Saturday, March 29, 2008

Arrogance

(I am having some font issues here. Hopefully I can get this legible soon.)

If you've ever tried your hand at telling someone that didn't already believe it that Jesus is the Son of God and that He loves them and died for them to be able to join Him in Heaven, you've probably had the charge of arrogance lobbed at you once or twice.

I'm currently in patchy email correspondence with one of our Starbucks customers whom we can call the "Milk Guy" because the milk or half-and-half at the condiment bar always runs out just before or just after he tries to put some in his venti coffee. We have, in our emails, briefly touched on this issue. (Not the milk issue. The Jesus issue.) In one email, I said,

If you really believe that there's a God, and that that God wants everyone to know Him/Her because S/He loves them, and that the completest way to do that is through getting to know Jesus, and that there are some pretty severe consequences for not, then there's probably something wrong with you if people's dismissal of Jesus doesn't make you cry from time to time.

The Milk Guy then charged me with using a lot of disclaimers, which just goes to show that trying to present a scenario which encourages the other person to put themselves in your shoes doesn't always work. (My point was that I do believe all that stuff and could he imagine what it would be like to be me, believing it? But all he seems to have gotten was the "if.")

He also, quite naturally, took umbrage with the "pretty severe consequences for not" line. I figured he might and almost didn't put it in there, because sometimes I can hardly believe Hell either, and in any case, I'm not sure that it is what we often think it is. But whatever it is, I don't want anyone I know to have to experience it.

He retorted that such an assumption has arrogance as its root, and that it automatically condemns most of humanity, and that it's not fair if someone overseas, due to lack of knowledge, ends up with the "severe consequences" just because they were born in the wrong place.

Back in the day ("the day" in this case being about three years ago when Antagonist-Andrew worked at our store and the two of us bickered about faith issues at work all day long and drove everybody--including ourselves--insane), I would have jumped on this as an invitation to rebut. However, the Milk Guy hasn't really asked what I think. And he has made it clear that he isnt' really comfortable talking about this stuff. Which makes me think that he might not even hear what I'm saying anyway. So I'm trying a new tack and just holding my peace for the moment.

However, I do have thoughts about this. Lots of thoughts. And so for lack of another audience, I have decided to spend the next post or so mulling them over. Feel free to issue your own responses, retorts and rebuttals to me, too.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Monday

In 2000, I was living in London and having a rather dreadful time of it really (it got worse as it went on), but I remember the day after Easter as being really lovely, and I wrote a poemish sort of thing about it. This poem still makes me happy, so even though it is 8 years later and Easter Monday is not a holiday in this country and today is not even Monday, I think I shall post it here. (I find it funny that Starbucks figures in it, even though I hadn't an inkling at the time that I'd ever work at one.)

After the Resurrection
The gave us a holiday,
So we took it
With our umbrellas
(To keep it from raining
Which they did).
We drank cappuccinos at Starbucks
And watched the foam clouds
Scud across the top of Green Park
Until the sky was blue
And we had to go for a walk in it,
As the trees exploded
Around us
Like suspended fireworks
Sizzling seedbursts down
And bringing them up
Short of the lampposts,
And the sun showered late daffodils
Onto the grassy slope,
Which begged for someone
To run spring-fever-crazy
Through them
Or to gather them up in a ball
And toss them--
Glorious glowing life.

And, since we're talking poems here, I just have to share with you this brief piece of silly brilliance composed today by my colleague Ben (whom I sometimes call "Bentleman," from the time when he was the only guy who worked at our store and it was "ladies and Bentleman):

Haikus are easy.
But sometimes they don't make sense.
Hippopotamus.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Life in Death



I took this photo last fall, but the title still applies.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ISBN

I was initially a little disappointed to discover that my editor's warning was correct: they changed my book cover. (I'm not sure specifically who "they" are, which is probably as it should be.) I liked the original cover so much. But the current one is probably truer to the contents of the book--in spite of the fact that no one in the book takes an airplane.

Anyway, I discovered the cover change because I decided to search myself on the CFP website and, for the first time, there I was! Books are still not orderable, but look, I have an ISBN number.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What? This is a Holiday?

I have this friend who is convinced that all Americans want to be Irish, and that fewer of them have Irish ancestry than claim to. I think he should take into account the stereotype that the Irish are known for following the injunction to procreate, so it's not totally impossible for all the Americans claiming Irish ancestry to be telling the truth.

Also, this same friend is convinced that I am one of said Irish-wannabe Americans. But he is in error about this; I have never claimed to be Irish. I do claim, however, to have relatives in Ireland. They're not actually Irish either.

Be all that as it may--or may not--today is St. Patrick's Day and I keep forgetting. I'm far more apt to remember and get excited about St. David's Day, largely, I expect, because hardly anyone has heard of it, so it hasn't had the chance to get all obnoxious. I think that, like Cubicle Reverend, I find St. Patrick's Day manifestations over here to be less than compelling, and more than irritating. I also feel like telling everybody that they should have been celebrating it last week, because the Catholic Church tried to move it this year. But of course, that wasn't really going to work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Annoyingly Vague

Here is a post that is likely to be annoyingly vague, but I'm going to go ahead and write it anyway.

Last week, as you may know, I found out some saddening information about a former acquaintance from high school. Even though I haven't seen this person since graduation (that is, a very long time ago), finding out this piece of information has catapulted me back in time, as it were, and I am reliving a lot of stuff I would prefer not to.

I was one of the not-coolest Not Cool Kids, and it is tempting to try to garner pity for this role. I could probably do it, too. Nobody else was very perfect either. But the fact is that I was also not a very nice Not Cool Kid. The only thing I felt good about, in my painful insecurity, was my spiritual life, which I managed to completely undermine by projecting a terrified and scornful self-righteousness on all and sundry (and particularly on the person referred to above). I don't know if it was hurtful to anybody besides myself, although I do know I got on a lot of people's nerves.

Anyway, I am currently trying to process the person I was in high school, and it is turning out to be at best an embarrassing, and at worst a painful endeavour. (Partly it turns out that I'm not really as different now as I would like to think I am--I'm just better at facades.) I'm trying to figure out if I need to make some amends to people, and if so, who they are and how to go about it. I'm trying to figure out what God wants me to do and learn in all of this--how He wants me to change.

So that, if you want to know, is my excuse. It's hard for me to write about anything at the moment, and if you wonder why you don't see me here for a little while, this upheaval is probably the reason.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It Is . . . Finished?

Here's the discipline I set myself for Lent: I wanted to finish the first draft of the novel I've been working on for the past, oh, since-I-left-London. (As an auxiliary to this discipline, I have banned myself from facebook--the Number 1 Procrastination Weapon in my arsenal.)

And today . . . I did!

I didn't know it was going to be today when I sat down to write. I just got to this point and thought, "Oh. This is how it ends." It was pretty cool.

Stephen King says to wait a couple weeks after a first draft before you start revising it, but I have already established that there are some things Stephen King says with which I cannot agree or comply. Plus, it's only a 300-page book, but there have been weeks between pages, let alone between drafts. I feel I will be more likely to work on it now that I've made it to the end and all there is left is . . . well, possibly rewriting the entire thing . . .

I still can't say it's any good. But at least I got to Page Last.

(Does this mean I can go back to facebook? Or do I still have to wait for Easter?)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Upon Further Reflection

A few moments ago, in the throes of nostalgia and something I was trying to pass off as fellow-feeling or something, I wrote a post here. Upon further reflection, however, it occurred to me that, though I am no longer in touch with any of the relevant people, and although I don't think I said anything mean about them, and although I think I made identifiers mostly pretty vague, probably some of the information I shared was not really mine to share. I thought I was processing saddening information. But some processing, I guess, is best done silently.

So, if you managed to get it in your RSS feed or something anyway, please forgive me, and please just keep it to yourself. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Nudge, Nudge

Here is a story that's hard to tell without sounding like I'm parading my works of righteousness before men. But it does seem somewhat relevant to this post. And if you look closely, you'll see it's not about my works of righteousness at all, but about a woman named Lisa, and about God telling her something. Thing is, I can only tell you the bit I know about.

This afternoon, I had to mail my dad a bundle of papers. By rights, I should have mailed them yesterday. I busied myself with stuffing the priority mail envelope, sort of semiconsciously noticing a harried woman at the counter on the phone. As I turned around to wait my turn, I noticed that she actually had been using the post office phone and also that she was dripping wet. It has been pouring for most of the afternoon and all evening, so I could only assume she had locked herself out of her car or something. This very thing had happened to another woman in the same post office the last time I was there and it was precipitating.

I thought nothing more of this, being innately incapable of picking locks, and so I finished my postal business and drove off to run a few more errands. I had scarcely left the post office environs when I saw a figure walking along the side of the road. I occasionally walk along this particular Side-of-the-Road myself, but only when the sun is shining, and even then it's a little tricky because there's no sidewalk, and in the summer time if you edge off to avoid cars, you might end up in poison ivy. Today there was no poison ivy, but there was sure a lot of mud.

It took me a second, but I suddenly realised this was the woman from the post office. I wondered how far she had to go. I wondered why she was walking. I thought about the above-mentioned blogpost and about the dangers of picking up people I don't know.

Then I thought about how I would feel if for some reason I was stuck walking in the rain for miles, and how I would just about die for someone to have mercy and pick me up and give me a ride somewhere, but how I would know that people are just too afraid or too selfish and they never would. Five more cars passed her in my wake. But she was just a woman walking. I had this sense in my gut that I could drive by as usual but that if I did, I would never be able to stop wishing I had done something else.

So I turned around. And I rolled down my window. And I said, "Do you want a ride somewhere?" She hesitated, but not very long.

It turned out her name was Lisa, and she was headed in the direction I was going in the first place. She admitted to some "troubles," not least of which was the lack of a car, although she didn't divulge why she had already walked through about two other towns that day, in the rain, to get to where I met her.

She also couldn't stop talking about God and her finds. Just before I dropped her off, she said once more, "I was just praying, and wondering if God really hears me, and two seconds later I found this!" It was a little metal cross on a chain which had, apparently, been on the side of the road. She had also found a little trinket for her daughter. "And I thought, 'Maybe God really does listen . . . ' and then you came along, too! And the walk wasn't so bad after all. I mean, I got to spend all this time talking to God, and it was kind of an adventure."

I thought how great it is that God does listen, and how miraculous it is when He gets me to listen, too. I don't know that in the end my giving her a lift was worth as much to her as that little cross, but it didn't matter. I felt indescribably honoured to have gotten a glimpse of God's showing His presence and love to someone else. Probably this happens sometimes, when I actually get around to doing unto others what I would have them do unto me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Year Ago Today


I was wishing you all a Happy St. David's Day. Now I'm doing it again. Happy St. David's Day! This is one holiday that happens every year, but nobody knows about it--unless they're Welsh. Or me. Or know me.

The photo is courtesy of my Dad, though I can't tell if he took it or got it from somewhere else.
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