LiBeL Column

Blaspemous Rumours

Columns from The Nation newspaper

JC’s travels in Thailand

Before e-cards with ‘Burn in hell! ‘ Flash animation start appearing in my Inbox, I’d like to point out that this column is the work of a born again agnostic and it is firmly in the realm of education. So to kick things off, let’s ruminate upon the question ‘ Who were the most famous teachers in history?’

A couple of names spring to mind, those of the Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ. Not wishing to wind up 95% of the population of this country, I’ll concentrate this week’s literary efforts on the son of God.

As the Bible recollects, Jesus didn’t just concentrate his efforts on a few party pieces – e.g. the ‘water into wine’ show, which in addition to taking place in front of a live audience, was as good an illusion as anything David Copperfield can pull out of a hat 2000 years later. He was also a mentor, who strived to pass on his wisdom to those around him. He wanted to heal the world, and to make it a better place, for you and for me, and the entire human race.

One of the many urban myths going around is the fact that Jesus never visited Thailand. The Dead Sea scrolls show otherwise, as I’m sure any Torah scholars reading this will verify. Imagine you’re the son of God, you’re bound to get stressed and feel the urge to get away from the fans for a while. But what to tell the folks at home? You need a cover story.

In the end a parable, or something similar, that involved wandering in the wilderness for 40 days is fed to the local media, in hindsight not the most convincing story but as Dad said ‘ You can fool some of the people some of the time, and they’re the ones we’re after’.

And so it came to pass that Jesus hopped on the next available mule train and headed for ancient Siam.

A few weeks later Jesus na Nakon Sawan, as he was now known, guided his young disciples up the mountain. As the early morning mist cleared, Jesus seated his flock in a semi-circle on the mountaintop.

Foregoing a warmer, Jesus began to preach n’ teach . . . “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek and the merciful. Blessed are they that thirst for justice. Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven. Now does anyone have any questions about the blessed?”

Then Kob and Wan asked “Will we have a test on this?” Lek added “Do we have to write this down?” He was quickly followed by Air and Jiew who wanted to let Jesus know “We left our books at home ”

Nut muttered “I bet the other disciples didn’t have to learn this” under his breath and, sitting nearby, Sak enquired ‘Are we supposed to remember all of this?”. Tee wanted to know “What does this have to do with real life?”

By this stage our hero was beginning to wish that he’d followed his old mate Judas’ advice and spent his vacation saving fallen women in a small seaside town on Siam’s eastern seaboard.

Finally, the little smartarse sitting at the front of the flock chipped in ” Why do you say blessED? Shouldn’t the final phoneme be a /t/ sound?” Remembering the adage of a sage, who’s counsel he’d once sought, Jesus retorted “It’s an exception to the rule.”

Ignoring a follow up query regarding his being a native speaker or not, Jesus was about to move on to saying a few words about coveting thy neighbours buffalo (history has shown us that this part of the lesson was still a work in progress) when a Pharisee, who’d happened to be wandering the peak, sidled over.

Historical note: Just as every Bollywood train comes complete with a dance troupe on the roof, so every mountain top in Biblical times had a wandering Pharisee lying in wait to question unsuspecting teacher-trainers.

The worldly-wise Pharisee asked to see Jesus’ lesson plan and inquired of Jesus, “Where for art thou aims and objectives? Do you forsee any problems with these edifications? If so, how do you plan to overcome them?”

And the best Jesus could do was to smile meekly and reply “Don’t know. I’ll ask my Dad to help me.”

And lo, Jesus’ Thai disciples proceeded to go forth and spread his teachings throughout the Kingdom. Did they succeed? Buddhist scholars would argue no.

I’d disagree. Most Thai kids now get on in life by adhering to Jesus’ edict “Your family will bail you out of trouble”, this is testimony to the fact that although they did indeed spread the word, the disciples forgot to bring their pens to the mountaintop and therefore couldn’t recall the important stuff when it mattered most.

Another ancient tradition ingrained in Thai culture.

Here endeth today’s lesson.