And she’s back in the game! Former Salon.com columnist and darn-good writer Anne Lamott returns to the spunky little webzine that could, Salon.com. Her first column is free to the public, but subsequent columns will cost you.
What would you say if you were to stand before God and he asked you why he should let you into heaven?
That question can be found in a lot of Christian witnessing literature. It’s one of the questions you’re supposed to ask to make sure someone understands salvation. And I hate that question.
I was first asked that question when I was in elementary school. I was talking with the pastor of my church about being baptized. He wanted to make sure I truly understood Christianity and asked me that question. I was left speechless. What would I say if God asked me why he should let me into heaven? In my elementary school mind, the answer was simple. If God didn’t want to let me in, he didn’t have to. Groveling or trying to explain my way around God wouldn’t accomplish anything. What a foolish question.
The answer, of course, is that I was supposed to explain the plan of salvation to God (as if he forgot) and if I really knew my stuff, then my explanation would be so air-tight that God would have no choice but to let me in. It’s a nice device to see if people really understand something, but it’s always struck me as deceptive. God knows all about his plan for salvation. He knows if I know it or not, so why would he ask? The only reason I can think of is because he doesn’t want to let me into heaven. And if God suddenly decides not to let me into heaven, what I am going to say? “That’s not fair!”? Yeah, I’d probably say that, and I’d be right, but what would it accomplish?
The whole scenario seems flawed to me because God would have to keep contradicting himself. At best he’s simply testing his subjects, which seems like the last thing God would do when you first step before him. It’s almost casting a legalistic image on God.
Today marks four years of these pseudo-daily thoughts. For those keeping score, I believe that pre-dates Blogger and the recent flood of web-based journaling. Of course I can’t act like I’m that original; in the true nature of the Internet, I stole the idea from someone else.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m looking for inspiration is to read the archives. It sounds rather conceited to say that I’m my own best inspiration, but it’s really just a matter of remembering what inspired me on some random day in the past four years. Sometimes you’d be surprised. It’s also fun to see how many typos, broken links, and inconsistent styles you can find.
And just like that, it’s over. A life is snuffed out before it began. There’s no one to blame, no one to question, no one to answer. That’s life. It’s your cross to bear. These months of preparation and anticipation are now bittersweet. For the rest of your life they’ll be with you, reminders of what could have been, reminders that life is precious and short. It’s a nameless, faceless wonder.
To better times.
This is my dad, smoking a pipe and reading a magazine, sometime in the early 1970s. Those sideburns are an essential part of Hendricks family history, and I’m proud to say they’re now electronically preserved.
But seriously, for Thanksgiving my wife and I traveled to the flat state of Kansas for turkey dinner with the fam. Part of the holiday included rummaging through a box of family history stuff, including photos from the 1920s-70s and two journals from my great-great grandfather, dating 1908-1910 and around 1920. Very interesting stuff about going to market and the “elegant fine weather.” I’ll have to go into more detail later. The sideburns and pipe photo will have to tide you over for now.