Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Can I Get an Amen?

Some may be tempted to interpret this tale as an indictment of religion in general, or Christianity in particular, on my part. It is nothing of the sort. It is merely an account of an individual I used to know who had a singular take on her faith.

She was, by her own description, a person with a sinful past. She made frequent mention of the many beautiful men she’d had as lovers, and even more frequent mention of the Halloween party she’d hosted that had garnered a photo spread in a leading gay magazine. And, while she claimed to have been reborn with the Lord, it was striking how often she would mention these episodes from her past; how she would smile at the memories; and how she seemed generally repentant for her past but never specifically repentant about any specific thing she’d done back then.

More than once, she informed me that I too would be reborn. “I’ve been right where you are now,” she assured me with her characteristic hubris, “and you are very close to being reborn.” That pronouncement came about 17 years ago, by the way. Close, but no incense-scented cigar.

But my favorite, my very favorite, of her many sermons was her take on reading the Bible, i.e., the Christian Bible, Old and New Testaments. She informed me, as the Wise One instructing Young Grasshopper, that in two thousand years, no one – no one! – had read the entire Bible cover to cover without being converted to Christianity. I’ll do a paragraph break here to let that one sink in.

Well… I had to admit that I could not disprove her assertion. It’s true that I’d attended 12 years of Catholic schools and had read quite a bit of the Bible – heck, there was a time when I read a great deal of it on my own, apart from any school assignment – but had I in fact read every word of it cover to cover? Well… no, I guess I hadn’t done that, nor did I know anyone whom I could be certain had done so themselves. Still, it struck me as a remarkable statement, and – I might as well say it – a patently absurd statement, unworthy of anyone with sufficient intellect to tie their shoes and make a proper sign of the cross.

Now one of her central defining personality traits was a love of arguing, and I could sense that she really wanted us to argue on this point. But for once, my better sense came to the surface and I realized that it would be a pointless, endless argument, given that neither of us had any facts to back us up – in my case, it was because I hadn’t read the Bible cover to cover myself (and was not inclined to undertake the task just to prove a dubious point). In her case, the lack of facts arose from the perfectly unverifiable nature of her assertion – the historical record is woefully incomplete with regard to documenting the effects of reading the Bible over the past two thousand years.

So an idiotic argument was averted. I suppose if I’d averted a few more of them, we might still be friends… but maybe it’s better this way. Look, I appreciate the diversity of opinions and philosophies among my friends, but this doesn’t mean that every theory is given equal weight in my world. My friendship with her effectively ended shortly thereafter, the fallout of a completely separate (though equally idiotic) argument, and I see no evidence that either of us has suffered for the loss. Still, it makes for an entertaining set of memories and stories… maybe not as entertaining as the stories of her past, but I’m OK with that – I have no intention of trying to outdo her in that regard.

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