3/12/2009

Jesus Loves Me


About a month ago, I was standing on campus handing out condoms with labels that read “Save the Wood.” It was my ever-clever membership campaign for Sierra Club. A fine gentleman came up to me and handed a couple condoms back to me and told me he didn’t need them- which was quite brazen, I thought.

“Don’t you think you’re encouraging pre-martial sex?”

And this is how I met John. He asked me a couple questions about my religious beliefs as I continued to hand out rubbers to strangers. He seemed particularly concerned that I did not believe in heaven or hell, and my ideas about premarital sex were quite liberal. After 10 minutes, he left and said he would check out Sierra Club. Yeah, right, dude.

But he did. And afterwards we had a long conversation about our individual beliefs. He’s an evangelical christian, which I nearly had a “virtual baby” over. According to John, if you get a hard-on, you’ve had sex, and thusly have sinned. Additionally, very few people get into heaven because we’re all filthy adulterous sinning thieves. And if he had to console a woman who had just had an abortion he would simply say, “It’s not the first time you’ve killed someone” because technically she (and everyone else) has killed Christ too.

In short, we have very few things in common, except that we both find the Flying Spaghetti Monster hilarious. (personally, I think it’s the creation of pretentious atheists who love picking on scrawny christians. So dick.)

Because John came and checked out my tree-hugging crew, I was obligated to check out his bible-thumping crew: Campus Crusade for Christ. As soon as I walked into the meeting, there was a huge banner and those flags you see at used car dealerships. It was a Christ Carnival. Walking towards the front of the room, I was greeted by literally every person I passed. At last I found John and he told me that I could sit next to Holly. Well I sat down, and within five minutes, Holly moved her shit to another seat. She could smell my heathenism, and it smelled like Origins’ ginger perfume, burrito, and pheromones.

The meeting started off with everyone standing (now I remember why I disliked church: you just can’t casually sit and bear it. There’s all sorts of sitting-standing-kneeling-standing involved). So the Crusaders have their own house band, and John’s the drummer. Everyone sang along to a couple songs about loving Jesus, the guitarist frequently interjecting things like “All together now! Jesus we love you!”and “We are not worthy!”

Then my favorite part: Prayer Points!

And this is not something you cut off your Jesus Wheaties box and mail in for a free t-shirt. Prayer points were things you should pray for, in groups. So I found three random dudes to pray with. One guy introduced himself as “JC” and I couldn’t help but say “Oh! Like Jesus Christ!” He didn’t seem to get it. When JC suggested that I take the “help sinners bear fruit in Christ” bullet point, I politely asked the skinniest christian to do it for me, being that I was new and all. Pretty much this is the script for prayer points:

“Dear Lord, I just want to thank you for your grace, and bringing me to you, Father. I want to pray for ___(Insert Prayer Point)____. Father,_____________. Dear Lord, we are nothing in your glory, Father,” etc. etc.

After prayer points, there was a speaker on how to live an evangelical lifestyle and how to convince unbelievers to come to the christian community. He gave an outline of questions to use to engage unbelievers, and god damn it, it was the same script John used to get me there in the first place! So much for going as the open-minded atheist. I was duked.

After the speaker, there were some more prayer points. And more singing.

Now it’s two hours later, and really, I’ve had all the Christ I can take for one evening, so I tell John politely that I have to leave. Later he would email me to thank me for coming out and to invite me and a guest to “35,” one of the Crusade houses for a potluck dinner. I plan on asking my atheist other if he would like to go to the epicenter of organized evangelical Christianity, a plate of vegan tacos in hand.

3 comments:

Conor said...

That is so open-minded of you that I just don't know what to do with myself.

I remember in Taiwan, I got suckered into something similar, because I didn't know the language or even the culture all that well when I got there. There was another American who'd been there longer than I, and who spoke very good Chinese, but turned out to be absolutely oblivious to social cues.

So I and a friend get invited to dinner by a nice enough group of students. As we're walking to their place, we get a little weirded out, because it was in a very nice part of town, far out of the reach of any student income, I thought. But we stuck it out, and sat in the living room sipping hot water, as the tea hadn't yet been served, and I was busting out of the hospice sandals I had to don upon entering.

To cut to the chase, after dinner shit goes down and several people start walking down from upstairs in robes with Bibles in hand. And I don't mean to be bigoted, but Taiwan is 93% Buddhist and Daoist and only 4.5% Christian (thanks, CIA World Factbook), so the Christians that there were tended to be freaking weird.

I'm glad you stuck it out as long as you did, but I too had the same feeling of, "Oh God, why didn't I see this coming, and how couldn't they have respected me enough to think that I wouldn't see it coming?"

John Capone said...

I like your commentary of this experience that I've shared with you. I appreciate that you refer to me as a "fine gentleman," haha. I think your first quote is slightly off though. I remember asking "Do you think that this is encouraging pre-marital sex?" I should also mention that I didn't quite say that "few people get into heaven," but I emphasized that anyone can get into heaven, regardless of the sins you've committed because we have all sinned. I wanted to make clear to you that even though I believe there is only one way to be justified before God, it is a gift that is offered to everyone, not just some, or the "righteous," or even "good people."

I'm glad that you remembered the abortion example story I told you. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation that we had that night. I also find it hilarious how you describe your first impressions at the Cru large group meeting. I agree that the used car dealership/carnival flags are quite ridiculous, but I'm not in charge of that. I'm actually upset about how Holly reacted to you. I even said something that night (not knowing what you had thought) when I noticed that she moved. I can also understand that after 2 hours of being in a place you didn't necessarily want to be, you have a perfectly legitimate reason for wanting to get out of there. When I was at the Sierra Club meeting, to tell you the truth, I almost couldn't sit through 45 minutes! It was also nothing like I expected it to be.

One last thing I'd like for you to know. I didn't use a script while I was talking to you. I didn't turn around after getting a condom from you because I "wanted to evangelize this girl." I also didn't sit down with you for 2 hours with the hope of "converting you." I genuinely was interested in knowing more about you after our little encounter. I really do care about people I run into who don't know what to believe because I feel that it is very important to share what I know and believe to be true. I don't have any other motive than to just be your friend and serve you however I can.

Thats my 2 cents.

jaibee said...

john,
you are an upstanding gentleman. thanks for your comments and setting the record straight.

i respect what you do with cru and the time you take to educate others. let me know if you'd like to grab a milkshake sometime.

also, how did you find this??