The author of a controversial new book, I Am Jesus, You Are Jesus (Deus Ex Machina Press; 2004), not only claims that he is Jesus Christ, but that all of us have the potential to be Jesus if we would only follow his prescription. The book itself, which is replete with religious allegories, thought-provoking parables, and compelling didactic stories, is reminiscent of the Bible, but it also draws upon the writings and wisdom of many philosophers and theologians throughout the ages, including Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and Kahlil Gibran.
Despite the weighty subject matter and analysis of age-old philosophical questions, I Am Jesus, You Are Jesus is written in a simple, easy-to-read style that can be appreciated by both adolescents and adults. In addition, the author, Jesus Christ, tackles many of the social, ethical, and political problems in the world today and offers solutions from his vantage point. Although the book is quite serious and written from a spiritual viewpoint, it is not without wit and humor. For example, in the prologue, Christ writes, “When asked what kind of car Jesus would drive, my answer is, I don’t own a car. And if I did, it would be an electric car.”
The author currently lives in California (where else?), and this is his first interview. He freely admits that Jesus Christ is his nom de plume; however, he would not divulge his real name, and I gave my word that I would not take any pictures of him or reveal his whereabouts to the mainstream media. Physically, he looks nothing like the Christ depicted in Mel Gibson’s incendiary film, The Passion of the Christ, nor does he resemble any other representation of Christ I have ever seen in a photo or painting. In fact, he seems every bit the modern man in his appearance and demeanor, and the only trait that sets him apart from the average person is his eyes. They seem to look right through you.
OR: I guess the first question I have to ask is this: When you say you are Jesus Christ, do you mean it metaphorically, or do you mean it literally?
JC: I mean it in both ways.
OR: But you admit that Jesus Christ is not your actual name. And to say that you are literally Jesus Christ would be considered blasphemous to some people.
JC: My intention is not to be blasphemous, far from it, and when people read my book I think they’ll understand this. But I’m not going to talk about my background. Not because I have anything to hide or I want to be cryptic, but because I don’t want the mainstream media to know anything about me until I define myself first. Otherwise, they will distort the message in my book and create a false image of me as a person. You know how the media works- sell the sizzle not the steak. Well, I want to sell the steak, not the sizzle. Which is why I want to get my message out gradually, through the written word, so that I can build a mass following based on the truths in my book. If I try to rush things and reach a mass audience through the mainstream media, I will be destroyed by the powers that be, as I was before.
OR: Forgive me for asking, but do you intend to make a profit on this book?
JC: This book is about prophets, not profits.
OR: Yes, well, as you know, there has been a lot of controversy in the past month about Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ. And one of the major controversies sparked by it is who bears the responsibility for putting you to death. By the way, have you seen the film?
JC: No, it brings back some unpleasant memories. Regarding who is responsible for putting me to death, the answer is simple: the same people who killed Socrates, Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr., and all the other martyrs who have died throughout the centuries. Many of them are not famous and you would not recognize their names, but they have all been social reformers of one sort or another who have died at the hands of those who value money and power above all else, who are motivated by greed and selfishness, and who are willing to destroy anyone who brings the message of peace and love and compassion to the people.
OR: All the social reformers you mentioned, including yourself, come from the liberal, or left-wing side of the political spectrum, yet many Christians today, especially fundamentalist Christians, tend to be politically conservative. How do you explain this?
JC: Fundamentalist Christians, I’m sorry to say, are misguided because they are locked into a literal translation of the Old Testament. As a result, they are not focused on the most important aspects of my teachings in the New Testament, such as peace, love, and brotherhood. Instead, they seem more concerned with ancient Hebrew dictums that tend to be repressive and vengeful. As a result, they almost always side with conservative politicians and attack social reformers who want to change the system, often labeling individuals like me as communists or socialists.
OR: Some people would argue that we live in a highly competitive capitalist society and that if everyone practiced the virtues you espouse- especially those eschewing material wealth- the economic system would collapse and our society would descend into chaos.
JC: (Laughs) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that before! The rich have been using it as an excuse to exploit and subjugate the poor since the beginning of time. The irony is, any society that does not seek the correct path and places material wealth and power above virtue and goodness is destined to collapse. The Romans found this out the hard way, and we Americans- unless we change our ways- will inevitably learn the same lesson. Perhaps Plato put it best when he said: “Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other virtue to the individual and the State.”
OR: So you are not against capitalism per se.
JC: I am in favor of acting out of love, fairness, and compassion. The type of economic system in which we live is irrelevant. Any system is only as good as the people who run it.
OR: In your book you write, “Most people today do not recognize Jesus Christ, even when they meet me face to face.” You go on to say that if you were to suddenly gain celebrity, a lot of people would want to crucify you all over again.
JC: Of course, because the values that I discuss in my book are the same values I preached about in ancient times that got me crucified. Naturally, most people give lip service to these values, but they do not actually practice them. How could they, when they are preoccupied with the accumulation of material wealth and power? And anyone who threatens to change the system will be destroyed, just as I was almost 2,000 years ago, and perhaps will be again- if I don’t succeed in convincing a majority of citizens to take my teachings seriously. But it’s not going to be easy; I have Satan to contend with.
OR: When you use the word “Satan,” do you mean it literally or metaphorically?
JC: Let me make this clear, because you seem a little confused about the subject, which is understandable, since there has been much debate over the centuries about whether the Bible (including what I have said in the Bible) should be taken literally or figuratively. The answer is this: Everyone, from time immemorial, thinks and speaks in both literal and figurative terms. The individuals who wrote the Bible were no different. Some of the stories they wrote about were true in a literal sense, but many of them were allegories or metaphors, and are not to be taken literally. In a more profound sense, what matters most is not whether the stories are literal facts or figures of speech, or whether individuals interpret words like “God” or “Satan” as metaphorical representations or actual spiritual beings. What really matters-
OR: Hold on a second. What’s the difference between a metaphorical representation of a spiritual being and an actual spiritual being?
JC: Good question! If you say God is Love, that’s a metaphor. If you say God loves everyone, that implies an actual spiritual being. Neither of these statements is a scientific fact, of course, and both of them must be taken on faith. So does it matter which interpretation we choose? What really matters is whether the stories and characters of the Bible are understood from the proper perspective. For example, in the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus (Chapter 20: Verses 10 and 13), it says unequivocally that adulterers and homosexuals are not only living in sin but should be killed. Does this mean Christians today should kill anyone who is an adulterer or homosexual? If we interpret the Bible literally, that would be the logical conclusion. Of course that would not only be absurd, it would be against everything that I believe in. Nevertheless, there are Christians today who try to justify the killing or persecution of their fellow man because they claim they are following a literal translation of the Bible.
OR: So when you said at the beginning of our conversation that you are Jesus Christ in both a literal and metaphorical sense, this is what you meant.
JC: Precisely. It is also what I mean by the title of my book. I am Jesus because I embody the values of Jesus, and anyone can be Jesus if he or she embodies my values and follows my teachings.
OR: But is anyone today actually following your teachings? And I don’t mean just by going to church on Sunday or mouthing platitudes.
JC: Yes, there are some, but they are usually not in positions of power. And if they attempt to rise to a position of power and get their message out to a mass audience, they are quickly discredited or demonized by the mainstream media. This is the reason I can’t suddenly leap onto the national scene with my message. I have to take it slowly and build a mass following first. Otherwise, I will be held up to ridicule and destined to fail.
OR: Like Howard Dean, for example. Not that I’m comparing him with you.
JC: Yes, that’s right. Howard Dean was and still is preaching a populist message and attempting to reach a mass audience. So is Ralph Nader. Unfortunately, both these men are facing an uphill battle because their messages are geared to help a majority of Americans at the expense of the rich and powerful. In a sense, they are attempting to do politically what I am attempting to do spiritually. But, as you know, this is a very difficult task, made even more difficult by the mainstream media, which have, in effect, brainwashed millions of Americans to believe that social reformers with a populist message are crazy. And it doesn’t just apply to individuals. It works the same with social programs. Which is why we don’t have an affordable health care system for everyone in our country, or a national renewable energy program, or real campaign finance reform. And on and on. It’s not that we don’t have the know how or the resources to institute these programs; it’s that these programs run counter to the rich and powerful business interests- the devil’s disciples, if you will- that are in control of the government and the mass media.
OR:Do you think you will have any better luck today changing the hearts and minds of the individuals in power than you did in ancient times? I mean, let’s face it, the Bush administration is completely dominated by neoconservative chicken hawks and ruthless big business scam artists. Do you really think they’ll be an easier sell than the vengeful Jewish rabbis and sadistic Roman oligarchs that crucified you the last time around?
JC: As you know, faith can move mountains.
OR: Now you are speaking metaphorically! In any case, I wish you the best of luck.
JC: Thank you. And God bless you.