FORGIVING THE DEVIL: The slightly updated Gospel of Jesus Christ the Mythologist

Flag of Phoenix, AZ (8.65)

Flag of Phoenix, AZ (8.65) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What’s it like, huh? I’ll tell you what it’s like! It’s hot. It’s not just hot though; it’s too hot. It’s actually way too hot. And you, of all people, are asking me what it’s like? Well, anyway, God, it’s even worse than the desert of Phoenix, Arizona in the summertime, but, yeah, pretty close to that! So, no, yeah, believe me, that is what it’s like here. There,” the child said, then paused to emphasize a particularly odd facial expression, and then continued (with a thin pretense of curiosity and a heavy undertone of defensive contempt), “so, that is the answer to your stupid question. Are you happy now?”

“Ah, I get it,“ said the parent, winking at the child and then unloading a very rapid sequence of words almost as if reading them aloud from a script: “Well, thank you very much for asking and yes I am still very happy, though you might not have noticed (before you answered the question) whether I was already happy or not. You just seemed to me like you really had something to say- like full of a conflicted desire for my complete attention- however, you were apparently just waiting for an invitation to say it. So,” the father said, then finally paused to take a breath, and answered quite slowly, “I sent you one. I really thank you, first, for accepting my invitation and, second, for sharing what it’s been like for you. Again, I totally get it. Your answer was perfect.”

“Parenting” (Photo credit: vanhookc)

“Perfect? What the hell are you talking about? It’s too hot here and I hate it,” the child blasted. “See the sweat dripping down me? That is how much I hate it. I hate it so much that my hate is oozing out of me! I am literally soaking wet with hatred over here.”

An icon illustrating a parent and child

An icon illustrating a parent and child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Very poetic way of putting it,” said the parent. “Of course, I do agree with you that it is very hot. Just out of curiosity, though, I wonder if you might have considered turning down the furnace or… no? Yes… or no? Yes? Or no?”

“What? Come on, I can’t turn it down and you of all people know that I can’t turn it down! I obviously have to keep the heat turned way up because as you know I have a very good reason,” said the child.

“Yes, right! Of course you do,” said the parent. “Your reasoning is the very best reasoning of all reasoning that ever seemed reasonable to someone, though occasionally it may have seemed rather unreasonable to someone else. Nevertheless, my child, please indulge me with a brief reminder of what certainly must be a very good reason that you keep the furnace going so hot down here. What is the reason that you keep it so hot?”

“Because they deserve it,” the child whispered through teeth clenched shut. “I have to punish them for what they did, plus teach them a good lesson for not doing what they did not do.”

“A good lesson is what you simply have to teach them, isn’t it? It probably wouldn’t be a good lesson unless it hurt you more than it hurt them to teach it to them, right? And of course it is such a huge sacrifice that you are making for them in your punishing of them. Have you ever thought to yourself,” said the parent, slowly tapping a finger right there on that forehead, “that they might just show even a drop of appreciation for all the trouble that you go through to put them through hell, forcing you to make your own life hell as you do it, right? It’s really not a lot to ask, is it?”

The child’s eyes got wet before there was enough breath to barely give this answer: “Yeah, they really should feel guilty as hell for all of this trouble that I go through to put them through hell by making my own life hell to put them through hell!”

“Totally. That is like exactly what I was thinking,” said the parent. “What is wrong with these folks, anyway?”

English: Parent and child of elephas namadicus...

English: Parent and child of elephas namadicus 日本語: 父象と子象(模型) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“They are just scum; that’s what,” said the child. “I get so frustrated with them like when I have a certain desire, right, but then do they respond the way that I hoped? No! They never respond the right way. They are so disappointing that I could seriously eat my own head.”

“It’s shocking, isn’t it? Plus, they always exaggerate,” added the parent. “But that is just what scum do, right?”

“Yeah, you sure are right about that. Anyway, so, as I was saying before,” the child continued, “because I am such a good person, that is why I stay very patient and just keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, but, yeah, no, yeah, you are totally right, they just do not seem to learn. They are stubborn. They are totally unable to adapt.”

“It’s shocking,” said the parent, ”isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why those scum are so much like scum?”

“What? That’s confusing. You are seriously confusing me… I think. You are, aren’t you? Are you? Yes… or no? Aha- that is exactly what I thought! I was totally clear before, but now you are saying some wild, unfamiliar, crazy stuff. So, first you piss me off by even talking to me when I was clearly busy turning up the furnace because I have to, then next you make me incredibly mad or sad (but I was not really sure which because they are so much alike sometimes) and finally now you are confusing me. Whose side are you on, anyway?”

“I am not on whose side. I am on which side,” said the parent.

“Okay, whatever, just don’t tell me that your little grammar cop thing is not totally immature. So, anyway, then which side,” the child asked, “are you on?”

“Yes,” the parent said joyfully, “now you get it. You were confused before, but not anymore. It’s not that I am on someone’s side against someone else. I am just on which side. If you say I am on one side, then that is the side that I am on now. If you say I am on the other side, that’s the one. If you say I am on two sides or if you say that I am cube with six sides, then that is what you say and of course whatever you say is what I am.”

“It’s shocking,” said the child. “Basically, I was totally shocked, like just scared as hell, and then suddenly I made my life hell by making life hell for all the people that I condemned to being punished by me with my contempt and my very good reason for sincere resentment because my life seemed like hell because I did not accept it and then I blamed other people for my rejecting of my own life, since I actually had another very good reason which was that I was afraid that they would reject me, so I just rejected them first. Then, with the amazingly heroic courage of a very humble person, I realized that someone needed to speak up about this so I started complaining about why it is so hard to connect with all of those guilty scum, who are such negative people because they cannot even recognize reverse psychology for what it either is or is not- either way, it makes no difference because whatever you are focusing on is for a very good reason, not just that you are simply focusing on it without a frightened condemnation of it.”

“No, hold on,” said the parent,” now you are putting your filthy little words in to my mouth.”

“Actually, I am putting your mouth where ever I want because, as it is written in the Holy Scriptures of the US Constitution, with your own words (which I put in your mouth), I will condemn you to condemning yourself,” said the child.

“Well, but that is just not what I said,” said the parent. “You are seriously misquoting me.”

“A literal interpretation is either interpretative or literal, but it can’t be both. That would be a logical contradiction- either interpretative or literal, not both! That is all that I am saying,” said the child. “You need to be more creative when you are making an interpretative duplicate- you know, an exact copy- of something. Your word-for-word duplicates are just not interpretative enough, but they should be!”

“Ah- I get it. This is some kind of poetic device to trick me in to questioning what you are trying to say next but before you have actually said it, right? Well, I apologize for not telling you this earlier, but your words have no influence over me because I do not understand the language that you are using. Plus, I have been effectively resisting you all along, not to even mention that my fingers were crossed the whole time,” the parent taunted, “and you do know what that means, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t know the word that,” the child lied. “When you say ‘that’ to me, then what does ‘that’ even mean?”

“I don’t know either,” said the parent, pretending quite insincerely.

The child made some sounds come out while exhaling, saying“So what?”

The parent replied with only a hand gesture and a movement of the eyebrows, as if to say something like: “It’s just shocking, isn’t it?”

“What?” said the child.

“I don’t know either,” said the parent.

“But that really is totally shocking,” said the child, “right?”

“Totally,” answered the parent.

“What?” said the child.

“I don’t know either,” said the parent. “But, hey, so what?”

“Yeah, plus, who wants to be free anyway?” the child asked. “Instead I could complain about how my life is victimizing me, then identify a convenient scapegoat to blame for my own insistence that the way things are is just way less important than the ways things should be- or, let me correct that because I do not want you to think that I am not obsessed with being a perfectionist- maybe I will identify at least a few scapegoats, you know, in case one of them turns out to be surprisingly cool.”

“I totally get,” said the parent. “You just want to plan ahead in case it is shocking.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that it’s going to be shocking,” the child commanded.

“You sound pretty confident about that,” said the parent.

“What do you mean by ‘that?’ I am not familiar with this word that you keep using,” the child protested. “What is a ‘that’ exactly?”

“Oh, okay. I get it now. You are such a joker,” the parent chuckled. “A ‘that’ is whatever you say it is, in contrast to all other words, which are not just labels for something else.”

“Yeah, but ‘that’ is ridiculous. It’s absolute gibberish,” the child yell. “I mean, it’s not even the important kind of trivia, is it?”

“Oh, now ‘that’ is what I have been trying to tell you, dude,” said the parent. “This is the really important thing to get: nothing is important in itself. We give value to things when we evaluate them and then give them value, which is what gives them value.”

“Okay, I think… so, yeah, now I know which side you are on. You always claim to be on the right side because everyone always claims that whatever side they are on is the right one. So, basically, what you are saying is really just that we have value and then,” the child said, interrupting the pause after the parent was about to say something but still had not yet, “we can give our value to stuff and then say things like what is inherently valuable and what is intrinsically vilified and what is absolutely imprecise and what is clearly vague?”

“Wait- slow down, buster. Now you are putting words in to my mouth again for the first time,” the parent demanded. “In the future, if you ever do ‘that’ at all, and when I said ‘that’ what I really meant is that I really mean ‘that,’ well, then ‘that’ is just not right- you know, what you are going to do in the future. And so this is the very good reason that I have for punishing you last week, but I am very sorry for my angry fear and my frightened complaining. Next on my agenda is this: have you accepted my apology yet, because you know that I am going to make you eventually do it because this is my creative creation, right?”

“Yeah, no, I totally get it,” the child roared. “But so what? Ha! Really, so the hell what?”

“So I forgive myself of my own shock and by forgiving myself of my own shock, then my own shocks are also forgiven and thus filled with gratitude. So, thank you very much for agreeing with me to give me that sense of validation so I do not feel like the only adult in an ocean of children who obviously should not be however they are (because I have a very good reason),” said the parent.

“Will you two please shut the hell up down there? I’m seriously trying to sleep,” said the unborn grandchild from the distant present.

“It’s,” said the parent and child at the very same time, causing them to burst out in laughter from the same mouth that they had been putting each other’s words in to, “shocking! Yeah, I know: ‘that’ is exactly what I was thinking, too.”

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