The Four Questions

An epistle to Texas Christians.
What Jesus Would Do: He’d say, “Let he who has lived a blameless life deport the first illegal.”
Illustration by Eduardo Sarmiento

Many people may not realize it, but the Last Supper was a Jewish Passover service known as a seder. Traditionally, the youngest person at the seder asks the Four Questions, the first of which is “Why is this night different from all other nights?” I forget the other three questions, but, then, I’m not the youngest person at the seder anymore. In fact, I’m getting to be just about old enough to hide my own Easter eggs. I do seem to recall that Jesus drank an adult portion of Chateau de Catpiss that night, told the waiters, “Separate checks, please,” and wandered off into the raw poetry of history.

What we need here in Texas, my friends, are Four New Questions. Here’s the first one:

Would Jesus gamble out of state?

Long before the first televangelist bought himself a Rolex, the Hebrews were busy bickering amongst themselves as they meandered aimlessly in the desert. For forty years they couldn’t decide whether to buy pork belly futures. Finally, Moses came down from Mount Sinai and told them to take two tablets and go to bed. When they awoke, they found themselves in the land of skim milk and organic honey, wearing Birkenstocks.

What did they do next? Like all good Jews, they formed a committee. The committee agreed there would be one God and they would follow all of his commandments. This worked, miraculously, for almost 1,500 years, though toward the end some did become rather lackadaisical about not coveting their neighbor’s ass. Then Joseph came riding in on his own ass and found there was no room at the La Quinta. He eventually located an upscale manger for him and his wife, Mary, and pretty soon all hell broke loose: A child was born, there was a bright star in the sky, and there were three wise men with gifts who later admitted they were lobbyists working for Rick Perry.

So the correct answer is, yes, Jesus would gamble out of state. As Billy Joe Shaver once wrote, “There’s so precious few among us walkin’ in the savior’s shoes/That’s why the man in black sings the blues.” Today you’ll see some Christians at the country club and some at Sam’s Club, but if you’re looking for the multitudes, you can find them gambling in Shreveport.

The second question is relatively easy:

Would Jesus teach to the test?

Any schoolboy should know the answer—unless, of course, he was educated in the public schools of Texas. Teaching to the test is not the same thing as teaching. Indeed, it is quite often the opposite. Great teachers, who’ve inspired and guided so many of us, are by nature independent thinkers. Instead of rewarding these people for changing our lives for the better, the state shoves the TAKS test down their throats, drowns them in bureaucracy and political correctness, and monkeys with their Social Security and retirement pay. Today, in our dumbed-down, robotic, Orwellian system, the great teachers of Texas have been crucified on a chalkboard cross.

Would the greatest teacher of them all teach to the test? “Hail, no!” some students may say. “Jesus ain’t no dumb ass!” Others may, of course, reply, “Jesus who?” That would indicate that he wasn’t on the test.

The third question is one that every Texas Christian should ask himself or herself:

Who would Jesus deport?

Now, I’m not picking on Christians; I’m appealing to Christians. As a Jew, I appreciate Christians enormously, even if y’all did steal the idea of one God from us. Without Christians the world would be a much colder place (not to mention that there would be no one to buy retail).

Most Texas Christians, I believe, would support the concepts of securing our borders and of going after the large corporate employers who persist in profiting from trafficking in illegals. The problem is what we do with the millions of illegals who are already living here (half of whom, by the way, happen to be named Jesus). Do we round these people up in the manner of Fidel Castro, who busily arrested librarians for 49 years? Do we behave toward these poor, desperate, hardworking, in-between people as if we’re Burmese generals? Do we try to implement Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s doomed amendment to the doomed immigration bill—that is, deport all of them, send them back to their countries of origin, have them certified, and let them return at a later time? This from a government that couldn’t even evacuate New Orleans? Or shall we instead listen to that still, small voice within, the voice of God, the voice of our conscience, the virtual spoken word of Jesus: “For whatsoever you have done unto these, you have done unto me.”

Who would Jesus deport? He might simply say, “Let he who has lived a blameless life deport the first illegal.”

And now, Gentile reader, we come to the fourth and final question, which for Texas Christians addresses what may just be the defining issue of our time:

Who would Jesus execute?

By this point, of course, you might very well be asking, “Why should a good, decent church worker like myself listen to the ravings of a mad Jew from Medina who may have crucified our Lord?” Well, that’s what you get for seeing The Passion eleven times. As a matter of historical record, the Jews did not kill Jesus; we just contracted the lumber. Furthermore, Jesus easily could have smote his tormentors, slain them all, by calling down a thunderbolt from his father. He chose instead to say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Jesus, therefore, would execute no one, even while enduring the excruciating process of being executed himself. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. That means we shouldn’t trust the same people who can’t run a post office or build a fence to execute people in our name. It also means there should be more to being a Christian than holding hands around a platter of fried chicken on Sunday and saying a prayer. George W. Bush has said he feels comfortable that

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