In the beginning was the word, and the word was #SelfieSunday.
Not the most inspirational of words with which to have launched a new messiah upon the world perhaps but hey, it’s the twenteens and it’s the image that matters.
And I gotta tell you, brothers and sisters I had it going ON. That Colgate smile, the cheekbones, the quiff – oh man, the quiff! – and, best of all in these fashion-obsessed times, facial hair that would slay an army of hipsters at a hundred paces. Dudes, I was bringing sexy, back. Tom Hardy? Stick to CBeebies son.
Given that I’m the messiah, and given how all of this eventually turned out, you may wish to argue that it wasn’t the best of omens to start my ministry on Dad’s day of rest but you know what, you’ve got to be able to deal with the world as it is, and in the globalised capitalist paradise that is the earthly kingdom in which I found myself, if you want to reach people you’ve got to do it on their terms and, man, #SelfieSunday was soooo #trending.
I took to Instagram, applied the filter – Rise, natch – and hit share. Come to Daddy people!
Really, come to Daddy.
And come they did.
Like any good shepherd I tended my flock; a steady stream of selfies maintained an online presence while I prepared to bring the gospel to the digital masses. My first pronouncement had to land, BIGTIME; in the modern world, 12 disciples spreading the word over two millennia just isn’t going to cut it. We need a hashtag, we need RTs, we need to trend baby, trend.
And then, from out of the sky, came a messenger…
When I say the sky, what I actually mean is the Sky+, and the messenger in question was a trailer for a new film (if you can accept an umpteenth remake as ‘new’):
The Ten Commandments, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
He moves in mysterious ways, and He speaks to all us if only we know how to listen. It’s in the signs my friends, it’s all in the signs.
Having received my sign it was time to revisit the ancient stone tablets of Mount Sinai – courtesy of an Apple tablet and Mount Wikipedia – and reboot the sacred commandmentsfor the modern age.
I decided the best way to approach my holy task would be to use a mash up of the ancient and the modern, keeping the original ‘thou’s and ‘shalt’s to capitalise on the currency of ‘authenticity’ with enough modern lingo thrown in to ensure enough people knew what on heaven and earth I was talking about.
If it’s true that Gods are created in the image of man, if Dad was to be relevant to the modern age then He needed to be made in the image of the modern man (note: ‘man’ in this context also meaning woman, transgender, gender neutral etc etc; the last thing the Lord needs is for modern equality legislation to silence His word).
After 6 days and nights of toil – it would have been less but I’m afraid I got a little waylaid saving the dying with Facebook likes – I viewed my creation and I saw that it was good. I called it the ‘Post-Modern Retro Ten Commandments’ and they went a little something like this:
#1 Thou shalt have no other gods before Me (no changes necessary here, the ‘Me Generation’ will lap that one up)
#2 Thou shalt not make idols that will be remembered for more than 2 weeks (a bit of leeway to allow idols to be made in this ‘talent’ show era; a 2 week window allowing plenty of time for their idol status to wane. Leon Jackson anybody?)
#3 Thou shalt not take the name of Kanye in vain (will engage the millions of followers of the Kimye ‘brand’ this one, help to maximise the commandments’ global reach #viral)
#4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Stable. Horse. Door. Bolted. Close.)
#5 Honour thy father and thy mother, provided you know who they are (if not Jeremy Kyleoffers free DNA testing)
#6 If th’all shalt stop killing each other that would be just great (I checked with Dad, he agrees)
#7 Thou shalt not commit adultery, and if thou shalt wander from the path of righteousness thou should at least have the dignity to not go on The Jeremy Kyle Show (while we’re here, remember Kyle, ‘vengeance is mine’ saieth the Lord, not yours; thanks)
#8 Thou shalt not steal (but don’t ask me for Dad’s stance on streaming, the celestial lawyers are still working on that one and they could be a while)
#9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour or give alternative facts, it’s FAKE. NEWS. (who said Donald Gump, sorry, Trump, would never do anything worthwhile as President? This hashtag will just keep on trending… Testify!)
#10 Thou shalt not covet because really, there’s no excuse – where there’s a Wonga there’s a way
So it was thus that a very modern messiah launched His word into the cyber world and it wasn’t long before the temporal world came calling. It’s fair to say that the new commandments created something of a stir, the keys to the kingdom of heaven traversing the globe on a wave of strategic hashtagging, carried afar aloft angel wings dressed as a million retweets, and helped immeasurably by The Rock’s breath-taking turn as Moses (which ultimately earned him a deserved Best Actor Oscar after numerous snubs from the Academy).
Then, the holy grail. Television come a-knocking at my door. Not just any television mind you, a veritable holy trinity of television:
This Morning, for an interview with no less than Rylan Clark, trailed heavily in advance as ‘The Sermon On The Couch’.
Loose Women, for a hard-hitting 10 minute debate on what the new commandments could mean for women in the 21st century, featuring intellectual sparring with the formidable feminist minds of Germaine Greer, Katie Price, and Jane McDonald from The Cruise.
Britain’s Got Talent, with an invitation to audition a performance art piece setting the new commandments to a gritty, urban musical backing track with the promise of a duet with Olly Murs should I progress to the final stages.
The stage was set, my pulpit prepared, a promised audience of thirsty souls ready to drink in the word of The Fresh Testament.
Where did it all go wrong?
Humanity my friends, humanity, taking me from the divine to the ridiculous.
In preparing the Sermon On The Couch I was able to build on the teachings of the new commandments and further relate Dad’s teachings to the modern seeker. Love your enemies? Respect yo’ haterz bruv. And there was plenty more where that came from.
But the message was only ever going to be as powerful as the messenger, and in that truism lay the seeds of a fall from grace of biblical proportions.
“Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect…”
You see, it’s the image that matters, and as I looked around at the perfect television crowd from amongst whom I would need to distinguish myself, in my humanity, in my doubt, I succumbed to the temptation of the flesh; the temptation to make the flesh look a little smoother, a little fresher, a little more…. flawless. What harm could it do for the eternal saviour to look a little more, well, eternal?
It’s safe they said. It’s harmless they said. You can be in and out in 30 minutes they said. Well, it would appear that the clinical trials didn’t extend to the divine, and within an hour of what was to be a routine procedure my head had swollen to resemble a football (an irony given that football seems to be today’s largest religion, albeit with money as its God).
With the paparazzi being the devils they are it didn’t take long for what was soon to become the iconic image to be captured and spread through cyberspace, aided not inconsiderably by an over-enthusiastic tussle with a spray tan ahead of my TV appearances which lead to the coining of the moniker ‘The Tango Messiah’ (and I must begrudgingly admit, marrying an iconic football with an iconic advert took a certain inspiration from somewhere). When the tabloids christen you with your own nickname it sticks, especially when accompanied by a trending hashtag and accompanying meme #tangomessiah.
The TV appearances went ahead on schedule – all publicity being good publicity and all that – but not quite as scheduled: a debate with Rylan about just how orange is too orange; a ‘when cosmetic surgery goes wrong’ feature with Katie Price and, in a late addition to the panel, Lesley Ash; and a medley of Frank Ocean numbers from ‘Channel Orange’ that failed to wow the BGT judges.
A new gospel for a new age? Its moment had been and gone, and while the public’s appetite for ‘top 10’ lists meant that the commandments would continue to attract hits, their impact was easily lost amongst the ‘Top 10 You Won’t BELIEVE What These Former Celebs Look Like Now’ and the ‘Top 10 Cosmetic Surgery Disasters’.
And so ‘A Very Modern Messiah’ – by way of ‘The Tango Messiah’ – in the blink of an eye became ‘A Redundant Messiah’.
Which is a great name for a reality TV show; every cloud and all that….
The Modern Age – The Strokes