Just about any sports movie, airport paperback or motivational tape delivers a few boilerplate rules for success. Believe in yourself. Don’t take no for an answer. Never quit. Don’t accept second best.
Above all, be true to yourself.
It’s hard to argue with those maxims. They seem self-evident — if not written into the Constitution, then at least part of the cultural water supply that irrigates everything from halftime speeches to corporate lectures to SAT coaching classes.
Yet several recent studies stand as a warning against taking the platitudes of achievement too seriously. The new research focuses on a familiar type, perfectionists, who panic or blow a fuse when things don’t turn out just so. The findings not only confirm that such purists are often at risk for mental distress — as Freud, Alfred Adler and countless exasperated parents have long predicted — but also suggest that perfectionism is a valuable lens through which to understand a variety of seemingly unrelated mental difficulties, from depression to compulsive behavior to addiction.
I immediately fired off a quick email to Jesus, the alpha and omega of perfectionist jerkwads.
From: Matt [email@example.com]
To: Jesus H. Christ [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Way to go, Jackass. This is what happens when You come along and be all perfect and set the bar way too high for everyone. You spoil everything for the rest of us and give us mental problems. Forget about the fact that Your never-say-die-(except-for-that-one-time) attitude was indirectly responsible for competitive athletics and the hit song "We Are the Champions," You know who You remind me of? You remind me of Sensei John Kreese from The Karate Kid, that's who! I bet You probably rooted for those Cobra Kai assholes the whole time.
And by the way, what the fuck is with the chocolate bunnies at Easter? How does that pertain in any way to the supreme, set-the-bar-too-high, give-all-of-mankind-mental-problems sacrifice that You made?
I don't know what to say to You anymore. Suddenly all that dying for our sins bullshit seems as hollow as one of the aforementioned chocolate bunnies, doesn't it? I hope You're satifsied with Yourself.
Oh, and if I don't talk to You, have a great birthday!
But then, right after I hit SEND, I found this little chestnut in the archives of The Straight Dope:
Jesus H. Christ!What's up with the "lost books of the Bible"?04-Sep-1992
I am currently reading a book entitled The Lost Books of the Bible. Being interested in Bible history, I thought it might be an interesting diversion, but I was not prepared for what I found. It claims that when Jesus was young, he killed a couple of boys and a schoolmaster because they displeased him. Jesus comes off as an arrogant bad seed in these supposedly ancient texts.
My question is: were these books truly a part of the original Bible, and if they were suppressed for obvious reasons, does the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter, acknowledge their existence? How do they explain Jesus's bad temper? Is this why there is very little about Jesus's youth in the current Bible? --Dan Olmos, West Hollywood, California
No question, the kid portrayed in the "lost books" isn't exactly the Prince of Peace. After recounting three murders in two pages, one passage concludes, "Then said Joseph to St. Mary, henceforth we will not allow him to go out of the house; for everyone who displeases him is killed."
I think it's enough with the letters to Jesus at this point. It seems safer just to write to Santa Claus, even though that fat bastard knows if I've been bad or good. With Jesus, you can hide it. But at least with Santa, all you get for being bad is coal, not the business end of some hipster's axe planted in your skull.
But because I'm afraid of having my emails intercepted, I had to get help.
From: Smokey [email@example.com]
To: S. Claus [Santa84883@gmail.com]
For Christmas this year, please protect my friend Matt from Angry Jesus. In exchange, I will let you play a game of Michael Jackson and the Eight-Year-Old Boy with me. I'll even be the eight-year-old boy this time.
Love and kisses,