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|Jesus decided to visit Barbara in Athens, while on an excursion with his housemates. She was still living a perfectly splendid solitary, academic life with her animal companions, students, peers, scrolls, and the occasional lover, in her cozy cottage by a wood, about an hour's walk from the coastline.
Barbara was not quite sure how to receive this old, childhood friend with his motley entourage. Lydia appeared to be sizing her up like a piece of meat, while hanging all over Jesus like a cheap toga. Cornelius had brought along an Egyptian sailor, whom he had picked up at the wharf. Those two seemed totally absorbed with each other, somewhat oblivious to their
|surroundings, and in fact eventually drifted off outside to be alone. Jesus began chatting chummily as though his hostile estrangement from, and defamation of Barbara's sister had never occurred. He was behaving like a self-centered, babbling twit, attempting in vain to impress her by reporting on the successes of his mission, his messianic millennial preparations, and his royal prospects.
Famous Mideasterner hospitality notwithstanding, Barbara politely showed Lydia the door, suggesting that since she already knew all of the things Jesus was expounding, Lydia might like to have a tour of the area with Cornelius and the Egyptian. Once alone with Jesus, Barbara let loose all the anger she had felt toward him for the past two decades since his ridiculous resurrection.
"I came looking for you that year before I returned to Greece, Jesus. Mary told me that I wouldn't find you, that a person had to wait for you to come to them. Well, you finally have, Jesus, and I've got something I want to say to you:
"The fraud you perpetrated on your family and friends is reprehensible. You're not resurrected, Jesus- you were never dead." She poked him in his side, coincidentally on the scar where the centurion had speared him, which was still sensitive all these years later. "You seem pretty real to me, Jesus, about as alive as a person can be.
"You deserted your wife and daughters! My sister and nieces, Jesus! People who I love, and who you should have cared enough about to forsake your absurd ambition instead of them! Then you slandered Mary!"
"She married my brother!"
"You abandoned her! Your daughters don't even know you!"
"I needed sons, Barbara, not daughters." (Oh, yeah, that really won her over.)
|"Mary adored you. She even pushed me out of her life to keep you..."
"Because she knew I loved you!"
It was all Barbara could do to keep from becoming violent at the recitation of that tired refrain.
"Love? Is that what you think that was? That was obsession, Jesus. You couldn't possess me, so you became fixated on having me. You don't love people, Jesus, you love controlling them."
"No! That isn't true! I've loved you since we were children..." He seemed genuinely stricken by her words. "I could have done anything with you by my side, Barbara," he lamented.
"How would that have made any difference, Jesus? I would have tried to stop you. I abhor your lies."
|"I've helped people, Barbara. I've brought people to God, and strengthened the Jews against the Romans."
"How have you strengthened us, Jesus?"
"I've cemented our resolve, inspired our nationalist zeal. I've provided leadership and strategy."
Barbara shook her head, unconvinced. There was a period of silence, during which Jesus apparently managed to rally to the offensive. "What have you done with your life, Barbara?" he challenged.
"I've learned, and I've taught people, Jesus. I've helped mold the debate about how society should develop. I've pondered the meaning of life and shared my results with others non-coercively. I've tried to help people acquire the intellectual tools to decide on their own."
"You've never even had a husband. And you've no children. Who will take care of you when you're old? You must be mocked and reviled by the public."
"I never wanted a husband and children, Jesus. I wanted to read and study and research. And I loved writing. A husband and children would have kept me from doing those things, as you know perfectly well, because you're one of the men fighting to keep it that way."
"What kind of life is that for a woman?"
"A good one."
He picked up one of her scrolls that she had written, Belief and Power, and began reading it in Greek. "Spirituality is an individual affaire. When organized into group religious cults, it seems always to deteriorate into power struggles for primacy of control, rather than being the instrument for mutual support and enlightenment that originally attracted adherents." Jesus dropped the scroll out of his hands as though it was unclean. Perhaps even poor, deluded Jesus recognized it as too close to home. He pulled her Existence and Nonexistence from an adjacent shelf and read, "It's a waste of one's life to live it fearing death. To utilize one's time and energy, which is all that life is made of, in a futile attempt to thwart mortality, is a grievous sin. Rather, we should embrace this unknown deadline and let it impel us toward learning, decision, and action, to accomplish what we desire. That defines, the well-lived, moral life."
|Jesus suddenly scooped a bunch of scrolls from the shelves and threw them into her fireplace. She immediately began scraping the scrolls from the hearth, but Jesus kept kicking them back toward the flames. She shoved a very heavy, wood table at Jesus, catching him in his midsection and knocking the wind out of him. Then she went back to salvaging the scrolls and dousing the fire. But it was too late. He had destroyed both her own compositions and several others, and had managed to damage half her library. Her only consolation was that he had not harmed her work in progress, Dominion Over Animals- A Pious Lie, because it was tucked away safely on her desk in a corner of the room.|
|This was not a passive woman. Once she had saved what she could, she went over to Jesus and began beating him with a chair until he was bleeding and the chair broke. Then she kicked him about the legs and torso while he cowered and tried to shield himself. Finally he made it onto his hands and knees and began crawling toward the door. She kicked him in his bony ass until he got to the edge of her property and was able to get to his feet to flee.
"If you ever come back here, I'll kill you before you can even get within sight of one of my scrolls, You little piece of shit!"
Thus was born the cherished Christian tradition of book burning.
Ideas? Who needs 'em, when you've got all the answers?
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