Quite a treat today. What I bring to you today is a conversation with the one and only, Billy Christ, CEO of The Christ Corporation! The fact that I had the opportunity to sit down with this religious icon, this man who has overseen quite a tribulent time in Christianity over the past 33 years was humbling to the say the least. I may not agree with His position on much of anything, but it’s a rarity that He speaks so candidly with an average blogger/writer like ME. Usually, He reserves that for the media folk. But I managed to find Him on a day that He was rather contemplative, as He nears the end of His term, and He was more than willing to accomodate MY request.
But first, I offer you today’s links:
- It would appear that Oprah’s boarding school is turning into a sex academy. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I’m sending in my application and resume immediately.
- Ugh. I’m doing this one for Alice, because I could barely even get through the article. The New Kids/Adults on the Block are starting their tour over, right here in Atlanta on May 28th. Didn’t anyone tell them that their newest album actually sucked?
- WWCD? Really, what would the world do without Stephen Colbert? Hey, as long as I still get the moon, he can have the space station.
- “Now, you see what daddy just did there? I told the man to get the money out of the drawer. But as you can see, honey, I’m still pointing this gun here at him, so he’ll do it, and he’ll do it without trouble.” Ah, what fathers will do for their daughters.
- In October, a new Robert Crumb book comes out, and I will wait in line to get one.
- There’s nothing like a good, heartwarming resurrection story to stir the soul as we glide toward Easter.
- From the Onion. I added this one because I’ve always had a problem with people who botch great movie lines. Inconceivable!
- And this one is entirely for ME. I enjoyed the TNG reunion on Family Guy, but I’m a geek and I’m stoked to see what J.J Abrahms can do for the franchise. Yup. For realz. I’m AM that dork.
It’s rained a lot in Atlanta lately. Not that it’s a bad thing, mind you, but it’s puddled things up pretty fair everywhere, and the water is absolutely coated in a vile layer of pollen. I was a bit conscious of this as I approached the home of The Christ Corporation. The opportunity to sit with Christ was monumental, and the last thing I wanted to do was track mud into His pristine home. I mean, it’s a monolith of glass in this expansive park-like garden, and there’s limited sidewalk space, most of which was, as mention, pooled in yellow-gooped mini-lakes. I was fortunate, however, in that the lobby was ginormous, and had ample mats with which to wipe my feet clear. After five minutes of obsessive wiping, I trudged on. Despite the energy of the place, and the numerous televisions blaring evangelical sermonizing (the tag read something about GFC Atlanta), it was surprisingly quiet. I waited for a while until a mousy looking guy in glasses that reminded ME of a Martin Short/Smithers clone emerged from an elevator and shook my hand. His name was Arvid, or Armin, or something like that. I was a bit overwhelmed and slightly nervous, so forgive MY inability to remember. Either way, he prattled on about Christ so completely, that I began to look around the elevator for cameras. Surely, Christ was watching our arrival. Nobody could be so enamored with another without knowing that said individual was watching. And to be honest, I was reviewing the questions for Christ in MY head, so about all I caught was something to the effect of, “He will be remembered by us all. More from some, than from others.” I only remember that because this Arvy guy had this supreme look of sugary-donut delight on his face, kind of the same I’ve seen about town in the Ansley area, if you follow. I decided at that point that I would not step out of the elevator first, unless my notebook had ME well covered.
We arrived on the twelfth floor, passed a rather grumpy, but quite pretty, secretary named Mary, wandered down a hallway that was lined with pictures (God, they were cheesy kind of Buddy Christ images, for those who have seen Dogma) of the previous men who have sat in the Divine chair of the CEO. We reached a door with a plackard that read, “Billy Christ, CEO” and simply walked in. I was somewhat aghast. I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I thought a baptism, or something of that magnitude, was in order. Would it be that easy to get into Heaven? Just a door marked “Heaven” and you walk right in? No dousing, no prattling on about MY sins, and sitting in judgement and stuff?
However brazen our entrance, we were there, and nothing could have prepared ME for the sight. I don’t know if it was the view of downtown Atlanta through the monstrously large glass-paned face of the office, or the rediculously large conference table, or the furniture strewn about so heavily that I thought I had walked into a high-class fringe-society version of IKEA, or if it was just the mere presence of Billy Christ, standing before his desk with a grin like I’ve never seen. I mean, I instantly knew that this man was never unhappy. His smile wore a permanance that immediately warmed ME, and he was dressed (I am admittedly no great judge of fashion for the record) in a suit that easily out-paced MY monthly salary. He propelled his hand into MINE, greeted ME, and said the word “outstanding” in every sentence, as if it were punctuation to be praised. Arm…whatever his name was excused himself with a patient bow, and Christ invited ME to sit. I remember thinking, as I looked at His desk, and its various accutrements, laptop, His coffee mug, and even the chalice of wine that sat atop his desk, that up to that point, I had no idea what “refined” meant. In case you were wondering, it means, “likely to net you a nice take if you sell it on ebay.” Just so you know.
It was at that time, as I gazed hopelessly around the office, taking in all the ornate Goodness that it held, that I found Christ staring at ME. Now I don’t profess to be religious–not in an organized way anyhow–but I felt Him look through ME. He has a deep, penetrating, other-wordly stare. In a way, it was much as though He had simply vacated Mind for a moment, and had taken to wandering the Universe, or perhaps just the Office, in search of Grace. Or something grace-like. Anyway, He snapped to and said, “So…”
I jumped in my seat trying to get my notebook out. And then I began:
“You’re coming to the end of Your term as Christ. When do you expect that You will announce Your retirement and, upon reflection, how do You view Your tenure as Christ?”
Christ pondered it briefly, that smile ever-persistent. “I’m told that I’ll know when to make My announcement. God will show the way. I can’t be certain, but it may be that I won’t know until I know that I’ve been given the knowledge. It’s a tried and true method, I am told. And as to My tenure, well, that’s a rather involved question with a lengthy answer. I would be remiss to say that I have not enjoyed My time, or that I have not accomplished many things that will forever leave a mark. However, I am a man of great humility, and I leave the boasting to those who follow me. Or perhaps the Council. They like to express their thoughts about Me often.”
He laughed then, and…hm…how do I describe this? I don’t know, really, but I swear to you, the sound came from under the desk, as if there were some sort of time-delay, or perhaps even that it arrived ahead of His motion. Regardless, it was the first of many laughs that had ME quite unsettled by the end of our conversation.
“What would You site as Your greatest acheivement?”
“Greatest? What a word! Outstanding! Some would say the affiliation with, and branding of the GFC’s–God’s Favorite Church, that is–of which there are now fifty-five at last count, is My greatest, as you say, acheivement. Others have pointed to the weekly Offering, which takes place here at The Christ Corporation, and has given millions an outlet to seek My blessing over the years. But I’m partial to the contract I negotiated with a certain vineyard in California–which must remain nameless for propriety, you understand–that has reinvigorated the somewhat stale version of Communion Wine that was previously served here, and in our GFC Atlanta affiliate.”
“Wine?” I was somewhat taken aback, but cautious. “You believe an upgrade of Communion Wine to be your greatest acheivement?”
“Oh, most certainly!” He pinged the chalice with a flick of a finger. “It is California’s finest, after all!’
I collected MYSELF, flipped through a few pages of MY notebook as if searching for something, then found some reserve and moved on. “It’s a turbulent time, economically. Unemployment is skyrocketing, the markets are soft, and families are struggling to keep their homes, their cars, and their children’s future from being absorbed by a lack of, or decrease in, income. What would you say to them, given the reported jump in revenue, stocks, and overall financial security of The Christ Corporation?”
Billy Christ heaved a little sigh, then His smile returned. “I would tell them that it validates the need for Christ. For Me. For the Offering. If times are tough, where else should you turn? Government? The lottery? Ha! This is what the Offering is for. If you wish to put money on the hopes of a wish and a dream, why not invest it in your soul? Sure, these are difficult times, but now is the time to turn to Christ, to Me, for help. Now is the time to invest in real hope, the promise of a better tomorrow, in the hands of a loving God.”
For a moment, I pondered that, but my need for a follow up was enveloped in His smile. It was quite remarkable. Really. I moved on. “You have a Twitter account, and a blog. Do you find using these modern tools of social networking has brought you closer to the people?”
“Oh, yes, well, I find them useful, yes. To be quite honest, I’m still a bit leery of them. Don’t get me wrong, I find them to be a wonderful outlet to keep My followers in touch with my activities, but My time is so limited that blogging is very difficult. Twittering is–”
“Tweeting,” I said politely. One does not recklessly attempt to correct Christ.
“Yes, yes, that too. They are both very easy and brief, therefore more accessible to My schedule. I like the Twitter, very much in fact, but I tend to forget it somewhere through the day. And, I’m quite disappointed that I have so few followers there. I cannot hope to compete with that Shaq individual, and he doesn’t respond to My Tweeterings, which I admit, is somewhat frustrating. I like to do it, but I believe I look forward to my retirement, when I need not bother with such things, a great deal more.”
“I know your time is short today, so I’ll just ask one more.” He nodded, and eyed the Communion Wine with a very satisfied grin. “You mentioned your retirement. What will you do, and will you miss being Christ?”
He thought about this for a long while, and for a few seconds, I was beginning to feel like He was not willing to answer. Then He locked on ME, and His broad smile returned. “Forty-two,” he said.
“What?” I asked before I could stop myself.
“Forty-two,” he repeated. “It’s a reference to–”
“The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, yes I know. The Ultimate question to Life, the Universe, and Everything.”
He furrowed His brow. “Oh, very well then. I had often wondered what it meant.”
“You didn’t know?” Christ shook His head. “Well, then…”
Christ stared at ME, encourged ME with a simple nod. “Yes?”
“Yes, I will be. Very soon, in fact. Too soon.”
“Uh,” I waited, hoping the conversation would get back on track of its own accord, but it did not. Christ smiled, and drew the chalice closer. He seemed rather anxious to partake of the wine, and it almost seemed to ME that it was far too sanctimonious an act for an average ME-kind-of-person to witness. Therefore, I called the conversation to a close. “Yes, so I’ve heard.”
We said our farewells, and Armind returned to escort me back to the lobby. I left somewhat bewilidered, but gratified all the same, to have had an opportunity that no other person in MY place had ever had before. Hopefully, as a new Christ is Anointed, and the transition is underway, I can parlay this opportunity into another. If not, well, I’m itching to talk to the Disciples. I hear they’re always willing to talk. Here’s hoping.
For more information, and further details of the tenure of Billy Christ, visit this site.