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May 7, 1998

Heaven announces cutbacks, layoffs
Christ, others are dismissed as afterlife is ‘right-sized’

HEAVEN — After record losses in the first quarter of 1998, Heaven has announced massive layoffs effective immediately, sending over 10,000 seraphs, cherubs and fringe saints into the ranks of the unemployed. But what has shocked industry observers most is that Christ Himself is among the dismissed. jesus.gif (6858 bytes)

Speaking to reporters outside the Pearly Gates, Christ was emotional. “What can I say? I’m stunned. I’m hurt. I’m angry. You give the best 2,000 years of your afterlife to them and this is the thanks you get. If they think they’re going to make dollar one without me around here, they’re in for a nasty surprise. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next Christmas. I mean, Christmas without Christ? That’s like ... like ... Christmas without Santa.”

Christ’s dismissal, sources say, is only part of a larger restructuring of the Holy Trinity, which Heaven’s financial handlers had always considered a nagging source of overhead. While God will continue to perform the duties of the Father, the responsibilities of the Son will be handled by a pair of part-timers identified only as Toby and Russ. The Holy Spirit will be outsourced to a retired mail clerk from Kenosha.

“It’s just the evolution of business, that’s all,” said interim Messiah Saint Peter. “We pay these guys a quarter of what J.C. was making, plus no bennies. It’s simple economics. “

Tactfully unmentioned by Heaven’s representatives, however, is what industry experts claim is Christ’s diminishing appeal. “His suffering on the cross for instance,” said industry analyst Izzy M. Munchenstaf. “Sure, that was huge in, like, the Dark Ages. The Crusades, and all that. The kids really looked up to a guy who could take it. But now people ask, ‘What kind of a lawyer did He have, anyway?’ People wonder how smart He could really be. I mean, O.J. gets off, Von Bulow gets off, but the Son of God can’t dodge a few Romans? It doesn’t look good.”

Sources also pointed out Christ’s resistance to the changing times and demands of the business, noting his disinclination to both television appearances and touring. “He just wasn’t reaching the kids anymore, and when you stop reaching the kids you stop reaching anyone at all,” said one highly placed saint, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He doesn’t understand that in Christian entertainment, just like any other kind of show business, image and visibility are everything. People don’t see you for a while, say 2,000 years, and they forget you. He thought just having his name in all those songs was enough. He thought just having his shadowy image pop up on a tortilla or a sticky bun would cut it. Well, he was wrong.”

Indeed, accounting records have shown slumping sales over the last five years in almost all denominations, the lone exception being Catholicism. “Those scrappy Catholics,” chuckled Saint Peter. “They always did play to win. It should be noted though, that the legal expenses of Catholic priests have seriously undercut their profit margins.”

What can we expect from Heaven in the coming year? Said Munchenstaf, “It is widely known that God is very forward-thinking. His only roadblock to modernization was Mr. Christ. With that last remnant of the old management out of the way, He’s free to explore lucrative new avenues of business, things Mr. Christ always scoffed at.

“There have been whispers, for instance, that God’s very keen to enter the gaming industry. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a theme casino pop up somewhere, the size and grandeur of which would, I’m sure, redefine excess. And, who knows? We may yet see Mr. Christ back with the organization. He’s still a name. He has that. He’d make a fine greeter.”

Christ Himself, however, had different ideas.“I will never be affiliated with this organization again,” He said when reached at his Back Bay loft. “We’re through. That old bastard has got some cajones. When I think of all I’ve done for him — all the miracles, all the lies, all for His filthy PR machine. Oh, I come from Bethlehem, all right — Bethlehem, PA. My real father was a steel worker, for Christ’s sake! Oh, wait a minute, I guess it’s for “Toby’s” sake now. Do I sound bitter? I’m sorry. I’m a little drunk.”

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