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If Twitter Existed in 6AD
How social media might’ve covered the first Christmas.
Imagine a Twitter poll from Elonus Muskus, owner of the social media platform during the reign of Caesar Augustus in 6AD:
“Should I reinstate King Herod’s Twitter account?”
Would he ban the Old Testament prophet Micah for doxxing the location of the baby Jesus?
Have I gone mad? Welp…
Back during the beginning of Covid, I had a little time on my hands, so I pursued a project I thought would be fun: Retell the Greatest Story Ever Told as if modern media and social media existed 2,000 years ago. Tabloid rumors would fly about a newborn king who threatens Rome.
My friends encouraged me to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to hire voiceover actors, pay for music and sound effects, and bring in help with editing the audio. A lot of people pitched in, and the rest is rewritten history.
“Top Story Tonight: Jesus!” takes a tale most of us know and turns it upside down by highlighting today’s dysfunctional media. Paparazzi hound Mary and Joseph, the shepherds go live on Instagram as the angels appear, and King Herod brands it all #fakenews until he gets caught on a hot mic ordering the execution of baby boys.
In between all of this “breaking news” — the traffic around Bethlehem is terrible! — I take a moment to do some actual reporting. I talk to real theologians and experts about what we know of first century Bethlehem, based on writings from that era, and whether anyone outside of the Bible mentions Jesus (answer: Yes… but it’s complicated). Here’s a tease:
Two episodes of the podcast cover Christmas, followed by four more tackling Easter, plus a lot of extras episodes that include interviews with some of the actors, hilarious outtakes, and a discussion of whether Mary gave consent to become a mom (what??).
As you prepare for a hectic week, enjoy a few minutes to consider the reason for the season while pondering the power of the media, whether the messenger is Matthew, Mark, Meta, or Mastodon.
You can find “Top Story Tonight: Jesus!” on any major podcast platform, but here are a few links to make it easy for you.
You can read more about the project on my “Top Story Tonight!” website. I learned many new skills while making the podcast (like how to build a website), and Kickstarter taught me how to ask people for money. Not that I’m asking you for any money. Both Wells $treet and the podcast remain free. So spread the word!
Meantime, Elon didn’t own Twitter when I produced the podcast, so how should I update it by including him? Add your ideas in the comments.
Or, wait. I’m currently toiling away on “Top Story Tonight: Kleopatra!” about Cleopatra… the original Kardashian.
Maybe Elon can be Mark Antony.
(Update: Given this morning’s news, maybe Elonus Muskus’ Twitter poll should’ve been, “Should I step down as head of Twitter?” Then he could go back to running his electric chariot company.)
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