Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can Jesus Microwave a Burrito?

A friend recently shared a link to some funny results you can get with Google's suggested search feature. The idea is that you start typing something into Google's search box and watch what it suggests. One of the results (try it yourself if this isn't what brought you to this blog) was that if you type "Can Je" Google guesses that you might be wondering "Can Jesus microwave a burrito?"

I was skeptical when I saw this, so I tried it myself and sure enough, there it was. I'm sure by now it's solidified as a meme.

The question is shortened from "Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it," which is obviously a variation of the old "Could God make a rock so heavy that he himself could not lift it?" conundrum. Near as I can tell, this form of the question became popular when Homer Simpson asked it of Ned Flanders in 2002, but Google has a page in its data banks that it claims is from December 1, 2001 on which it is attributed to someone named Laura Sharp. Good work, Laura.

So, I was thinking about this, and nerdy as I know it is, my first response was to appreciate the dichotomy between the orthodox theological answer to the question and the implied knee-jerk reaction of believing Christians. The whole thing reminded me of this painting, which my cousin Nick comissioned.

Anyway, it stuck in my mind and I realized the immense potential for humor still untapped in this question. What follows is my humble attempt to mine some of that humor. As you read it, keep in mind the scene in Bruce Almighty where Morgan Freeman as God says, "Now, I'm not big on blasphemy, but that last one made me laugh." If that doesn't help, go look at some "Jesus Laughing" "artwork".

So, without further ado...

Q: Can Jesus Microwave a Burrito?

The Chalcedonian Response

We, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body. Now then because Jesus is both truly God and truly man he is simultaneously able and not able to do this. Touching his Godhead, he is omnipotent and nothing is beyond his abilities, whether it be microwaving burritos to unimaginable temperatures or consuming burritos of unimaginable temperatures. However, eating burritos is not a thing of God but a thing of man, and in as much as Jesus is truly man now and forever, he is certainly able to eat a burrito as we would eat a burrito, and we all know that burritos can be too hot to eat. Amen.

The Enthusiastic Believer Response

Of course Jesus could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it. He's Jesus! He can do anything! He wouldn't even need a microwave to do it. He could make a burrito appear out of thin air that was so hot that no one could not eat it. But you know, I was talking to my cousin Joe about this last week, and he said, "Well, then Jesus isn't omnipotent because he couldn't eat the burrito." And I was like, "Duh! He's Jesus. He can do anything. Of course, he can eat the burrito." I don't understand why people try to make things so hard.

The Academic Response

The Gospel of Luke is replete with stories of Jesus eating, so when we think about Jesus eating a burrito, that would be where we should look. The unknown author of Luke's gospel does not specifically address Jesus' cooking skills because that's not what she or he is interested in. Instead of asking whether Jesus can microwave a burrito, we should be thinking about the much more important question of who Jesus would eat a burrito with, and the third gospel does indeed help us to answer this question. Jesus would gladly share a burrito with the stoner who has the munchies. He would gulp down a burrito with the working mother who is trying to get some quick sustanence between her two daily eight hour shifts. He would stand beside the migrant worker who has to suffer the indignity of having the rich culinary traditions of his homeland morphed by his oppressors into a microwaveable bundle of bland preservatives. In short, Jesus would share this meal with all those people whom the Establishment would look down upon or ignore.

The Older, Now Largely Discredited, Academic Response

To understand this, we must deconstruct the myth of Jesus and the burrito and try to understand what it is really telling us. We must recognize the archetypal image of the hot burrito and face what it is that it represents. In the question of Jesus and the hot burrito we are faced with a question that is central to our very existence. We must face this question and each of us must decide for ourselves, will we indulge our impulsive nature and bite into the burrito while it is still too hot, or will we patiently wait for it to cool so that it can be properly enjoyed as Nature intended?

The Inerrantist Response

While this may appear on the surface to be a contradiction, if we look closer we see that it actually is not. First of all, the word "microwave" is formed from the Greek root "micros" meaning "small" and so we're asking if Jesus can use small waves to heat a burrito, thus eliminating any concerns over the anachronism of the historical Jesus using a modern kitchen appliance. Secondly, you'll notice that the question does not specifically mention when said burrito would be eaten. It may be that first it is microwaved to a temperature so hot it cannot be eaten, so Jesus is able to accomplish the first task. Then, the burrito will cool, and so Jesus is also able to eat the burrito which he microwaved. So you see that this is only an apparent contraditction, not an actual contradiction.

The Tribulationist Response

St. John writes in the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind." This is the same event we find described in Daniel, chapter 8, verse 10. The stars here falling to earth are meant to represent burritos so hot that no man could eat them and live, and the "mighty wind" is the modern microwave oven. I'm here to tell you today, that the time is surely coming when all those who are not marked with the seal of the lamb will be forced to eat these monstrously hot bean-filled burritos on the great and terrible day of the Lord. But take heart, for we can count on the prophecies which have told us that Jesus will come for all those who call upon his name and we will be caught up with him in the heavens and taken to a place where we will feast on golden nachos and sour cream forever, but all those who refuse to repent and believe will be forced to endure seven years of burning of the rooves of their mouths with piping hot convenience food, and if they still will not turn to our compassionate God, then they will be forever cast into the pit where the cheese does not cool and there is no relief from the fiery hot sauce.

The Orthodox Response

Was it microwave burritos in 19th century Russia? No. It was not.

The Liberal Response

Jesus of Nazareth did not live in a time when such modern conveniences as microwave ovens and individually wrapped burritos existed, but he lives on today in the hearts and minds of all those who call themselves Christians. We are his hands, and yes, even his mouth. And because we can microwave a burrito, Jesus can microwave a burrito. Because we can make it too hot, Jesus can make it too hot. Our challenge is to not make the burrito too hot. The question is not what Jesus could do. The question is what should we do.

The Revisionist Response

Two thousand years of Christianity evolving in an imperialist patriachal society have given us images of Jesus which are not helpful. We shouldn't sit back and calmly accept the portrayal of Jesus which has him dining at 7-11 at midnight. That's the image that male-dominated corporate America wants us to have, but we should reject it. Instead of imagining Jesus microwaving a burrito, we should create a new image of Jesus working along side his wife at a community center to cook a delicious meal, feeding their hungry neighbors while forming new bonds of friendship, cooperation and comradery with everyone around them. Could Jesus and his wife do that? You bet they could!

The Morality Preacher Response

Burritos are spicy, and so we should recognize that they are tools of the devil, who is the deceiver and the father of lies. When Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert, Satan came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, microwave this burrito." But Jesus recognized this temptation for what it was. No, Jesus would not microwave a burrito. Jesus would prepare a nice turkey sandwich on wheat bread with a side of potato salad. Now, go and do likewise.

The Prosperity Preacher Response

Jesus was a king, the Son of God, and whatever he wanted his heavenly father provided for him. And he has given us also the power to name that which we desire and he promises that our father in heaven will also provide it for us. If we want burritos, all we need to do is pray and believe that God will provide us with burritos and we will see burritos coming to us. We won't need to microwave them, God will put them into our lives perfect and delicious, and they won't be too hot too eat unless we have some reason to want them to be too hot to eat. If we will only believe that God is able and willing to deliver all that he has promised, we will very soon be living an abundent life, overflowing with gooey deliciousness.

The Evangelist Response

Jesus has eaten the overheated burrito in your place. You, being born of sinful flesh, set the timer on the microwave for too long. You deserve to have to eat the overheated burrito at its full temperature, but God loves you so much that He sent His only begotten Son to eat the overheated burrito on your behalf so that you would not have to. I know some of you hearing this message today realize the carelessness with which you set the microwave timer. You know the burrito is too hot. But I promise you that if you will just say this prayer with me today, you will be saved and there will be a place of honor for you at the Grand Fiesta of the Lord on judgment day.


I hope it's clear that I'm not making fun of Christ here but rather making fun of Christians, of which I am one. Regrettably, I am not among those satired above. I would place myself as someone reading the Academics and trying to reconcile what they say with my Chalcedonian faith. This does, of course, make me a comical figure but not one with a clear response to the question at hand.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Caring For the Poor

I know we're not actually a Christian nation, but it's usually the liberals and the libertarians who emphasize that. My Christian values do lead to my personal political positions.

I decided today that I must be the most liberal man in the country.

I was offended this morning by the vehemence with which Joe Biden denied that President Obama's health care proposal would provide coverage for illegal aliens. I'd like for illegal aliens be covered.

My father-in-law once told me a story about feeling led by God to read the book of Leviticus. And so he read it and felt like he didn't get anything at all out of it. And then he felt led by God to read it again, so he did again, and again he didn't get anything out of it. That was the end of his story. I find that story encouraging whenever I read Leviticus. I've read Leviticus several times. I retained enough to be able to find the following verse with the help of a Bible search engine:
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
-Leviticus 19:34
I can almost hear my Uncle Gary muttering, "You long-haired, commie, pinko...."