a combination of southeast VA and honest reflection

I was roaming about aimlessly one day pretending to have some ultimate destination in mind. The area, or neighborhood, I was in was laid out like a grid, similar to Los Angeles, although, thankfully, the climate was much more dreadful. Dreadful weather is the home of pensive reflection.  Curiously enough, due to the combination of the design of the neighborhood, and the weather, the whole situation saw me walking around with deep eyes, fully in control of my whereabouts, fully in control of my direction. Oddly enough, I kept arriving at the same street corner, looking upon the same glowing movie theater marquee. As I made my way down the same street for what must of been the third time, this stranger approached me. He was not too tall, well dressed, but not ostentatiously so. He appeared to be rather modest, and entirely genuine. A suburban man displaying a blue-collar awareness and visions of a better life all in the same glance, an admirable trait. As he started to talk to me, he started to offer me some sort of economic opportunity, and investment. If I wasn’t so taken by his demeanor, I would’ve dismissed him as some sort of scam artist. Although, being that I was subdued and suckered by his colloquial charm, like a shark turned upside down, I remained and listened. He proceeded to reveal to me a piece of exclusive information which supposedly pointed to very consequential financial gains. I was surprised and impressed by his presentation, his attention to detail, his humor, his conviction, as if he himself had already enjoyed financial windfall as a result of this investment. He had told me about his life being transformed, he boasted about his security and luxury, all while retaining all the modesty that is appropriate in social situations. With a nurturing and warm glow in his eyes, he continued his petition with facts and figures, projections, small charts and testimonials. He relied on hard evidence of objective statistics and formulas. By now, as intrigued as I was, I had to show some reservations. I wasn’t born yesterday good sir! While one may present to me the gold of recent excavations, one can never promise like results with every dig. Isn’t it odd that statistics can be useful to opposing parties retrospectively, although, they can only romance the ghosts of future endeavors.  Being that I had a rather meager and pragmatic existence, it would’ve been foolish and irresponsible to promise any of my fortune to this stranger regardless of his enthusiasm and promise. For a man such as myself, blessed with a very sober precaution, I could not muster up the faith to forego my money on something, that as studied as it may be, can promise nothing in return. The promise of hope in convincing me to sacrifice my well being is no promise at all. Hope is a hired friend to keep you smiling amidst ruin, worth every insult. Although, no amount of hope can justify the self executed amputation of a strong leg. I’m a rational man, objective and fair! I politely stopped the man short and informed him that under any other situation I would of been offended by his offer, for such an offer would most likely have been proceeded by a quick over view of the wounded target, and it would have been settled within himself that I was a weak and vulnerable man, looking for some answer to be dropped from the heavens above, requiring no work of my own. Although, because he handled himself so respectfully and with such sensitivity, I declined with an amicable smile and went on my way. Indeed, I am no naive fool!

As the hours passed, my thoughts could not keep from arriving back at the situation which I had experienced earlier in the afternoon. The more time I had to reflect on it, the more I was blessed with a clarity that reaffirmed my decision. There is definitely something strange about the idea of one agreeing to such a commitment on such short notice. If I was any more emotional, I would have surely surrendered to the frenzied spirit of the moment. This man was indeed an experienced sales man who understood his targets so quickly and accurately as to appeal directly to the specifics which each person required. In as much these types of exchanges and partnerships are what make up the machine of our existence, it still can not rid itself of its own stench of manipulation. So, I continued to walk  and eventually I heard the bells of the church, an evangelical establishment, over flowing with a celebration. As I approached the church closer, I was greeted and invited to be a part of their ecumenical extravaganza. I thought it to be quite generous, and so overcome was I by their apparent happiness, almost as though it bordered on insanity. I entered into a congregation which was in the midst of their worship, and the whole group of them seemed to be floating on air, suspended with no substantial structure to support them. Full of songs about love and messages about good will and faith in the unseen God, the band, while doing their humble best to cast our gaze above, only managed to exist as the one burden keeping this bird on the ground. Although, what of it! Every set of eyes were glazed over, hypnotized by the comfort of the trampled, united in their humanity, all thirsty for something that can rescue them from themselves. The preacher began to preach with such an assured conviction which was only matched by his humbleness and sensitivity for every class and color of congregant. How skilled one must be to turn a financed strategic lesson plan into divine inspiration. (Hoax or Honor, it can’t be both.) There was nothing presumptuous in his words, there was only assured well being. I was  taken and I surrendered, and I can’t even tell you what I surrendered to! The whole experience was entirely mystical and could not be accurately summarized within the confined limits of my language. To be taken by something that is so clouded in myth and whose presentation is so handicapped by shameless and gaudy decoration, is beyond explanation. The whole church seemed to be dancing on the borderline of betrayal. It is a case study of psychology, the pride in humility, the high marks of servitude..how perverse! The existence of this monstrosity can only be justified by God himself, for without God it is the most shamed industry of all. And then it happened. High on the mystery, complexity and psychological richness of this whole existence, I fell to one knee and asked Jesus Christ, the son of the God, to come into my heart, I relinquished my own will with hopes that He may take over. I gave my life to that which I can not explain, I gave my life to that which I can only hope will grace my existence with a hint of the divine. Yes, for what I have heard, and concerning what has been told to me of God, only if I experienced a slither of life in return for my complete submission, then I would be blessed and compensated beyond that which I can not even comprehend.

(And then I realized the irony.  How little I respect God, as to wildly enter into the most sacred devotion based only on one night of frenzied passion, and store front presentation, not unlike a crippling assault of puerile lust born from mere fascination.)

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3 comments
  1. Stephen said:

    Ah, the case of the religious orgasm. Perhaps God too mocks you for your spiritual one-night stand. Why you offered your will to Jesus, that complete stranger, without any understanding of what it means is beyond a case study in psychology – it is pure folly, but I know you understand, for you declined the superfluous and irrelevant offer on the street corner. Perhaps if the same man offered to save your life had you slipped and fallen into what seemed an irreconcilable chasm, would you take his actions more seriously? God does not take well to being a frivolity at some street carnival, nor is He an extemporaneous business decision that – had you not bought in to the pandering salesmanship of someone who so dearly needs [i]your[/i] attention (oh the horror!) – would not have affected you in the least.

    I hope you do not mind my occasional comment. I’ll try to make it worth your while.

    • “Perhaps if the same man offered to save your life had you slipped and fallen into what seemed an irreconcilable chasm, would you take his actions more seriously?”–Well, there is much to be said of a desperate condition, surely one would grab hold of any hand which reaches down into an irreconcilable chasm in the primary goal of bringing oneself to ground level again, quickly proceeding to thank whoever was attached to hand, offer some compensation and then move on. How quickly we can forget when one does us a favor as compared to when one wrongs us. Additionally, regarding my initial excerpt, God serves as a 3rd party, while the more immediate characters (the congregants and the wondering soul) discuss amongst themselves the goals which are desired and how to attain them. God is not a vehicle, and perhaps he can intervene even among the well intended and misguided, although that has nothing to do with my mentality. The miracle of God is that, as the timeless myth suggests, he can turn even the most lowly into one worthy of his kingdom. And perhaps God does mock me, while Jesus forgives me. What an enigma.

  2. Caleb said:

    An awesome post. Did this happen recently? You seem to notice a lot of the same things that I have about “christians.” Some go to the point of destroying Led Zeppelin albums and others don’t realize that living a true devoted life to God is a challenge that takes dedication. I’m nobody to say anything about if they are truly christian or not, but many church going people think they have the routine down and assume they are justified by what they do and do not truly know the Lord.

    http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/culture-theology

    You may find this video interesting. I remembered it just because I think he makes a comment about burning Led Zeppelin cds like you did in an earlier post, but other than that it was incredibly interesting. His name is Matt Chandler and is one of my favorite preachers.

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