Read an Excerpt: What If... by Shirley MacLaine
For example, what if, on this Good Friday a couple of thousand years ago, Jesus didn't die on the Cross, but instead got married, had children, and traveled incognito for the rest of his life? What if Mary Magdalene was the missing mistress in the Last Supper paintings? What kind of impact would that have on the modern-day Church, its teachings, its sense of itself? There have been books bragging about various authors' research into such matters, and I'll admit I have read most of them, but not many exploring what such a fact would mean. I subscribe to the saying "One man's sacrilege is another man's truth." I like to think that I'm open to exploring anything, always questioning, trying to live free of preconceptions and blind certainties.
It's fun to speculate—it's an entertainment, and entertainment is my life. I've always believed that I owe my talent to my innate curiosity more than anything else. To me, imagination is more sacred and powerful than knowledge. Maybe we have even imagined ourselves into believing we are real when in fact we are a grand illusion dreamed up by some other species. Perhaps Shakespeare was right after all—and I mean literally correct, not metaphorically—when he wrote, "All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances, [births and deaths] / And one man in his time plays many parts [has many identities]..." I know several intelligent scientists who believe it might be possible to prove that the human race and our dramatic shenanigans are actually an extraterrestrial pageant of some kind, with actors (that would be us!) who believe wholeheartedly in their characters' dramatic story arc—a "reality television" of sorts for the ETs.
That may be true, but I'm mindful of Stephen Hawking's warning: "Be careful of embracing extraterrestrial life, should there be such a thing. Remember what happened to the natives in North America with the arrival of the white man." That was a pretty bad "scene," wouldn't you say?