Monday, March 28, 2011

Religulous conversation at the mall

This past Sunday afternoon, I managed to tear myself away from The Tale of Genji (oh, the costumes, the poetry, the misogyny!) for a couple hours to go take my usual people-watching stroll through the local mall. I'm always on the lookout for dykey lesbians, dapper gays, hipsters, and stunning women of all stripes. That day was a lucky one because I spotted all categories.
Anyway, a brown-skinned boy in a fitted lavender dress shirt and nerd-goggles caught my eye. A tall, slim black prepster: potentially interesting. We made eye contact as we passed each other; when we passed each other again, he smiled and we struck up a conversation. I should have walked away when he said he had dropped out of an HBCU and ITT Tech and was currently a minimum-wage slave with plans to join the navy, but he seemed good-natured and earnest and I had time on my hands, so we got on to the topic of religion. Given his attire, I guessed that he had come from church, so I asked him about his faith -- partly for shits and giggles (since Christians, in my experience, usually turn out to have little actual knowledge of the bible and little adherence to its moral laws), but also to see how he would answer. 
He responded in almost exactly the same way as the uninformed, blissfully delusional Christians in Bill Maher's film "Religulous": he claimed to be a Christian and to have perfect faith in Jesus, despite not going to church regularly, not having read most of the bible, and not even agreeing with all of its doctrines, especially the ones about forbidden pleasures. He unabashedly admitted to engaging in premarital sex, consuming alcohol and soft drugs, and even being bisexual -- all of which are anathema to his god. But here's the kicker: he said he wanted to eventually become a minister. I immediately took the liberty of telling him he wouldn't make a good example for his flock. Then I told him that instead of being an apostate Southern Baptist, he should look into Unitarianism because it's the least dogmatic Christian denomination, but he had never heard of it. He had also never heard of agnosticism and was scandalized when I told him I don't necessarily believe in god. 
Since he seemed still interested in continuing the conversation, despite his moments of reflexive pearl-clutching, I tried to understand the mass of inconsistencies he had just handed me, but the deeper we got into his beliefs, the more defensive he became. He eventually attacked me with a snide remark that the reason why atheists/agnostics have read more of the bible is that god didn't speak to them, so they keep reading in search of god... in other words, a true Christian doesn't even have to read a whole verse because god will speak to them almost as soon as they open the holy book and basically tell them telepathically what they need to know, thereby saving him the trouble of actually studying the holy word. It's like spiritual cliffnotes. Or something.
Having drawn this absurd rationalization, this pearl of anti-wisdom, out of him, I finally felt free to leave and enjoy the rest of my lovely secular Sunday.

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