Writing In Jesus’ Name. Literally.

Writing about the whole “How To Make a Living Writing” thing has lately had me remembering times in the past (being about 10 years ago) when I was first trying to do that very thing.

I became a Christian right about the same time I was first trying to get published a lot. That created some interesting dynamics for me, because here in San Diego the kinds of publications in which I could get published weren’t exactly appearing on any pastors’ reading lists. They were freebie street rags, filled with ads for tattoo and massage parlors, head shops, adult bookstores, bars, clubs, skate shops. They were just … raw like that. (Which actually worked for me, because such publications tended to be run by “editors” who didn’t know a pen from a bong. Which meant they always ran my stuff unedited. Which resulted in tearsheets I could actually use, which was great.)

Anyway, want to see one of my first efforts at trying to combine writing for the head-banging, pot smoking Skater Crowd with actually doing something positive for Christianity? If so, please find below something I published late in the December 28, 1999 edition of a then-new, long since gone free tabloid called The San Diego Weekly. (For the record, I now know that many Christians find it offensive to dare to put words into the mouth of Jesus [even though that’s exactly what Thomas a’ Kempis did in his Christian classic, The Imitation of Christ, but let’s not go there]. Please trust that in 1999 it didn’t even occur to me that might be a problem; I thought [and still think] that God and Maximum Creativity went together like tea and crumpets. But I certainly do apologize to anyone offended by the below.)

It’s Me! Jesus!

Hi there. I’m Jesus. Perhaps you remember me from the beginning of the first millennium? I was the guy who went about healing the sick, telling parables, upsetting the money changers? I cheated death? Died for your sins? Remember?

Ha! I’m kidding! Of course you remember! I know that. I know I made quite the impression. That was the whole idea! Believe me: When I want to make an impression, I make an impression.

Can you believe it’s already been 2,000 years since I first walked amongst you? Doesn’t it seem like only yesterday? It sure does to me. Of course, what do I know from the passing of time? I’ve had hiccups that lasted 2,000 years. Still, I know that to you, the most cherished of all my creations, this turning of millenniums is a big deal event. As it should be! A thousand years! Why, a thousand years ago, you guys were still living in caves!

Wait, wait. That doesn’t sound right. Let me check my books on that.

No, no. I was wrong. You weren’t living in caves 1,000 years ago. You were living in caves 10,000 years ago! Sorry. One thousand years ago you were living in that time you called the Dark Ages. What a depressing name for an era. So dramatic, you people!

Not that I’m making fun. Hardly: as you know, when I say “I feel your pain,” I actually mean it. Those were tough times — what with the whole fuedal system, and the famines and the plagues and all. That whole Pope mess. Boy, there were a couple times there I thought I just might have to come down there again to do a little select smoting.

Luckily, those times are behind us now. I’m proud of the way you all picked yourselves up, brushed off your sackcloths, and invented the telescope. Ha! That’s when I had to invent window shades! I never knew whenyou might be peering into my heavenly abode! Things really seemed to pick up for you Lookie-Lous after that. Next thing I know, I’ve got that Hubble monstrosity practically flying up my robes. And then with the little Mars-seeking gizmo!

Odd, how that thing just disappeared. I certainly do work in strange and mysterious ways. And I’d like to keep it that way, if you get my drift.

Anyway, I suppose you’re wondering why I decided to contact you through The Weekly.I have no idea. It just came to me. For one, I love San Diego. The weather! Incredible! We should have such weather in heaven! I don’t even like letting ex-San Diegans into heaven: they complain about the weather here! Ha! I’m kidding of course! But barely! You’ve got the sun, the warm breezes, the beautiful beaches … if I ever do take the incarnate route again, I’m definitely going to show up on one of your beaches. I’ll be all kicking back, wearing Ray-Bans, soaking up the quality rays, looking Cabana Boy fabulous in my Hawaiian shirt. Boy, I love those shirts. I make Gabriel wear one all the time. He acts all bent out of shape about it, but I’ve seen him checking himself in the mirror. He digs it.

Anyway, I did want to say something to all of you lucky enough to have picked up this particular edition of The Weekly.We are, after all, at the dawn of a new millennium. It’s not like it happens every day, right? And I know a lot of you have been wondering if I might appear, or in my great dissatisfaction instigate the apocolypse, or something. I know there’s been a lot of fear about all your computers suddenly shutting down, or going haywire, or something.

Now honestly: Would that be such a bad thing? Me forbid (get it? instead of “God forbid”?!) any planes or trains would crash, or anything like that. Certainly no one wants that. But if you had to take a couple of days off work, or if you couldn’t check your beloved e-mail for a week, would that be so bad? Not that computers aren’t important, of course. We certainly do use them up here. I honestly don’t know how we got along all those millennia without them. You can’t believe all the records we used to keep by hand. And then a star would explode, or some new species somewhere would die out, and it would take us an eternity to find and adjust the records. Now it’s all computerized. You should see my laptop.

For that matter, you should see my lap. I …

Whoa! Whoa! Hold on here! I can’t believe I’ve already reached the bottom of this page! What a babbler I am! I never even got a chance to deliver unto you my Super Millennium Message!

Well, heck. All right. There’s nothing to be done for it. Stuff happens. Shoot. We’ll have to talk another time.

And, believe me, we will.

For related pieces, see Lying for Jesus, and Lying for Jesus, Pt. 2. (Sorry these are all longer than blog posts should be. I’m working on that.)

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  • breezy

    OMG(oodness)…I think this may be the piece my bro sent to me many years back.

    Our family had a sportfishing business out of Point Loma (San Diego) and most of the crew were hard-working longhairs that my gramps used to call 'heshin's' (heads).

    Each of us grandkids got a turn working through the summers for tips (one of the hardest jobs I ever loved) gaffin' wahoos and blue fins for the oldsters (were they really only 50-60? They seemed so much older then)

    We'd pour over the freebies when we got back to port…still recovering our 'landlegs' while sharing the first decent pitcher of beer since we re-boarded in Cabo San Lucas…

    …so anyway, my brother went to SD about a decade ago to recapture some memories and he found a few free rags and mailed them to me.

    …just reading about the beaches and the great weather takes me back John…you write about what we feel and can't quite express…what we know yet can't quite admit…God luvs ya John, and so do we

  • You guys are killing me. Too great. Thanks so much. It's very helpful to me to learn that people — or at least some people … or ANYONE, really — is cool with this stuff. In the world in which I operate (by which I mean Christian publishing and media) people tend to be EXTREMELY touchy about anything that could possibly in any way by anyone ever be construed as anything having anything whatsoever to do with anything even vaguely blasphemous. So it's extremely good for me to get these kind of supportive statements, because it allows me to point to them and say, "See? It's OK." You guys really can't imagine the influence these kinds of statements have on softening publishers' and Christian bookstore owners' ideas about what is and isn't okay to say. I'm totally not kidding.

  • If God . . . who definitely has to have a sense of humour . . .(look in the mirror) has made us all in His image, (after His own Self) then…. I wonder who made Sukky? Poor dear! I have lived long enough in the church to recognize religious constipation…. thank God for John Shore . . . the much needed laxative the church has been looking for.

  • John,

    Great piece. I like to think that God has a sense of humor and would be flattered that you chose Him to ode/satirize. Your wonderful, daring, honest humor inspires me daily to rework my blog…to make it better. Heck, I bet if God had a blog, He'd chose you as His inspiration {though he'd be funnier; no offense 🙂 }.

  • Tam

    I love it… and I really like your version of Jesus/God. He would be fun to party with…

  • John, it's very funny (no surprise there) but it's also quite sweet to think of you being so new to your faith and taking on such a piece. I like the innocence and playfulness of it, and while some might be poopie-pants about the whole putting-words-in-Jesus'-mouth thing, I can't imagine Jesus is as serious as some want to make him out to be or if he'd have his hair all up in a bunch about one of us goofy little humans dinking around with a Christologue (my word by the way, but I waive copyright so use it freely).

    When I think of how many times people proclaim with a serious face, "God said…" and actually mean it, I'll take a writing that plays around with what Jesus didn't say but could have if he had his comedic union card any ol' day.

    You continue to rock the free world.

  • Penlee

    Still waiting for that Super Millenium Message now you are back from tripping around!

  • Leif Sr.

    John, you radical trail blazer. Did you have a ponytail then? Long greasy beard? I’m sure there was more than one conservative that gagged on that one, but the fact you weren’t struck by lighting says something, right?

    I’d love to read the “letters to the editor” from the next week!

  • LOL

    Always wondered what happened to those space probes.

  • Hey John… that's absolutely hilarious. I died laughing… well, not literally.

  • LOVE IT! You know with each passing post i am realizing you are the blog guru. You wit cracks me up and I am so glad I stumbled across your slice of cyberspace.

  • You’re right… you’re going to burn for that one. If only our God were a loving / forgiving God… oh, wait a minute…

  • Honestly, John . . .I know you’re a rare breed, but do you have to be so darn genuine? A breath of fresh air you are, me lad! Ditto to Leif Sr. re the ‘lightning strike!’ Ingrid is right! You’re definitely the ‘blog guru’.

  • Thank God for His grace. you leave me speechless. You probably would have been beheaded for this. God must surely have a high sense of humor because you are still alive and writing.

    Go and sin no more.

  • John,

    You really do write with such a unique voice one would hope publishers would listen. This looks like a precursor to “Penguins,” the work I’ve enjoyed reading the most out your works I’ve read so far. Your posts on the coyotes had me howling too.


  • Beverley Pekema

    I know for sure that God has a sense of humour, simply because we were made in his image. Also that he expects us to obey his commands – ie to make him known to the people and oh, what better way than in layman’s language.

    Blaspheme, blaspheme

    They scream

    The self-appointed watchdogs

    With their specks as big as logs!

  • Thanks, Greta, for comparing me to Ex-Lax. No, but of course I really do appreciate what you’ve said.

    One time I had the VP of publishing of one of the largest Christian publishers in the country tell me that it was blasphemous to ascribe a sense of humor to God. And he was as serious as he could be. Blasphemous.

  • I think it's faboo.

    God with no sense of humor…criminy! How do we account for OUR sense of humor if God doesn't have one.

    Besides, animals like the manatee should be proof alone. Or poodles…

  • Or penguins.

  • Billy

    IMHO There is humor and then again there is humor. Everyone likes to laugh, some at the expense of themselves, some at the expense of others. In 59 years I have never experienced, in person, the stiff necked, staunch Christianity that many people speak of. Maybe I have just been blessed.

  • I've never had anyone tell me directly that I was blaspheming, but I've gotten parental 'looks.'

  • Oh, man. I am forever getting e-raged at for either not being Christian enough, or for being too Christian. I woke up this morning to a long email from someone telling me how … well, let's see, here's but a single quote: "It is people like you and your co-religionists, far more than the terrorists, serial killers and pedophiles, who have convinced me that we are a terminal species, and that we probably haven't got much time left." I either get that, or I get how I'm a blaspheming heretic.

    But I get a LOT more love from readers, so it's cool. But God knows I get my share of the other.

  • John Shore: Zealot AND Heretic

  • Believe me when I tell you you have NO idea.

  • Billy

    Beware of a man with no enemies. 😉

  • Yeah, I was reading and thinking, "They raked him over the coals for this one!" But only the true Christians were doing that 😉 I've been called too liberal (I think liberal is actually a Christian curse word) and fundamentalist. I wrote a play call Meet Joe Nah for the youth group… was great fun. Well until some of your famous #10 on "10 Ways Christians tend to fail" started to kick in. I think I'll just call it #10 Sauce from now on.

    Good to see you were funny in the previous millennium as well.

  • Ah John, don't those emails just give you a warm glowy feeling all over…but seriously, okay, not seriously but anytime you want to trade the e-rage you receive for the e-rage I receive, you're on. I think I'd have you tanked, trumped, and screaming 'uncle'.

    Just curious…"too christian?" From other Christians? And they're reading YOUR blog, right? Hmmm…..

  • I shouldn't complain, for sure. I get mucho love–and I do, I know, operate in an area where a lot of people feel a lot of passion. Of course I attract some … fringey thinkers. I hope you haven't … well. Never mind. Of courrse you have.

  • Elizabeth

    Spffft! My Coke Zero is all over the computer screen from laughing too hard!!!! Great piece, JS… Loved it!!! 🙂

  • Dan Harrell


    Sorry about the late response, but we've been busy with snow here in Chicago. It's too bad that pastors and churches don't get the street rags. The ministry would be more Jesus like with the bums, addicts, drunks and whores, instead of to fat white liberals (I qualify for the first two) sleeping their way through the sermon on Sunday.

    I loved your piece on being unemployed and this one. Keep up the good work. Always good comments too by thoughtful people.


  • Tam

    John… sorry you get flack from both sides. I don't think you are too Chirstian (or not enough Christian) but just right: Like baby bear…

  • Hjordes

    Awesome piece! If I were a non-believer reading that it would have stuck in my mind as something Very Cool & Funny, and I would have looked for more writing from you.

    Don't let the Stuffy Ones get you down, John. I think they are rare in the Christian world, anyway. Your writing TOUCHES people, and gets inside them, and stirs their hearts and minds like no averagely boring sermon will ever do.

    p.s. The crazy Norwegians at my Lutheran church love you! So do four of my friends – an atheist, a Quaker, a Quabalist, and a new born-againer.

  • Hilarious, John; but really, how could anyone call you a laxative? Poouu!

  • Elizabeth: Coke ZERO! Nice detail! Clearly a writer…

    Dan: "Fat White Liberals"! Man. What a great book title.

    Tam: THANK YOU! I'm … bear hairy, that's for sure. But that's really more than any of you need to know….

    Hjordes: I want your friends. I want ANY friends. But you sound like you've got yourself quite the collective there. Awesome. Kiss them for me. Wait. Slap the atheist, hug the Quaker, kiss the Quabalist, and lewdly grope the born-againer for me.

  • Tam, when did you start spelling "bear" this way?

  • Tam

    You know… it would be some tempting to make a comment regarding being bear hairy and a locker-room incident, but I will behave. 😉

  • Speaking of People Who Don't Like Me Much, here's part of an email I got in last night: "Dear John … I've come to the conclusion that you're doing more harm than good. Humor, for example, is wonderful, but you too often elope with your clever gambits, leaving The Bride at the altar. You will continue to win many hearts, but fewer souls—and of those souls, fewer still for Christ. … Our Commission is not to "Win Friends and Influence People"; our Commission is to shout the news of Jesus and Him crucified, and to leave it to the Spirit to see that the chips fall where He may choose.

    You rather obviously are not cut out for it."

    See? Now that hurts. Well. Sort of. I mean, not really. It has been my humble experience that if you're not offending someone somewhere, you're not interesting anyone anywhere.

    Whoa. That DID come out sounding … admirably adagey.

    Anyway, I know I'm gonna get stuff like that every so often. Whaddaya gonna do?

    Tam: I think you SHOULD behave. Seriously. Right now. Stop it.

  • Greta,

    I am surprised that you failed to note that humor was employed in my comment. Do read it again to dicover the fact that I am in no way critical of John's writing, neither am I spiritually constipated.

    The exact key to the riddle is that God has a sense of humor and as such, is not offended by John's writing.