Ray Istre @RayIstre: What do you think of Jesus?
I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood. In other words, there were Jews and Hindus and that’s about it. I would trade my Superman comics for Amar Chitra Katha comics about the Mahabharata from the son of the Indian doctor down the street. And among the Jews, we didn’t really understand the whole Christmas thing so universally our parents would give us gifts on both Christmas and Hannukah. My dad was pretty cheap. He told me he got a penny a day on Hannukah so he would adjust that for inflation if I wanted. I was six years old. Inflation sounded like something miraculous. A penny a day must be at least twenty dollars a day! We sat down to do the math. It worked out to be about six cents a day. Fucking asshole!
One time I got a book. The “Children’s Bible”. It was the Bible with a lot of beautiful pictures. There was Adam and Eve. Moses with the ten commandments. And finally, Jesus. In his white robe. His long hair. His kind eyes.
And most important: his super powers! The guy was like Superman, only before Superman! He could walk on water. he could heal the dead. he could create wine out of water. He could cure blindness. The guy kicked ass! Jesus versus Superman. Bring it!
I read everything I could about Jesus. Particularly the powers. I was obsessed. I would talk to all my friends about Jesus. They were a bit nervous and would sort of start walking away from me. They had Hebrew School to go to. You know how lousy it is for a six or seven year old kid to go to Hebrew school? You have to go to school all day long anyway. Then when you get home you have to go to ANOTHER school and spend two or three hours three days a week learning an entire other language. It sucked. Then you had to learn how to sing in that language. Then the worst part – you had to give up Saturday morning cartoons and go to services. And then after services, more singing lessons. I was in agony. Jesus, where the hell are you? Can’t you at least get me out of Hebrew School?
And Jesus was jewish, I tried to explain to all my friends. And he was so powerful that even when the Devil offered him the entire planet he said no. He didn’t need it. He had the whole goddamn universe. Who needs Earth when the Mothership will take you anywhere? When you can come back from the dead and get people to speak in tongues. When you had sexy women (Mary Magdalene) wanting to marry you. I started to read new age books in the occult section about how to talk to jesus or angels or whatever. I was seven so I was afraid to let my grandparents see what books I was looking at.
The parents of my friends were getting upset. One mother said to me, “You’re no good, I’m keeping an eye on you.”
Another mother called my mother. I was curious so I was listening in on the phone. She said, “Your son is a “N&&&&’ “. I asked my mom later, “What does, “N&^%*” mean. She said, “it’s a bad word for black.” For the life of me, I could not figure out why the mother of my good friend would call me a black person.
Just a few months earlier I had stayed over that friends house waiting for my little sister to be born. I was so scared because I wet the bed every night and I knew if I fell asleep I would wet the bed and everyone in school would know about it. I prayed to Jesus. At 9pm my dad came to pick me up and told me I had a little sister. I hadn’t wet the bed. I cried when he told me. I was so relieved I hadn’t peed all over my friend’s bed. Thank god!