Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

He only carries a Bible, a rosary, and a toothbrush. He won't wear sandals or shoes. He walks everywhere, only accepting rides when he feels the Holy Spirit wants him to ride. He's the Jesus Guy.

Around 1999 or 2000 or so, an unusual stranger started showing up in coal mining towns in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. His real name is Carl J. Joseph, but he's mostly known as "The Jesus Guy," or "What's your name?" The latter moniker came from the man's penchant for answering in the way Jesus addressed the demoniac of the Gospels. Last anyone knew of him, he was seen in Alabama. He asked for no money, just a place to stay, or the most basic of physical needs. He's spoken to crowds as large as 2000 people. He's had teenaged boys taunt him with threats of crucifixion. Still, after 10 years of a road ministry as a "Jesus lookalike," he remains a rather enigmatic figure.

Now, obviously, folks know he's not Jesus. yet after roughly 20 years, The Jesus Guy still draws crowds, causes people to come to a dead stop on the highway, and people still claim their lives were changed by his presence. What causes people to see him as "for real," and not simply a variant of an Elvis impersonator?

My theory is a very simple one. I think that the reason the Jesus Guy is mostly well-received, is because many people have an inner desire to "have Jesus live among us." We simply want to hang with Him. The Jesus Guy becomes a living symbol that Jesus can, and does, live among us. He reminds us that we walk in the shadow of the Almighty.

Our desire to be like what The Jesus Guy represents make him bigger than Santa Claus, bigger than a Las Vegas Elvis. That is not only a "good" thing, it's an empowering thing. Thanks be to God!


What an interesting story. I like your take on it.

In an unrelated note, it reminds me of something I'd forgotten for decades. When I was a child, there was a homeless man in our town who lived by the river and called himself Jesus. I wonder now if he was schizophrenic. And I wonder what ever happened to him.

You can watch an hour long documentary on "The Jesus Guy" at the following URL;

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I was recently at a retreat at the Franciscan Center in Tampa and he was there. First I thought, "Great another nutcase. What is he up to?" He sat in on all our sessions and answered a few questions. What a gentle soul! Very humble and very knowledgeable about his faith and the world around him. I wish there were more like him and less of many others!

Have there been any more recent sightings?
I stumbled across the video searching for something to relieve boredom this evening and saw the Jesus Guy documentary.
It piqued my curiosity.
I believe from what I have seen that he has mastered the art of being a blank slate for others to project upon him in many instances.

Haven't checked, lately, Tina. I figure, he sort of shows up when he shows up. Kinda like the guy he emulates!

I think you're right to some degree about the "projection" thing--which is also quite Biblical. "Who do you say that I am?"

I think this guy is going to be bigger than the Beatles.

i remember James, he walked the streets of birmingham a few years back. we invited him into our home for dinner often. i think he had to have knee surgery and stays in tampa now

My sister saw the Jesus Guy walking through the small town in the south she lived in -- he had another guy dressed similarly with him, she said, and they stopped at a church and asked for shelter for the night -- and were refused.

Met James in Old City Jerusalem Israel four months ago. First few times we saw him talking to people and hanging around the Holiest places in old City. We thought he'd be a little nuts, eventually we spoke to him and found that he is a very interesting knowlegable person with a solid head on his shoulders. He has a gentle loving spirit and is very well respected in some of the holiest of places in Israel. The priest in all of the places I have seen him in respect him and speak with him side by side.People seem to gravitate to him and he always has calming things to say along with a solid understanding of scriptures. This is a very knowlegable person that deserves respect. Haven't seen him around for a bit, but he may be in some of the Palistinians areas now on a new adventure. He mentioned that he has crossed the Taba border before and the Egyptions don't seem to take a second look at the robe and bare feet. I expect to see him again in Old City as he seems to gravitate where is presence is welcome. This man is not a nut case, hope to see him again and wish him the best. I'm sure wherever he gos he will always have someone looking over him and he will be doing good making a difference in peoples lives. However strange his robe and bare feet may seem, it is working in his own way to make his life and others better.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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