In ten parts: 1. Jesus is on our TV! 2. Up close 3. After intermission, joyous horns 4. And tweeting! 5. The Pilate Show 6. Whereas, Jesus. 7. Gathering 8. Here comes Judas. 9. Even in this trumped-up Jesusland 10. If this is love
1. Jesus is on our TV!
A sleek, slow-moving, gliding movie Jesus looking now like an El Greco Jesus, then–declaiming atop a spaceship-shaped boulder—a rather Rio de Janeiro Jesus, then the Byzantine icon look, and otherwise other things. In other words, just about every possible Jesus. Except the Jesus in the bible your mother gave me, the one your pothead friend tried to tear a page out of when he ran out of rolling papers.
Movie-TV Jesus has followers who, well, are always following him, an excessive kind of following, like you worry if he suddenly stops they’re gonna run over him. And of course, sundry others trailing along, peripheral shadows or potential believers out for a stroll.
Everyone’s clothes are clean and capacious. And beige. So beige that in longshots they look like one big giant dusty sheep ambling through town.
He pauses at some kind of shed to declare his anointment and tell of things to come. Water gurgles indiscreetly somewhere behind him, overlapping his words.
2. Up close
Up close, he stares, he’s got that hippie guru eye thing going on, that look that says I-know-everything-about-you-already and you-are-going-to-love-me. Though at times, we must note, this particular Jesus has the look in his eye of one of those sprawling guys in the back of the room or on the backchannel, the ones whose everything says over and over Nobody can tell me anything. I already know it all. Yeah, those ones.
Ah, Mary Magdalene, a teachable moment, the scapegoat, the only woman here we’ll see up close, beauty curses then redeems, and we’re off to other things.
This Jesus doesn’t ruffle—hecklers hissing and mugging, other rabble smirking, shrilly demanding magic tricks—none of that gets to Jesus. He’s got a smooth way of turning irritants into absences or awe. He’s walking on water just walking the streets.
He’s no sorcerer, he says, but look, he’s raising the dead. Now it dawns on the breathless throng that unlike magic, this is real. At which point we learn that Jesus has an invisible choir–a very big invisible choir–and an intermission.
3. After intermission, joyous horns.
Everybody around Jesus is just so arranged. In broad views over plaza-like places or indoors in what looks like a biblical drunk tank, they are composed like a still minute in a cabaret before frenzied dancing occurs. They are all listening with their bodies, they are listening as a public group–which is always a scary thing–so little space for so many between worship and mob.
4. And tweeting!
OMG! People watching are tweeting!Or tweeting instead of watching! Tweeting as if this is the real Jesus and our show is rate-my-savior. Lookahere: there are one two three four five six seven main things we love love love about Jesus so far: Let’s make a list! 1. He protects Mary Magdalene! 2. When he puts people down, singing happens! 3. His head is in the clouds but he’s related to someone there! Invite us over! 4. Huge throngs part before him like something cleaved with a big smooth knife! 5. He arranges his skirts in a manly way! 6. Ridicule slides right off him! But love clings to him like light! 7. He’s not above riding on a donkey! In our town he’d be using a trick bike as a means of transportation, but heck–he’d look yummy even on a tricycle!!!
Add your comments even if they aren’t about this Jesus, even if they aren’t related in any way, even if they are totally untrue! Let our apophenia hook up with your apophenia and we’ve got a world!
And take our quiz for a personal ex nihilo buzz:
Jesus is cool: yes? or no? Your opinion is our reality!!!
5. The Pilate show
Here’s Pilate looking like a disaffected swashbuckler in drag, played by that bald guy what’s-his-name, the one your sister watched and made you watch in reruns–she told you in a dreamy way apropos of nada that if he loved you nobody would ever hit you and he’d want to hear what you think about anything just because you are the one thinking it and he’d like it that you’re smart and it wouldn’t be some cheap trick for sex either.
But in our Jesus movietvland mister sexy baldhead is not quite The Top—not just because he’s not the Coliseum or a symphony by Strauss, but because he smirks, which–along with smoking cigarettes, kicking dogs, and having a fishy eye–tells us who the bad characters are.
And movie Pilate also lacks key things movie Jesus has. Call and response, for example, and the rollerblades he glides around on. Plus he just lacks class–his minions can’t hold back when it gets down to sticks against swords.
6. Whereas Jesus
Well, he apparently had some kind of recess not like our recess where if you turned the other cheek like your parents told you to, whoever hit you would not reflect then or later on the transformative power of love. He would just hit you harder on the other side of your head and think what a dummy and then hit you over and over again when school let out.
In the inner Jesus circle, in what looks like a hideout, some of the disciple guys do some light housekeeping and fire-tending while others report things of interest going on in the city, like somebody wanting to kill him.
The disciples seem to have one mind and it is worried. But perhaps they’ve always been worried–we can’t recall much here on the other side of worry–transcending earthly life is just not fun.
Perhaps they only think, or we only think, they have one mind. Perhaps their unsaid is like our usual unsaid–once articulated, one forever knows we don’t think the same things even when we think we are thinking the same things, though of course that could be the vicissitudes of putting things in words.
8. Here comes Judas
And here’s the long table, the final table. They all sit on one side of it as if they need each other’s warmth and elbows or as if momentarily some show will take place before them . Then we know we are the show. And they are not watching us.
What are they saying in their not having much to say? Are they saying: Tell us miscellaneous things, oh, Jesus. Even when what you say makes no sense– especially when it makes no sense–it makes perfect sense to us.
Are they saying: Tomorrow or the next day or centuries hence, we will ride out on the arrow of your voice. But we will forget the sense you made when you were with us. Soon we will hear only the static of our desiring.
Jesus delivers shocking news. The disciples are befuddled. Like people who make memories instead of experiencing things, they now seem separate and busy inside, busy already not remembering the same things in the same way and thus posing conundrums for scholars later on.
9. Even in this trumped-up Jesusland
But even in trumped-up Jesus land, alas, the only kind of Jesus land we have, they see the soul to soul of breaking bread, the shared cup that means no one is a stranger, the metonymy that in a desert makes a place to shelter in.
Or do they want to say but don’t: tell us again to love one another so we can remember how you loved us, how you let us hang out with you, how we loved you. Say it again so we will remember more than your unforgettable hairnet hairdo.
10. If this is love
Over is now becoming over. The inner room is crowded, movie Jesus walks out alone where the wolves of the world wait for stray lambs and children.
Praying, he has the look on his face of an adoring spouse who takes the cup knowing there is poison in it–if that is how love is, drink up.
altered image; detail from Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece http://closertovaneyck.kikirpa.be/