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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Rich Political Candidate: A Modern Day Parable

This is a modern-day parable about a wealthy political candidate's conversation with Jesus.

There once was a wealthy political candidate, who became wealthy partly because of the inheritance he received from his wealthy father.  His wealth grew enormous through all kinds of financial deals and a favorable tax code that allowed him to accumulate much treasure.

In a meeting with his campaign advisors, he decided to set up a public meeting with Jesus.  It would be good publicity, and he might get some good campaign advice.  So he had his assistant send a meeting request, but wanted the meeting timed to get best advantage of the news cycle.  Jesus responded enthusiastically to the meeting request, and so the appointment was set.

At the appointed time, the wealthy candidate showed up to the appointed place.  It was a small house, with no air conditioning, and rather sparsely furnished.  Jesus greeted the candidate warmly, "How about a glass of wine"?

"I'm sorry," the candidate answered.  "We Mormons don't drink wine.  Besides, you surely don't have a proper wine cellar."

"Oh, no," Jesus laughed robustly.  "All I have is this jar of water on the table.  But I can simply say a few words and whip up a bottle of Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru in a heartbeat.  By the way, what's the deal with the magic underwear?"

"I'm sorry again," the candidate answered.  "I came here to ask some serious questions."

"Forgive me," Jesus replied.  "I was just trying to lighten the mood.  You know, God created a sense of humor, too!"

"Well, humor is not something I find important.  But I came to ask, what must I do to gain God's favor in this election?"

Jesus roared with laughter.  "Well, God doesn't really have a vote, you know.  It's hard for the Creator to produce a birth certificate for the photo ID.  But if you want to look good in God's eyes, you need to make sure you follow all the rules."

"Well, I am a strict rule-follower," the candidate proudly beamed.  "I wear my magic underwear all the time, I refused the wine - even from you!  And I'm trying hard to make sure no woman gets an abortion."

"All that is fine for what it is," Jesus said with a sad tone.  "But it seems you have somehow acquired a strange notion of what the meaningful rules are.  For example, if my very first miracle was to turn water into wine, what's with a rule that says you can't have a glass of wine?  And magic underwear or mutilating your body or saying some magic words?  None of that means anything.  And while abortion is indeed bad, so are poverty and war and hunger and other things that result in innocent deaths.  Are you equally passionate about those evils?"

The candidate became a bit defensive.  "Well, one person can only do so much.  You have to pick your battles, you know, and I picked abortion.  Someone else can worry about poverty and hunger and war.  Besides, I give 10% of my income to the church.  But you have avoided my question.  What must I do to gain God's favor?"

Jesus laughed again.  "You want to be the leader of the free world, and let someone else worry about poverty and hunger and war?  That's a strange notion of leadership!  But that's OK, and your tithe has certainly gone to build and maintain a beautiful huge cathedral or tabernacle -- I get confused with all the names you people give things.  

"But I admit I am pulling your chain a little bit --you really ought to try this humor thing out.  After all, God created (through evolution, of course) giraffes and babboons, right?  But seriously, you need to sell all you have, and give the proceeds to the poor."

"Wait a minute!" the candidate replied indignantly.  You want me to sell everything, empty my bank accounts in Switzerland and the Caymans, give up the elevator in my garage, and Rafalca?  If I give all my money away, who will be the job creator?"

"Well, that's the offer.  Take it or leave it."

And with that, the candidate excused himself quietly and left.

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