Along time ago in a land far, far away, there was a bright Jewish boy named Larry.
That’s what he called himself. Of course, his name could have been Phil, Steve or even Shlomo.
It doesn’t matter.
Larry had an ordinary job, but he didn’t care. He loved to learn and he was curious about the world around him. That is what motivated him.
He could not have cared less about money.
He soaked up everything that the “rabbis” could teach. But he wasn’t a perfect person. There was something about him that was a little off. Maybe it was an attitude problem. Maybe he had attention deficit disorder. Maybe it was both.
Or maybe it was something else.
His defect prevented him from going to the top as far as the rabbis were concerned. He wasn’t one of their top picks to enter the elite yeshiva.
This bothered Larry because he felt he was just as smart if not smarter than the boys who were picked. He didn’t think it was fair that he should be relegated to second class status.
He didn’t want to be rich; he wanted to be consulted. He wanted a seat at the table.
Not wanting to live a second class life in his village, he decided to leave. He was curious about the world anyway. So he left and traveled the globe as he knew it.
On his travels, he met many people who lived differently than his own people. He learned about many different cultures. He soaked it up like a sponge.
Part of him was looking for a more eternal truth. When he was young teenager his father had died. This caused great stress to him emotionally and mentally. It caused him to lose confidence in the world and in himself.
Larry had doubts and questions.
He felt that if he could get himself fixed, he’d be more acceptable to people, particularly the top rabbis.
His father’s death has caused him to become very angry with the world. The rabbis must’ve sensed this, he figured.
Going abroad certainly helped Larry, but it also made him angrier. Why should I have had to leave my home, he asked himself.
He liked living abroad, but he longed for home. It was his goal to return there someday.
Finally, the day came where he decided to return home. His plan was to go back and tell everybody what he had learned abroad. He was pretty excited about it.
So that is what he did.
He resolved to tell the elders all that he had learned. He was sure that they would be interested.
First he went to his rabbi. No dice. His rabbi wasn’t interested. Neither were the other Jewish elders. Why rock the boat, Larry, they said to him. Just go along. To get along you have to go along.
Larry was upset. He went back to his rabbi and told him how disappointed he was.
Look, Larry, his rabbi said, the Sanhedrin will never accept you. Why not look at the handwriting on the wall?
Why not be satisfied with what God has given you, he added. Be a street sweeper. We need street sweepers.
Larry was disappointed, but undaunted he decided to take this message to the people.
He discovered very quickly that it’s a tough world out there. He had a lot of competition.
He tried to get people to listen to him, but he wasn’t very successful.
His message was a quiet one. That was the problem. The people who seemed to attract the biggest crowds were loud, bombastic blowhards – the Donald Trumps of the day.
Larry contemplated emulating them but then said to himself: I can’t do that. My message goes against that.
He was so frustrated.
Quite frankly, Larry had been a failure, an absolute failure. He couldn’t get one person to listen to him speak.
And disciples? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Being ignored is the worst, he exclaimed aloud to no one but himself. I’d rather be crucified.
He couldn’t give his message away.
He tried standing on rocks, going from door-to-door, striking up a conversation with friends.
People would either turn away or give him a patronizing smile.
Unable to take the pain, Larry contemplated opening up a restaurant, a gym, even a shirt factory.
He couldn’t do it though. He felt God had given him a special purpose in life; and that made him angry.
Why did you make me this way, Lord, he pleaded. Why can’t I be like everyone else who doesn’t care. Why can’t I just live an ignorant, happy life and make money? Why can’t I be a corrupt heathen who enjoys wine, women and song?
Of course, that was just empty talk. He knew he could never be a savage. He couldn’t because of what he saw around him.
And what he saw around him was poverty and disparity of wealth. He saw the rabbis and elders sitting atop a mountain of wealth and their followers living in poverty at the bottom.
This is why there were so many bombastic street preachers.
Larry felt that these preachers were selling unworkable solutions. He didn’t feel that their solutions cut to the core of the issue. On the contrary he felt that what he had to say would fix things.
Nobody cares what I say, he concluded, because people have become weakened to where they are unable to accept a long-term solution.
A starving man wants bread right away, not a book teaching him how to farm.
Yet bread alone would not fix things, he concluded.
So he quit.
His despair got the best of him.
He had fallen in love anyway. He had met a girl named Pam.
One day he and Pam made the decision to split and never return.
Larry felt relieved. He went to bed that night and felt pretty good about the decision that he and Pam had made.
When he woke up the next morning he felt something gnawing at his stomach.
Okay, he said to himself, I’m just going to give them what they want. I’m gonna give them the bullshit.
So he sat down to write a book. But not just any book.
What are you doing, asked Pam.
Just give me a minute, said Larry. This won’t take me long. We’ll leave in a few hours.
Actually, it took about a week.
Larry sat down and wrote out what he thought was a pretty good story. It was about a guy who came to Earth. He called himself the son of God. He was born in a stable. When he grew up, he walked around and spoke to adoring crowds who cheered him. He collected a group of followers who hung on his every word. He said things like: a) do unto others as you would have others do unto you, b) let he who is without sin cast the first stone and c) process is more important than money and titles. His message was one of tolerance for other’s mistakes. Revenge was out.
When he wasn’t busy preaching, he was performing miracles on people. He brought people back from the dead. He walked on water. He cured diseases. He made blind people see. He attracted so many people that the authorities became alarmed. To get rid of him, they crucified him. After he was crucified he arose from the dead.
Larry wrote the story out once, then again, then again, then one more time making slight modifications each time.
The story was the antithesis of what Larry’s life had been. The only thing that was true about it were the parables, lessons and stories that Larry had wanted to tell people.
After he was done, Larry looked at the four drafts and said: This is a total bullshit story. I cannot put this out. It goes against every fiber of my being.
So Larry tossed the four drafts in a cabinet before he and Pam split for Japan.
In Japan, Larry and Pam lived a happy life before they died. They had a dog named Dog.
Decades later a man who had come to live in Larry’s old house discovered by accident the cabinet where Larry had tossed his story.
In the intervening decades since Larry had lived in his house things had gotten pretty bad. The economy sucked and polarization of wealth was worse than it had ever been.
The guy who found Larry’s books was no philosopher like Larry, but he was a pretty good salesman. He was able to sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
We’ll call him Pablo.
He wasn’t exactly like Ray Kroc selling milkshake mixers to restaurants, but he was pretty close.
As he looked through Larry’s books he knew he had found the mother lode.
I can sell this, he exclaimed.
He had found his McDonalds.
He knew the people were hurting, and he knew just how to sell it to them. And so he did.
People “ate up” Larry’s books.
The four different drafts were widely circulated.
People came to accept Larry’s “bullshit” story as truth.
They called themselves Christians.
As they grew in numbers, the authorities, both Roman and Jewish, became alarmed.
What is this bullshit, they exclaimed.
Renunciation of wealth? Who doesn’t want to get rich, they asked.
One day Pablo was invited by the top rabbis and Jewish elders to explain this rising tide of Christianity.
Pablo was hopeful that they would come to embrace Larry’s book.
But they didn’t.
They held the book up and said: A man walking on water? Bringing people back from the dead. This is bullshit.
This is true, Pablo replied before adding: But the people like it because it adds peace and calm to their lives. Gang violence is down, and the economy seems to be working better for them. What’s not to like about that?