Jesus was a space alien. My dad told me this when I was four, and I've never found a reason to dispute him. The subject came up because Dad had recently been busted for selling cocaine to college students in my home town of Eugene, Oregon. I was packed off to my grandparents' house in Los Angeles for the nine months my dad was in jail, and by the time he got out my fundamentalist Christian step grandmother had told me all about the miracles of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The whole thing was presented in terms too abstract for a four year old to argue with. Apparently, all I had to do was invite Jesus into my heart, and I'd live forever. This sounded like a pretty good deal, and I went back to Eugene ready to spread the news. When I told Dad about this incredible scam I'd gotten in on in L.A. he pursed his lips, looked around to make sure nobody was listening, and whispered a little secret in my ear. "Actually," he said. "There was a guy named Jesus. But most Christians have it all wrong. Jesus was an alien revolutionary who came to Earth to help people get out from under the thumb of the establishment. Most Christians have perverted his teachings into a tool of the state. But if you actually read the parts of the Bible where Jesus talks-- and, you know, like, avoid all the commentary parts-- all he ever says is to live and let live, and to do your own thing." "But what about living forever?" I asked. Dad took a drag off his cigarette and gave me a look that seemed to say, "Tell you what, kid. Live a little longer. If you still want to do it forever, we'll work something out." At first I wasn't buying the whole alien thing, but the logic, as my father presented it, was fairly plausible. The Star of Bethlehem was a space ship. The Virgin Mary was a virgin because she was artificially inseminated by aliens in an effort to help humans transcend their short-sighted materialism and get in touch with the bigger picture. Jesus could do all that cool stuff because he was part alien. The Ark of the Covenant was actually a radio. The Burning Bush was another space ship. Jesus was effectively a revolutionary adventurer who ran around the Middle East with a gang of farmers and rednecks kicking ass and taking names until the Man caught up with him and lynched him. The Romans killed Jesus because he was inciting poor people to challenge authority. After Jesus was dead, the Romans co-opted his message into a tool for thought control. Most governments since the Roman Empire are basically variations on the model of co-opting well-meaning revolutionaries. Ultimately, the idea of Jesus as a comic book amalgam of Thomas Jefferson, Robin Hood and Superman fit in with my world view a lot better than the image of a pedantic hippy with a vaguely creepy habit of laying hands on people. Also, Grandma had made a few leaps of logic in her Jesus-related thinking that seemed intuitively wrong to me. The practical definition of "sin" often seemed kind of arbitrary. Like swearing, for example. I never got a satisfactory explanation as to why Jesus didn't want me to say "goat fucker." The whole Jesus alien thing cleared up a lot of questions. And the notion that Christians were simply misled ideologues went a long way towards explaining the apparent disparity between my Grandmother and an enlightened being. I spent a lot of family holidays feeling genuinely sorry for my grandmother after Dad gave me the straight shit on Jesus.