Wouldn’t that be weird? If grass could graze itself? Would this leave the globe with more grass, or less, overall? Probably there would be less individual leaves of grass in existence, but those blades that remain would prove enormous. So the total grass-mass would stay the same as it is at present, minus the amount of energy it took to digest itself.
And what if a member of the governing elite were to fall under the influence of their own propaganda? (I always worry that when I become a hypnotist, I’ll end up accidentally programming myself to vote against my own interest.) Let’s say that our king appoints a cadre of poets to sway popular opinion, but, in the process of proofreading his poets’ work, the king grows enchanted by the false narrative and ends up swallowing the lure of his own ploy.
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’
So the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin are positioned like three circles on a traffic light: red, gold, and green. Minnesota, the red light—Mars is the god of war—wants to attack Wisconsin so that it may steal its hue (this was before the demise of the U.S. dollar), but, contra its so-called representative leadership, the populace of Minnesota loves its neighbors and is disinclined to slay them – just because our motto is Minnesota Nasty Not Nice doesn’t mean that we’re ready to bend our plowshares back into swords. Yet a common deception, well-known to the iniquitous class, is to accuse one’s victims of intending to affront oneself (the hardened perpetrator) with the very crime that one just committed on them. Like when an untrue spouse prohibits her wife from leaving the house, reasoning: “You aim to cheat on me – I clearly envision it!” So the king’s poets fabricate a story about how Wisconsin stole Iowa’s gold: now it’s incumbent on Minnesota to right this wrong. But the people are skeptical; they say “Wait a moment—Iowa is not known for its riches; so what would there even be for Wisconsin to steal?” And the propagandists’ answer is: sweet corn (that’s why Iowa’s bulb on the traffic pole is yellow: beyond corn, there’s no other valuable thing that shares that color); thus the poets must expend their efforts in convincing the populace of the attractiveness of that commodity. They begin to speak of “the glorious Iowan cornfields” – in fact: What a great place to vacation! . . . Now the king reads this and exclaims, “By Jove, they’re right!” Then he immediately sets out on a journey to Iowa and loses himself in the attractions. Minnesota is thus left leaderless for decades. But eventually King Bryan is rescued by an aerial crop-duster. That’s the end, unless the network picks up the show for another season – in that case, you can brand the finale a cliffhanger, and start next year’s first episode with a scene where the crop-duster directly collides with an oil truck.
But this is a blog post, not an adventure serial, so the show must go on. We’ve got the whole rest of this parchment to fill with words. And, again, nothing to say. Maybe I should record all the mundane things I’ve had to endure lately; that’s always fun.
First, we had to caulk the cracks outside our front door: the realtor told us to do this, to insure against leaks. We had a mold problem in the wall that corresponds to that side of the house, so we’re trying to be ultra-cautious and responsible. But we did a bad job: the caulk is sloppy – I mean, it’s functionally perfect but cosmetically deficient: it’s ugly but it works. I’m not good at smoothing the bead, if that’s what it’s called, after it’s dispensed – you’re supposed to squeeze the caulk out like gel from a tube of toothpaste and then smooth it with your silken-mitten’d finger. My effort looks like someone came along and purposely vandalized our foundation, like when protesters of animal cruelty splatter paint on wearers of fur. And, to make matters worse, the caulk dries a neon gray, extremely bright against the surrounding concrete. So it highlights itself. Thus, to mitigate this evil, we bought a can of “stone”-textured spray, and we used this to “mask” the caulk line, but now it just looks like a radiant neon gray lightning bolt with additional confetti. Worst drip painting ever. Cuz the texture of the spray paint, which is supposed to imitate the pebbles and sand of the gravel, just looks like crushed candy: so it’s bright and happy-looking, in contrast to the murky sad concrete.
Anyway, like I said, we’re trying to be sensible and conscientious; that’s why we’re attempting such preventative maintenance. But this prudent way of behaving only makes me want to REBEL:
The more we fix this place up, the more I just want to tear it down.
Imagine that you live, as we do, amid a big pile of used car tires. Now, which would you rather do: (A) go from tire to tire with a soapy sponge to clean them, and patch any holes you find, and paint their tread fresh black, then spritz them with a synthetic rubbery scent; or (B) set the heap aflame and call it the new City Dump.
Why aren’t all house-repair services simply nationalized, as well as all construction work? These aspects of life are needed by each and all, thus We the People should own and control these things. I hate that you have to call a zillion private contractors to get routine things done, and each business has its own unique deficiencies, which you only discover once they’re waist-deep in the job. And when, at long last, you manage to find a company whose work is passable, it turns out that you no longer need them, for now your home’s all dolled up. What I mean is this: You never find a decent contractor at the beginning of your countless projects—no, the best companies appear only at the last stages of renovation: for instance, if you have 2000 phases of repair to accomplish, the best company will inevitably turn up for job #2001, so that, while bidding them adieu, you declare with sincerity “I wish I would’ve known about you from the start—I’d have given you ALL the jobs, not just this one that upreared after everything ended.” And they’ll reply, “Well now that your apartment is so pretty, you’ll be able to sell it; but then you’ll need to find another place to live, and no doubt your future abode will need some repairs, if only minor ones, and you can call us then!” But your countenance falls as you break the news to them: “After selling this apartment, I must forgo home-owning, alas: it is just too…” –then you drop dead, mid-sentence.
And the good contractor lifts you off the floor that he just installed, which is inlaid with sapphire, and he positions you on the gilded ottoman, and wets your lips with wine, and wafts you with a folding paper fan. And after doing these things, he shouts in a thunderous voice: “Bryan, come forth.” And you awake from your swoon and levitate up off the ottoman, bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and your face is bound with a napkin. The contractor then addresses the queen, your sweetheart, who has been standing nearby as a faithful witness to these events, “Loose him, and let him go.” And she unwraps the gauzy sheets from Zombie King Bryan, and…
Alright, you get the picture. I’m just letting my fancy wander thru St. John’s gospel (chapter eleven, verse fortysomething), where he has his Jesus resurrect poor Lazarus. And I patterned my last decent contractor after St. Luke’s “Good Samaritan”; and I had him show up for his project only after the very last job, like Kafka’s messiah. I’m just stirring all these homages into one bowl, regardless of taste.
What I found striking, this time around, while reading the gospels’ parables & accounts (for I always end up losing myself in re-reading, when I steal from the Bible), is that John’s Lazarus has a bone to pick with Luke’s Lazarus. At least it seems that way to me. Now I half want to copy the relevant passages; but I half want to end this entry here, since I’ve already said enough to incriminate myself. So what should I do?
Ah, I know what we shall do: Let’s give the blowout biblical fight as an add-on, to reward whoever buys this blog post. Like a shoddy toy at the bottom of a box of snack nuts.
(John 11:1–45 Vs. Luke 16:22–31)
NOTE. If you are reading this text aloud at a child’s birthday party, use your magician’s voice.
I will now compare John’s Lazarus with Luke’s Lazarus. My aim is to contrast the conclusions of the rival accounts. I will give Luke’s account first, since I won’t be able to resist embellishing John’s. (I love-hate John.)
Before diving into Luke’s testimony, however, it might help to say a word about his opponent. Saint John’s Jesus, as is well-known, ends up conjuring his Lazarus back to life; and this trick persuades his onlooking doubters to believe in him. But Saint Luke’s Lazarus is exactly the opposite: He decidedly does NOT resurrect, because (as Luke’s Jesus’ parable makes emphatic) nobody who disbelieves the Hebrew Scriptures (that is, nobody who disbelieves the Christians’ “Old Testament”) will be persuaded by a man who rose from the dead. Now here’s the account that Saint Luke lets his Jesus deliver:
A beggar named Lazarus died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, which is Heaven in the afterlife.
And there was a rich man who was indifferent to the sufferings of the beggar Lazarus, when the latter was alive; and this rich man also died, and was buried; and he went to Hell.
And in Hell this rich man lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and he sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom—in Heaven! And the rich man cries and shouts:
“Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
But Abraham answers, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
Then the rich man says, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest resurrect Lazarus and send him to my family’s house, back on Earth: For I have five brethren; and I want the risen Lazarus to testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
Abraham tells the rich man, “Your family members who remain on Earth, in the land of the living, can read about Moses and the prophets in the Scriptures; let them do so. Why should I commit the absurdity of sending a man back from death, when your fam could save their own souls by reading a book!?”
And the rich man said, “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.”
And Abraham said unto him, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
So the whole point of Luke’s account is to say that, if people choose to ignore the Hebrew Scriptures, the so-called Old Testament, then it will profit them nothing to see someone rise from the dead.
John’s Lazarus is a direct challenge to this idea: After falling into the gentle sleep of death, he is yanked back into the world of the living and forced to endure its terrors, all for the sake of converting innocent bystanders to John’s brand of faith:
Once upon a time, there was a man named Lazarus, who lived in the town of Bethany with his prude twin sisters, Mary and Martha.
And it came to pass that this man Lazarus fell gravely ill; so his sisters left a message on the answering machine of their family’s physician—or medicine man, or healer, or shaman, if you prefer—whose name was Jesus.
The sisters said, “Doctor Jesus, Doctor Jesus, come quick! Our brother Lazarus is ill!”
And Jesus called them back and assured them confidently, “This sickness is not unto death.”
And they said, “Is that your diagnosis?”
And he said, “That’s my diagnosis.”
And they said, “You’ll stand by that?”
And he said, “I’ll stand by that. Even if, later in this story, it comes back to bite me.”
Now the sisters ask, “So if the sickness of our brother Lazarus is NOT terminal, then why is he suffering?—it sure does seem like he’s on the brink of death.”
And Jesus answered, “It is for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
And the sisters said, “Now you sound like a hostage who’s being forced at gunpoint to speak statements written by your kidnappers.”
And he said, “Welcome to The Gospel According to Saint John.” Then Jesus hung up the phone and remained at his office – he did not immediately make a house-call to give Lazarus a checkup; in fact, he waited two full days before announcing to his staff: “I’m afraid I gotta drive out to Jerusalem again, into Bethany, which will someday perhaps be known as the West Bank city of al-Eizariya.”
And his secretaries cried, “You’re kidding, right? You’re a wanted man in the city—they’ve got a warrant out for your arrest, for medical malpractice, which is how they refer to your supernatural pseudoscience of faith-healing. No; give heed to our advice: Don’t go to the city: they’ll kill you! The last time you were there, they greeted you by hurling stones at your head.”
But Jesus answered, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Lazarus is my friend, and he’s fallen asleep. I can’t just let him laze away the whole summer like this—he needs to wake up, find a job, & get to work. He needs to understand that God’s invisible hand controls the Free Market, and if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Consider the lilies of the field, how finely they are arrayed—do you think they grew so beautiful by just standing there lazily basking in the sun and daydreaming? NO: they must toil incessantly to stay fashionable; they understand that, if ya want nice clothes, ya gotta earn your keep. Now look how stylish they are!—not even Emperor Solomon’s transparent robe is able to compete with the likes of these flowers. Also, behold the fowls of the air: they sow punctiliously during seed time, so that they may reap during the harvest; and they gather all that they’ve cultivated into barns for storage. It’s hard work, being a bird: you gotta plan out how to ration your stores for the off-season; you can’t just expect your heavenly Father to feed you free-of-charge, via nature, as if money grows on trees. And then when winter comes, it’s not an option to simply fly away and escape to a warmer climate: no, ya gotta hunker down, take up the cross and follow ME, into the bitter depths of Hell. For God would rather watch his creatures starve than answer their prayers for an easier life. That’s why you’ve gotta slave to get food and clothing. It was for our sake that the LORD God cursed the ground; remember? He said: ‘In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life—thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee—in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, cuz you’re just a stupid glob of mud that I molded to look like me, the Lord GOD Almighty, but that was only a whim, and someday I’m gonna repossess my breath that I lent to you (when I breathed into your nostrils to make you alive), yes, mark my words: I’m gonna take life back with interest, when I smash you right back down into the dirt.’ — He’s a bad mad sad rad dad, our Lord Jehovah. As my nemesis Saint Paul says, in his epistle to the Romans (9:20), ‘Who art thou that repliest against God?—shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” Hasn’t the potter authority over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? The harsh truth is that God, willing to shew his wrath and to make known his power, endured with much longsuffering all you vessels of wrath fitted to destruction!!!!!’ . . . But anyway, yeah, regarding Lazarus, who’s now snoozing on the job – I don’t want my poor friend starving to death (that’s the good LORD’s desire, not mine—Do I look like God to you?), and death by way of homelessness and starvation is what will happen to any soul who ends up unemployed in this country. So I gotta go to Jerusalem, that I may startle my comrade Lazarus out of sleep.”
Yet then a staff member from Jesus’ campaign spoke up and raised an interesting point: “Doctor Jesus, what if Lazarus fell asleep not because he is indolent and slothful but rather because he’s actually overworked? Maybe it’s healthy that he’s asleep—maybe that’s exactly what he lacks: a little shuteye. Perhaps his body needs its beauty-rest.”
Then Jesus dropped the charade and answered plainly: “I was talking in zany symbols and wild figurative riddles when I told you that Lazarus was asleep. The boring truth is that Lazarus is dead.”
Then one of Jesus’ secretaries looked up from the screen of her typewriter and said: “Hold on. So, just to clarify, in verse number four, when you told the sisters of Lazarus (and I quote) ‘This sickness is not unto death’, then were you just teasing them – or should we file this, yet again, under misdiagnosis?”
And Jesus, quoting the words of Officer Duke from the film Wrong Cops (2013), answered and said: “Dear Lilith, as usual, your words go into my ears, but then they don't make it to the processor.”
And, proving a meet foil to her brother’s evasions, the secretary saith, “Do you want me to repeat it again?”
& Christ snaps, “No.” Then, following the wipe transition (a type of editing effect in film where one shot replaces another), the staff finds itself in Bethany, in a cemetery, after a funeral. But it’s not the gravesite of Officer Sunshine, in California. It is the tomb of Lazarus, where he lay. The grave is a cavern, with a stone covering it.
Now Jesus approaches and, after gazing this way and that, frowns and addresses the selfsame secretary: “Who smells like bad fish – is that you?”
(I’m still plagiarizing Wrong Cops, sorry: there’s just a couple more lines I wanna fit in here, then I’ll return to John.)
And the secretary says, “No: no it’s not – I think it’s you.”
And Jesus repeats: “Wow, what a gross, horrible stench.”
(Now here I can go back and quote verse 39 verbatim, in the King James translation, and then I’ll let John’s gospel play out to the end:)
Then Martha, the sister of Lazarus who died, saith unto Jesus, “Lord, the stench that you smell is our poor brother Lazarus: for he hath been dead four days.”
Jesus saith unto her, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Now, do as I command: Roll away the gravestone.”
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and muttered begrudgingly:
“Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. What I mean by that is: I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which are standing by, and for the viewers at home, I voiced aloud the thanks that I give unto thee, so that they may believe that thou, O God, hast sent me to save humankind, for I am your son; which is to say, the head clerk in Saint John’s puppet regime.” And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice:
“Lazarus, come forth.”
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with seaweed: and on his face was a diaper.
Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Then many of the churchgoers who cared nothing for the tales of Moses and the prophets which they read in the Hebrew Scriptures, as soon as they had seen this thing that Jesus did, believed on him. So they were convinced precisely because one arose from the dead.
Now let’s underscore these two morals. Luke’s closing argument was: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”; whereas John claims his audience was “persuaded precisely because one rose from the dead.”
The Christian Bible is a curious thing to blank.