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Black Jesus Internet Café

The Black Jesus Internet Café

by Brandon Edmonds / 26.04.2011

There was an IOL news story last week about a “shape-shifting monster” in a small Karoo town. “The community says the monster changes shape while you’re looking at it,” a cop told reporters. It changed from a man in a suit to a pig then a bat according to an eye witness, and appears chiefly at night near the local church. I love how the monster never escapes the imaginative limits of the community: a man in a suit, a pig, a bat. These are all things people in the area are likely to have seen before. You’ll notice the monster didn’t appear as a Vegas showgirl, a llama, a fast-talking Latvian car-salesman or a groomed Silicon valley venture capitalist in Italian loafers.

The Karoo monster illustrates how communities determine their own wonders. The supernatural invariably has a reasonable basis in everyday life. As Freud put it: illusions are “derived from human wishes”. Notice how the phantasm “changes shape while you’re looking at it” – it’s a phrase that neatly sums up postmodern relativity for us, how there are very few credible overarching authorities left, and we are each expected to hazard our own values in a fallen world.

Karoo police are asking people to “take a photograph of the alleged monster”. A major aspect of the general retreat of religion is the rise of Science as a belief-system, entailing habits of technological verification, testing, mapping, imaging, rather than faith. Swap “shape shifting monster” for God in the Karoo monster story and you just may have a thumbnail history of Western religion.

YWCA girls

Now both houses on either side of my own contain Christians. Sure I’d prefer a more congenial social group. Sex addicts. Hot beach volleyballers. The local chapter of Emily Blunt Look-Alikes. But hey tolerance is a virtue.

To the left is a pastor and his family. The wife has a voice fit for the Welcome Lounge in hell. An oblivious self-righteous whine, someone the Bible got to before experience ever could. On the right is the Young Christian Women’s Association. Mostly sporty American under-grads with freckles on their noses and Bush in their hearts. The showers don’t face my windows, but sometimes I can hear them singing in there with the water going. Chaste Christian girl-flesh licked by steam. Ha ha. My all-time favourite Pavement song is “Starlings of the Slipstream” with a line that’s stayed with me: “I put a spy cam / in a sorority”. Tempting, but wrong. Christians to the left of me, Christians to the right. A Faith baguette. They’re the buns, I’m the cold meat of doubt. Anyway.

My Ethernet cable broke over this long Easter weekend. A tiny orange cable snapped. I could see it inside the protective casing. Disconnected. A broken sliver of fiber had offlined me. No updates. No downloads. No porn. Offline. I noticed the weather. I picked up a book and even thought about people I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Offline.

Wi-Fi! But I don’t happen to have the password to my landlady’s network. And she’s forgotten what it is. “Somewhere in my files,” she says. People and passwords. Besides her network is weak. It wavers. Seldom pops up as an option in my room far from her office where the router resides. Now the Young Christian Women’s Association Wi-Fi is always available. There it is. Steadfast. Unwavering. Ideal. But password protected.

Broken Ethernet Cable

What’s the cliché about God moving in Mysterious Ways? I spent the Easter weekend thinking up religious-themed passwords to steal Young Christian Women’s bandwidth! The religious holidays forced themselves on me. Inadvertently. The Holy Spirit had found a way to fuck with a devout non-believer. All weekend I thought up religious-themed passwords. Not what would Jesus do exactly but what had the Network Administrator of the gentle young women who believe in Him chosen as a protective shield?

I tried Jesus. Mary. Joseph. All the disciples. Many of the big names from the Old Testament. Noah and Isaac and Abraham. I tried the same names with numbers. Jesus46. Daniel11. Bathsheba8. I tried the shopping list the Wise men brought to the new born king. Incense. Myrrh. I tried Commandments. I tried 666. I got fancy and tried Yahweh and Jehovah. God67. Paul19. I tried Tammy Faye. Ray McCauley. Hansie. I tried Billy Graham and John the Baptist. And Deuteronomy. I tried P.O.D and Creed. Leviticus and Shembe. I tried Judas. I tried MotherTheresa69.

I tried Bible snippets by throwing the good book in the air (like the iChing) and taking a phrase from the page where it landed. I tried Inquisition. I tried Faith. I tried Love. I tried Eternity. Nothing. I tried Nothing. New Testament. Blood. Lamb. Covenant. I tried Rosemary’s Baby.

Hal 2001

I tried Boeing 747 thanks to Richard Dawkin’s immaculate refutation of Creationists who insist the world is designed by God because a tornado in a junkyard can’t randomly assemble a plane. I tried Golgotha. I tried Popemobile. I tried DarwinSucks and ChooseLife. I tried EasterBunny. Still nothing. Wrong Password. No access. Everytime. No entry. I got so desperate I began to imagine the password mechanism was conscious, like HAL in 2001, and would open only when it sensed I believed. That the password must be faith itself! I wanted to believe. I longed to be a believer! Jesus, I am a believer, now please let me check my email. Still nothing. The girls’ bandwidth remained as elusive as starlings on the slipstream.

And I remembered a Kafka parable called “Before the Law”. A guy spends his whole life waiting outside an open door asking to be let in by a guard. Finally, as he’s dying, he asks the guard why in all this time nobody else has come along to get in? The guard says, “Nobody else can get in here. This door was assigned only to you and now I’m going to close it.” Who knows what it means? Who knows if the Karoo monster exists? Who knows where to buy an Ethernet cable?

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RESPONSES (20)
  1. DontTestLordFinesse says:

    hahaha, thumbs up!

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  2. el nunez says:

    jesus pavement rock. ‘there are no creoles in vermont’. you shouldn’t advertise your atheism edmonds. it’s private and nobody cares. christopher hitchens you’re not.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for a little advertised atheism in the face of the force-fed other side of that coin. It’s about as private, and peiople care about as much, and yet completely tolerated from the ground level, all the way up through the media and into polite intimate conversation.

    Brandon you should have asked those christians. They’d be making god feel bad if they said no.

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  4. judas says:

    Did you try “faith” as a password?

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  5. Kook says:

    “Hi there I’m from the Internet.

    The webcam I installed in the girls’ shower has been disconnected, and I need the wi-fi password to get it back online. Can you tell me what it is, please? Thanks”

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  6. Dave says:

    I just came back from Jerusalem, and wanted to share with you that Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. He opened his heart and arms wide for you and I when he was nailed to the cross over 2 000 years ago. I know that you and I have no chance of eternity in heaven, without the blood of a Saviour to cover our sin. As long as we have breath in our lungs and life in our bodies, God is offering us eternal life, through faith in His Son. God took our sin and placed it on His Son at the cross, and will declare us righteous in His sight on Judgment Day, if we place our faith in Him. We don’t know how much life we have left on this Earth … could be years … could be just days … my experience in a hijacking back in 2006 showed me that my life could have ended right there in a driveway in Northwold, Joburg in a matter of seconds. We need to seriously consider where we are headed after this life … there are no second chances after this … I’d say – you certainly don’t need to believe these things because I said so, but truly take these things to God … Jesus promises that if you truly seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. He loves you, and encourages us to come as we are to him … we can’t get our lives right on our own … He wants to meet us right where we are, and turn our lives around. My life hasn’t been the same since I invited Jesus into my heart … and He wants to come and enter your heart. As I say, I don’t expect you to believe me, but seriously … take it to God … seek Him while He may be found … you and I may have years left on Earth, but we may have a lot shorter … these are precious moments before Eternity … this life will soon be over … then we stand before God on Judgment Day … Jesus died that you may have Eternal Life with Him, if you’re prepared to turn to Him and surrender your life to Him. I wanted to briefly share this good news with you. I love Jesus so much, and I know He loves you too … God created you, and He died for you … I would humbly ask you to consider turning to Him today, and asking Him to be your Saviour and Lord? It’s between you and God, and it’s the most important decision anybody will make in this life.

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  7. Andy says:

    Hi Dave… so do you know the password for the internet, then?

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  8. ngwenya says:

    OMG, Dave, what a riff! Should’ve done it as a rap, man, with like black smoke behind you and devil’s horns moving through the backdrop, lighting up the smoke with an eery glow…

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  9. Jon says:

    Would’ve been really funny if Dave had posted a comment right afterwards that said “Just Kidding.”

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  10. Jon says:

    Nice writing by the way Brandon.

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  11. the password is 'penis' says:

    I hope Dave didnt waste 8-minutes of his life gurgling that dead-rodent of irrelevant nonsense to Brandon… then again, maybe I do…

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  12. Shukri says:

    I love your wit and your creative writing, well done keep it coming.

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  13. LKJ says:

    Karroo monster fracking?

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  14. whatever says:

    He says Judge not lest thou be Judged.Bless the lost sheep

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  15. @Dave says:

    so if jesus and god and the holy spirit are one, and the jews crusified jesus does that mean that men overpowered god?

    the bible confuses me.

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  16. Carlos says:

    @El Nunez: “Christopher Hitchens you’re not.” Agreed – Edmonds is more honest, more nuanced and less of a git than Hitchens. Or you, for that matter. Lovely piece.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    What a pity your life didn’t end in Northwood Dave…would have been one less religious fuckwit to deal with…

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  18. The Fnord says:

    Unfortunately Atheism like Theism is still a belief system 🙁

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  19. Jeff says:

    >Atheism like Theism is still a belief system

    Sigh. No. You don’t understand at all. It’s the absence of belief. Exactly like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

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  20. The Fnord says:

    Not believing is a still a belief. Maybe logic is what we require. Not certainty. We as species have far too limited intellect to be making such bold accusations.

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