Quick--without running to a computer, answer me this: Who would you guess runs Jesus.com? The Vatican? Billy Graham and his merry band of fundies? Nope and nope again. The answer is a 26-year-old guy in Northern Virginia who seems to be using this heavenly domain name to help himself get laid.
A friend sent me this link, subtitled "Jesus Seeks Loving Woman." Seems a red-haired suburban slacker who bears a passing resemblance to Himself (the longhaired Hollywood archetype, anyway) has been using this domain for something called "Win a Shower with Jesus." Not a contest per se--it seems that any female seeker of the spirit eternal (between the ages of 18 and 29, and "preferably of recent Norse-Germanic heritage") can enjoy a cleansing with this would-be savior, complete with pictures taken for posterity.
My friend was intrigued enough to e-mail the guy expressing vague interest, more out of curiosity than any real desire to lather up with the Chosen One. She sent a plea seeking salvation from her natural hair color, along with her basic stats (26, 5-foot-2, 125 pounds).
A day later, she got a reply from Jesus. He was indeed interested in administering some personal baptism. Not wanting to give out his home address, due to "the volumes of hate mail I get," he left it to her to figure out the next step. Perhaps a meeting in a public place? "In the meantime," he advised, my friend should practice her "finest expression of bliss" for the camera.
"Uh-huh," I e-mailed her after she told me about the exchange. "Why would you have to practice bliss. If he were the real deal, there'd be no pretending at all." Whatever curiosity she had apparently sated, my friend didn't follow up with Jesus.
Myself, I had mixed feelings about this guy. On the one hand, pretending to be a world-famous messiah just to get some lovin' certainly signals a pretty heavy inferiority complex. Lords know what mess a gal would be getting herself into by hooking up with this fella--especially since he wasn't making his real name or address known. On the other hand, the fact that Jesus.com is being used in so purely heretical a fashion is kind of amusing. Whenever curious spiritual seekers anywhere in the world enter "Jesus" into a browser, they'll be shepherded to this guy's personal ad.
That this guy got this domain name at all is pretty darned incredible--kind of like your Uncle Mo just happening to acquire Vatican City in some real-estate windfall. It's got to be a proverbial thorn in the crown of any Christ-centered religion. After all, there can be only one jesus.com. (Jesus.org and jesus.net are both owned by more traditional devotees, judging by the sites attached to those addresses.) Of all the followers of the Nazarene carpenter, none had thought to snap this name up back in the early days of the Net? (According to the directory of Network Solutions, the company that registered the domain name, some Washington-based entity called Second Coming Multimedia Publications secured Jesus.com in 1994. Neither Second Coming nor the administrative contact listed in the Network Solutions directory, "Mr. Majaxin," are listed in D.C.-area phone books.) What can, say, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints do now? Sue for the trademark infringement to get "Jesus" back? Wouldn't that be funny?
Unfortunately, mysterious are His ways. When I e-mailed Jesus asking if he'd explain how he got Jesus.com, he was not forthcoming, though he answered some other questions I sent. Some highlights of the interview:
Cyberpunk: How many e-mail inquiries have you gotten thus far?
Jesus: Probably close to a hundred serious requests, though perhaps only a dozen have been from women in the local area.
C: Where does the hate mail come from?
J: The hate mail comes from all over the world. . . . I don't know if they are fundamentalists, but they are typically either uneducated or drunk individuals interested in expressing their inner confusion and fear of life. I receive several dozen hate-mail messages every day, which I quickly skip over without reading the details. Typically the writer feigns outrage or shock and wishes for me to help them by removing the ideas expressed on the Web site and replacing them with ideas that they agree with.
C: Do you plan to shower with all women who request? If not, what would the criteria be for acceptance?
J: No. I'm looking for women who first of all understand that it is just a shower with no strings attached and are comfortable with that idea. They also have to be OK with the idea of having a picture of us, suitable for family viewing, taken and placed on the Web site. Beyond that I'd prefer that they are young, friendly, and of at least average attraction, but there are no firm criteria because it really depends on the person.
As for any immediate plans for the domain name, Jesus has no intention of handing it over anytime soon. "If you can write a check for $10+ million," he writes, "we might have something to talk about." Joab Jackson writes for Baltimore City Paper, where this piece first