God-Is-Disappointed-in-You-coverThe Gospel According to Matthew:

Jesus was born in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. Despite his redneck beginnings, everyone seemed to realize that there was something really special about Jesus. Even foreigners noticed it. Following an astrological sign auguring the birth of a new king, three wise men came to Israel to give Jesus some really expensive gifts, including gold, which was the ancient world’s equivalent of a gift card, frankincense, which was a kind of perfume, and myrrh, which was almost the same thing as frankincense. The three wise men were not imaginative gift-givers.

Not everyone was happy to hear about the birth of this new king, though. The old king being one. When King Herod heard about the prophecy that a new king had been born, he ordered his soldiers to kill everyone in Bethlehem under the age of two. Luckily, Jesus and his family managed to jump the border just in time. After living in Egypt as undocumented aliens for a couple of years, they returned home and settled in a small, out of the way town called Nazareth.

Jesus worked in the family carpentry shop, but when he turned thirty, he decided that what he really wanted to do was to travel the country and find himself, maybe do a little preaching. So Jesus began wandering from town to town, mostly talking to people about life, God, and love— though Jesus had an opinion on just about everything.

“When you give to the needy, do it because you’re a decent, caring person, not because there’s a crowd watching,” Jesus said. “I see these guys in the marketplace who make a big show of throwing coins to a blind man and I think, ‘Shit, why not just bring a trumpet player with you?’ If you need a fanfare every time you do something decent, then you’re probably a miserable human being. It’s when nobody’s watching that God notices us.”

Jesus didn’t have much use for people he thought to be pompous or pretentious. “Don’t be one of these holy rollers who launches into big, public prayers just to show everyone how religious they are. When people practice their religion in public, it’s more for their benefit than it is for God’s. As far as he’s concerned, you might as well be praying in a cheese cellar. “And don’t get too hung up on material possessions. There’s not one thing you own that can’t be eaten, stolen or ruined. You should invest yourselves in the treasures no one can ever take from you.”

Jesus also spent much of his time convincing people to drop out. “The world is full of birds who’ve never had a real job, and yet they all seem to get by all right,” Jesus would say. “Work is an empty ritual to convince us that we’re improving on nature. But it’s a delusion. As big a dandy as he was, King Solomon never dressed half as good as a daisy.

“I guess I don’t understand why we can’t just accept the possibility that God actually wants us to like it here. When your son asks you to pass the fish, do you toss him a cobra? No? Then why are you so worried about what your heavenly father will pass on to you? We don’t need to worry about starving to death. We just need to learn toask God to pass the fish.”

Jesus spoke a lot about God as a father. That’s because God actually was his father. Jesus was a mixed race child, the son of his human mother, Mary, and his father, God. One of the side effects of having God as his biological father was that Jesus possessed magical powers, which often proved useful.

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The Book of Leviticus

To: The children of Israel
From: Moses
Re: A Few New Rules

Now that we aren’t in Egypt anymore, we’re going to need our own laws. Luckily, during our get-together on Mount Sinai, God gave me 613 easy-to-follow rules.

To sum up:
First off, God wants you to make sacrifices to him. If you’ve sinned, if you’ve just had a baby, or if you just want to make God feel appreciated, you can bring him goats, sheep, cows, little cakes. You know, that sort of thing. If you’re going to make a sacrifice, though, it’s got to be primo stuff. No three-legged goats or burnt bread.

Speaking of food— starting now, you all have to eat kosher. What does “kosher” mean? Well, it basically means there’s certain things you can’t eat. No bats and no wild birds. You have no idea what those birds are up to when they’re out flying around. No lizards (sorry, Simon the Lizard-Eater, I know this one’s especially hard on you). Fish are cool, as long as they have scales and fins. Eels and shellfish are just…I don’t know, sort of gross. You can eat any animal that has cleft hooves, EXCEPT for pigs, camels and badgers. Don’t ask me why you can’t eat badgers, you just can’t. Insects that fly are out, but insects that walk on the ground are okay. You can eat all the termites you want.

If you have a mildew problem, you have to burn your clothes and blankets. If you have a wet dream, you have to take a bath. If you have a pus-filled sore, take a bath and then burn your clothes. If someone gets a skin disease, make him take a bath and shave off all his hair. If a man with eczema spits on you, you have to take a bath and burn all your clothes. If we can’t be the holiest people of all time, we’ll damn well be the cleanest.

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Song of Solomon:

The king is so hot. I love it when he gives me one of his “palace tours” that ends in the bedroom. Although, it’s a little embarrassing, walking around the palace. Everyone stares at me because I’m so tanned and poor and it’s obvious to all of them I’m just some chick who works in the fields. But I don’t care. Let them stare. Maybe they need to see what a happy woman looks like.

The king is so sweet. And did I mention that he’s hot? He lets me eat in the banquet hall and he feeds me raisins and apples. And on top of it all, he’s an amazing kisser. I’m going to faint just thinking about him! Last night, I kept waking up, wishing he were in my bed. When morning came, I went into town, just so I could catch a glimpse of him. He was riding around in his golden carriage with like sixty bodyguards. He’s such a showoff!

Did I tell you what he said to me the other night? He said my eyes were like doves and my hair was like a flock of goats. Oh. My. God. I thought I was going to melt! He said my teeth were like sheep (don’t ask, he has a thing about animal metaphors) and that my boobs were like a pair of gazelles. I’m pretty sure that was meant as a compliment. And then (I think I’m going to explode!), he asked me to go away with him! He said my love was his wine and my body was his fruit. Let’s just say there was a lot of wine and fruit tasting going on that night.

When the morning came, I felt like I never wanted to leave or get dressed. I just wanted to stay in bed with him forever. But when I rolled over to say good morning, he was already gone. The palace staff totally turned on me once the king had left. They beat me, tore my clothes and gave me the bum’s rush out of the palace. I don’t care, though, that ivory body and those sweet lips have me wanting more.

I ran into him later, and again he went on about how my love was wine, my hair was goats and my body was fruit (in fact, he went straight for my clusters of grapes, if you know what I mean). Again, he asked me to leave town with him. He said that he wished he could be more in the open about our relationship, that he could introduce me to his mother. I don’t know if he’s serious or if he’s just feeding me a line, and frankly, I don’t care. I’m in love and not even a river can wash that feeling away. Oh, I know this has almost no chance of ending well, but I can endure anything if I can just be in love while doing it.

______________

Mark RussellMark Russell is a writer and cartoonist living in Portland, Oregon.  He has previously published work on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, JAM Magazine, Unshod Quills, and Roses Are Red.  His educational credentials are nothing that would impress you.

 

 

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TNB Nonfiction features some of the web's best essays, excerpts of up-and-coming books, self-interviews, profiles, and humor from a wide range of authors. Past and future writers include Emily Rapp, Mira Bartók, Nick Flynn and Melissa Febos, among many others.  Our editorial team includes:  SETH FISCHER is the Nonfiction Editor. His work has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Best Sex Writing, and elsewhere, and he was the first Sunday editor at The Rumpus. His nonfiction was selected as notable in The Best American Essays, and he has been awarded fellowships by Jentel, the Ucross Foundation, Lambda Literary, and elsewhere. He is also a developmental editor of nonfiction and fiction, and he teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles, UCLA-Extension, and Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

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