Saturday, December 18, 2010

In The Year Of Our Lord, 2010

Indeed, a fool takes no delight in understanding, a proverb if there ever was one.  

It is always a joy to travel uptown via subway, especially the Grand Central and Times Square stations.  There are such interesting and colorful people, their agendas and talents proudly on display, or being projected from a bullhorn.   There can be little or no misunderstanding about what their intentions are. When it comes to saving souls, these people mean business.  The eternal lake of fire awaits.

I went uptown to Grand Central Station to meet a friend, who was also meeting a couple old friends. Oddly, we were all from Florida.  So we went to the back bar at The Oyster Bar and chatted about what we've been doing since our Floridian nightclubbing days.  We each told our stories.  I had heard or known my friend's story, so I listened mostly to the other two.  I went last.  The other two were both gay, one had become a shoe enthusiast/promoter, the other had become a Fransiscan friar.  We chatted amiably for some time while we enjoyed our drinks.  The friar had accumulated 3 Master's degrees and worked with the poor.  The shoe enthusiast was promoting a night in Seattle called Glitoris.  They were both quite nice and had interesting stories to tell.  Mostly they both seemed content, pleased.

The clubbing scene attracts a wide selection of people. Among them you will find many free-spirited people. The general message of club culture and club music is tolerance and permissiveness. Some people take this to an extreme and they become tedious, but in general there is an attitude of tolerance for sexual orientation, lifestyle and preference.  The rest of society seems to be slowly catching up, perhaps it is the "Will and Grace" show, who knows.  But there are also those who staunchly believe that sexual orientation is a sin and those who choose to live that way will burn in hell... those poor souls don't get the same sort of reaction from clubbing.  The ecstatic revery and transcendence of club culture for them is a sin, and it is always quite loud, an impediment to them venting the gospel.

I will avoid further denouncing of one way of thinking in favor of another, as it will do no good and change nothing, though the choice seems an obvious one to me.  But as I was leaving G.C.T. I walked past these signs and pamphlets and a man screaming his religious wisdom in short bursts at all of those who walked by.  

A fading bible verse occurred to me, "Go into all the world and teach the good news to all creation."  I'm not sure but I believe this was Jesus's last instruction to his disciples before he ascended into heaven, according to the biblical re-telling of his life.  At what point did the gospel, the good news, become the bad news?  Was it during Paul's lifetime and preaching? Was it always there, lurking in the old testament, the mean-eyed God of harsh judgement, wrathful plagues and locust-filled skies? Or is this an American thing, this hate fueled religious sentiment? Perhaps none of these things, perhaps all of them.  The need for religion somehow distorting the initial impulse, the freedoms forever falling towards structure.  The retreat from uncertain questions into the certainty of doctrine. The battle of passions.

It is rare that I have found any who suffer from persecution to be tolerant of their persecutors, though that is what they expect in return.  It is as clear to them that the opposite side is misguided, and perhaps even evil, than it is for the opposers. One side masks their bigotry under the banner of love, the other masks their hatred and intolerance under the banner of victimhood.  A victim never needs to morally evaluate themselves, a religious truth sometimes trumps all need for compassion as it reduces the person down to just the need to save their eternal soul, something they have lost touch with by choice, by rejection of Christ's love.

As we sat and drank we briefly discussed various things, shoes and being a friar.   I told the friar of a book that I had read, "Constantine's Sword", about the religious vision of Constantine and the inversion of the cross in the sky to a sword and the subsequent crusades to purge the holy land of infidels.  The arc of Christian history and the unfortunate relationship between Christianity and Judaism.  This conversation was still fresh in my mind as I walked by this underground preacher, espousing his religious message with a desperation that was not far-off from the throws of crack addiction.  I thought to myself, it's not often you see the word whoremonger any more....

My wife wanted me to go to the gym and jog on the treadmill this morning.
Another proverb sprang to mind: "The wicked run when no one is chasing them..."

So says the very wise King Solomon