[From the breakout WWJD Network hit talk show]
— BOOK: Sample Chapter —
Last week Jesus had so much to say about faith versus works that our guest host, Laurie Crusades, never got to ask her original burning question: If Jesus were a voter in today’s political climate, would He be a Democrat or a Republican? Did he support Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Many of our viewers emailed to say they liked Laurie and felt she did a good job of speaking for Christian, Main Street America. So we brought her back.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Jesus and Laurie!
[JESUS]: Laurie, so nice to see you again.
[LAURIE]: Hi, Jesus. After last week’s show, I was lying awake in bed, couldn’t sleep, and realized that I hadn’t asked you the main question I came to ask. It was like an epiphany.
[JESUS]: Oh? I had one of those once. So I went to the barber, he let some blood, and I was fine.
[JESUS]: Let me try that again: I had an epiphany once. So I went to the doctor, he gave me a shot, and I was fine. (pregnant pause) You get it?
[LAURIE]: Jesus, I get it. But with all due respect, it wasn’t that funny. And what do you mean: “let some blood”?
[JESUS]: Ahhh, bloodletting — purposely causing a person to bleed. Before they knew much about doctors and medical science, letting blood was thought to cure illness and injury. I remember the Saturday Night Live episode where they were in the Middle Ages, and Steve Martin was about to let blood from John Belushi to treat his broken arm. A weak, meek Belushi says, “But haven’t I been bleeding enough already?” Steve Martin laughs and says, “Say, who’s the barber, here?” I laughed my — I laughed really hard.
[LAURIE]: That’s Saturday Night Live for you — full of themselves and not that funny. You gotta be a college graduate AND a heathen to understand it.
[JESUS]: Laurie, that’s classic stuff. Everyone needs a little irreverence once in a while. And it’s not all that intellectual — I mean, you don’t have to be Galileo to get it. OK, did you hear the one about the Jewish boy who was sent to Catholic school to improve his dismal mathematics grade? After the A’s started showing up on his report card, his mom asked him why Catholic school had helped him improve so much. The boy replied, “Mom, on my first day of class, when I walked in and saw that guy nailed to a plus sign, I KNEW they were serious about math.”
[JESUS]: You know, laughter is the best medicine.
[LAURIE]: Yeah Jesus, you know where I can hear something funny today?
(Laurie smiles; Jesus chuckles)
[JESUS]: Good one, Laurie. All right. Your epiph-alicious question?
[LAURIE]: OK. All right. Like, Jesus, if you were a voting American citizen today, would you be a Republican or a Democrat?
[JESUS]: Nice try, Laurie. No matter how I answer that question, I’m going to alienate a very large segment of my flock.
[LAURIE]: Ah, take a little risk, Jesus. You’ve got to come out of your shell and speak your mind one of these days. OK, I know — you spoke up while giving birth to Christianity. And you suffered through the Crucifixion. Though you gotta admit, that made you famous. But that was 2,000 years ago. You can’t simply rest on your laurels for all eternity. This is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world. You’re only as good as your last miracle, so to speak.
[JESUS]: Laurie, I know I’ve allowed us a little room for clever banter, but that is coming dangerously close to an expression of blasphemy.
[LAURIE]: Oh? I had one of those once. So I went to the barber, he let some blood, and I was fine.
[JESUS]: Laurie (laughter), you’re killin’ me.
[LAURIE]: Well, you don’t have to crucify me for it.
[JESUS]: Wuh-HO! ZING! (wide smile) Laurie, is this how you Sunday school teachers act when you get together on Saturday night?
[LAURIE]: Let me just say that we get our Saturday evening prayers answered no matter how late we have to stay out. Then come Sunday morning: Break out the tomato juice and let the healing begin.
[JESUS]: As long as you show up for class on Sunday morning. I’d hate to have to go all money-changer on your derriere. All right, let me tackle your question.
[LAURIE]: Uh, Jesus? One quick thing. I know how you like to talk once you get rolling. But I don’t need the whole Bible — just a couple of chapters should do it.
[JESUS]: All right.
(Jesus chuckles, looks at the camera, and asks, “Did she just dis me?”)
[JESUS]: Remember back in the 1990s when the WWJD bracelets were all the rage? Let me tell you where that came from. I wish I could take the credit, but I’m contractually forbidden to commit false witness. In 1896 a guy named Charles Sheldon wrote a novel, In His Steps, based on a series of his sermons. He emphasized a Social Gospel, that is, a liberal Christian culture more concerned with moral choices related to human poverty and deprivation and less concerned with the traditional doctrine of personal redemption. “What Would Jesus Do?” was a question usually applied to issues of the downtrodden. In other words, Reverend Sheldon wanted to see his followers exhibit a little less faith and a little more works. And Sheldon was no self-taught Elmer Gantry revivalist. He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Class of 1879, and he went on to minister the Central Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas.
[LAURIE]: I had one of those bracelets!
[JESUS]: Yeah, well, there are two things to know about those bracelets: First, they were part of a profitable marketing campaign to sell Sheldon’s public domain book — meaning 100 percent of proceeds went to the publishers. They also sold a dung-load of bracelets. That whole “What Would Jesus Do?” thing was one big commercial. How Christian of them. Second, if you recall, that slogan was adopted mostly by conservative, fundamentalist Christians. But the irony was that its author, Sheldon, was a leader in the Social Gospel movement. I was rooting heavily for his crowd. But, alas, even Jesus can’t win ’em all.
[LAURIE]: So what does Charles Sheldon have to do with your current political views?
[JESUS]: OK, let me tie all this together. Sheldon was spiritually aligned with the American Progressive Movement that existed from the 1890s to the 1920s. He believed in full equality for women, and he spoke extensively in support of equal rights for both genders. He believed in helping the poor on a large scale. Sheldon lauded the Progressive Movement’s social reform successes, such as women’s suffrage; the settlement house campaign, which helped poor immigrants assimilate culturally and financially to life in America; government reforms, like direct election of senators and primary elections to reduce the power of political bosses; workers’ rights; and a general focus on social and racial justice. Now THAT sounds pretty Christian to me. Sheldon and the Progressives were the social conscience of America at that time. So the next time you hear Sarah Palin calling the Progressive Movement a “damaged brand” while gushing over Glenn Beck in Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (which I foresee she does next year), remind her that if it weren’t for the Progressives, she’d still be barefoot and pregnant — and anonymous.
[LAURIE]: All right, I get it: You liked the Progressives. But that was the Roaring ‘20s. Wasn’t the earth still flat then? I want to know what party you would belong to today, with today’s issues.
[JESUS]: Laurie, here’s the sad truth. I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t say if I’m a Republican or a Democrat. I have to stay neutral. It wouldn’t be right for the Son of God to take sides. Notice that I also don’t do it for the Super Bowl, the Oscars, or the MTV Video Awards, no matter how many times the previous winners thanked Me last year. Besides, no one political party can represent all the views of one person. Some people are conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on physical issues. Some people want big government for their own issues and small government for the other guy’s interests. And some people wear a skull-and-crossbones decal on their Nazi-style biker helmet.
(Laurie was disappointed)
[JESUS]: Laurie, here’s what it comes down to for me: I support a culture of life. This includes My concern for literal life and quality of life — for people, plants, and animals. I believe most pressing issues of the day should be examined through a culture-of-life lens. Others can decide which party that would be.
[LAURIE]: Well, President George W. Bush often talked about a culture of life regarding his opposition to abortion.
[JESUS]: Yes, abortion is one extremely important element, and President Bush talked the talk well. But you can’t limit culture-of-life issues to one element. Let’s put abortion aside for a moment and look at some other culture-of-life components. How ‘bout gun rights? There’s another one that’s not too controversial. If you look at gun rights through a culture-of-life lens, what do you see? I see a lot of lost life and a damaged culture. Gang violence, children’s accidents, extremists, former vice presidents, terrorists, careless parents, criminals, stalkers, mental patients — mixed with guns, all of these examples pose a threat to life. Do we ban guns? No. America has a Constitution, and guns serve some purposes. Should we put reasonable limits on gun ownership and firepower? Yes. America has a Constitution — which allows for that, BECAUSE the United States values life.
[LAURIE]: But how do you answer the gun owners who don’t like controls and say careless parents and gang violence are not their fault?
[JESUS]: How do I answer the 5-year-old child who enters My Kingdom way too soon because she found her mother’s unlocked, loaded Saturday night special? And how do I answer the loving son and honor student trying to better himself who meets his Lord — Me — at age 15 because he was caught in gang crossfire outside his family’s apartment in the projects? Careless parents and gang violence were not their fault, either. Laurie, this is where libertarian logic comes to its fallacious end.
[LAURIE]: Jesus, You do have a way with the turn of a phrase. I — I’m a little choked up thinking about those kids. I’m — serious. All right, let me try one. War. I guess this one’s a little obvious, but war is clearly at odds with a culture of life. Sometimes war is unavoidable. Sometimes a country must protect its own culture of life by fighting off threats to it. But there are other times when war is an option, not a necessity. Some people might lean toward playing America, the tough guy, without sufficiently weighing the horrific consequences of combat. One political party might say it’s mandatory to consistently show strength and unwillingness to compromise. Another party might see value in avoiding war whenever possible — because it produces death. Alternatively, this other party might see value in promoting America to the world as a strong but friendly and cooperative neighbor instead of a global bully.
[JESUS]: Laurie, you’re preachin’ to the choir. Whoa! Speaking of epiphanies: Lord, I just had one embrace me like the loving arms of My Father. You know, the tea party is not really a political party but a movement. Like it or not, this movement influences both major parties with its brand of social and governmental dogma. Well, I think you and I have just come up with the Culture of Life Party. COLP. We’ll shine every sociopolitical issue through the culture-of-life prism. Whichever side most supports life and quality of life is on our side of the issue. Every candidate who best supports overall culture-of-life issues is our candidate in that race, no matter their political party — and we’ll pull out all the stops for her or him. I’m shaking. I’m sweating. Laurie, I haven’t been this inspired about something since the Age of Enlightenment.
[LAURIE]: And I’m in a position to gather support and organization. I’m a little bit of a celebrity on the church scene after last week’s show. Jesus, You are so right — and Your culture-of-life philosophy meshes divinely with our Jesus’ Abbreviated Principles for Human Relationships — 7 Do’s and 13 Don’t’s*, which we talked about last week. Then, James 2:20 ties the whole thing together like a Martha Stewart gift-wrap.
[JESUS]: Here’s what we do: We’ll continue dissecting the remaining issues we haven’t covered yet through the COLP perspective. (God, it’s a great acronym, too. You know we’re on to something.) Anyway, we’ll do this in public, on succeeding shows, to get the word out. This series will show our viewers the development of our movement as it happens. I’m feeling a second Great Commission coming on. Laurie, this is HUGE.
[LAURIE]: I’m so glad I had the good fortune to be a part of this new movement.
[JESUS]: Laurie, you have humility. I like that. That’s one of the reasons I chose you. ■
* Jesus’ Abbreviated Principles for Human Relationships — 7 Do’s and 13 Don’t’s:
Do compassion, Do forgive, Do Golden Rule, Do honor parents, Do love neighbor, Do mercy,
Do volunteer, Don’t cause sinning, Don’t cheat, Don’t covet, Don’t hurry to evil, Don’t hypocrite,
Don’t judge, Don’t look arrogantly, Don’t offend, Don’t plan wickedly, Don’t smite, Don’t sow discord,
Don’t steal, Don’t witness falsely (compiled-edited by FallacyReport.com; 1/22/2009.)
Brooking, Nancy Jane; “Charles M. Sheldon and the Social Gospel”; Georgetowncollege.edu; 4/2/2001.
“Charles M. Sheldon Facts”; YourDictionary.com; 2010.
Church of England; Holy Bible, King James Version; 1611.
Dubois, Ellen C. & Dumenil, Lynn; Through Women’s Eyes: An American History With Documents; 2009.
Ehrman, Bart D.; Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; 2005.
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version; 1989.
Palin, Sarah; “Glenn Beck: History Buff Turned Showman”; Time; 5/10/2010.
Sheldon, Charles M.; In His Steps; 1897.