During the indoctrination phase, Jesus was presented to me in much the same way as Holden Caulfield…a slayer of hypocrites. He was cool. He overturned tables and told the authorities to get bent. I was totally down with the Loosen up, Sandy, baby Jesus. I was on his side. So, when they told me that he got himself killed, I was sad and thought it was a terrible injustice. I could understand the concept of a martyr. I even thought it was cool that all you had to do is add an ‘r’ to my name and I would be a martyr. What kind of bastards would kill someone nice and truthful like Jesus?

Then they told me that we had to celebrate his death because it was Good Friday. I was like, “What? What? We’re going to celebrate him getting whacked? Are you nuts? No.”

Thus ended my embrace of this particular narrative.

My mind doesn’t work that way, and let the devil take me.

If you wanted me to observe this day, you needed to call it “Bad Friday,” because the problem was obviously that a good man can’t tell truth to power without losing his life. When they told me that Jesus had to die so that he could wipe away my sins, they might as well have told me that he had to die so he could outplay Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the paint.

No amount of explanation could convince me that the death of Jesus was a “good” thing. When I realized that this wasn’t some minor detail but the entire point of the religion I was supposed to believe in, I just took a walk.

For a little while I felt bad about it, particularly because it upset my parents. But I eventually realized that Thomas Jefferson saw things about exactly the same way, and I’ve been okay with it ever since.

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