The Red-Letter Christian

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Before we get overly worked up about anything Gandhi had to say, it would probably be wise to remember he drank cow urine and liked to sleep with naked young women to test his sexual restraint.

Had CNN been around back then, Gandhi might have been the Jeffrey Epstein of India, to say nothing of his beverage choices.

Nevertheless, MG had a point.

My mom is a Pentecostal Christian so I’ve got some experience on the subject. All my life I’ve been surrounded by Christians who hate (fill-in-the-blank), want the poor to take a long walk off a short pier and judge others like it’s a game show, the grand prize is a bass boat and they got a new pole they’d like to try out.  

I started thinking about all this because the other day I was in a laundromat – my dryer gave up the ghost – when God spoke to me. (Actually, the only person who spoke to me was a Chinese lady who gave me five bucks worth of quarters, but if everyone else can claim text messages from God, I will too.)

To kill time while my clothes dried I was reading a novel that mentioned Bibles that put all Jesus Christ’s quotes in red, and that’s when it came to me:

What if we dumped all that other shit and just did what Jesus told us to?

If Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard could found religions, why not me? I don’t mean to brag, but I’m way funnier than either of those guys, although John Travolta in costume for “Battlefield Earth” is pretty fucking hysterical.

I decided to call my new religion “Red-Letter Christianity.”

Unfortunately for my future as a prophet for profit, when I googled “Red-Letter Christianity” a couple other people already had the same idea and called it the same thing. (Whenever anyone says “great minds think alike” remember; mediocre ones do too.)

Nevertheless, I decided to press forward with my vision, “Red-Letter Christians, Lee Judge Chapter” and here it is…and unlike the inconsiderate Martin Luther, I didn’t screw up a church house door while presenting it.

A few quotes from Jesus followed by my interpretations

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

Little known Biblical fact: A group of Rolling Stone fans was about to pelt a rap musician with copies of the “Sticky Fingers” album when Jesus stepped in and called them on their bullshit. Who among us has not at one time or another sung “Yummy, yummy, yummy I’ve got love in my tummy” when we didn’t think anyone else was listening? (That song is running through your head right now, isn’t it?)

You’ve made a lot of bad choices, so don’t be an asshole and call someone else on theirs.

 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Good point even though Jesus seemed to have some pretty odd speech patterns for a Jew living in the Middle East. Why it’s almost as if someone translated his words in the early 1600s and threw in a few “thees” and “thous” of their own.

The J-Man’s bottom line: unless you have all your problems solved, don’t go around giving advice to others. Modern translations of the Bible have changed this to: “Shut the fuck up.”  

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Jesus said prayer should be done in private, so every time you see someone praying in public it’s bullshit. According to JC, God won’t listen because those people already got what they wanted: to be seen praying.

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

At the time of his death Billy Graham’s wealth was estimated at $25 million. Sounds like someone might have gotten a big surprise in the Afterlife.

“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.”

So I guess Jesus wouldn’t like my technique of pretending to get a cell phone call whenever I’m approached by a panhandler. Sounds like when I call, God’s line will be busy.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

So the “suck up, kick down” management style does not get the Jesus Christ Seal of Approval: you’re going to be judged by how you treat the people below you, not the people above. That being the case, about 97.5 percent of the middle managers in America are in the shit.

“Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Surprisingly enough, this is not a quote from 50 Shades of Grey; it’s actually some really hard to follow advice from the Prince of Peace. And following JC’s advice only gets more difficult.

“Do unto others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and prophets.”

It might be hard to live up to, but at least Jesus Christ was coherent and consistent, unlike some of the other stuff contained in the Bible.

Things the rest of the Bible prohibits

When a Christian treats someone like crap, he or she is likely to justify being a Grade-A asshole with something cherry-picked from the Bible. But instead of using the parts that justify doing the shit they want to do anyway, if it truly is the Word of God, why not take everything in the Bible seriously?

So here you go, a short list of stuff the Bible prohibits:

  • Eating anything that mixes meat and dairy (there goes your cheeseburgers).

  • Eating fat (two-thirds of the American diet also down the shitter).

  • Eating pork (no more short ends from Gates BBQ).

  • Eating anything from the ocean without fins (ixnay on the shrimp cocktail).

  • Being uncircumcised (if you didn’t get this done when you were too young to remember, you’re fucked, but it will make a great Facebook post).

  • Braiding your hair (Bo Derek in 10? Fucked.)

  • Wearing jewelry (Mr. T is fucked).

  • Being rebellious (George Washington is fucked).

  • Wearing clothing woven of more than one kind of cloth (Elton John is fucked).

  • Cutting the hair on the sides of your head (Bruce Willis is fucked).

  • Clipping the edges of your beard (Abraham Lincoln is fucked while oddly enough James Harden is OK).

  • Blaspheming (clearly, I’m fucked).

  • Masturbation (we’re all fucked).

  • Homosexuality

Now take a wild guess as to which prohibition some Christians take seriously. If you’re going to condemn gays because it’s against God’s law, you better not be wearing a wedding ring and eating a shrimp po’ boy while doing it.

Jesus Christ that’s a high bar to clear

When I’m feeling cocky I’m an atheist ( I don’t see much evidence that a Supreme Being is in charge); when I’m a little less sure of myself I’m an agnostic (who am I to tell you God doesn’t exist?)

But if I were to become religious, I figure I could do a lot worse than following the teachings of Jesus Christ. But even without all the bullshit about shellfish and bacon cheeseburgers, that’s a high bar to clear.

Love my enemies?

I really wouldn’t mind if my enemies fell down a long flight of stairs while I watched.

Turn the other cheek?

Slap my right cheek and I’ll do my best to put my left foot up your ass.

But even though it goes against our nature, if religion is going to be a force for good instead of an excuse to be assholes to people we don’t like, shouldn’t it ask us to at least try and be better than we currently are?

Even if there is no Heaven or Hell, no Pearly Gates, no Old Testament God sitting in judgement, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we at least tried to be more like Jesus?

Actually, knowing my track record I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail at being more like Jesus, but I’m sure hoping you pull it off because I’d really like to bum a few quarters off you…

I’ve got clothes to dry.