Last week I turned 34 and since then many have delighted in mentioning that I’m now older than Jesus. When I point out that the Jesus, the man, the myth, the messiah or what have you, made a fairly famous curtain call a couple of millennia ago and couldn’t possibly be younger than me, they squint and say I’m missing the point. Not to hedge my bet in the Culture Wars, but I take great stock in the fact that I’m still younger than John Lennon, who, in my pop-culture infested mind, has been inextricably linked to the man-deity since he called him out celebrity-death-match style in 1963 with the “Bigger than” business.
“But Jesus is immortal,” some do-gooder trying to save my soul patiently explained.
“Then he’s definitely older than me,” I reply and genuflect in relief.
As is popularly known and celebrated, Jesus rose from the dead half a week after his Roman Holiday. I’m not sure if that’s a solid bid for immortality – you know, dying. Granted, he did come back, but by Hollywood rules that means Jesus is technically a zombie. I won’t quibble about that here, except to say Everything I Know About the Mysteries of the Universe I Learned from the Movies, which upon reflection sounds more like a hipster self-help manual than a confession of spiritual bankruptcy (which upon further reflection would probably be the same thing). Suffice it to say, I’m not a believer, but to be fair, I don’t believe in the Beatles either, I just believe in me – Yoko and me.
Contemporaries of mine, it seems, have had an easier time reconciling their belief systems with reality. When my pal Gustav was confirming his name was on the roster of an Eastern studies class the professor asked “And you are?” He simply replied, “I am,” and curried instant favor.
A year ago, I overheard a ruddy-faced old man at a diner recall encountering a man with a nosebleed. He asked if he could pray for him. The man agreed and the old gent pronounced “In the name of Jesus, I command you to stop bleeding!” Of course, the bleeding stopped (otherwise, I suppose, there would be little reason for him to recount the story). Had the man with the nosebleed been a hemophiliac, however, the anecdote could have been a pithy tale of lost faith and perhaps a ruined shirt – and dare I say funnier for it.
Religion is like software for the mind and for many it’s their operating system. In the computer world, which is really just our world served on a platter for their eventual domination of us, Microsoft’s Windows is the Catholic church of platforms – it vast, domineering and is full of security holes that are prime for violation – digitally speaking. Like all the Christendom backed-up in American minds, it’s the default platform of the nation’s personal computers. Apple’s OS, due to its minority status and fiercely loyal constituency, is any order of fundamentalism one cares to conjure. Apple people are zealots and Steve Jobs is their messiah (among his forthcoming techno-miracles is unthawing Walt Disney, I hear). Open-source Linux is the Zen platform: through it information flows freely but it only has a fleeting sense of identity (sometimes it’s a penguin, sometimes it’s a red hat), but like Zen there’s no money in it so there’s little incentive to proselytize.
This is my operating system: Groucho smoking Freud’s cigar whilst doing the floorshow on the Titanic. And everyone is smiling.
Related blog: New Pope.
Unrelated: Jesus Dress Up!