“Again the devil carried him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you fall down and you worship me.”The Gospel of Matthew 4:8-9, from The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints, by Thomas A. Wayment
- Then Jesus took the offer, but he hedged and said, “Give me only a single tower, a place of respite during my ministry of sorrows.”
- And Lucifer said, “But let it be a grand tower, an enthralling campanile overlooking Jerusalem, from which you can behold and teach the throngs.” And Jesus, breathing a thirsty breath, took the offer.
- When he returned from the wilderness, he amassed followers and established his movement,
- And Jesus taught with parables and worked miracles; he healed and blessed, and drank deep the wine of his own make.
- When the affronted high priests came to arrest the Christ, Peter cut off the ear of their most eager servant.
- And then Jesus took the knife from Peter, and he cut off the servant’s other ear.
- Then the throng brought the Christ before Pilate, and Pilate would have pardoned him, but Jesus would not be pardoned, saying, “Nobody knows this system better than me. I alone can fix it.”
- And they crucified him as he smiled.
- Both followers and enemies rolled stones in front of and away from tombs; they produced or hid away prized remains;
- Verily, the conspiracy theorists buried, raised, and buried Christ Jesus again, seventy times seven—as ever flows the tide of public opinion.
- And Saul of Tarsus took no interest, having fallen in love with another, and found themself much too contented to ever write letters.
- Next Peter, the killer of partial tithe payers, died in prison after being sentenced for tax fraud.
- In due course, Rome warmed its bed with a different religion—one dedicated to putting down all renaissances.
- Moreover, Columbus never sailed to the Americas; someone worse did, and did much worse—mightily worse.
- And the restored Church of Jesus Christ arose, with its guns and bowie knives, wielded by its whistling and whittling Far West Legion, clad in their exceedingly fine uniforms. For a respite, they ventured west and dedicated the Salt Lake Temple by saying, “It’s a good temple, a bit small by our standards, but charming in a quaint country cabin sort of way.”
- In the spirit world, Jesus’s Mary wept and wondered, for she kept much unheard wisdom in her heart.
- At last, old Gethsemane withered and perished, lacking for anyone to pray within its embrace, and nourish its roots through their reverent bleeding.
- But as it always comes to pass, every empire fell in the end;
- Verily, even as the universe will fall during some distant final moment of time, when the last smoke whiff, from the last burnt-out candle, will dissipate into massless photons—all things still, forever.
This prose poem is the product of Lenten meditation. I wrote the initial draft immediately after attending an online meditation hosted by the Community of Christ for people celebrating Lent. Thank you for reading. Your reactions are welcome in the comments section below.
Quantum mechanics has a many-worlds interpretation (MWI) which allows for any and all scenarios to happen, including the poem prose in the main post. See also the multiverse hypothesis. These theories are unproven but are possible models for explaining certain experimental data.
So, is this supposed to be parody or satire?
A platform to express your doubts on Mormonism and Religion in general?
A nose-thumbing to idiots who cling to their beliefs?
A frustration that the Church hasn’t imploded by now?
“Reactions are welcome” Probably not in my case.
Mark, there are commentors who would be unwelcome here. For example, any reader who would use my post’s comment thread to call other people idiots for clinging to their beliefs is not welcome here. I think you are underestimating my willingness to be disagreed with.
Folks, this is creative writing. It is a sincere what-if piece, written while I seek to grow during the Christian season of Lent. As to what it means? I’m not here to hold readers’ hands or dictate how they should feel. If the piece irks or offends anyone, that’s okay. But I’ve done some actual work in putting it together, and I ask my readers to do a little work in responding. Whether you like or dislike this poem, please be specific. What is your reaction? What specific moments in the text sparked that reaction? And why?
Getting back to Mark’s questions: Is this parody or satire? Not to me, but given that some of my recent pieces do that, I wouldn’t blame a reader for suspecting or feeling that is an aspect of this post.
Is this a platform for expressing religious doubts? Absolutely. My posts, and probably all posts on Wheat & Tares, are committed to providing a platform for readers to express and explore their doubts. I regard that activity as essential to spiritual health.
Mark, you asked me if this piece expresses frustration the Church hasn’t imploded yet? No. Not at all. There’s plenty about the Church I still love. The only person on this thread so far who has engaged in willful alienation and censorship is you. And, you’re doing it yourself. So I say again, if the piece offended you, feel free to comment about why. I suggest citing at least 1 or 2 specific examples from the text, and why they left you feeling offended or angered.
Lastly, everyone is invited to review Our Commenting Policy at the top of the page for types of comments which are not welcome. One of them is dogpiling. Hoping that won’t happen here to anyone. Thank you.
So…this is like, Mormon metal? Where, instead of devil horns, people flash the (looks it up) Sure Sign of the Nail?
Better to reign in the Telestial Kingdom, than to serve jello in the Celestial Kingdom.
Interesting stuff, Jake! I like it!
A Courtesy Note to Readers (not directed at any of the above comments):
As this post’s moderator, I am uncomfortable with anyone posting a link to a webpage which has no relevance to the original post, and which comes with no adequate explanation of what content will be on the linked webpage. Links aren’t forbidden, provided they are relevant, lead to a safe website (including preferably no NSFW content), and are accompanied with an explanation of why the commentor is including them. We have a very good WordPress filter here at Wheat & Tares to help readers have a safe reading experience. That said, there is simply too much malware and phishing out there to do anything other than play it safe. Thank you for your cooperation.
Interesting thought experiment. My take in just a couple of sentences: As your piece develops it seems to feed the notion that without Christ’s perfect obedience all would be lost. But then as we come to the end we almost get the idea that it doesn’t really matter — in the long run — whether or not the Savior was victorious–because all will ultimately be lost when the universe fizzles out and returns to complete chaos.
I could be wrong about the whole thing–and honestly my take is a bit morbid for my own tastes. Even so, it does bring up some good questions (in my poor mind) having to do with the need for a Christian atonement and its relevance in eternity–especially in a world that is becoming more interested and informed in cosmology.
I like this piece. I’m not sure of the intent but, hey, that’s art! If everything were on-the-nose preachy, well, we all know where to find plenty of that.
My initial takeaway is how quickly compromise can erode moral authority. Jesus indulges once in this story and becomes just another charismatic preacher leading people along the road to mundane self-gratification.
Many Latter-Day Saints cling to Mormonism largely for the sense of purity—the direct line from Priesthood leadership to God, unsullied by apostasy (count how many times RMN mentions “pure” truth or “pure” doctrine when he speaks). But when you pull back the curtain you find all sorts of compromises, indiscretions, and self-gratification behind the scenes whether it’s JS trying to cover his polygamous tracks by thrashing printing presses or Ensign Peak trying to hide the church’s wealth from the members at the First Presidency’s behest. All the world goes round this way, not just our little corner of religious novelty.
It’s an interesting question: if Jesus weren’t the sinless demigod he’s painted as in the NT, does his message still have value? Is the value of Mormonism’s message lessened by the moral compromises of our leaders? If the church is both messenger and Message, then I’d argue yes. If the Message transcends the church, I’d argue perhaps not. YMMV.
Very interesting. This is a more Machiavellian Jesus. Not only did he agree to be given a tower, but he joined Peter in fighting the men who came to arrest him and then spoke defiantly to Pilate. This is in contrast to his scriptural behavior of being completely meek in the face of death. Paul and Peter don’t become pillars of the New Testament and changes the course of history. Not the grand sweep of history, but the smaller details of history. Even if not Columbus, someone brought the Old World to the New and wrought havoc.
You’re familiar with the Butterfly Effect? It’s about changing the past and comes from a short story (The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury). The idea is that even a change as small as killing a butterfly would create massive changes in the future. This meditation comments on that idea. Some details change (Saul does not become Paul), but the grand sweep of history goes where it’s always going to go. You can make a massive change (Christ taking Satan’s offer) and even that change shows the stability of the future.
Laat verse reminds me of Asimov’s shirt story: http://www.thelastquestion.net/