Oh, what a topping morning! Please tell me I don't have to go back to hell. There's always so much to do. Laundry. Paperwork. Fixing appliances that go on the fritz. There's probably a million electricians among my throng, but do you think one of them wants to tinker with the strobe lights? I've got to do everything.
In case you're just joining us, My name is ... Mr. Applegate. I think that sounds kind of all-American, and it has a nice double entendre to it as well. I have to hurry up and write today, because Anne Johnson owns this space, and her husband is out mowing the lawn. That can only mean one thing. She must be due back today from her sojourn to rural locales in the pursuit of her duties as a goat judge.
We've been moving through the Bible from my point of view, and since I'm gonna have to bolt in short order, I want to address one last seminal passage that gets trotted out a good bit, and in which I'm mentioned by name.
That name being Satan.
I don't use that one much as a rule, because it only encourages some really bad apple teenagers to blame me for all their nastiness and self-destruction, when they really ought to be blaming the nameless ruffians who raped and pillaged 2,000 years ago and left DNA behind that should have been weeded out. Not to mention the lunatic Muslim terrorists who throw the name around, indicting whole countries, right down to the youngest newborns, for policies created by a handful of lobbyists.
If you role model me from what you read in the Bible, you're dumber than a brick.
Case in point: Me and J.C. in the desert.
For those of you with a copy of The Good Book handy, that's Matthew 4:1-11.
In this passage - surprise! - I'm painted once again as a bad guy, someone trying to lure Jesus away from his appointed mission. Who the heck wrote this stuff?
Remember, reader, I met J.C. at my job interview, and the whole reason I signed an ironclad 10,000-year contract with this god group is that I liked both J.C. and the Holy Spirit. Righteous dudes, entirely.
What happened between me and J.C. in the desert? Well, first of all, it was just the two of us. Matthew was not present. Nor was John, that beautiful dreamer. It was just me and the Big Him, shooting the breeze on a cliff.
And for the record, I knew J.C. well enough to know that he would never be tempted by any amount of temporal money or power. Disdainful is the word for how he feels about all unseemly, excessive displays. Any time he sees someone on a balcony, waving to adoring crowds, he shudders. He's been that way since I met him.
So I wouldn't have bothered giving him that option. Waste of breath.
The true conversation in the desert? It went something like this:
Applegate: What on earth are you doing way out here, dressed like a human?
J.C. I'm fasting. Just to see what it's really like to be human. Man, it's worse than I thought. I feel terrible.
Applegate: Excuse me for asking, but does the boss know about this? Because I don't remember reading this in his long range planning reports.
J.C. Yes. Well. About those reports. The Holy Spirit and I got together, and we think we can improve on them. Dad's taking a nap, so I put on this human form, and I've come to ... alter things just a bit.
Applegate: Your father is going to have a cow.
J.C. No, because I'm not trying to supplant him. I'm just tweaking the message, making it more user-friendly.
Applegate: Well, it sure does need that. But human form? Seriously. How long do you think you'll last? Your father is the least of your worries, if Zeus and Poseidon and those guys get wind of you trying to steal their worshippers. They'll get the Roman government after you. Next thing you know, you're being tortured.
J.C.: I'm aware of that. The torture is part of the plan.
Applegate: Sweet Jesus. I like you too much to see this happen! Honestly, I'm going to go wake up the boss, no matter how deeply he's sleeping. You haven't thought this out any more clearly than he has. Don't you see this species hasn't evolved sufficiently to rid itself of aggressive impulses and work together for a greater good in which all can share equally?
J.C. There are a lot of good people out there. I think they're ready to hear some sensible preaching.
Applegate: Oh, you do, do you? I give you three years, tops. The Roman gods will bring you down, and take all of the boss's followers with you.
J.C.: I don't need negativity right now.
Applegate: What you need is a loaf of bread and a jug of wine.
J.C.: Seriously, once you get this far into a fast you stop thinking about food.
Applegate: All right, think about this. Call this off. Wait until the species has evolved a bit more.
J.C.: I just can't stand seeing so many poor people suffering at the hands of the greedy, power-hungry men at the top. And I don't just mean the Romans. I mean Dad's priests too. They're so arrogant, and they're just going through the motions. It's just a job to them.
Applegate: So you'll have them on your back too! Six months, I tell you. First visit you make to Jerusalem will be your last. Please! I really do like you! Go live a quiet life as a human, if you want. It will enrich your god skills. But don't go off alienating the power structure in a species that hasn't sufficiently evolved! Every bit of good you do will wind up being offset by the dunderheads that won't understand a word you say.
J.C.: Look, Satan, will you just get behind me on this? Because the Holy Spirit and I have made up our minds, and we sure could use your support.
So, there you have it, faithful readership. He did say, "Get behind me, Satan." But he meant it the same way that the local sportscaster tells fans to get behind a team. And I'll bet you a liquid ruby that he told Matthew exactly that, and it was Matthew who misunderstood.
This won't surprise the single last one of you, but I do deeply love J.C. I have worked with a lot of gods in my time, from one end of the known universe to the other, and I've never seen one so good to the core. But of course, he, like the boss, was new at the god-game, and he didn't wait for the species to evolve sufficiently. Just as I predicted, he pissed off Zeus, he pissed off the boss's priests, heck, he pissed off two-thirds of the people who heard him preach!
And why he didn't leave behind a primary written source, I will never know. He must have talked to Queen Brighid about oral transmission of seminal truth. But then he went and allowed a bunch of lessers to write everything down, liberally dosing his message with their own biases.
Oooops! I hear a pickup truck in the driveway. Anne is home! I'd better toddle before she sees me. I forgot to comb my hair this morning - I scared her kittens so bad they're still behind the woodwork!
Hope to have another chance to chat with you.