Monday, April 14, 2014

Home

My son puts a hole in the wall...

"Why don't you put him in a home?"

My son bloodies his head...

"Do you think you'll put him in a home someday?"

My son attacks me...

"He's out of control. He's going to end up in a home."

My son is in a home. My home. Our home.

Do you think making the decision to have your child live somewhere apart from you is one that comes easy? You might as well take my brain and ask me to think. Or take my lungs and ask me to breathe. Or take my heart and ask me to live.

My son and my daughter are a part of me. They are as vital to me as any vital organ in my body.

My son was hospitalized twice in a psychiatric wing of a children's hospital. I did it when he first exhibited aggressive behavior, on the advice of a medical professional. The first time I dropped him off I went to the parking garage and wept fiercely. I felt like the worst parent in the world because I couldn't solve his problem so I was dumping off the responsibility on someone else. The second verse was as same as the first. Neither hospital stay did a thing for him, and it is not something that I will do again.

We have had Children's Services involved in our lives. Two years ago when we were robbed, the policeman taking our report turned around and called Children's Services on us. They came to our house three days later and accused us of neglect because our house was messy. No amount of conversation would convince this woman that we do take care of our kids, it's just that life is hard and sometimes they mess the place up faster than we can clean it. She gave us two days to clean the place before she came back.

You had better believe that we busted our asses cleaning that place. My wife was worried that they would take our kids away. Me? Not so much. I had a contingency plan that involved me taking the kids and hitting the road. If they wanted to try to take my kids they would have a fight on their hands. It was not going to happen. Would I really have gone on the lam with my children? You bet your sweet bippy I would have.

The advice flows freely from the lips of those who don't have to make the decision. But the decision to place a child in a group home is not one that comes as easily as what to watch on TV or how many anchovies to put on the pizza. (Hawaii Five-O, and double.)

An adult child? Different story altogether. It can be a good thing, when a child reaches adulthood, for them to learn independent living skills and develop social relationships outside the home. But even in that case, it is still up to the parents and no one else.

"Shouldn't you put him in a home?"

He is in a home. My home. Our home. Matthew, Rebecca, Laura and myself. And as long as we are alive and capable of doing so, my son and my daughter will have a guaranteed place in my home. If I am changing diapers when my kids are 20, I might not like it, but I will do it. My commitment to my children is that strong, that deep, never to be questioned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Church or something like it

Palm Sunday. The Sunday where church people across this great land of ours burn their old palms, pick up new ones after the service, their kids play with the palms until strands of them are all over the living room floor. The service in liturgical churches is usually longer than most Sundays, because they read the entire story of THE PASSION out of one of the gospels. Sometimes it's the only time women get to read from the gospels in front of the church the entire year. In entertainment-style churches they likely rehearsed the whole scene and plan on presenting it live, maybe even with a donkey if they really feel adventurous. In fact, if the donkey craps on stage they consider it a bragging point and will talk about it for the next year. And atheists? They are just now rolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of joe and trying to decide if they want to mow their lawn for the first time this season.

Palm Sunday. The Sunday in which you know that there is only one more week in the Lenten season. Moms everywhere probably have some chocolate hidden in the cupboard for the time when she is freed from her Lenten vows and can consume her sweets with passion. No pun intended. Dad has been cranky for lo these 40 days of Lent, and now sees people as giant walking cigarettes. He almost smoked his son's shoes last night. Junior and Juniorette just want Friday night pizza nights to continue. Officially. Unofficially they have been consuming meat-laden slices from Mr. Sally's Pizzaria the whole time.

Palm Sunday. The Sunday in which every year I celebrate by posting a picture of my palm on social media. Hee hee hee.

Church. Something that at one time in my life consumed my attention and desires. I started this blog back in 2005 because a friend of mine wanted to know what I got out of all the diverse types of churches I've been to, and the resulting essays became too long for standard emails. I've seen them all. Greek Orthodox. The traditional Latin Mass. Non-denominational. Baptist. Really, really Baptist. As well as the Catholic Mass I grew up with.

I was 15 years old when I was born again, when I renewed my baptismal promises, when I was saved, when I went through a conversion experience. I don't care what terminology you use, I just know that at that time it meant something to me. It changed my life. I threw myself into Bible reading, church attendance, and surrounding myself with all of the trappings. Christian music. Christian books. Never had Christian toilet paper but I can guarantee you that somewhere, someone has made it.

But it's 32 years later. And 32 years later, at the age of 47, I can't say that I really give a shit.

This morning, Palm Sunday, I woke up at 2:30AM to discover that my son had opened all the cupboards and raided the refrigerator. We were up until 4:15AM. At 7:30AM I got up again to get my wife up so her and my daughter could get ready for church. At 8:00AM the storm began and I had to once again clean my son's head of blood and pieces of wall. At 8:15AM I was scrubbing my son's bedroom floor of poop. At 8:40AM things had finally calmed enough that I could finally give my son his medicine, medications that are becoming less effective by the day. But I still give them.

Now tell me. How am I supposed to take seriously an argument about the proper type of communion bread? Should I care whether baptism is carried out by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Should I believe that God is checking my attire as I walk in the door to make sure I am wearing a tie? (And I'm sorry, but ties are the devil's noose and I hate wearing them.) Is listening to a song by The Who wrong? And is listening to a cover version of a song by The Who performed by a Christian band any different than enjoying the original? How am I supposed to take seriously a sermon about the sanctity of marriage when the same pastor is having wild, sloppy, sweaty animal sex with the secretary who is not his wife?

I don't.

Hey, I read the Bible. And I take seriously the teachings of Jesus the Christ. But the organized version of it can burn to the ground for all I care.

Of course, there's a problem with that approach. Suppose I eschew church attendance for a coffee clatch at the local Starbucks. Every Sunday I choke down a latte and muse upon the issues of the day (which for me are autism, autism, and, well, autism). Soon I meet another parent who gets it, and we have coffee together. After awhile another joins us. We've developed a community at this point, something that church is supposed to be but often is not.

Our community becomes too large for the Starbucks, so we move it to the food court at the mall. Soon we decide that we want to get some input from doctors and others who can give us something we can use with our kids in our daily life, so we rent an empty school on a weekly basis where we can have childcare and invite even more parents. Life is good, the speakers are edifying and people are happy.

Inevitably discussions arise about the nature of our little coffee clatch. The original Starbucks group want to go back to the simplicity of having coffee, and don't care for the organized approach. The next generation want to get some name speakers and not just local doctors. A small group of parents start reading Jenny McCarthy's new book and eventually start a Tuesday meeting for Jenny fans. Another group suggests that we are going about this all wrong, that instead of considering autism as a burden and something to fight against, we should celebrate the diversity of all things autism. They start their own Sunday meeting for parents of that stripe.

And BOOM. You have now done exactly what you fought against when you stopped attending church. Only difference is the absence of a deity. Except for the people who worship J Mc instead of JC.

I can't take these kinds of divisions and petty bickering seriously, whether from church or other factions, because I have real things I have to take seriously. I take my son and daughter and their care seriously. This is my full-time job; hell, this is my full-time life. This morning I scrubbed real crap off the floor. I can't take time to deal with metaphorical crap. You want to convince me that the Pope is the antichrist? Keep on walking, and don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you. Communion wafers vs bread, wine vs grape juice, pews vs chairs, organ vs guitar? Repeat after me. "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!"

_____________________________

"Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Men, women, boys and girls, The Lord has told you what is good. And what does the LORD require of you ? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
---Micah 6:7-8

"Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends."
---John 15:13

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Acceptance

I had a friend on Twitter retweet something to me, a question she was asked. (and for the record, I hate the word "tweet" to describe communication, but when in Rome....)

"Who are ASD Acceptance and why are they boycotting Autism Speaks ?? Did I miss something?"

I've written about why I don't support a boycott of Autism Speaks (right here), so I don't need to rehash that. But ASD Acceptance? Sounded like an organization or a Facebook page or something I should check out.

ASD Acceptance is indeed a Facebook page. (ASD standing for "Autism Spectrum Disorder"). They believe that what the world needs now is acceptance, sweet acceptance; they want Autism Awareness Month to be about the fact that Autism shouldn't be promoted as a disorder to be "cured" but rather a diversity to be celebrated. To that end, if you want to see autism end... yeah, they don't like you.

They reposted a picture from another Facebook page which was a collection of quotes from other Facebook pages and blogs, one of which read this way:

I just feel like I am supposed to accept this horrible thing with a smile on my face and pretend that it doesn’t suck and I am tired of it.  I am supposed to pretend that all of the uncertainty, all the frustrations, all the tantrums and all the pain is just something that I accept and happily deal with.  I read a comment the other day from a mom that said she “wouldn’t have her son any other way.”  I don’t mean to discredit this mother at all, but that’s just something you tell yourself to make it not hurt so much.  I love Mara exactly as she is, but if I could do something to take away her autism, I would do it in a heartbeat.

The comments were plentiful:

Karla's ASD Page BTW: It took me about 10 min to find and make this poster. Not hard in Autism Awareness month.... Anyone still have questions about the hate?

Jill Canner McCormick I cannot believe the pure Ignorance! I have 3 kids and 2 have autism and we embrace them for who they r! So many people want to fix those that have autism!! Why?? UGH!! They SUCK!!! :((

Angie Melissa Whoever the parent is who wrote that I wonder if they'd cope with any child without whinging.

Jonathan Clement I don't think autism is the problem. I think the problem is fault-finders.

Kirsten Oswin Oswald Thow Whoever made this blog sucks!!!! 'Austism is unacceptable..' Uneducated douche.

Hollin Sutherland Goodwin They are awful parents. I know it's frustrating at times and autism is hard on those of us who have children who are more severe, as my son is, but I don't hate autism. I couldn't hate any part of any of my children. I worry for his future-will he ever be independent or will he ever TALK--I want him to have a happy life. Not one filled with people hating him because of his autism. It's so so sad. (emphasis mine)

They are awful parents. Okay, Hollin Sutherland Goodwin, them's fighting words. When someone insinuates that I am an awful parent, I am going to have something to say about it. And another something. And another.

Neither of my children talk. Of course, talking is not necessary for communication, any one of a number of methods will suffice- pictures, Ipads, assistive communication devices. My son is good at being able to show me what he needs; of course, I have had years of practice in learning to anticipate his daily routine. My daughter, on the other hand, does not communicate well at all. Her method of communication is to pull your hand, or push you from behind, and if you don't get the hint right away she whimpers. Then cries. Possibly even screams. And when that happens, all hell is about to break loose.

BANG! BANG! BANG!


That sound means only one thing- a new hole in the wall. I rush back to the bedroom where my son is holed up (pardon the pun) and try to calm him down. It isn't working. BANG! BANG! BANG! If I am lucky, I can keep him away from the furniture. But not this day. BANG! And blood pulses from an inch-long gash in his forehead.

He finally calms down when I explain to him that I have to clean his head. I press a towel to his head once, twice, three times. I get the blood to stop flowing, but it is obvious that he and I are off to the emergency room. I pack the diaper bag, I pack the Ipad and Nook, and off we go. ER trip number five this year.

When we get home he wants me to go back to the bedroom with him, but he doesn't want me to leave. He wants me to kiss him. Again. And again. Whenever I ask him what he wants, he leans in for another kiss. I stand there and kiss him as long as he needs. Finally the Ipad beckons, and he gestures for me to leave.

I check on him later to clean his wound, change his bandaid, and... oops- what did I just step in? A rhetorical question, for I know what I just stepped in. He took his diaper off, and the poop that he didn't try to cover with a t-shirt or a bedsheet is now on the sole of my foot. I hop to the bathroom, clean off my foot, and then grab the scrub brush and laundry soap and head back for my umpteenth cleanup job.

My daughter emerges from her room. What's this? She's nude? I shield my eyes and call for my wife. The brush and soap do not leave my grasp. I know what is coming up.

And Hollin Sutherland Goodwin thinks I am an awful parent because I think that autism sucks. Hollin, are you listening? Autism sucks. AUTISM SUCKS. It has robbed me of my livelihood, it has robbed us of our family life, it has robbed my children of their future.

Hollin Sutherland Goodwin, how in the world can you participate in a site that promotes acceptance and listening to each others stories, and be so quick to dismiss mine? How can you decry judgmentalism and then tap that same well of judgmentalism to dismiss the concerns of my life and my family? How can you talk about diversity yet leave no room in the discussion for any stories other than your own and those who agree with you?

Hollin Sutherland Goodwin, I am not an awful parent. I don't do many things well, but I believe I am a damned good parent. When parent-teacher conferences come up, I am there. When my children are sick, I am there. When my son took an accidental overdose of medication, I stayed up all night long with him, slept for an hour, and then went back and stayed with him some more.

When the road gets hard, and it gets hard a lot, I don't bail. I am committed to my children. I AM THERE.

I hate the infighting that seems to be frequent among those parents of autistic children, and those with autism themselves. I generally don't like getting involved. But when you question my parenting desires and skills? I come out shooting for bear.

I don't accept my children because I hate the condition that has robbed them of so much? On the contrary. I love and accept my children more than anyone could possibly know.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who are you/ What have you sacrificed?

Every time I look at you I don't understand Why you let the things you did get so out of hand?---“Superstar”, from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar

Do you think Jesus knew what he was starting? When he told Simon Peter that he was going to build his church, did he have his fingers crossed behind his back, saying to himself “oh God, please don’t let him screw it up?”? When Pat Robertson opens his mouth does Jesus sit up in heaven and think “oh crap, he’s at it again”?

Of course he knew what would happen. He’s God, right? When God created Adam and Eve he obviously knew that they would eat the fruit, otherwise he wouldn’t be God. So when Jesus made his final instructions to his disciples, telling them to preach the gospel, start Christian rock bands and sing “Kumbayah” a lot, he knew that some of those future disciples would be real assholes. Unless he wasn’t God while on this earth... yeah, not chasing that rabbit today.

Christ you know I love you
Did you see I waved?
---“Simon Zealotes”, Jesus Christ Superstar

So let’s imagine Jesus walking through the sands of time. The church starts, everything is cool, the Romans hate their guts but the believers give a collective middle finger to the Romans and meet anyway. The Romans throw them to lions and find many other ways to separate the believers from their lives, but it doesn’t matter. They have a fresh vision of Jesus. Jesus is all that matters to them. Some of them even saw the man face to face.

Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels
So they'll still talk about us when we've died.---“The Last Supper”, Jesus Christ Superstar

Gospels are floating around now. Everybody and their brother put pen to paper and churn out Gospels like network TV churns out reality shows. And even if someone didn’t know Jesus personally, they probably knew a friend of a friend who shared the Passover meal with an apostle’s cousin, and if they say Jesus would have done something this way, he probably would have.

And so it began.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

---Matthew 16:13-15

“And the people said, ‘Let us make Jesus in our own image, after our own likeness.’” Over the course of time people began to develop interpretations of who Jesus was based on what they wanted him to be. Jesus automatically approved of everything the Church did, because after all, he started the thing. Or so they said. The apostles ordained successors, and so on and so on, and Jesus smiled on the whole chain.

Pretty soon Martin Luther said “you know, screw this” and broke off, starting a revolution that revolved around the belief that Jesus wouldn’t make us do works, it’s all about grace. Jesus wouldn’t approve of this hierarchy stuff…Jesus would want us to read the Bible for ourselves…Jesus wouldn’t baptize infants- what do they know, anyway? And branches continued to fall from the tree.

Look at the artwork. Jesus Christ became a white man from the Middle Ages instead of the man of Middle Eastern descent that he actually was. In the 1700’s and 1800’s Jesus had no problems with people owning slaves because, well, that’s what the people wanted so they projected it onto Jesus. Marcus Garvey said that Jesus was a black man, because he wanted him to be one. To the emerging women’s movement Jesus was the first feminist. After all, Mary Magdalene was the first to see him after his resurrection, so to hell with all the tired old white guys running the show- Jesus obviously favored bra burning and reproductive freedom. To the hippies Jesus was the first hippie rebel. He stood up to the man, man! He fought the power! He had long hair and a lot of crazy ideas about love and freedom.

“Not so fast,” the fundamentalist movement intoned. Jesus didn’t have long hair- long hair was a shame to a man. To them Jesus was a short haired Bible thumper- just like them. Jack Hyles even wrote a book entitled “Jesus Had Short Hair.” Jesus was the original fightin’, feudin’ fundamentalist who spoke in King James English. 1611, straight from heaven baby!

Along about 1976 JC took the form of a peanut farmer from Georgia. Oops, my bad- that was Jimmy Carter. Same initials, though. A born-again in the White House- who woulda thunk it? But he was a Democrat, so he was destined to disappoint the crowd who was quickly seeing Jesus as the first Republican. When the 1980 elections rolled around old J.C. found himself thrown out on his peanut shells. The world had a new savior- old Ronald Wilson Reagan himself, the great white hope.

(Just as an aside, you know that Reagan was the antichrist, right? Do the math- Ronald has six letters, Wilson has six letters, and Reagan has six letters. 6-6-6.)

In 1987 and 1988, when Bakker and Swaggart took a dive, it was no longer cool to say “Jesus Is Lord.” Smacked too much of pushy televangelists and an image Christians were trying to get away from. Jesus was your buddy, your friend. He’s not going to push anything on you, man! He just wants to share a Budweiser and some smokes with you, maybe shoot a round of pool or go club-hopping. He was straight-edge before Fugazi took their first breath. Jesus was a vegan- he wouldn’t have eaten poor, defenseless animals, would he? Lamb of God? Oh , umm, well…. look over there! (and they run away.)

How about the pro-life crowd? “Jesus loves the little children…” they intoned while chaining themselves to abortion mills. Some of them got the idea that it might be kind of cool to kill a few doctors- after all, Jesus did say “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” Most of that same pro-life crowd are now pleased that we killed a lot of Iraqis for Christ. After all, George Bush was a man of God, and Jesus told him to invade Iraq.

And now we're in the enlightened age, the age of tolerance and good feelings, the age where theological and political discourse is reduced to whatever can be said in 140 characters. NOH8, man! Hate isn't a family value! Jesus is inclusive, and loves us all. Except for that fundie family down the road, they can f*ck off. Jesus doesn't judge any of us. That actor who beat up a black dude 35 years ago when he was a drunk, stupid 17-year-old? Yeah, that racist can go to hell.

Several years ago a fellow blogger challenged me to say who I believed Jesus is. I had every intention of making that an essay, too, but then I realized that it would be pointless. Nobody really cares who Jesus is. They only care about the carefully crafted image they’ve made of Jesus. They have a Jesus that they’re comfortable with, and everyone else is wrong. If the Bible says something about Jesus that doesn't "resonate with my experience", then I just find a couple of scholars who see things my way, and all of a sudden "most scholars believe"... exactly what I want them to believe.

I know there's a place you walked
Where love falls from the trees
My heart is like a broken cup
I only feel right on my knees

I spit out like a sewer hole
Yet still receive your kiss
How can I measure up to anyone now
After such a love as this?


Tell me, who are you?
---The Who, "Who Are You?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jesus Christ: The Rolling Stone Interview



The Lord. The Savior. The Redeemer of Man. He goes by many titles. When people hit their thumbs with a hammer they use his name. He’s been used as an icon for every cause known to man, from animal rights to presidential politics.

His name? Jesus Christ.

To say that Jesus cuts a traditional Christ figure is to belabor the obvious. He stands 6’1”, with a Middle Eastern face framed by long, brown hair. Robert Powell he isn’t. He would be right at home with the other rough and tumble characters that make up the Israeli landscape.

I met Jesus at a small coffee shop on the west side of Cleveland. Some of the topics we covered included his death, his relationship with Judas Iscariot, and his feelings about the people who claim his name today.
______________________________________________________

Rolling Stone: I guess I should start by asking you what you preferred to be called- Jesus? Christ?

Jesus Christ: Jesus will be fine.

RS: Jesus, for the past several years you have been one of the nation’s most recognizable political figures, in addition to people who recognize you solely for your religious significance.

JC: (puts his hands in front of him and shakes his head) Hey, don’t blame that on me! (The group at the table laughs)
RS: So you don’t approve of those who use you to gain percentage points in the polls?
JC: The words I used in Israel were, “The person who believes on me will have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” There’s nothing in that sentence that says anything about giving them the Supreme Court justice that they want. The person who trusts in me to give them eternal life has every right to be involved in the political process, even to seek the highest office in the land in which they dwell. But to imply that because I love them and died for them I approve of their political aspirations? Sorry, go back and read my words again- “My kingdom is not of this world.”

RS: You aren’t telling people out there to sit on the steps of abortion clinics or wear orange tape over their mouths with the acronym L.I.F.E. on it?
JC: (smiling slyly) That’s for me to know and you to find out. (He takes a sip of coffee) In most cases, I don’t micromanage people’s lives like that. If you want to stand in front of an abortion clinic with a sign, fine. If you need a gimmick like the orange tape, more power to you. Just don’t tell people that I made you do it. Especially if you are going to ignore my weightier commands in the process.

RS: Explain.
JC: Take your war in Iraq, for instance. George Bush claimed my guidance in reaching the decision to go to war, but how does that square with my command to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? When a person dies, whatever their nationality may be, that’s hardly an occasion to rejoice. When a bunch of them die, you had better be sure that your cause is just. And in this case, I don’t think it was.

RS: I thought that you weren’t taking sides?
(Jesus just stares straight ahead and smiles.)

RS: If I may quote you for a moment, you have said that “my sheep know my voice.” If you don’t micromanage people’s lives, what form does your voice take? How would the President have heard what he thought was your voice if, in fact, you weren’t giving him the guidance he’s claiming?
JC: My sheep hear my voice when I am calling them into the fold. I would expect grown adults to be able to choose their own socks in the morning or find a parking space without my intervention. (The waitress comes by, and Jesus asks for another cappuccino.) I will admit to calling people to specific things, and occasionally putting an exclamation point at the end of the sentence by personally making my will known. But if I dictate a person’s daily schedule to them, I don’t have people who love me freely; I have robots.

RS: So what you’re saying is that nine times out of ten, people already know what your will is for them simply by the circumstances that surround them…
JC: (interrupting) Well, it’s that, but it’s more. If someone has a desire to enter politics, for instance, and they have some obvious gifts in that area, then by all means they should go into politics. If they are good guitar players, they should consider using their talents instead of burying them. I’m the one that gave them said talents, and I am the one who planted certain desires in their hearts. I will make one caveat, however. I may have given someone the ability to play the guitar well; that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am going to make them a star. If someone has a writing talent, they may become the next John Grisham, and then again they may not. I may have given them certain talents to use in their local preschool. People have the tendency to try and baptize their ambitions, and assume that they are doing me service.

RS: So you expect people to use the wisdom you gave them, thereby reducing the number of tortillas that you have to appear on.
JC: (laughing heartily) Oh, man, if I had a dollar for every time someone had a tortilla, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or a grain silo with an image of me or my mother on it, I would be a rich man.

RS: I’d like to back up for a minute, and talk with you about your early years. Two of the gospels mention the manner of your birth. By being born of a virgin, were you making a statement about sexual activity and carnal desire?
JC: Uhh, no… actually I was merely seeking a way to be born. (Laughs) In order to be able to redeem mankind, and pay the price for their sin, I needed to live a life as they lived, sans the sin. Look at what the author of Hebrews says….

RS: Speaking of which, would you care to clear up for us once and for all the mystery of who wrote that book?
JC: If I haven’t said anything up until now, why do you think I would break my silence?

RS: OK, but it’s not like I’m asking you to appear in a tortilla or something. (The table breaks out in laughter.)
JC: (wiping tears from his eyes) Ten thousand comedians out of work and you’re trying to be one. As I was saying, the writer of Hebrews said this:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When I walked the earth in the early first century, I was not a zombie. I got hungry and thirsty; when I was tired I slept; when nature called I answered. When Satan tempted me in the desert it was not an exercise in futility. I possessed the ability to give in to those temptations. If I didn’t, how could they be considered temptations? By going through the process of human living, I became someone who could identify with the weaknesses of others. And by identifying with those weaknesses, I moved one step closer to helping people rise above them.

RS: How so?
JC: My whole life has been a series of steps moving towards a goal, that of redeeming mankind and reconciling them with my father. Part of that process involved living on this earth as a man, with everything that goes along with human living. The final step in a human’s life is death, and that’s the one that they could not overcome. But I did, and by doing so, and living within them, they are able to overcome the complexities of life and ultimately live forever.

RS: You just moved past three pages of my questions.
JC: (laughing) That’s one of the advantages of seeing the end from the beginning, I guess.

RS: You’ve explained why you needed to be born instead of just appearing, but you haven’t answered my question- why the need to be born of a virgin?
JC: I’m God’s son, not Joseph’s. I needed to be born of a woman because that’s how humans come into being. My father initiated the action because in order for my death to be a perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity, my life needed an eternal quality. If I died as a human being at a specific point in history, the effects of my death would be limited in space and time. By being born as fully human and fully divine, my sacrifice became eternal.

RS: So there is something in the temporal process of human conception and birth that would have prevented you from paying for our sins? That sounds like you are looking askance at sexuality.
JC: I did create it, you know. If I thought that sex was something evil, something to be avoided, I would have made the process of conception less enjoyable and more utilitarian.

RS: So sex was meant to be enjoyable. Can I quote you on that?
JC: Absolutely!

RS: So how did your followers get the reputation for being cold fish?

JC: You’ll have to ask them. Listen- I wove experience into the fabric of life. I made roses to smell beautiful, I made anchovies salty, I made beets to taste foul. I created women to be beautiful, I created men to be visually appealing in a completely different way, and I created the orgasm. It’s not that hard to understand.

RS: Getting back to our discussion on your early years, the Gospels have nothing to say about your life from the age of 12 until around 30. Why is that?
JC: Not everything I did is written down. Ask John. “These things have been written so you may believe that He is the Christ, the son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.” The Gospels were written on a need to know basis. What wasn’t necessary to be known didn’t get put in there.

RS: But would you care to clear up the mystery for our readers? A lot of people have been curious for a long time.
JC: (looking annoyed) I was a carpenter. I didn’t go to Tibet, I didn’t make appearances to Indian tribes when my parents thought I was sleeping, and I didn’t write a book. I made tables, chairs, benches, and the like. Day after day it was all the same. If that had been written down the Gospels would have been 2,000 pages each.

RS: Is there anything wrong with curiosity?

JC: There is everything wrong with idle speculation.

RS: Explain.
JC:Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:22-23, if anyone out there wants to look it up. Show me how many discussions about my “missing years” haven’t resulted in someone proclaiming that they alone have the ultimate revelation and everyone else is just screwed.

RS: But not every attempt to explain “the missing years” is an attempt to become king of the castle. It could be that someone in that pursuit of righteousness wants to know if there is something there that would benefit them in said pursuit.
JC: Most people are only interested in projecting on me what they wish I had said in those years. They have decided what they want to do, and they’re looking for some justification for it. If people would focus more on what I did say, rather than on what I might have said, they would get a lot farther.

RS: Let’s move on then. Your first recorded miracle is the turning of water into wine in Cana. This is considered to be the inauguration of your ministry. Fundamentalist followers of yours have yet to come to terms with the fact that this was indeed wine that you created, preferring to insist that it was really an extremely watered-down version of wine, or simply grape juice. My question is twofold: why a wedding reception, and was it really wine?
JC: Because, and yes. (smiles) This actually reflects back on your prior question about sexuality and marriage. Blessing the party at the wedding in Cana with a premium vintage wine should tell you what I think about marriage, should it not? In reality, it does nothing of the sort. I could very well have chosen to multiply the eggs at breakfast the next morning. I could have multiplied the children of the family next door. I chose to turn the water into wine in order to manifest my glory. It was the time chosen by my father. And yes, it was real wine. Why else would the host have said, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” I doubt that watered-down grape juice would have been mistaken as premium vino.

RS: Jesus one, fundamentalists nothing.
JC: No, not really. There isn’t any kind of a competition here. If certain people want to abstain from wine, and by doing so believe that they are honoring me, then I bless that. If someone is enjoying wine with their meal, and want to bless their friends by laying out choice food and drink, I bless that too.

RS: So both sides are right.
JC: There are no “right” or “wrong” sides here. People who divide everyone into “sides” or “camps” are seeking their own glorification at the expense of another. The people who glory in their liberty are looking down upon the people who don’t share their convictions. The people who try to reign liberty in do the same thing. The end result isn’t a people who love me above all else, it’s a people who desire to climb to the top of a mountain which consists of another’s bones.

RS: Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when I mention the following names. First up- Mary Magdalene.

JC: Beautiful woman.

RS: Herod.

JC: Great number in Superstar.

RS: Pontius Pilate.

JC: Listen to your wife next time.

RS: Simon Peter.

JC: Solid as a rock.

RS: John.

JC: Beloved.

RS: Judas Iscariot.

JC: (Pauses a moment) Sad.

RS: Is Judas in heaven?

JC: Take the log out of your own eye first.

RS: Is Judas in heaven?

JC: I'm not saying.

RS: Why not?

JC: Do you think he's in heaven?

RS: I'm not really of a spiritual mindset, but I would think that a person's answer to that question would have something to do with how they view suicide.
JC: And so the question moves away from concern for a person's immortal soul, and instead becomes centered on an issue. Once that happens we have the problem I described before, where people are more concerned with being right than with mercy and grace. "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah. Look it up.

RS: Is there anyone out there doing things right?

JC: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
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