Of these three….”

Ritchie Calvin
5 min readJan 9, 2024
Photo by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash

I generally like The Onion. It can be mildly amusing. Its humor doesn’t always match my own, but that’s fair.

The problem is that I can’t always tell whether a headline in the newspaper or on the internet is an Onion piece or is reality. To be fair, that’s not really a knock on The Onion. It’s a knock on the reality in which we find ourselves. But more than anything, it’s a knock on our public, religious, and political leaders.

Too often, they’re a joke.

Let’s take Lauren Boebert as a case in point. I know, I know. Low hanging fruit. Every late-night comedian has a field day with Boebert — from her handsy appearance at the theater to the public fights with her ex-husband. Seriously, one could not script a more ridiculous human being. Her antics would be rejected as too far-fetched. In fact, the creator/writer of Veep, Armando Iannucci, said something similar. They found it harder and harder to come up with storylines that weren’t outdone by real politicians.

But let’s go back to July 2022. Lauren Boebert was a speaker at an event organized by the Charis Christian Center.

(And just to indulge my own etymological fascinations, let’s note that “Charis” derives from the Greek. In Greek mythology, the Graces [sometimes called “Charis” or “Charities”] were the female embodiment of desirable feminine characteristics, such as beauty, fertility, goodwill, charm, joy, and so on. Hesiod names three of the Charities, and those three were commonly depicted in paintings, typically as nudes. In Christian theology, the three virtues resulting from the grace of God are Faith, Hope, and Charity (sometimes “Love”). The Graces in all three traditions are directly linked.

(I bring all this up not just to indulge my inner language geek, but also to make a larger point about Charity, as we will see.)

So, in July 2022, Boebert was speaking at the Charis Christian Center conference. In her speech, she argued that Jesus would not have been crucified if he’d had an AR-15 (or two). She suggested that in the context of a debate about gun control. She noted that advocates of gun control have asked her how many AR-15s Jesus needed. Her response: “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.”

Let’s unpack this:

To begin with the basic question: Boebert and her followers DO know that the AR-15 hadn’t been invented yet, right? I mean, in 33 CE we didn’t have the technology or skill to make the metals, shape the weapon, the bullets, etc. He didn’t have them because they didn’t exist.

Second, was the government keeping the AR-15s from Jesus? Because that’s the parallel here, right? She’s arguing that the government is (trying) to keep assault rifles out of the hands of people like Boebert. She’s arguing that our government, just like Jesus’s government, was (trying) to keep good Christians from having weapons. Except, that wasn’t the case at all. I don’t think Pontius Pilate had a policy on firearms or assault rifles.

Third, does Boebert know that Jesus Christ wanted to die on that cross? Does she know that he HAD to die on that cross? First, it’s the classic hero’s quest. It is a tale of mythological proportions and of a mythological tradition. The hero HAS to suffer or die in order to save his people. For example, Prometheus is crucified for his efforts to aid humanity. Second, within Christianity, that is God’s sacrifice: “he gave his only begotten son” in order to save humanity. Christ was born expressly to suffer and die so that humans could be eternally saved. So WHY exactly would he be toting an AR-15? WHY would he want to stop the crucifixation?

Fourth, Boebert’s statement shows just how far (some of) the contemporary Christian teachings have gotten away from their origins. For most of Christianity, Jesus Christ was a pacifist. He condemned violence and hatred. He praised the meek and mild. Those elements are completely lacking in Boebert and her minions. Instead, she idolizes weapons. For most of Christianity, self-sacrifice is a central element of the faith. One must give something meaningful to demonstrate one’s faith and faithfulness. Boebert seems to only be motivated by self-gain. She and those like her imagine God as a means to an end. They pray for riches. They pray for Joe Biden’s death. Both of those should be unimaginable for a Christian. For most of Christianity, they know that Jesus welcomed all people. He praised the foreigner, the disabled, the hungry. Boebert would damn each and every one of them to starvation as they cross the desert.

Of course, Boebert would say it was just a joke. She was just taking the piss out of her “little Twitter followers.” But of course, that’s what the misogynist and the racist and the homophobe always say when they make a sexist or racist or homophobic comment. “It’s just a joke. Alright? Jeez, don’t you have a sense of humor? Can’t you take a joke?” Except that anyone who has raised children knows that that is the go-to strategy of a 6–8 year old. It’s not just a joke. It never is.

In 1 Corinthians, 13:13, it reads: “And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (King James Version). In some other versions of the Bible, “charity” is translated as “love.”

Biblical scholars have spent a lot of ink over this passage. They argue that “faith” and “hope” are important to Christian faith. They argue that the Christian must have faith in Jesus as savior. They argue that Christians must maintain the hope that God will fulfill his promises to them. However, in this passage, St. Paul maintains that “charity” is greater than the other two. In this claim, Paul means that “self-sacrificing love” is greater than either faith or hope.

And that’s exactly what is missing in Boebert’s version of Christianity, and in Boebert’s “joke” about Jesus and his AR-15.

Not even a hint of Charity.

And that’s not a joke.

Ritch Calvin is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY Stony Brook. He is the author of Queering SF: Readings, Feminist Epistemology and Feminist Science Fiction (Palgrave McMillan) and edited a collection of essays on Gilmore Girls (McFarland). His most recent book is Queering SF: Readings (Aqueduct Press).