Twelve sayings of Jesus that, based on our practices, obviously must have included parenthetical remarks in the original text.
1. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (unless your generals, leaders, politicians, presidents, or anyone else for that matter, tell you to do otherwise).
2. But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all . . . Simply say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (unless it is in a court of law, then place your hand on the Bible and do the exact opposite of what I say to do here).
3. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven (unless you live in North America where wealth is proof of how ‘blessed’ you are).
4. Give to everyone who begs of you (unless you think they are lazy, dirty, or are going to use the money for alcohol or drugs–in which case, ignore them and challenge your local representatives to get these examples of carbon-based waste off the streets).
5. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to be seen by others. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father (unless you are in a restaurant or any other public place where I expect you to pray as loudly as you possibly can so that everyone will stand in awe of your magnificent piety).
6. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for eye and a tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also (unless they are enemies of your nation-state . . . in that case, kill ’em all–I’ll sort them out later).
7. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (unless you have to deal with illegal immigrants–ship their sorry asses back to where they came from and pray that they ‘get right’ with me and become official ‘Americans’).
8. Do not get divorced except in cases of adultery (or, if you are unhappy, sexually unfulfilled, or are suffering from an existential/midlife crisis of sorts).
9. Do not store up treasures on earth . . . do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear . . . do not worry about tomorrow (however, make sure you have a good savings account, and an IRA, with a great interest rate as that is the sort of common sense that represents a complete reversal of what I’m saying here, but only if you think about it, so, to make it easier for you, just don’t think about it).
10. Do not be like the Gentiles who lord their power over others (but, by all means, vote ‘good Christians’ into power in order to legislate your religious sensibilities and to suppress the will of the minority).
11. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone (unless you are a really devout and pious follower of mine, then, by all means, invest in a catapult).
12). Finally, if you say you know me but do not obey me, then you are a liar (but not really, I’m just kidding).
Thanks for making it so easy, Jesus! You rock, homie.
Now, where can I buy some good Christian merchandise?
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.