October 05, 2004

It's New To You

[Ed. Note - We're busy putting together this week's Bonfire of the Vanities. I was going to contribute an essay I wrote way back in January when no one was reading us about God the Father and Jesus the Deadbeat Hippy Uncle - I wrote it in response to Howard Dean's confusion about which Testament the Book of Job belongs in. Well anyway, this was back in the Blogger Era: while I found the link, you would have had to scroll waaaaay down to find the essay. Bugger that. Instead, I'll just reprint the thing here for your amusement. Enjoy!]

This May Help Dean Keep It Straight, But I'll Probably Go To Hell

Evenings at the Butcher's House are always something of a struggle. The ritual of finishing dinner, cleaning up, baths, potty, brushing teeth, jammies, bedtime stories, etc., is more like a rugby scrum than anything else: you simply put your head down and shove as hard as you can.

Of course, there are always the grace notes and deviations. Last night was augmented by a fifteen minute argument between my older girls over who asked for the glass of water first. Then, an hour after she was supposed to be asleep, I discovered the two year old in the downstairs loo, splashing about up to her armpits. My, shall we say, Old Testament response to this made me realize there is an easy way to keep your Biblical stories straight: God is a parent. Jesus never had kids.

Think about it.

Start with Genesis. God bends over backwards to create a Paradise. He stocks it with an overabundance of everything Man could want. Just like a parent putting together the nursery. You make sure it's a warm, bright, pleasant place. You fill it with all sorts of fun and educational toys, books and stuffed animals. So what does the kid do? Makes a beeline for the diaper-genie or the electrical outlet. Yup, the forbidden fruit.

Then there is the Israelites' flight from Egypt and wandering in the desert, especially in Exodus and Leviticus. As a typical parent, God starts out hyper-defensive, whaling on Pharaoh for picking on His children. But later on, the old frustration with this pack of wayward, hyper lunatics sets it. "I said no worshipping of false idols, and look what you're doing!" "Eat your manna and stop complaining!" "No, we're not there yet. Just be patient!" "Didn't I tell you not to put those quail in your mouths? Didn't I?" "I want this tabernacle cleaned up RIGHT NOW!"

This is not the talk of a stern, implacable, uncaring, faceless Supreme Being. It is the exasperated talk of an exhausted father of small children who is trying very, very hard not to blow a gasket.

I'll give Dr. Dean a little credit for being tripped up by Job. This is a book written from the perspective of a kid (actually, a teenager). "Omigod. Like I try to do everything He says and he still sends all these afflictions! It's not faiiir!"

But then there is Jesus. He never had kids. He's the deadbeat hippy uncle who strolls in and starts mouthing platitudes about peace, love and understanding while you're simultaneously trying to change a disgusting diaper with one hand, remove a large, black, permanent marker from another child's grasp with the other, and keep the third kid from strangling the cat. Turn the other cheek? When the toddler is having mac-cheese and applesauce for dinner? Are you freekin' crazy?

The business with the money-changers in the Temple is another good example. A little Saturday morning political activism. What the hey, he's got the time to kill. Jesus doesn't have to take Andrew to soccer practice on one side of town and Simon Peter to a birthday party on the other side at the same time. And consider Good Friday. When you don't have any distractions or kids to drag around to the store, it's pretty easy to plan and hold a dinner party for fourteen. And getting yourself hauled off to prison and then judicially murdered, while noble, is a logistical breeze when you don't have to worry about suddenly finding a babysitter late on a Friday night.

These days, people like to say, "What Would Jesus Do?" Well, if he had kids, he'd curl up in a twitching, weeping, quivering ball. After that, I reckon he'd start to sound an awful lot more like his Old Man.

(I can hear the Butcher's Wife laughing from here. My role in managing our brood on a day to day basis is much, much smaller than hers. If she were Jesus, Judas never would have been allowed out in the garden that late, and Pilate would not even have made it into the appointment book.)

Posted by Robert at October 5, 2004 08:44 AM | TrackBack
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