Bad Dads: God

June 12, 2023 Chris Brunt and Brad Franco Episode 1
Bad Dads: God
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Bad Dads: God
Jun 12, 2023 Episode 1
Chris Brunt and Brad Franco

PODRE is back with two new miniseries to get you through the summer. First up: Bad Dads, in which Chris Brunt & cohost Brad Franco discuss, argue, and occasionally agree on the worst dads in the history of humanity. We all need something to aspire to, and what we've brought you is the bare minimum--the bar we all must clear. Please, please, be better than these dads.

In this episode, we asked to speak to the manager and went right for the Alpha & Omega of bad dadness, the Big Guy, El Primo Papa, L'uomo Del Cielo, the Original Godfather, the Logan Roy of the Holy Bible... He Who Shall Not Be Named. Dios mio, man.

(Warning: So much blasphemy. Untold amounts of blasphemy. But it's constructive criticism! We just want to help.)  

 You can learn more about God in The Bible or in lots of other books, not to mention the music of Bach or Amy Winehouse or the scent of lilacs opening to the spring or the eyes of a small child or the sound of the ocean at night.  

Bad Dads cohost Brad Franco is an associate professor of history at the University of Portland, where he teaches courses in ancient & medieval history. He has published several books, including The World of St. Francis of Assisi (Brill 2015) and most recently, The History of Siena: From Its Origins to the Present Day (Routledge 2019). He lives in North Portland with his wife, two children, and their puppy, Luna.

Be sure you're subscribing to PODRE wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss the next installment of Bad Dads or our second upcoming bonus miniseries THE PODRE REVIEW, a literary roundup of some of the great representations of parenting and childhood in modern fiction & poetry, where I'll be joined by some of the most exciting writers in the whole damn world.

Show Notes Transcript

PODRE is back with two new miniseries to get you through the summer. First up: Bad Dads, in which Chris Brunt & cohost Brad Franco discuss, argue, and occasionally agree on the worst dads in the history of humanity. We all need something to aspire to, and what we've brought you is the bare minimum--the bar we all must clear. Please, please, be better than these dads.

In this episode, we asked to speak to the manager and went right for the Alpha & Omega of bad dadness, the Big Guy, El Primo Papa, L'uomo Del Cielo, the Original Godfather, the Logan Roy of the Holy Bible... He Who Shall Not Be Named. Dios mio, man.

(Warning: So much blasphemy. Untold amounts of blasphemy. But it's constructive criticism! We just want to help.)  

 You can learn more about God in The Bible or in lots of other books, not to mention the music of Bach or Amy Winehouse or the scent of lilacs opening to the spring or the eyes of a small child or the sound of the ocean at night.  

Bad Dads cohost Brad Franco is an associate professor of history at the University of Portland, where he teaches courses in ancient & medieval history. He has published several books, including The World of St. Francis of Assisi (Brill 2015) and most recently, The History of Siena: From Its Origins to the Present Day (Routledge 2019). He lives in North Portland with his wife, two children, and their puppy, Luna.

Be sure you're subscribing to PODRE wherever you get your podcasts so you don't miss the next installment of Bad Dads or our second upcoming bonus miniseries THE PODRE REVIEW, a literary roundup of some of the great representations of parenting and childhood in modern fiction & poetry, where I'll be joined by some of the most exciting writers in the whole damn world.

Chris: Dads. They've been around since the beginning, but what do we really know about them? It's time to start asking questions. I'm Chris Brunt. This is PODRE.

Chris: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome back to the show. I'm your host, Chris Brunt. I want you to know we missed you. Did you miss us? It's been a while. It's a June morning in Syracuse, New York, and the sky is... it looks like ******* Chernobyl outside. Apparently there are wildfires in Quebec. Quebec, which is, last time I checked, a whole different country, long way away from here. But many of you are probably seeing the same thing I'm seeing today, which is a terrifying blanket of smoke trying to smother us all to death. You know, it's one thing after a ******* another, isn't it? This morning, I'm dropping off Nico at daycare, and one of the daycare ladies, I'm walking out the door and she goes, what's next, locusts? I'm like, yeah, I feel like I've heard that joke a couple of times over the last few years. Here we go with the masks again. You know, the idea that this isn't going to be just a relentless onslaught, a never ending sequence of societal level events from here on out is a nice idea. But I think it's that kind of survival level complacency. It's kind of like the idea that we walk around thinking, I'm not going to die. Mortality doesn't apply to me. I'm going to be here forever. Where you have to be lulled into that fiction just to kind of put our shoes on, go to work, have lunch. It's noon on a Wednesday in June of 2023, and there's no clouds in the sky, but I can't see the sun. What's it going to look like 20 years from now when Julian and Nico are in their mid 20s? It's scary to think about. Let's not think about it. Who knows? Maybe by the time you're hearing this... It will have succeeded. But if not, just in case we're still here, we have some new PODRE for you. Season two is still in the works. We're still in the kitchen. We're still in the lab. That'll be coming soon. And we'll let you know when the premiere date will be. But in the meanwhile, there's a lot I've wanted to do on this show that I haven't been able to fit even in our shapely and voluptuous 75 minutes episodes. So I'm going to take this opportunity over the next few weeks to share some of this content with you. I have a couple things in mind. The first, which you're going to hear shortly, is a series with my friend Brad Franco called Bad Dads. You've heard Brad Franco's name at the end of every episode when I'm thanking people, Brad's a really special part of this show. Brad taught me how to use GarageBand, which I used to edit this show together. Brad was present for some of the initial conversations where PODRE was manifested into the universe. And Brad is my cohost for this miniseries, in which we litigate very often a head to head matchup of some of the worst dads in human history. We'll talk about dads from ancient literature, modern literature. We'll talk about dads from religion, we'll talk about dads from world history. We'll talk about some dads that are still even alive today out there being terrible. Think of this as the dark twin of the Not A Terrible Father In This One Instance Award. The dads that we're going to be talking about, Brad and I, are absolutely monstrous fathers in nearly every instance, which makes them really fun to talk about. I hope you enjoy this new piece of the PODRE universe. Also on tap for you is a miniseries called The PODRE REVIEW, where I bring on some of the most exciting writers, poets, novelists in America today to show me some of their favorite examples of poems and stories and novels that make sense of the experience of having children, of being children, of remembering one's childhood, being responsible for the childhood of your own kids. It's a great series. We bring on some really amazing people for you, and I'm really excited to start sharing this content with you. So stay up with us. These bonus episodes will appear about once a month. In the meanwhile, keep in touch with us. You can find us on Twitter at @PODREpod. Same handle on Instagram. There's also a Facebook page for the show that's just PODRE. Let us know what your favorite episodes were from season one. Let us know who we should talk to in the seasons ahead. And as always, share with us stories of the dads in your life who are not terrible in at least one instance. Lots more on the way, unless this is, in fact, the smoke apocalypse. Smokapalypse 2023. Good luck, everyone. Okay. Coming up, Bad Dads with Brad Franco. Talk to you soon.

Chris: Brad's here, everyone. Brad Franco, our friend, our expert in all things fatherhood, be they literary, historical, religious, cultural, anthropological. Musical. Because, Brad, you yourself, you're the quintessential Renaissance man. 

Brad: A polymath, if you will.

Chris: You're a professor of history.

Brad: I am.

Chris: Which means you're a teacher and a writer and a scholar and a father. You're a husband and a dad and a son and a brother, right?

Brad: I am.

Chris: You are an artist. Sometimes a musician.

Brad: Yes.

Chris: You are an amateur basketballist.

Brad: We can probably stop there. That's probably a sufficient list of things I'm not actually all that good at.

Chris: All right. Well, today on Bad Dads, I thought we would talk about something, a subject that you're really interested in, that you've thought a lot about.

Brad: The Portland Trailblazers?

Chris: God, the Father Almighty.

Brad: Which one?

Chris: Well, I mean, we could talk about all kinds of gods, right? Because in so many traditions, in so many cultures, God is rendered as a father. Father figure. Or very often the father of other gods, right?

Brad: Sure.

Chris: There's the father of demigods, half mortal, half God, right? That's kind of the Greek and Roman tradition. But I thought we'd sort of limit ourselves to an idea of God that's pretty familiar to you and I, given our upbringings and our own backgrounds, which is the Christian or New Testament idea of God both as a father himself, sort of unto himself, right. The father of humanity, the father of creation, but also God as the father of Jesus Christ.

Brad: I guess my question with that, though, is are you talking about Yahweh? Are you just talking about sort of Christian reinterpretation of that?

Chris: Well, you tell me when you read The Gospels, 

Brad: The Gospels, that would be a very different God than what's depicted in the Old Testament.

Chris: But why? Jews wrote the Gospels, so why do they have a different God than that which is portrayed in their own scripture?

Brad: Because if you look at, say, Acts of the Apostles, where Peter has a vision 

Chris: I'd rather not but ok. 

Brad: Peter says that he has this vision in which God tells him to do the things that Old Testament God said very explicitly not to do. Eat unclean animals, to associate with Gentiles, that's how Peter takes it is to be we are this is not a parochial local God of a particular people, but it's the God of everybody. And so there very clearly is a shift from the Old Testament God who will smite everybody but will also protect his people, but will certainly smite everybody else, where loyalty is really in obedience are the sort of underlying principles to a New Testament God that is much less willing to destroy his creation. The only real death that New Testament God does is in when he kills an Anneus because he doesn't give everything to this movement. But it's very different than sort of I'm going to bring the flood or I'm going to knock down your tower, or whatever other examples you want to point to from the OT.

Chris: I don't know. I feel like pushing back against that entire characterization a little bit.

Brad: You can do that all you want, you're just wrong, but go ahead.

Chris: God in Exodus, which is as Old Testament as it gets, is sort of announcing Himself God of the whole world. He's just smiting Egypt to make that point. That's like his coming out party. That's his grand entrance on the world historical stage. I'm not just the God of Israel. Right. I'm not just God of the Hebrew slaves who are coming up out of Egypt. I'm lord of everything.

Brad: Go on.

Chris: And Pharaoh is how I'm going to make my point... 

Brad: That I demonstrate my loyalty to a particular people and screw over everybody else who isn't good to them?

Chris: Yeah, but still, it's because I'm in charge of everything.

Brad: I'm picking favorites.

Chris: Yeah, of course he is. Israel is his favorite. But he's still the High God. Right. You shall have no other gods before...

Brad: You didn't even finish the sentence because you realized that it was problematic as soon as you started.

Chris: He invents monotheism. Right? He invents monotheism. You can't argue that for all of the Hebrew scriptures he's just this local warlord deity.

Brad: Certainly there's tension in particularly the prophets. Right. Where you do see the obvious push toward monotheism, which by its definition would have to move him beyond a local God. But in terms of how he's functioning, I don't think you could make a strong case that the guy you see I mean, I'm thinking specifically Genesis, where he's a **** like he is, and New Testament God isn't isn't anything like that. Push back on that, dare you to. His treatment of Job. He's such a nice guy.

Chris: Of course, it's very easy to make the rap sheet from the Hebrew Scriptures of how bad God is. But I really can't stand I feel like that's rooted in a kind of antisemitic Christian theology, like supersessionist theology, that the New Testament is where God becomes really nice and loves everyone, a bit benevolent. But the Old Testament God is really mean, and only the Jews really pay attention to that book anyway. So let's move on to Jesus, you know what I mean? Why are you so antisemitic, Brad?

Brad: Wow. Intensely. You're intensely wrong there. No, what I'd say is, as a historian, I think it's important to not go all theology and pretend like the inconsistencies that are so obviously present everywhere are somehow depicting the same person or same God. That somehow when God in Genesis two or three says, look, he's eaten from the tree of good and bad and if he eats from the tree of immortality, he'll be just like us to say, oh, he's talking about the Trinity there. Right.

Chris: Of course not.

Brad: And so I understand it as the idea of whether you want to call it continued revelation or of a developing understanding of God. I mean, we always make God in our image. I mean, that's sort of what humans do. And our own image of ourselves changes over time, and thus our conception of God changes over time. And so, yeah, it might be too reductive to say all of the Hebrew Bible has a negative depiction of God. No, I'm talking specifically about Genesis. And I think more broadly, God's willingness to cause harm on other humans, of course tells us a lot about ideas of loyalty, ideas of power in the ancient world far more than to me they do about some all knowing, all caring being, which, in fact, is often where this ends up playing out in the Christian tradition. Right. And I'm also very aware as a historian, of, like, in the 14th century, when the plague hits, all of a sudden, it's like the only quotes people are finding to justify this is they want to go back and say, oh, look at this Yahweh guy striking down, sending arrows of death our way, just like some of the psalms mentioned or whatever. So that's why you're the antisemite is what I'm saying.

Chris: Let's move then to an area of scripture that where you're just clearly far more comfortable, right? The Christian Gospels, the New Testament, what you would call the real one, or the good part.

Brad: I'm not a Christian, to be clear. I'm a historian of Catholic Church history, but I am not a Christian.

Chris: Oh, you're not? You're not a believer? You're not a man of 

Brad: I'm a man of faith. I'm not a man of your faith.

Chris: What is my faith?

Brad: You tell me. Oh I'm going to keep it private for my audience, listeners, between me and God. It's between me and Allah. 

Chris: It is between me and Allah, actually.

Brad: Cool.

Chris: I will say this, I don't consider myself a believer.

Brad: You consider yourself an achiever.

Chris: Except when I listen to someone like Common lead a prayer in a sort of a group setting, you know what I mean? Like when he's like in a circle and people are holding hands and like Common is saying the prayer, then I'm like. Yeah, I believe in this ****.

Brad: So only when you're hanging out with Common.

Chris: Count me in. Yeah, like me and Common, if we're together hanging out and he says a prayer or someone like that, someone with that sort of spiritual presence, pedigree. Yeah. I don't know. Religious belief to me is almost an entirely aesthetic phenomenon for me personally. You were talking about how Presbyterians have beautiful churches, like Catholics, right.

Brad: Why do you think I became a historian of the Middle Ages, Chris?

Chris: They had good churches, they had good architects, whereas the Protestants, most of them right, most of them 

Brad: Let's put it in a basement and call it a church.

Chris: Yeah or like, let's just prefab out a nice little rec center. Yeah I can't feel God there.

Brad: You need grandeur.

Chris: I need stone and stained glass or it's in somebody's voice. There better not be a ******* electric guitar. That's what I'm saying.

Brad: Really? But an organ you're cool with?

Chris: Well, what kind of organ are we talking about?

Brad: A church organ?

Chris: Well, I mean, you can give me all the pipes or you can give me the gospel organ, too, right. I'll take the Hammond or what have you.

Brad: You'll take it on your Beatles tracks and your church music.

Chris: Yeah, I'll hear God in Billy Preston's organ for sure.

Brad: I mean, Let It Be. That is the voice of God, isn't it?

Chris: There you go.

Brad: Maybe. So back to the topic at hand, Chris.

Chris: Again, there's sort of two ways of thinking about fatherhood as pertains to God in the Christian New Testament. One is what we've kind of been trying to work out already, whether we're supposed to understand God as the sort of lord of the universe which has been the father of human beings writ large and how that idea gets developed in Christian thought. But then there's this other, I think, kind of more darkly interesting idea of fatherhood, which is that God is Jesus's father or Jesus is God's son.

Brad: Right.

Chris: Which and there's plenty of support for this in the Gospels themselves, right? Jesus is very much a human character walking around Galilee, walking around Jerusalem, referring to his father in Heaven right. Yahweh, his dad. 

Brad: Daddy.

Chris: And then of course, there's the whole wrinkle of his actual human parents right. Joseph and Mary of Nazareth.

Brad: Right. Yes.

Chris: Who are his actual parents, at least on a, you know, non-mystical mortal plane. But I think that, you know, that one is kind of even more of a ****** up ordeal.

Brad: Well, they're both pretty strange. Let's be clear, right? I'm going to create mankind and then watch them fail and then wipe them out and then start over and then watch them fail. And watch them fail.

Chris: Right.

Brad: That's one. The other is I'm going to send down myself into a new human being that's also me. Then I'm going to argue with that person their entire lives until they decide to send back up to be me again. It's very schizophrenic.

Chris: I remember as a little kid sitting in church mostly zoning out. But when I would zone in I think that is because the minister was saying something that kind of sort of snapped me out of my boredom and it was usually about this narrative of God the Father and Christ the Son. I think I was really interested in this idea as a kid because it seemed really ****** up and I kept waiting for the minister to say something that would make sense about it and he never did.

Brad: Well, that's how they always treat the Bible you just assume it makes all the sense in the world and you say it with a cheery face and you move on to the next thing.

Chris: I don't know. I mean you're sitting there and you're staring up at the cross, right? It's like looming in front of you. So it's like it's the focal point. And so you're kind of meditating on this symbol of his crucifixion right, of his murder, of his sacrifice.

Brad: It's sort of odd, if you think about it, that we give Abraham a hard time for totally being willing to kill his own son Isaac. And yet God very willingly and necessarily insists on his son dying. Even when the son says, hey, there's any way to not make this happen? That would be great.

Chris: But that's why I think Christianity has wrapped itself around the axle so many times over a couple thousand years as to whether these two entities are the same or not because it's a little more palatable. If God says all right, **** it. I'll become my own son and come down to Earth and let myself be killed. And this was all my plan all along. No worries. I got it. You're all forgiven now. Isn't this great? I made you this great, this cake, universe. You're welcome. Versus,

Brad: It's kind of why would he have to come down if he's already God? Couldn't he have just made things tweaked it a little differently at creation to not have to do that?

Chris: Yeah, well, then you get into the whole Enlightenment, Leibniz, best of all possible worlds, why did evil have to exist? All that kind of ****, right?

Brad: And you don't have time for that ****.

Chris: We don't have time for that. We only have, like, what, seven, eight minutes tops here? 

Brad: Lol 

Chris: I think it's harder if you actually imagine them as separate, right, as a father and a son and the father committing child sacrifice for the benefit of.

Brad: All humanity, but beginning by saying of all eternity, you're going to have some shame on the fact that people aren't going to believe you that I'm your dad, so I'm just going to run away. You're going to be raised by this guy. Everyone's going to know something weird came up, and your dad's a cuck, okay? And that's going to be your reality. That's your entire existence. And then at the end, by the way, you're going to have, like, 100 fans, and then as soon as that happens, you're going to get killed. It's going to take three days to die. It's going to be awful up on the on and on and on.

Chris: I mean, Jesus, he's a pretty consistent character even across all four gospels, right, which differ in a lot of really important ways. But one thing that's consistent is kind of what an ******* Jesus is for the most time.

Brad: Use the word he's rebellious.

Chris: No, I mean, he's prickly as ****.

Brad: You don't think you'd listen to him if you're on the street corner?

Chris: No, he says amazing things, but even to his own disciples, he speaks in these almost impenetrable parables, and they're all like, did you mean this? And he's like, no, you ******* moron. Jesus, just get away from me. And then he storms off, and it's.

Brad: Like it's weird when he says Jesus Christ and then storms away. It's very odd.

Chris: I mean, you know, count the times Jesus is nice to someone across the Gospels. It's like, twice.

Brad: It's always random, too. It's like, what do they do to deserve that?

Chris: Well, he's usually he's usually nice to someone to spite. He's nice to person A, to teach person B a lesson. 

Brad: Well, he's a teacher. 

Chris: So he's being like even in his nicer moments, he's still being a dick to somebody.

Brad: So do you think he's acting like a father in those moments?

Chris: Yeah, totally. I just think that the cuddly Jesus trope we have isn't in the actual book.

Brad: Dude, it's pretty obvious. We have relics of Jesus's drum circle. We have relics of Jesus's guitar. Okay? I mean, it was a lyre, I agree, but Jesus knew to add extra strings.

Chris: His ethical philosophy, like, who he aligns himself with, that stuff is all, like, radically compassionate and radical and utopian. He's a total sort of leftist, wild eyed revolutionary.

Brad: What about Jesus's whole thing about but his actual father? Hold on. If you want to follow me, you must hate your mother, father and your father. What about that? Is he telling them to hate God?

Chris: No, he's just saying, like, I hate Joseph and Mary. My parents.

Brad: So he's calling Joseph, who's his dad? Is it Joseph or is it God?

Chris: He means your earthly parents.

Brad: He means the ****. He means the **** that Mary's with.

Chris: This ******* loser married to my mom. That's who he's talking about, this nobody.

Brad: Gets kind of mean to Mary. What did Mary do other than him?

Chris: He gets three verses in one gospel. ******* Joseph. Who gives a **** about him, right? Am I right, guys?

Brad: It is funny in the middle in in medieval art, he's always just sad with his hands on his head, either sleeping or just looking like he got cucked.

Chris: What's really funny is that Jesus has siblings, like, a lot of them, but Joseph wasn't good enough to have conceived the Christ child.

Brad: But here's the thing. If you buy into and I know you don't, ideas of the Immaculate Conception, right?

Chris: Not unless Common was saying this, then I would totally buy into it. But go ahead, Brad.

Brad: Just the whole way in which Mary is supposed to have never, she's literally the Virgin Mary. She's not the virgin till 15, and then she had five other kids. And that's cool. It's like perpetual, ever eternally virginal, right? And yet there's all these other kids that you would think God didn't make, otherwise they'd be Jesus. And so it had to have been none of it makes any sense.

Chris: Yeah, well, that's been established. And none of it makes any sense. If you're the continuity editor of the Bible.

Brad: You're the Joseph fan, you could say, well, he came back after Jesus and went boom boom boom boom, and made four more kids.

Chris: Have you ever read Jose Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ?

Brad: No.

Chris: It's an amazing novel. It's incredible. Do you know Saramago?

Brad: Yes.

Chris: He wrote Blindness, won the Nobel Prize, what have you, Portuguese writer, incredible novelist. He wrote a beautiful book. The first half of it's told from the point of view of Joseph, and then it moves into, wait for it. It does. It moves into Jesus's. POV. And it doesn't suck.

Brad: Really?

Chris: No, it's one of the most, I think, daring, ambitious achievements in late 20th century fiction. He writes a novel from Jesus's point of view, and it's good.

Brad: Wow.

Chris: And it's weird and wild and there's a lot of sex.

Brad: Jesus having sex?

Chris: I don't want to, no spoilers.

Brad: Okay.

Chris: Jesus as a son who is, I mean, let's set Joseph aside, because that's basically his stepdad, right?

Brad: Even if it's his real dad, even. Come on, Jesus.

Chris: Come on, Jesus.

Brad: Come on.

Chris: That's your dad, bro.

Brad: Yeah.

Chris: That's your real dad. I know. We you know, like, he's not my real dad, man. My real dad's super ******* important, actually. He's just not here right now.

Brad: He's, like, the god of gods.

Chris: You ever read Genesis? That's my dad.

Brad: How many people has your dad killed?

Chris: Has your dad ever, like, drowned an entire army in a ******* river?

Brad: That's great. Is he a good son?

Chris: Is he a good son? Yeah, he's a good son. 

Brad: To Joseph?

Chris: No, he is a good son to his father. The Lord.

Brad: The Lord.

Chris: No, to Joseph, he flat out disowns him as a child, right? They're coming back from the temple. 

Brad: Literally the only story we have of Jesus under 25. 

Chris: And they have their Home Alone moment. Where's Kevin? They're halfway back to ******* Nazareth and they go, Where's Jesus? ****, we forgot him. So they have to go back to Jerusalem and they find him in the Temple teaching the, like, elders.

Brad: Have you ever read the sequel to that? Where they actually meet 

Chris: Donald Trump? 

Brad: New York City and meets Donald Trump. Exactly. 

Chris: Sorry, man.

Brad: Have you watched that movie recently, by the way?

Chris: Home Alone 2? No.

Brad: Yeah, we watched it this Christmas. And I know this is not what you want to talk about, but let me just say, Kevin catches the bad guys in the store robbing, and instead of calling the police, he smashes the window, has them chase him to a house so he can just beat the **** out of them for, like, 45 minutes. Like, murdering them hundreds of times, like, just over, like, dropping literal bricks from a rooftop onto their heads. And then he runs out of the house, runs to Central Park, and then he shoots off fireworks for the police come. It's like, none of that was necessary unless you wanted to just **** these two guys up. It's just cruel.

Chris: I mean, he had a history with them, right? Isn't it still Joe Pesci and the.

Brad: ******* the other guy.

Chris: Yeah.

Brad: Joe Pesci and the ******* other guy.

Chris: So he still has some **** to work out with them. I mean, they terrorized him. He's trying to have his ******* glass of milk and his bowl of mac and cheese, and they scared the **** out of him. So they had a ****. Why do you defend them so much?

Brad: I guess what I'm saying is, if you invite somebody into your house to just ******* crucify them, you're not a good person. That's not, like, a kind thing. It's not like they're attacking your house.

Chris: Is that not what the Lord did?

Brad: And there you are. That's your sequitur, if you will, from Home Alone 2.

Chris: Thanks for that sequitur, big boy.

Brad: How about Jesus questioning his father, saying, take this cup away from me?

Chris: I was always confused as a kid that his final words were basically like, please don't. Please. Why have you forsaken me? Yeah, that always really I mean, kind of, but in in a way, like the reason it stuck with me is because it's it's dramatically interesting, right? This is supposed to be a version of God, right?

Brad: God poured into human form the schizophrenic version of God.

Chris: And here he is, he's been tortured, humiliated, spat on, ****** on, and he's.

Brad: Being he wasn't ****** on in the.

Chris: Mel Gibson version, I think maybe there's a **** dude.

Brad: That was actually the pornhub version. Of the Passion of the Christ.

Chris: That was the kompromat version. In Barack Obama's bed, no less. So there he is. And the mortification of the flesh. Right? This is like an incredibly painful way to die. It's the way that the Roman Empire made an example out of traitors and what do you call them? People who want to ******* overthrow the whole ****.

Brad: Coup starters?

Speaker A: Coup starters.

Brad: Rebellious *************. What are you looking for here?

Chris: Yeah, I mean, they weren't common criminals who were crucified in this fashion.

Brad: Oh, that's absolutely true. That's those who are potentially going to stir up dissent in Judea, which is literally the most rebellious part of the Roman Empire from the first century BC through the Jewish Wars half a century.

Chris: I don't know, when I would teach the New Testament in my classes. I usually do, like, the Gospel of Luke, or I did John once and it was wild, but mostly I do Luke and I would take a really kind of narrative angle and then try to, like I don't know, I get bogged down talking to them about what happens in Judea in 66.

Brad: Right.

Chris: Just a couple of right before the Gospels are actually written.

Brad: That's what's so weird about the chronology of the New Testament, right. It's like you have, Jesus dies, nobody thinks to write anything down for at least a while, and then you have Paul probably writing in the 50s. Those letters are probably written by around 60.

Chris: I thought they were later. I thought, okay, go ahead.

Brad: I mean, maybe the non Paul-Paul letters, since Christians love calling everything by Paul, whether it's by Jim or John or Jeremy or Chris 

Chriss: Or Ringo.

Brad: Yeah, Ringo. But yeah, I actually struggle with really how much of the gospel and obviously this is the big question that everybody's been struggling with for, I don't know, 1600 years now. But how do you tease out truth when it's very clearly written in a time when the mainstream followers of Jesus have very good reasons to separate themselves from Judaism?

Chris: Because we've kind of buried the lede here, right. For those who aren't familiar with what happened in 66. Jerusalem is leveled by the Roman Empire.

Brad: Right.

Chris: They go into revolt. They do a pretty good job at the beginning, and then Rome just puts the hammer down and it's just a genocide, basically.

Brad: But to be clear, you have seven years before they're able to really claim victory and build the Arch of Titus and all that, and then the Coliseum as a result. But that's, I think, the most surprising thing, is Rome is so successful in so many of its wars, and when it comes to putting down an insurrection, it proves to be very, very difficult.

Chris: But the Gospel writers, all of whom are writing after these events, writing about a Messiah, a Jewish Messiah, who's coming back to Earth as the Son of.

Brad: God to save the people.

Chris: To save the people.

Brad: Right.

Chris: And even though he's going to say things like, render unto Caesar, he's going to say a lot more **** that's, if you're a Roman, is more concerning.

Brad: Which is the only reason it makes sense that they put him to death.

Chris: Frankly, that he was an insurrectionist.

Brad: Yeah.

Chris: The leader of a cell of treason.

Brad: Guilty of treason, declaring himself God. And again, I think that's the strongest evidence that he did declare himself God is that the Romans put him to death for claiming to be a king, when, as we know, the only king is Augustus.

Chris: I mean, revolutionaries don't have time to be, you know, to have families. They don't have time to recognize their familial links because everything is given over to the struggle.

Brad: Right.

Chris: You don't have time to worry about your ******* dad. If you're a revolutionary, you take your nom de guerre and you're with your fellow insurrectionists.

Brad: Right.

Chris: And that's all that matters. Everything is given over to that. And you could see his ministry as a version of that.

Brad: Totally.

Chris: Yeah.

Brad: Radical rejection of everything.

Chris: Right.

Brad: Of family ties, of having a job, state obligations. Yeah. Having a freaking job. Do you know Jesus was not a carpenter?

Chris: That's not what I heard, Brad.

Brad: He's not a carpenter.

Chris: I was told in no uncertain terms that he had a nice little carpentry shop right there on the high street of Nazareth.

Brad: Well, Chris, the Greek word that's used is actually just day laborer.

Chris: Day laborer.

Brad: Not a carpenter. That's like a BS 19th century reading.

Chris: So not even like a union guy.

Brad: No, he's the migrant that you pick up outside of Lowe's being like, hey, I'll work.

Chris: Well, I mean, isn't Nazareth also there was, like, eight people, and it wasn't even, like, really a town. It was just like a stop on the road.

Brad: No, in antiquity, they had a let's go, and in it, it actually said, world's dumbest, most meaningless, ugliest town. And so you'd stop there just to see what a town should not look like.

Chris: Yeah.

Brad: There are, like, four buildings.

Chris: It would be like the Messiah coming back to 

Brad: Tully. To Tully, New York.

Chris: Yeah.

Brad: Or Cortland. But not really Cortland, probably McGraw. McGraw, New York.

Chris: Cortland is far too cosmopolitan for this effect to work.

Brad: There's a number of places south of Syracuse, south of where you are now, where you'd be like, yeah, there's should be a good place. This is definitely the place.
Chris: If I were God and I was going to pour myself into the mold of a human being, I would come back here because no one would ever look for me here. This would be pretty funny if I was from here. It's the divine sense of humor, right?

Brad: Yeah. I don't know.

Chris: So I can't quit thinking about the idea of Jesus as the seeing himself, at least, whether it's a delusion or psychosis or reality or super reality, seeing himself as the son of a Heavenly Father, the Heavenly Father who he's sort of conceptualized as a kind of being. As abba, as my dad, as father, right. From an early age, and knowing that the plan on which the fate of the whole world hinges is for him to be sacrificed, killed, murdered.

Brad: Having to live with that your whole life.

Chris: Living with it, no wonder he was such a **** to everyone. No wonder he was so impatient.

Brad: And you ungrateful bastards, I will die for you soon. That's how I am. To my children.

Chris: Mostly, that really increases, like, the pathos of the story. It makes it a much sadder and kind of more it gives it so much more grandeur to see it that way. And I think that's the Catholic Church is really good at grandeur.

Brad: Right.

Chris: That's kind of their thing. 

Brad: Well, my favorite depictions of Jesus, even infant Jesus, 14th century depictions of Jesus. It's always this is before you get into the Renaissance where Jesus a baby who looks like he ***** and so on. This is like old man Jesus that you see around 1300 in Giotto or Duccio where you really do see Jesus and Mary having this moment of understanding and knowing of sorrow, of Mary sad because she knows this baby is going to die. And Jesus looking up as I'm here to do what I've been called to do. And it's okay, Mommy. We'll have some fun together before then.

Chris: I mean, you get that in the Pieta, though. She's cradling the adult Jesus in her arms, and it does have that wrenching quality.

Brad: Well, dude, that's the Pieta. Yeah, of course.

Chris: Pretty good one, right? Pretty good art?

Brad: It's pretty solid as an artist.

Chris: Do you think it's pretty good?

Brad: I'm just thinking of, like, there's a circular Maya Sta. Virgin of Majesty by Michelangelo in the Uffizi, and I'm thinking of a number of works by Raphael in which Jesus is, like, blonde hair, blue eyes, and is like, taking a **** in his mom's lap, just like fidgety fussy. Not this older, wiser person, but really depicted as a baby.

Chris: Yeah. Or this kind of superhuman, like, shooting lasers out of his ******* ****. I'm talking about Late Renaissance here, right?

Brad: Circumcised laser ****. Yeah, I know.

Chris: You mean yeah, the invulnerable, or like the Buddy Christ. Where he's kind of just like everything's great. I'm Jesus. What could go wrong? I love it. Buddy Christ is one of my favorite religious icons.

Brad: I would say my favorite is Ricky Bobby praying to baby Jesus.

Chris: Baby Jesus.

Brad: So exactly. Right. It's so exactly right.

Chris: Why is it so right?

Brad: Well, because there is sort of divergence in the way in which you have sort of Jesus as radical or Jesus on the cross dying for humanity, and then you have Jesus the baby, the symbol of hope, the symbol of love, the symbol of promise. And it's like, I want to pray to that guy. I want baby Jesus to bless me.

Chris: The simple hearted version of things.

Brad: Yeah, let's leave aside all of the.

Chris: Child sacrifice and drink my blood **********. All the goth elements.

Brad: Yeah, just simplify it to help me baby Jesus.

Chris: I mean, maybe we get into the whole, like, liberation theology and the idea of the theology of the oppressed and I don't know. There's a lot more to talk about here, but always, but thank you, Brad.

Brad: Keep it to 20 minutes.

Chris: I thank little baby Jesus that he brought you to me all those years ago so that we could have conversations like this where we blaspheme his name on the Internet.

Brad: It was real, it was fun, and I look forward to doing it again soon.

Chris: All right, buddy, see you soon. 

Chris: Well, we got God out of the way. You want to do your hardest, most daunting task first, then you can coast. What do you think? Whether you're of the Christian faith or a different faith or, like, pretty obviously, me and Brad, no faith whatsoever. What do you make of this fascinating and deeply troubling portrait of fatherhood we get in the story of Jesus in the New Testament? Look, I know the theology. Even if Brad and I didn't cover every single base, it's pretty clear goes something like this. We are God's children and we are all sinners. Therefore, God, as our father, executes a grand plan to redeem us by sacrificing his son or himself, depending on who you ask and when you ask them. But you see how this kind of splits the difference between God the Father of us and God the Father of Jesus? What makes Jesus an interesting literary character is that he doesn't really see it that way. God is his father, his abba. And that makes what's going on here in the gospel narrative fantastically dark. Greek tragedy dark. Succession dark. Go on out there, son. Go talk to the Romans. Daddy's got this plan. It's supposed to be the other way around, right? We as parents sacrifice ourselves for our children. But then there's the interpretation that, like Jesus, we're meant to die to ourselves, to die to the flesh somehow. A kind of metaphorical self sacrifice in order to make way for the spirit of God, be granted eternal life, et cetera, et cetera, it all gets very complicated very quickly. But if you just go back to that basic storyline of a man who believes his father needs him to die in order to insert abstraction, redeem humanity, it's bracing stuff. It's hard to look away from that. I have to tell you. I love this stuff. Whether it's the Hebrew scriptures or the Qur'an or the Bhagavad Gita, there's just endless depth to it, mostly because it doesn't really make a lot of narrative sense, and we have to make it make sense, do the hard work of exploring its possible meanings and poetic truths as they might relate to our lives, our own world. And again, setting religious belief aside, I found that to be worthwhile. 

Chris: Feel free to get in touch on Twitter, Instagram, facebook. Set us straight. Don't try to save our souls. That's a fool's errand. That's folly. Look at the forests around Quebec right now. That's what my soul looks like. Okay, what do you got? Little squirt gun? No. I'll be back with Brad and maybe some special guests for the next episode of the Bad Dad's miniseries next month, when we'll be talking about, OOH, don't you wish you knew? Some really, really bad dads. Subscribe to PODRE on Apple podcasts or Spotify or I Heart radio now so you don't miss the next episode. That's our show. Thanks to Brad Franco, Julian and Nico Benz-Brunt, and most of all, little baby Jesus. Thank you. Thank you.