: Of course I do. He’s my father.
Pollster: No, I mean really.
Pollster: Like, your mother’s husband?
Jesus: Not exactly. They weren’t married. She was his handmaid. He just chose her from the village.
Pollster: She was raped?
Jesus: Nah, she was happy to do it. He was God Almighty, she was a nobody. Now she’s a big deal. Anyway, it wasn’t Abba, not exactly: it was the Paraclete.
Pollster: A bird?
Jesus: No, more of a spirit. I used to think of him as the family pet because he was always morphing into a bird–crashed my baptism party–annoying–but missed my circumcision. The old man said, “the Paraclete is not really a dove and he’s not a tongue of fire either.” So I said, “Well, is he my brother or something?” and Abba said “He is what he is. Now shut up.”
Pollster: Second question; Do you believe in heaven?
Jesus: Do you believe in Westchester County? Yes, of course, that’s where Abba lives with the Paraclete. I’m there too except for weekends when I have to be physically and really present in the Eucharist. I sit at his right hand, the Paraclete sits on his left hand. It’s dull, a little uncomfortable, and we don’t talk much. Sometimes we sing. But the old man is really good at sitting. If he needs something special done he sends me.
Pollster: Like what?
Jesus: Nothing recently. A few thousand years ago, though, the human race needed redeeming and he sent me. Now the work is pretty dicey—an apparition here, a mystical vision there. Mom does a lot of icon intervention. There’s a lot more for the Paraclete since Abba put him in charge of speaking in tongues, getting born again, inspired preaching and so forth—When the old man wants to say something, he just asks the spirit to do it for him. Once I said, speak for yourself, Pop, but he just rolled his eyes and fell back asleep.
Pollster: That is a pretty odd picture of heaven.
Jesus: Not really. Millions of people see it that way. Have for centuries. You never took art history did you?
Pollster: What I really meant is, Do you believe in an afterlife?
Jesus: No need. I am the way of eternal life. Others have to believe it. I just have to keep saying it.
Pollster: Do you believe in hell?
Jesus: The place where people suffer the torments of damnation in everlasting fire, from which there is no surcease of agony and where all lost souls utterly abandon hope of salvation? You bet your sweet pickle I do. Been there, burned that. Satan is not a nice guy.
Pollster: You’ve met him?
Jesus: OK, no art history, no mythology, no Milton, no Joseph Campbell videos either: who hired you? Hell is a lot like a marathon without snacks. Satan invented manga but the Japanese got the credit.
Pollster: Final question. Do you consider yourself more spiritual than religious?
Jesus: That’s a hard one—divine and human, that sort of thing. Doesn’t really translate. When I see a sunset–wow!–spiritual, definitely spiritual. The old man won’t even look at them because he says “I didn’t create twilight.” But then on the weekends, it’s hard not to feel as little religious, you know–especially with millions trying to reach the old man through me. So I guess “both” would be my answer.
Yeah, definitely both.