Homecoming out

Interlude: A story for Thanksgiving, written after reading Jonathan Franzen.    

He comes here, comes home, and disrupts everything. Why do we let him? We have a good life mother and I, a safe balanced life. Corrine visits – that’s my sister, three years older – with that insipid husband of hers, and we maintain the essential equilibrium. We don’t upset anything; we stay happy by keeping our private miseries in their own little compartments. We do not need to upset anyone or anything, least of all mother. We continue as we are. So why not him? He comes, a cyclonic force, and blows it all apart. Every time. He has to do it, has to be center of attention, center stage, center everything. Me, me, me. ‘Look at me, listen to me. This is me and I need you to notice.’ He may be our brother – it is because he is our brother, no doubt – but we have come to despise his presence, his showmanship, his ‘look at me and see how damaged I am, take notice of me’ attitude.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, whenever he turns up, our neat, tidy world, our happy world is turned on its head. He’ll do it again this time too because that is what he does. Why he thinks he has any right to say what he says, to criticize with a carefully placed word or to pull at this thread, that loose stitch, to pick apart everything we’ve so patiently knit together, but he does. He thinks he has that right. Or perhaps he doesn’t realize he’s doing it. But no. That’s too naive. Of course he knows. It could only ever be deliberate, pernicious.

And so he comes again with the big pronouncements. The great declarations. Look at me, look at me. He waits till the turkey is being carved, the turkey I have slaved over, each Thanksgiving like the last, because that is how mother likes it.

‘I have something to tell you all,’ he says.

‘We don’t want to know,’ I say, halting the carving, electric knife in mid-air. ‘Please, Frank,’ I implore him, ‘not now. This isn’t about you.’

‘But I must,’ he persists. ‘I have to tell you. If not now, when? I have put it off for too long.’

I know of course what he is about to say and don’t want to hear it. None of us does. We don’t need the fragile peace disturbed by another of his revelations.

‘Don’t,’ I say and resume slicing the meat, mouthing towards him, ‘you’re one sick bastard.’

Mother turns away. ‘We should say grace,’ she says, Corrine and her dull, gray husband bow their heads in compliance. ‘Lord, for this food,’ mother begins.

‘I want to tell you. I need to tell you,’ Frank implores.

‘For this food, we give you, our gracious God and Savior’

I’m… I have been for as long as I’

‘we thank you and praise your holy’

‘We don’t want to know,’ I snap. ‘So shut the fuck up,’ I mime at him.

‘For all good things,’ mother intones. ‘For food, family and’

‘I’m…’ Frank persists.

Fellowship, we praise your holy name’

I drop the knife on the table. Corrine jumps, startled. ‘You have to, don’t you,’ I say to him. You have to take over. Be the center of attention. Always. You complete and utter shit!’

‘Language, George, please,’ mother implores, visibly shocked. It is the first time I have ever used a four-letter word in front of her.

‘It’s always the same,’ I plead in mitigation. ‘He always has to take center stage. Well,’ I go on, turning towards him, ‘what is it you have to tell us that cannot wait? What is worth spoiling our happy Thanksgiving for? Come on, let’s hear it.’

Frank bows his head in supplication. ‘I just wanted to tell you,’ he says. ‘Need to tell you. That I’m…’

‘Yes,’ I say, impatient, I admit, to get it over with and get to the meal set before us; to return to normality.

‘I’m,’ he falters, ‘I’m sorry, mother, but… but I am… no longer a believer. I haven’t been since before I left for college. I’ve just never been able to tell you.’

‘Well, I hope you’re happy now,’ I say as mother begins to cry. ‘I hope you’re happy with what you’ve achieved here today.’

‘Oh, Frank,’ mother sobs. ‘Of course you’re not. Once saved, always saved. You remember.’

‘No, mother,’ he begins.

‘That’s enough,’ I say, taking charge. ‘He’s had his histrionics, now let’s all forget it and eat our dinner. Pass the cranberry sauce, Corrine.’

Prophets at a Loss

What a joy it is to witness the prophets of the Lord who a few weeks ago assured the world that Jesus had told them Donald Trump was going to win the US presidential election. Look at them floundering now to explain away their foolishness:

Pat Robertson on 20th October: ‘Without question, Trump is going to win the election.’

After the election: ‘Here is my take on the election. In my opinion I think Trump won it. That may shock you… There are cases being filed in many courts but I don’t give them much chance of winning.’

 

Paula White on 5th November: I hear a sound of victory. I hear a sound of abundance of rain. I hear a sound of victory. The Lord says it is done. The Lord says it is done. The Lord says it is done.

After the election: ‘God’s decision has been made… the church must enforce some things in the realm of the Earth. We must take authority over every demonic spirit, every high thing.’

 

Kat Kerr on 24th October: ‘Trump will win. He will be president of the United States. He will sit in that office for four more years and God will have his way in this country.’ 

After the election: ‘One of the things [God] had me say was that Trump would win by a landslide… But many times, as we know in the Word or even just from experience ourselves — especially as a prophet — that doesn’t ever mean what man thinks that means.’

 

Jeremiah Johnson on 30th September: ‘I had a dream… God showed me… President Trump will be re-elected.’

After the election: ‘There has been a chorus of mature and tested prophets in America with a proven track record that have predicted Donald J. Trump would be re-elected President of the United States. I am one of them… Either a lying spirit has filled the mouths of numerous trusted prophetic voices in America or Donald J. Trump really has won the Presidency and we are witnessing a diabolical and evil plan unfold to steal the Election. I believe with all my heart that the latter is true.’ 

 

Denise Goulet on 19th October, speaking to Trump in person: ‘The Lord showed me today that you are going to get a second wind…another in-filling of the Holy Spirit…because the Holy Spirit makes you able to finish, to take this to the end, Mr President.’

After the election: f*** all

It’s demons! An evil plan! I meant something else! I still think I’m right! I hope everyone forgets what I said.

Friendly Atheist Hermant Mehta has a whole lot more. These people are either frauds or self-deluded idiots. It’s stating the obvious to say that God and Jesus communicate directly with them. They haven’t been singled out to receive divine messages. Yet that is what they believe, or claim to anyway. They know no more about the future or God’s intentions than a typical house fly does. Yet the gullible, those caught in the same pretence that is Christianity, believe them. Yes, there are smart arse discerning Christians out there who say they never fall for these charlatans. Yet they do.

In Jesus Eclipsed, David Chumney cites Eugene Boring who, he says, ‘catalogs dozens of sayings ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels that very likely originated with later Christian prophets’ (my emphasis). Yet the writers of the gospels pass off these ‘spiritual insights’ as though they were Jesus’ own. Those who first read the gospels believed they were. Christian’s today assume the same. They’re not. They’re the words of religious zealots making things up as they went along. Some, most perhaps, no doubt believed what they were channelling the words of the Lord. Others wouldn’t have been quite so sincere.

There is no such thing as a prophet. God doesn’t make his intentions known through cranks and fraudsters. There’s no God and no Eternal Jesus to do such a thing, as today’s holy con-artists so ably demonstrated with their predictions of a Trump victory.

Will the real Jesus please stand up?: Conclusion

There will no doubt be Christians reading this blog who are keen to tell me that no-one in their right mind would believe in a made-up Jesus.

No? Yet the self-righteous are still making up Jesuses in their own image. Jesuses who bear little relation to any of those in the Bible. Jesuses that suit their own agendas: White Republican Jesus, America First Jesus, Catholic Jesus (with his heart outside his body), anti-LGBT Jesus, Evangelical Jesus, Social Justice Jesus, Prosperity Jesus, Mormon Jesus, Jehovah’s Witness Jesus, Jesus who gives glimpses of heaven, Jesus who communicates with his ‘prophets’ here on Earth… and many more.

Every single one of them is a made to order, manufactured Jesus, every single one imaginary. The Jesus worshipped by individual Christians and churches is a figment of the imagination. He may be loosely based on one of the Jesuses of the Bible (I’ll generously give them the benefit of the doubt) but he is unique to every sect and to every single person within it. Each individual sets up an altar to the idol in their head and worships him there.

Christians: your personal Saviour isn’t real. You worship a construct of your own making.

From which, two questions follow:

If no-one in their right mind would believe in an imaginary Jesus, what does this tell us about you?

Given you believe in an imaginary Jesus, why is it so difficult for you to accept that the earliest Christians did too?

Stories

 

  • Many Christians believe that God himself impregnated Mary and that her son, Jesus, was God Incarnate. Yet they don’t accept that numerous others, including Perseus, Buddha and Vishnu, who were all fathered by gods, are in any way divine. Why not?
  • Evangelicals and other Christians believe that Jesus performed many miracles. However, they dismiss other miracle workers as frauds or mythical beings. As John Oakes puts it on the Evidence for Christianity website, ‘religious figures (such) as Osiris, Empedocles or Krishna almost certainly were not real people, making stories of supposed miracles they worked irrelevant’. Why?
  • Christians believe Jesus fed 5,000 people with 5 fish and 2 loaves. They don’t believe the Qur’an’s story that Muhammed did much the same thing. Why not?
  • Christians believe Jesus was visited by the long dead Moses and Elijah. They believe Paul saw Jesus after he died. Yet they dismiss the Mormon claim that Joseph Smith saw Jesus and God himself. Why?
  • Christians believe Jesus came back to life a day and a half after he was killed. However, they regard the resurrection stories of Dionysus, Osiris and Attis as counterfeit. Why?
  • Christians believe Jesus rose into the sky to take up his place in heaven. Yet they think it preposterous that Muhammed went there on a flying horse. Why?

When it comes to their own stories Christians are adamant that they are reliable accounts of events that really happened. Jesus really was God’s son. He really did do magic; really did feed 5,000 people with a few scraps; really did rise from the dead and really did beam up to heaven. Paul really met him on the road to Damascus.

Even liberal Christians like Joel Anderson, while acknowledging there is much that is suspect in the Jesus story, argue with all the cognitive dissonance they can muster, that the gospels are nevertheless ‘historically reliable’. This really won’t do. Evidentially, the gospels are as ‘historically reliable’ as the tall tales involving Osiris, Buddha, Vishnu, Muhammed and Joseph Smith. Gods only make visits to the Earth in stories, individuals only rise from the dead in stories, magic and miracles only occur in stories. The Christian examples of these tropes are as imaginary as all the others. The heroes of such stories – be it Empedocles, Perseus, Mithras, Buddha, Krishna or Jesus – are fabrications too.

If it’s constructed like a story, has all the components of a story and reads like a story then that’s exactly what it is.