Today, June 1, I’m watching Donald Trump standing on the steps of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

Moments before Trump walked across the street with his entourage of handlers, “authorities” (Attorney General William Barr) ordered the area cleansed of possible COVID-19 viruses with stun flash grenades and tear gas. Why didn’t scientist Dr. Fauci tell us that was a solution?

Then, the Trump family, and an assortment of sycophants, stood at attention as their Great Leader held up a book in front of the church. “The Art of the Deal?”

A voice told us it was the Holy Bible, probably one taken from a drawer in one of his hotels. Did they wipe it?

Great Leader is visibly shaken. His eyes sweep from side to side as if to make sure there will be no unpleasantness. There he stands, holding the Holy Bible with trembling, sweaty, but firm fingers. He knows that should he drop it, the cameras would zoom in, and within the hour, the image would be flashed across the planet, and millions of his followers would drop him.

Then, as though someone in his entourage is hand signing instructions, he keeps turning it around and upside down, as though it were hot coal burning his hands. He glances at it, checking the cover. Yes, he sighed. It’s the Bible.

OK. That’s as light as I can get. I can go no further. You need a laugh, I know, to get you through this fog of disease and deceit, but my pantry is bare of humor at this hour. I’m fresh out of one-liners.

I know you’re troubled, locked down, driven mad by watching game shows and old movies. You feel a need to return to the man you consider the son of God.

The corpulent master of ceremonies in the dark suit has been tweeting his approval of your desperation and has encouraged you all to go back to church. He commands you to “pack the pews.”

He has asked all of you to flock to your respective “Houses of God,” shoulder to shoulder, and despite his sordid record, pray for his reelection. “What do you have to lose?” Time is short, my friends of faith, and I have a counterproposal to offer you.

If you’re truly a Christian, and it’s Jesus you’re seeking, the time has come for you to get off your knees, get out of the churches and into the streets. Jesus didn’t preach from an altar. Jesus was a “street boy.” There was no social distancing then. Jesus touched, embraced and healed.

Stop looking for Jesus in the white frame, brick and mortar buildings, the polished pews and marble altars. Those are merely symbols. I see Jesus as a working man, and the work is in the streets tonight.

The Jesus you’re looking for is in the hospitals with the suffering and the dying. He’s walked the corpse-strewn streets of the cities, walking with all the suffering, but side by side with people of color, yes, those who look like him.

Keep in mind: Jesus was a Nazarene; the Bible the imposter holds up tells you that.

Despite what the calendars and holy pictures my mother hung in the house showed, Jesus was not tall and sandy-haired with blue eyes. He did not look like the Hollywood Jesus the movies gave us.

If Jesus knocked at your door today, looking as he did when he preached on the banks of the Jordan, you’d call the police, or, as some men with badges and strong knees have done, kill him.

You could sit in a church pew for hours, days, years as I have, and not see his true face. We have seen his image in the stained glass windows or pictures on the wall, pictures of a handsome white man with flowing locks.

Look again at Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” Those are the apostles we were raised to see. The first example of early artistic racism.

You’ve seen Jesus in your magazines, on our news shows in the evening. He was the straggly Mexican peasant club-smashed by a white border guard, who did not recognize him.

He was the teenage boy in one of the cages on the border in Texas, trying to comfort a little girl who had lost her mother.

Last week you surely were not aware that, when for 10 horrible minutes, he slipped into the body of George Floyd laying handcuffed in the street with a “Roman” police officer’s knee at his neck.

He was a Palestinian doctor walking beside a gurney last night in a Los Angeles hospital, holding the lifeless hand of an old man who had lost the fight with a virus with a name he could not pronounce.

Tonight, he will be with a nurse from the Bronx on her third shift, crumpled in a corner with her face in her hands after losing her 10th patient.

Watch the news tonight. See the stranger with curly black hair and dark skin kneeling beside a dying police officer.

No, you don’t have to “pack the pews.” You need to go into the streets. He needs your help.

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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