NEW YORK -- In a move that is confounding both believers and unbelievers alike, Jesus announced today that he is canceling his previously scheduled return to earth. In a surprisingly candid and informal interview with the world press at the United Nations Building in New York, Jesus detailed his reasoning behind this momentous decision.
"I'm sorry," Jesus began. "I know I promised I would return but have any of you looked at the state of the world lately? Tell the truth now; would you leave heaven to come to this? Didn't think so.
"Last time I came to earth I invested 33 solid years and what did I get? Crucified. I mean literally crucified. At some point you've got to cut your losses, don't you think?
"I'm pretty good about keeping my promises. At least I think so. But can't a guy get a little reciprocity every now and then? If even a couple of you would keep maybe one commandment for part of one day every once in a while, I'd be at least tempted to come back.
"But, give me a break, since I left, you guys are about one for a hundred and fifty quadrillion -- and I'm talking about the people who actually try.
"I'm just not coming back," Jesus said as he despondently walked away from the podium to end his interview.
A convocation of the National Council of Churches in consultation with the Jesus Seminar declared that they were not at all surprised to hear Jesus was not returning. "We never believed he was returning to begin with," said Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, the NCC's General Secretary.
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, expanded on this view. "Textual analysis had shown that Jesus' so-called promises to return were not the authentic words of Jesus. The only thing it is certain that he did say was 'Lo.' After that it's mythology, wishful thinking and ex post facto theology put into Jesus' mouth."
Not everyone was so callous in their assessment. Bertrand Russell IV, a fifth-generation atheist from New York City, was impressed by the uncontrived honesty of Jesus' declaration. "I really liked the guy. I had always thought of God as aloof and distant but this guy is really quite down to earth. I'm seriously considering becoming a believer now that I know it's not just a cheap ticket out of Armageddon."
Orthodox Jews who are still expecting the first coming of the Messiah were somewhat daunted by Jesus' announcement. Rabbi Simon Hirschfeld spoke for many when he said, "Maybe he's still coming the first time even if he's not coming back again. Oy vey, what if we missed him and the bus just isn't coming back to this station?"
Fundamentalist believers, however, remained unwavering in their faith. "I don't care what Jesus said, if it ain't in the King James Version, I won't receive it, I don't believe it, and that's the way I'm gonna leave it," said the Reverend Les Lofquist, executive director of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.
Only the noted evangelist Billy Graham seemed completely nonplussed by Jesus' decision. "I figure I'm going to Jesus myself any day now. What do I care if he comes back when I'm in heaven? Seems like that's y'alls problem, not mine."
Copyright 2006, Douglas Salguod