“My name is Stephen Saint. You killed my father. Prepare to live.”
Somehow that doesn’t seem like a line you’d hear in the Princess Bride. But yet it makes sense. Auca Indians in Ecuador killed Stephen Saint’s father, along with four other men in 1956. Stephen Saint and his family now live with the very men who killed his father. These men have come to follow the God that Stephen Saint trusts in. It is a story beyond Hollywood and beyond imagination. It is a story that has touched lives in such far away places as Timbuktu–literally. The God of this world transforms lives like you wouldn’t believe. Do you still want to keep him in your box?
(does that make up for three days of neglect?)
Tattoos up and down his arm, uncombed hair, and a voice that carried halfway across the train. This was the guy I chose to sit next to. Well, ‘chose’ isn’t the right word. It was the only seat left. Most people would have moved to a different car. That’s what my mother would tell me to do. But I sat there anyway. His name was Steve. He had to be in his forties, and it was his night off work. So he was heading to his friend’s house to… well… to get plastered. It’s been ten years since he’s had cocaine, and tonight he’s doing it again. This he proudly boasted so half the train could hear him. If he had a joint he’d light it up right there. He didn’t care if the conductor kicked him off and called the cops. This was the kind of guy mothers keep their children away from. He talked loud, and he talked to anyone, whether they would listen or not. I just don’t understand some people’s motives. All this guy wanted was some booze, drugs, and rock & roll. A little sex wouldn’t have hurt either.
Now there’s a funny thought; I wonder what it would be like to have Steve sitting next to me in church.
Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in demons? Images are conjured up of beautifully shining, winged beings, and wickedly ugly, black little demons. Cartoonish fairy tales. Yet they do exist. Understanding more about them is certainly a difficult task, but I’d urge you to read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. If his account of demons is anything close to reality, it’s pretty frightening. Imagine a diabolical fiend harassing you at every step, always trying to make you trip and fall that much farther from the truth. It’s really kind of scary to think that they could be messing with your mind like that. But then you also forget that the almighty power of God is also watching you every step of the way. It’s just frightening to think that a demon could be playing tricks with your mind like that. It really makes you think twice. It’s kind of like one of those conspiracy movies. You’d have to read the book to understand, I won’t try and recapitulate Lewis again.
God does have a plan, and he does work things out. When things seem like they’re falling apart, the walls are caving in around you and nothing makes sense–take heart, God is in control. It won’t seem like it at the time, but he is working things out according to his plan. And what a plan it is. He loves us and has the best planned for us. We just have to let go and allow him to lead.
Now if I just keep telling myself that, I’ll be okay.
So you thought you’d check in and see if I updated my ponderings for the past two days? Well, sorry. You know how I said I was still writing them everyday? Well, when the girlfriend shows up for the weekend on a whim, I tend to put things off. Oh well.
Many dealings a foot here in Chicago. My roommate moved in this weekend, along with some $1000 furniture that the company he’s interning with bought. So my room actually has some stuff in it now. Like me, my roommate is just living at Judson because he has an internship in town and it was convenient. Unlike me, he doesn’t come from a Christian school. So he’s not used to Judson and all the rules, and to be honest, I’m not used to him. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with him. He’s a cool guy. Just look at the situation. I’ve been living at a Christian school for the past two years. I’ve been living with Christian guys. Now throw me in with an agnostic and you’ve got a little bit of culture shock.
Now very little of this has to do with my roommate. It more deals with the situation he’s been forced into. And I have to give him credit for the way he’s handled it. He hasn’t tried to hide anything about himself, and he’s not acting confrontational about anything. This morning I asked him if he wanted to come with me to church, more being nice than anything. I expected a simple yes or no. Essentially he summed up his current view on religion as an answer. He was very open about it.
What bothers me, is the Christian bubble. I’ve been locked away (so to speak) from the real world for long enough that now when I’m with someone who doesn’t live by the code of the bubble, my eyebrows tend to raise. Where is the bubble getting us? We have all these rules, and my school is a lot less strict then almost every other Christian school I’ve heard about, and where are they getting us? Making us look like weirdos to the rest of the world. I see the need for certain rules. But how much are we alienating ourselves from the world? Non-Christians don’t want to hang out with us, because we have all these rules. What will my roommate thing of Christianity after this summer? Will all of Judson’s picky rules scare him away? I suppose the big question is what will he see in my life?
The road is straight and narrow. Black as night. The double yellow line slices down the road, accented with white lines at the road’s edge. My headlights cut into the darkness as I course into the future. In my mirror I see the airy and hazy mistakes of the past. What lies beyond the coming bend? Where am I going? Where are you going?
I don’t want to throw up my arms in despair and join the quitters brigade. I want to press on. I want to dirty my hands. I want to roll up my sleeves. What do you want to do?
I saw a portion of a documentary by Michael Moore today. He’s the man behind TV Nation, the documentary Roger & Me that exposed GM, the book Downsize This!, and a new cable show the Awful Truth. I doubt the man is a Christian, but I can’t help but see him as a Christ figure. The man is the champion of the underdog, a man of the people. He stands up for the down trodden. Roger & Me exposed the practices of General Motors in the mid 80’s that put thousands out of work. He goes straight to companies with his film crew, and asks to talk to the CEO. He knows his facts. Your company has made $6 billion in profit in the last six years, yet you’ve laid off 13,000 people. Why? He confronted the CEO of Nike about unfair labor practices in their plants in Indonesia. He begged the CEO to open a plant in Flint, Michigan, a city where 67% of the children live below the poverty line. A city that was the center of the General Motors downsizing. In the beginning of this book Downsize This!, Moore compares the Oklahoma City bombing to the destruction of a plant in Flint. A photo is shown of both buildings, and they looked identical. The caption read, ‘What is terrorism?’ Is it terrorism for a company to put people out of work and ruin people’s livelihood just to make a few more bucks? You get my point. Michael Moore isn’t afraid to stand up to corporations and speak for the people. I can’t help but see Christ in his actions. Perhaps the church should consider this approach.
Closing the door to my truck, I scan the grounds. Everything is still and quiet. I am late, and everyone else is inside. Walking towards the building, everything feels strangely eerie. It feels like I’m walking into a war zone. I open the door, and strange faces greet me. No smile. No warm handshake. I round the corner to find the warmth of familiarity shattered. My usual row is empty and cold. I find an empty seat and my eyes look across the room. Few familiar faces smile back at me. The songs seem forced and hollow. The message seems empty, airy, and beyond me. But was I really listening? Welcome home. Welcome to church. Where unity is stranger.
The American Way. We hear a lot about this great country of America and our character. The protestant work ethic has often defined America. It’s the land of opportunity. Roll up your sleeves, dirty your palms, and you will prosper. But is that still the attitude of America? An NBC special on Jesse Ventura tonight showed a period of Ventura’s announcer days when he claimed that cheating was the American way. I think that pessimistic slide is on the right track. I’d like to claim that quitting is now the American way. When the going gets tough, the American goes walking. When things get hard, we quit. We throw our hands up in the air and call it quits. We don’t want to work anymore. We don’t want to dirty the brow. Divorce, jobs, friendships. It’s everywhere. What a great country.
Well, I can’t be all negative today. Some friends and I played some ball today. Ah, the great American past time. It’s pretty obvious it’s not my past time. Yet still, there’s nothing like feeling a bat in your hands as it connects with the ball, and you watch the ball sail through the air. It flies higher and higher, arcs beautifully, and falls just beyond the infield: My best hit of the day. Kevin D. Hendricks, baseball legend.