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number 2

WWJ Title This?

By Adam McKay

Several years ago I saw an interview with some running back or kick returner on an NFL pre-game show talking about how a little bracelet on his wrist with the inscription "WWJD" had changed his life. A month or so later I saw an Orlando teen pop star on Nickelodeon testifying to the power of her WWJD bracelet. (And yes, I know. What's a thirty-year-old man doing watching Nickelodeon alone? Fuck it. It happened. I won't run from it.) I soon learned, as we all did, that the enigmatic legend stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" Apparently people were looking at the bracelet's initialized message during times of duress or moral ambiguity (for instance: I'm thirty, is it weird to be watching Nickelodeon?) and literally asking themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" So if you're an NFL kick returner the answer may be "Hit the wedge" or if you're an Orlando pop singer your personal Jesus could tell you "Don't go on a boat ride into international waters with these teeth-grinding fifty-year-old producers."

Later a fellow writer on a TV show I was working on came up to me and said "Hey, let's write a sketch about this 'What Would Jesus Do?' thing." So we wrote a game-show sketch where Christian Right contestants would have to guess what Jesus would do in certain situations. For instance: A stranger of another race is on your lawn, what do you do? The contestants would then talk about how they would get their gun, which is their Constitutional right (and Jesus wrote the Constitution, so, so far so good), and fire off a few rounds in the direction of the potential rapist. Then a giant wall on the set would open to reveal an otherworldly screen with Jesus on it. Music, tears, light, Hallelujah! "And now Jesus, what is the correct answer?" Jesus would say something like, "I would call out to the man and offer him lodging and bread." The contestants would not take that well and things would get ugly. Needless to say the sketch didn't even make it to the dress rehearsal.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a knee-jerk "religion is hypocritical and ridiculous" type of comic or writer. I actually feel like some true Christ-ian generosity and love could do a world of good right now. And I'm pretty sure Jesus would not vote for Bush/Cheney, so right away I like Jesus more than thirty percent of the country does. Yes, religion can be pretty miraculous and beautiful. Poetry, storytelling, anti-materialism, all that Christ stuff is top-notch. But the folks who get a hold of the props and costumes associated with it can do terrible things. Kind of like how those oilmongers broke into the White House and dressed themselves up as elected representatives. But just as Bush isn't actually the President, so Cardinal Law is hardly a Christian.

So anyway, a few years go by during which our country drifts further and further away from the actual world and closer and closer to a giant cackling Jay Leno head that spews Mountain Dew and minute-by-minute updates on the Lopez/Affleck marriage, and about a week ago I hear that the "What Would Jesus Do" campaign is back in the news. This time, a coalition of religious organizations has banded together to form the "What Would Jesus Drive" movement, with its own website and bumper stickers. "What Would Jesus Drive?" they ask. "An SUV?" "A Porsche or a Mercedes?" And the answer is obvious. No, he wouldn't. They're bad for the environment, dangerous to other cars, blah, blah. So these Christians are now driving hybrid and fuel-efficient cars by the thousands.

And just as I'm reeling at this miraculous chemical conversion of judgmental Christian right energy into something actually...Christ-ian, I hear about another movement: WWJE. No, not "What Would Jesus Eviscerate" though I'm sure Fred Durst would be on that list. And no, not, "What Would Jesus Enjoy" though I'm sure The Matrix and Taco Bell would be on that list (remember, Lord or no Lord, Jesus was a man as well). It stands for "What Would Jesus Eat." And the answer is not McDonald's or Taco Bell (sorry, I was wrong). A friend of mine from Arkansas tells me how her mild-mannered churchgoing, rib-eating sister had recently read the "What Would Jesus Eat" book and became a vegetarian who only eats food that's locally grown.

Is it just me or is this genuinely exciting?

Now, because this is sort of in the form of a column I feel compelled to end with a mildly clever "What Would Jesus Do" variation like "How Would Jesus End This Piece?" I might envision a future in which such Christian teachings (and bracelets and bumper stickers) are used for the common good, to avoid war, to fight racism, and then lighten it by declaring that "Jesus Would Obey The Two-Second Rule." Or I'd make some other flip quip and just end.

But instead I will sincerely ask and answer the question, "How Would Jesus End This Piece?"

I feel like I'm setting up a magic trick. Ladies and gentleman!! I am about to be sincere!!

Black and white footage of 1940's people screaming in horror and amazement in an armory or theater of some kind.

Hmmm. How would Jesus end this?

Spread love and laugh and pay attention and vote.

Eh, that's not quite right. In fact it's a bit embarrassing.

But at least it's in the ballpark.


Adam McKay is a writer for film and television such as Saturday Night Live and Michael Moore's The Awful Truth. He has also performed at the Second City in Chicago as well as being a founding member of the Upright Citizen's Brigade. He currently resides in Garrison, New York.

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