AJ Valliant Arbitrarily ranks: The greatest men that ever lived , Martyrs

March 14, 2007

I am not a great man. I’m a pretty good man with occasional delusions of competence, but I have a somewhat grounded assessment of my relative historical importance. I’ve spawned no zeitgeists, freed no peoples, and altered no paradigm. To be honest I still feel a rush of pride when I do my dishes and laundry on the same day. While slightly dispiriting, this relative lack existential impact in no way precludes me from judging the actions of men far greater than I. If anything my near total lack of accomplishment make me even more qualified, as I have no pressures to distract, and no rival claim to put forth.

For this first edition we will be focusing on martyrs: men of principle whose greatness was inexorably bound to there suffering.

Let’s get down to business.

The system goes as such: I rank each Man’s greatness via a highly scientific set of criteria I have chosen, producing an end score that reflects my assessment of their legacy. By “Greatest Men” I mean men that I: Know about, give a damn about, and feel like writing about. There will probably be some women added eventually, but the Arbitron 6500 is kind of sexist and programmed with a bias towards white male European history…so it might take it bit.
The categories break down as such (The higher the score, the more favourable the review)

Short Term Impact/ Lasting Impact:

Pretty self explanatory. A discussion and assessment of the long and short term impact of their actions.


How much style and personal flare did they impart to there greatness.Could I do the same thing, in the same situation, if Sufficiently motivated:

Were I to travel back in time could I replicate their deeds, assuming this was something I really wanted to do.

Did they Ever kill a man:

If so how many? A big part of greatness is lives altered…and few things alter a life more than ending it.

Quality pop culture homage to them

How entertaining/artistically valid was the media (film/literature/television) inspired by them.

Wildcard It is what it is baby; it is what it is.






Breakdown :

Son of God. Savoir of Man. Laid back carpenter with a penchant for impromptu dinner parties and open toed sandals. Unless you were raised in a gully by secular swamp people you probably know who he is; but I’ll give you the Coles notes anyway. -Virgin has a kid– kid grows a beard– hangs out with religious types– Develops super powers– Declares the Old Testament null and void– Starts running with a bad crowd– Pisses off the establishment (ie Romans and Jews)– Gets beat down and crucified for essentially being a nice guy Wild ride with an rough finish; Jesus was the original rockstar.


Style: 5 Regardless of his actual divinity, by all accounts he was a very cool guy. The sum total of his message was “Don’t worry about all that draconian shit in the old testament, just relax, try and take care of each other, and be a decent human being”. He’s the kind of dude you’d see at a Phish Jam, crushed on pot brownies and talking about how he had all these ideas if he could just get his head together….maybe dump that psycho chick he hooked up with in Fremont that’s always trying to get him to go in on these welfare fraud scams.

There is one part of the myth I find a little disturbing though. His father arranged to have him tortured to death by strangers, so he could then forgive those strangers for things only the father was holding them accountable for in the first place. How sadistic and convoluted do you have to be to make up rules no one can possible follow, then decide the only way those people can buy their way back into your good graces is for them to torture your child to death? Not only is God an insane prick, he’s also a remarkably poor bargainer.


Short Term Impact/Lasting Impact: 4/ 10 (sorta)

In the short term Jesus was surprisingly insignificant. Just another cult leader causing a stir in
Judah that the Romans had to put down. He had his followers, a decent rep, and a lot of people pissed off at him; but nothing that would suggest the global Icon he’d become. If he’d lived he likely would have been a historical footnote; instead
Pontius Pilate made him incarnate proof that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

After he died his legacy of love and tolerance was given over to several men, then a crowd, then an Idea. The idea gained power, the men got a taste for it, and conquest in the name of lord became de rigueur. His words became a butchers refrain; a marching song to lighten bloody feet on there way through
Bethlehem. So while the magnitude of his impact is unquestionable, the western world was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic, how representative that impact was of the man…is debatable.


Could I do the same thing, in the same situation, if Sufficiently motivated: 8/ 2


For a guy that became the single most significant figure in the history of western civilization he led a surprisingly low key life. Wander around in a bath robe chatting with people, maybe heal the odd leper, hang with prostitutes, do a little fishing, eventually get busted by the cops and do some real hard time. Hell, that’s pretty much my life right now, minus the lepers.

Since I’m not sure I buy the whole “Son of god” thing, the Jesus act essential requires me to start an immensely popular doomsday cult with a sliding timeline. When you factor in that the apostles did most of the heavy lifting on the bureaucratic side, my duties would be: Be charismatic and eloquent, get people drunk and fed with minimal resources, be a really nice guy, and have a shitty friends that gets me nailed to a lower case “t”. Again, all things well within my current reach without aide of time travel. I think I could I pull it off.

If you take the bible at it’s Word I will have to raise the score to an 8. I don’t know for certain that I am not the son of God, but if I was you can be damn sure I’d be turning blood to wine before any Roman got within a hundred feet of me.


Did they Ever kill a man: 1

Not…uh, not really his style. Though you could argue that since he knew he was going to be killed and allowed it, it was sort of suicide by cop. I’m pretty sure his old man sold him out though, so no extra points for the hypothetical.


Quality of the pop culture homage to them : 6

By sheer volume alone I’ve got to give a give a six here. By equal measure though I can’t give anymore than that since there is such a disparity in quality amongst the media and memorabilia in his honor. I won’t bother with detailed list, but go into any Mexican dollar store and you will see what I am talking about.

I find it ironic, though, that most of the really compelling Jesus kitsch was condemned as blasphemous by the church. While I can’t tell them how to worship, Jesus strikes me as the kind of guy that had sense of humor and didn’t take himself to seriously. I think he’d find a lot more resonance in his primarily gentle portrayal on Southpark, and pathos in the humanistic “ The last temptation of Christ”, than he would connection with a snuff flick like ‘The Passion of the Christ”. Note: I gave bonus point for the Musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” as I saw in grade 12 and still have two of the songs stuck in my head.


Wilcard : 3You know, it’s 2000 thousand years later, and my main exposure to him was a religion I’m mostly hostile to…yet I still have a genuine affection and protectiveness towards the dude. For all he was shoved down my throat by self righteous dimwits, demagogs, and jackasses, were he alive today I would totally let him crash at my place until things cooled down at home and he got his hemp t-shirt stand up and running.


End score and assessment: 37/31

I have always seen Jesus as good guy that was used and betrayed while he was alive, then further used and betrayed after he died. Maybe he really thought he was the son of god? Maybe he was? Either way he was setup and sold out by those with dreams coarser than his own.



10 Responses to “AJ Valliant Arbitrarily ranks: The greatest men that ever lived , Martyrs”

  1. thekenji Says:

    Jesus Christ Superstar is the best musical ever in the history of all musicals. If it ever becomes the official modern replacement for the bible, I’m going to convert faster than you can say “myhrr”.

    AJ, can you explain the meaning of your fourth image? I’m trying hard to understand the allegorical meaning of a robotic giant eye in what seems like the swamps of Mordor or something out of “Fantastic Planet”.

  2. “AJ, can you explain the meaning of your fourth image? I’m trying hard to understand the allegorical meaning of a robotic giant eye in what seems like the swamps of Mordor or something out of “Fantastic Planet”.”

    That is the most accurate artistic interpretation I could find of my conception of sadistic and convoluted God. Note his spool full of souls, and huge eye with which to drink in our sadness.

  3. And as point of reference the next two Martyr entries are Malcom X and Spiderman.

  4. engtech Says:

    What’s funny is that I know you’re working up the chain to Spiderman.

  5. Jive Says:

    Spiderman can’t be a martyr because Spiderman can’t die. I’m not saying it’s impossible to kill him I’m saying he can’t ever be allowed to die because the moment he dies the universe will cease to have any value. No continuing adventures of Spiderman, no intrinsic value in existence. Superman could and did die because he’s a lame ass super hero anyway and the sales of his comic died first but not Spiderman. So I suggest you pick a different third martyr. Maybe you could use Denny from PD. I mean he’s kind of dying on the inside everyday so the rest of us can have a laugh… that’s sort of martyr like.

  6. Wait and see Jive, it will all make sense in time.

  7. Webomatica Says:

    Good point out how in the old testament God is fearful and vengeful while in the new, Jesus kinda contradicts all that. I never really thought about the father son relationship psychology before. I wonder if that’s why God put him on the cross? Some subconcious anger because Jesus might have been getting more famous than ole dad? Seems like Jesus is more popular than God these days. I see more movies and paintings with Jesus in ’em than God.

    Anyhow, you have a twisted mind, keep it up, I like to read a little funny, crazy stuff mixed in with Mac OS X 10.4.9…

  8. Vanessa Says:

    I adore that film.

    Did you know Ted Neely is STILL playing Jesus on stage?

    Not only does that speak volumes about his career, but seriously…. do the maths.

    Laundry and dishes on the same day is a grand thing, indeed. I’m aiming for that today, myself.

  9. “Laundry and dishes on the same day is a grand thing, indeed. I’m aiming for that today, myself”

    It’s a rare convergance. The domestic equivalent of a lunar eclipse.

  10. Stiletto Says:

    That song makes me want to drink wine and light a phat one.

    Excellent, as always. Thanks AJ.

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