So the History Channel is blowing the lid off Christianity. Again. Bible Secrets Revealed debuted last Wednesday and already churches are closing worldwide and Christians are throwing themselves off living room furniture.
Did you know that Paul never met Jesus in the flesh? IT’S TRUE! Did you know the Gospels are not signed? IT’s TRUE! Did you know that there is a discrepancy in the Markan ending? IT’S TRUE!
Well, as if the History Channel’s blockbuster wasn’t already making atheists left and left, wait till you see what the Golf Channel has in store!
The Secrety True Secrets of the Bible’s Other Secrets is set to air Christmas morning, just in time to ruin your kids’ holiday!
We at Strange Herring spare no expense ($11) to uncover the coverable. Our crack team of investigo-journalistas are working 24/7 (6/4) to bring you revealing revelations that expose stuff that otherwise would be hidden.
A transcript of the Golf Channel’s program has been provided to us. That transcript includes a reenactment of the contents of a recently discovered codex which is a copy of a papyrus that was once an oral tradition transmitted in the buttocks of an certified public accountant. It describes in lurid detail how the original followers of Jesus conspired to create the Jesus myth that finally made its way into the New Testament documents. So, before the Golf Channel has a chance to ruin your life, we thought we’d take a shot.
Here, translated into English from the original Swedish, is an unverifiably authentic copy of a thing that is realer than anything in the Bible. Be prepared to have your mind blown or at least to sneeze very hard.
(Gathered in the Upper Room of the Hotel de Orangerie Hotel are Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew, Thomas, Judas, Paul, Timothy, and various other hangers-on who never amounted to much in church history.)
PETER: Well, you all know why we’re here. Our hope of finally being rid of the Roman yoke, of reestablishing the Davidic Kingdom, of restoring past Hebrew greatness, has all turned to corn. Now, I don’t want to play the blame game—
JOHN (sneezing): Cephas!
PETER: That’ll be enough of that. The question before us is, What do we do now? How do we make lemons out of lemonade?
JAMES: You’ve got that backwards.
JOHN: How come you get to do all the talking? Who made you the boss?
PETER: Who made me the boss? I’ll tell you who made me the boss. And I want you all to listen up. Once and for all time, I’m the BOSS because I have the MAGIC TALKING STICK™.
(Holds up the stick. Blank stares. Silence.)
PAUL: Uhh, the what?
PETER: The Magic Talking Stick™. It was given to me by the Almighty Himself.
THOMAS: Not buyin’ it.
PETER: Oh don’t you start.
PAUL: How exactly did that work?
PETER: It fell from Heaven with a message emblazoned across the sky: “You, Peter, I give the Magic Talking Stick™ with which ye shall bespeak infallibly for the ages all manner of moral and doctrinal truthiness — AND I forgive you for the Mary Magdalene business. Sincerely, God.”
JOHN: What Mary Magdalene business?
PETER: Not relevant to this discussion! Now, if we can get back to the business at hand. How do we salvage our Movement?
JAMES: How exactly would you define this Movement?
PETER: To raise a mighty army, push the Romans into the sea, rebuild our Kingdom, be a Light Unto the Nations forever hailed as God’s Chosen People from Whom the Stinky Gentiles Shall Seek Wisdom and Salvation, etc. etc.
JAMES: Please stop capitalizing every other word.
PETER: It’s called emphasis.
JOHN: Safe to say there’s nothing to salvage of the Movement. It’s as dead as, well, as dead as—
PETER: Don’t you dare say it.
PETER: What is the matter with you?
THOMAS: Oh like we weren’t all thinking it.
PETER: Yes, well, that was rather … unfortunate.
JUDAS: I say we raid some larders.
PETER: Hey, Bernie Madoff, shut your pie hole.
JAMES: I say we continue as planned. We challenge Roman authority. We buy some weapons, craft a guerrilla army, and drive the garlic-eaters back where they came from!
PETER: Who here has heard of the Carthaginians? Raise your hand.
(Hands remain at everyone’s sides.)
PETER (to JAMES): That’s why we don’t do that thing you just said… I have a better way. I have a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
JAMES (under his breath): Have that backwards…
(PETER throws the Magic Talking Stick™ at JAMES.)
PETER: Now, if I may continue…
PAUL: Like someone can stop you.
(TIMOTHY shoots PAUL a look.)
PAUL: I mean, other than me….
PETER: The Romans and the Elders think they have crushed our Movement once and for all. Cut off the head and the fish wind up in the can—(looking at JAMES) I swear I will punch you in the pancreas. Now, what better way to prove that our Master was who we believed he was and, at the same time, undermine the moral authority of Rome but to say that he has come into his Kingdom. That he is now Lord, and Caesar is not.
PAUL: How exactly do we convince them of this, seeing as they managed to nail the King of the Jews to two crossbeams and drive his followers into hiding BY THE WAY.
(Everyone looks at their feet except Paul and Timothy, who stare at PETER.)
PETER: Yeah, well, thanks for that. But what if they didn’t kill him after all?
JOHN: But I saw it with my own eyes.
PETER: Yes. But — what if they killed him, but didn’t kill him.
(JUDAS raises his hand.)
JUDAS: Have to go to the bathroom.
PETER: I told you to go before we started. Just sit there and hold it.
JUDAS: I have a tiny bladder.
PETER: You’ll have a tiny knot of the back of your head in five minutes if you don’t shut it.
JOHN: What does that mean, “Killed him but didn’t kill him”?
PETER: What if he were to reappear in our midst. Alive and well. Even better — forever indestructible. A sign of both his eternal sonship and the indestructibility of our Movement?
PAUL: Ohhkayy. I’m gonna go grab some lunch. Who’s with me?
JAMES: No, wait a minute. I think I see where he’s going with this. The Romans nailed him to a Cross, but God—
PETER: Raised him up again.
THOMAS: Nobody’s gonna believe that. I mean, how are you going to prove such a thing? Drag his bloody, bedraggled corpse around Jerusalem crying: “Behold the Resurrection and the Life”?
ANDREW: What about the actual…you know…body?
PETER: I’ve got that covered. We remove the body from his tomb and say God raised him from the dead, that he appeared to us and many others, and then ZWOOP! he shot back into heaven, from whence he shall return and establish his Kingdom once and for all.
PAUL: OK, question—
PETER: Yes, Professor Proton?
PETER: What do you mean why?
JAMES: Yeah, put me down for a why too.
PETER: Why what?
PAUL: Why make up this story at all? Why not just admit we lost and go home.
PETER: Because I don’t want to admit we lost. I want to win.
JUDAS: Win what?
PETER: Win … you know, that we were right about Jesus and they were wrong.
JOHN: But we weren’t right. He’s as dead as Cleopatra.
PETER: But that’s where our little story comes in. He is Risen! He has returned to the Father!
PAUL: One more time: WHY? What have we proven? That the nails weren’t long enough? That he has amazing recuperative powers?
PETER: That the Kingdom is nigh!
JAMES: Nigh what? Nigh impossible? Where do you see a Kingdom? I see Roman goons, a fractured nation, and a bunch of belligerent competing sects and phony messiahs.
PETER: That’s because you’re using your eyes.
JOHN: Yeah, well, I tried my elbows and I walked into an ox cart.
PETER: You have to see with your heart. The Kingdom is coming.
JOHN: But it’s not. And it won’t. And then what?
PETER: We’ll be dead by then, so who cares?
THOMAS: No one is going to believe this story.
PETER: What is wrong with you? Did you not get enough hugs when you were a kid or something? We’re living in a prescientific era. People believe all kinds of nutty stuff. We can convince them of anything.
PAUL: Look, people are willing to believe a lot foolishness if they’re convinced they’re getting something out of it. Some kind of power. Power over sickness. Power over poverty. Power over their enemies. Power over the unseen, unknown. Power over the past. Rub this, kill that, burn the other thing, say the magic words — and get your wish. What are we offering in exchange for believing this wacky story?
PETER: Uhh, I dunno. The forgiveness of sins?
JAMES: We already have the forgiveness of sins. That’s what the Temple is for. And all of my brother’s “predictions” notwithstanding — it ain’t going anywhere. The Romans are crazy but they’re not stupid. They prize one thing more than power, and that’s what power buys them — order. The kind of chaos that would be unleashed by destroying the Temple simply is not in their playbook.
PETER: One more time — Carthaginians.
JUDAS: Look, Paul is right: what’s in it for anybody, including us? So they believe the Jesus who went around encouraging the poor and hugging the disgusting and healing the sick and feeding the lame is back — for the moment. Then ZWOOP, to use your word, he’s gone again. Then what? We’re left the objects of both ridicule and the authorities’ wrath for spreading this crazy story and riling people up. And by the way, riled up for what? War? You just said we can’t win because of what happened to the Carolingians or whoever they hell they are. Were.
JAMES: People want power. You’re offering them powerlessness. A story with an ending that is no ending. Just endless … waiting.
JOHN: If he had written a magic book that laid down a new set of laws to order people’s lives, or, better, had raised an army that conquered our enemies and united our tribes, that would be a legacy worth preserving. But what did he leave us? Love your enemies? Turn the other cheek? You are sheep among wolves? Life Lessons from the Soon to Be Decimated.
THOMAS: Right, “Eh, excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Goldfarb, but how would you like to put your trust in the imminent return of an executed criminal. It will mean you’ll probably lose your possessions and possibly your lives, but hey, you get to spend all eternity staring into the face of the God who cooked this scheme up. Work for you?”
JAMES: Clubs. Really large clubs. With spikes at the end. That’s what we need.
JOHN: And how exactly are we to convince everyone that he’s risen again? Did we get to that part yet?
PETER: That part’s easy. We get someone to dress up in a Jesus suit and run around town for a few days, saying hi to people we select beforehand, and then — ZWOOP!
JUDAS: ZWOOP there he ain’t.
JAMES: Excuse me — a “Jesus suit”? Where exactly are we to find a “Jesus suit” at this time of night?
THOMAS: Yeah, that’s the problem. It’s late…
PETER (TO JAMES) : You know, now that I think of it — you look enough like your brother.
JAMES: Oh, no. No no no no. I’m not doing that. That’s bad juju, man.
PAUL: Uh, question—
PETER: Yeah, Dwight Shrute in the back.
JOHN: Enough with the anachronistic references or we’ll lose all credibility!
PAUL: (TO PETER) What do we say when people ask why Jesus had to die in the first place? I mean, if God had this special plan for him all along to, you know, establish His Kingdom on earth — what’s with the humiliating torturous death?
PETER: I’ve thought about that. Are you ready? He is the Passover lamb — but better. He’s the LAST Passover lamb. The last sacrifice for sin. No more bloodshed. No more sacrifices. Anyone can get their sins forgiven anywhere — because he died once for all. That’s the story they have to believe. That’s our … good news for them.
THOMAS: Yeah, that’ll preach… Anybody have any munchies? M&Ms? Cheetos?
PAUL: And what about the Temple? What about the sacrifices offered at the Temple?
PETER: I’ve got that figured out too. I swear, I could kiss myself I’m so smart: we goad the Romans into tearing the whole thing down and driving most of Jerusalem’s inhabitants into exile.
THOMAS: So, the discretionary fund we were going to use for new office furniture—
JOHN (TO PETER): I hate to break this to you, Einstein, but our brothers aren’t going to buy any of this, because we’re pretty much claiming that Jesus was so pure he could merit the forgiveness of sins that were not his own. Which would make him what? God? And they won’t buy that the Resurrection, or at least one Resurrection, has already come. And the Gentiles will think we’re even loonier because the idea of resurrecting the body is odious to them. And what they’re interested in more than anything else, again, is power and order. So basically we’re telling all the wrong lies.
PAUL: That’s right. If the Jews won’t believe it and the Gentiles won’t even understand it, who exactly is this story for?
PETER: The Dutch.
JUDAS: OK, really gotta pee now—
PETER: Sit! We can make this work if we all stick together.
JAMES: You’re going to get us all killed.
PETER: Yes, well, that’s sort of an essential part of the plan. We all have to die martyrs’ deaths, to make people really believe that we really believe this.
JOHN: I’m outta here. See you gents around. Have a nice life. Write when you get work.
PETER: Patience, Captain Courageous. You can be exiled to a faraway island.
JUDAS: Oooh, can I get an island too?
PAUL: Who are you, Sancho Panza?
PETER: Uh, I have a different plan for you, Judas. You see, we need a sellout. The story is always more satisfying if we have one traitor in our midst. And since you have all the integrity of a tax collector—
PETER: Sorry, Matty — (TO JUDAS) — we need you to bite the bullet.
JUDAS: What’s a bullet?
PETER: We need you to go hang yourself.
JAMES: That seems a bit harsh just because he has to pee.
PETER: It’s adds drama to the story. You turned Jesus over to the Romans because you thought our Leader would be backed into a corner and finally initiate the Great Rebellion against Rome. But it backfired. And guilt-ridden, you hang yourself.
JUDAS: Uhh, I’m thinkin’ no.
PETER: And the rest of us have a short period of time to spread this story as quickly as possible, set up little congregations of believers, and get ourselves killed. Paul—
PAUL: Wait for it …
PETER: It would probably be useful if, once we get those little communities of believers going, you could write some incomprehensible letters explaining what all this means. Make them really dense and impenetrable so people will think you’re being profound and puzzle over your words for years and years.
PAUL: Yeah, I can do that. As for the martyr bit — I’m a Roman citizen. I have certain privileges you guys don’t.
JAMES: Oh throw that in our faces, why don’t you.
PETER: I’ve got a whole other backstory for you that’s the real spine of this narrative. The great Paul of Tarsus, Pharisee of Pharisee, Persecutor of Jesus Freaks — becomes one of them! How could that be possible? Jesus himself appeared to him! Yes…it’s all coming together perfectly…
JUDAS: I have a better story. What if we say that Jesus pushed the stone away from his tomb and grew to become a hundred feet tall and could fly like an eagle and he ZWOOPED to Rome and appeared to Caesar and threatened to peck out his eyes unless he removed all his troops from Judea? Oh, and every time somebody makes Jesus mad, he turns green and says, “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”
PETER: Is the urine backing up into your brain?
JOHN: Once more with feeling: WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? Why are we perpetuating this ludicrous series of lies only to get ourselves killed for a cause we all know is baloney and will only end in a lot of dead believers waiting patiently for a Kingdom that ain’t here and ain’t coming? Why don’t we just declare victory in our minds and, like Paul said, GO HOME.
PETER: Because I want to win.
PAUL: Win what?
PETER: Come on, guys! Win! Win! Win! Win!
JUDAS: OH! OH NO!
(Judas collapses on the floor. The others all groan in disgust.)
JAMES: Oh, that’s nasty…
JOHN: What is that coming out of him?
PAUL: I think his bladder’s burst.
TIMOTHY: Something’s burst. I think he’s dead.
JOHN: There goes your hanging.
JAMES: Yeah, what kind of story is that? He was so riddled with guilt, he refused to go pee-pee until his guts exploded?
PETER: Don’t worry about it. I’ll smooth it out in the editing.
There you have it: incontrovertible evidence that the New Testament is a collection of lies, legends, and plots. To continue promulgating the “official” Christian story is to declare yourself against science, the New York Times, air conditioning, recycling, the United Nations, Glee, diversity, fourth-trimester abortions, assisted suicide, increased funding for public schools, and free Wi-Fi for everyone. And that makes you a bad and stupid person. And you know what happens to bad and stupid people.
Just ask the Carolingians.