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Martian Jesus in 2015

Pinnacle Books, 1979
Would you bow before a Martian Jesus, one that demanded you do so?
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Here in 2015, there seems to be a renewed interest to ramp up our ability to travel behind low-Earth orbit and truly explore the cosmos. From the Moon to Mars and to the Jovian system, with Europa of particular interest to the White House, as it turns out.

What mysteries await the pioneering men and women who eagerly prepare for the opportunity to leave our war-torn planet and start a new society somewhere else?

And what if the religious beliefs common on Earth, manifest themselves on another world?

Such was the notion put forth in the 1979 science-fiction novel Jesus on Mars by American author Philip Jose Farmer, features events that happen in the year 2015 – an important year, it would seem to late 20th century writers, as we saw in the Back to the Future series, for instance.

Farmer, in choosing 2015, presents an oddly plausible scenario, if one believes that Jesus actually existed, although not quite in the way portrayed in the New Testament, as Farmer suggests.

But here was Jesus, not on Earth but on Mars. And he was only a man who had thought of himself, when on Earth, as the Messiah, a Jew come to restore the holy kingdom of the Jews. Very little that had been written about him in the New Testament was true.” (pg. 135)

In Jesus on Mars, the four Earth astronauts – Orme (Christian) Bronski (Jew) Shirazi (Muslim) and Danton (atheist) - are “captured” by an alien race called Krsh, living below the surface of the Martian surface and soon realize this vibrant alien Krsh/Martian community are Orthodox Jews and that Jesus Christ lives among them, in an glowing orb that hangs above them.

To prove his ability at performing miracles, Jesus has a caged ram (2015 is the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram) released and its head is cut off with an axe. He then reattaches the ram’s head and it is fine, as the blood evaporates. A miracle that stuns the astronauts.

Later, when Orme speaks with Jesus – “Rabbi” – he asks about whether he was with a  woman. Jesus chuckles: “This is because you Christians have thought of me as the Spirt of Holiness’s divinely conceived son and also as Him. You’ve also taken over the Christian idea that I would be defiling myself if I had intercourse with a woman. That, from what I’ve been told, derives primarily from a man you call Saint Paul. It was his idea that a man shouldn’t marry unless he ‘burned,’ to use the quaint phrase, and just had to have sexual satisfaction. He thought that the second coming would be within his lifetime and so there was no sense and getting married and having children.”

Later, like the resurrected ram, the atheist astronaut, the French-Canadian Madeleine Danton, is distraught by the overtly-religious situation she is faced with on Mars and commits suicide, only to be resurrected – like the ram – but much of her memory is gone, even though she is healthy like before.

Ultimately, the Krsh/Martians and the Earth astronauts, along with Jesus, leave Mars for Earth aboard spaceships to bring “the good news” of healthful, nourishing “manna” for all, and the ability to wipe out all disease. While convincing all to accept this Jesus as the Son of God.

But is he? Orme has his doubts and even plots to kill this Jesus of Mars, thinking he could be the Antichrist and is trying to fool everyone. In fact, the nations of the Earth – social democracies, communist countries and others – struggle to accept this Jesus – a figure who has a somewhat jerky and condescending side, making him much more human that not.

In fact, while Farmer’s book addresses the Abrahamic faiths, he takes a very humanistic position that goes behind mere religiosity. As I noted, even Jesus is quite “human” and admits to have never seen God, as no living thing has ever “seen” God. Farmer raises some very interesting questions. Would we trust a Messiah, or one who claimed to be such a being, if they came to Earth in present day? Evidence and reason are far more demanding than they were in primitive Judea 2,000 years ago.

But Farmer's Jesus is quite black or white, despite his flowing robes and hippie beard. He won't take no for an answer and his sudden appearance in Earth orbit stuns the world.

And all of this taking place in a seemingly alternate 2015. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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