Not too long ago I attended a faith discussion, or whatever these things are called. I like discussing various beliefs, especially with my friends and / or people I trust, even though we may not always agree. With the understanding that we a) all respect each other and our points of view, b) do not sling mud at each other, and c) don’t single anyone one out, don’t gang up on the person for whatever reason.
Please bear this in mind as you read. Please also bear in mind that this does not intent to harm anyone. This post is not meant to attack anyone’s faith, but rather aims to show how individuals mishandle things. In the standard vein of “I have friends who are [insert minority of choice], so I can’t be a racist / bigot / anti-Semite” I will say that while I’m by no means religious – spiritual is the term I’d use – I have friends who are. And they’ve never pulled this crap.
With all that in mind, read on. The participants were as follows. If the whole thing reads like a play, that’s pretty much how it felt.
Xander and Xanni: childhood friends, the latter of Jewish heritage but christened, the former non-denominational. Both of grad school age, very intelligent. One studied law, the other liberal arts. Both have always had a keen interest in religious studies. Xander is also extremely rich, and extremely generous with his money.
Xander’s tutor: a no-nonsense person, who prefers to keep in the background, though not afraid to speak their mind.
Xavier, Xander’s Roma friend: a college freshman, looking to Xander for guidance.
Assorted bystanders and participants in the meeting a.k.a. The Peanut Gallery
Xander has invited Xanni as he has recently been saved. Partly because he knows Xanni will be interested in the meeting, partly – one assumes – to save her soul. It should also be pointed out that things have not been going well for Xander, really not going well, so the one thing he really wants is solace.
Xanni arrives late to the meeting, which is held at someone’s home. One presumes to give off / enhance the idea, that Jesus and God really are present everywhere. Xander immediately motions to the place he has saved for her, beside him, introducing her to the pastor as, “the girl I told you about.” Pastor welcomes Xanni, introduces himself, then urges her to sit down.
The talk is about the Rapture, reminding everyone that only the Chosen go to Heaven, the rest stay behind and “have a really tough time” while those who go to Heaven and – this part being directed specifically at Xander – “will have super powers that will make super heroes look weak.” The process itself, the arrival of Jesus, is described as though it were a sci-fi movie with the participants urged to look outside the window “at the cloud. That’s how the face of Jesus will appear and you will be beamed up into the sky.” Participants are also reminded that the Rapture is pretty much imminent.
The talk is then very skillfully veered towards the Jews by the pastor. Xander kicks Xanni, Xanni kicks back. This goes on for a little while. Old habits really do die hard. Meanwhile, Xander points at Xanni, who explains that she’s Jewish on her father’s side and was brought up Christian. The pastor immediately states “I would like to baptize you again if you’ll let me,” and goes on to say how “the Jews are unable to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. They see the Messiah as a political figure, which he can’t be.” Xander meanwhile offers to take her to the church when he next visits on Saturday (the irony in this is pretty much only visible to the peanut gallery, who at this point has given up any and all hope in humanity and just sits there quietly trying to digest and make sense of everything).
One of the people present hisses to her friend, “do they have to single out the Jews and pick on them.” This particular person is not Jewish. Xavier, Xander’s Roma friend, who has also recently been saved and has not overheard the comment (and who believes in Jewish conspiracies), points out to the pastor that “technically Xanni’s not even Jewish, since it’s her dad’s side.” The pastor doesn’t take note of this comment but continues with his talk about the Jews, conceding that “the Jews were the chosen people, so God could teach us about His laws through them. Then Jesus arrived.” But the overall theme is that the Jews are unable to see Jesus as the Messiah, because of, you know, politics. As the pastor puts it, “the Jews see their Messiah as a political figure, they are unable to conceive of him as a spiritual one.”
The meeting ends with a prayer and the obligatory laying on of hands i.e. blessing. Xanni, who couldn’t care less about these things, preferring to live by the motto of que sera sera, is asked by the pastor if she has a family. When she replies that she doesn’t, the pastor goes into a whole song and dance on how there was a woman twice Xanni’s age in the church who found someone against all seeming odds. And how she gave birth at 60. To which Xander replies that sixty is a bit old to be giving birth. Xanni looks the pastor dead in the eye and states, “I’ve always said I’m adopting.” The pastor tells her that this is really admirable, then tells her how Sarah, Abraham’s wife, gave birth at the age of ninety, in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink type of tone.
After the final prayer and laying on off hands, the smokers band together in the kitchen, where the tutor states that they have always believed that God and the church are in one’s heart. Tutor further points out how a friend of those present went to the church, just to see what it was about, and reported that the size of the collection plate had been substantial. The Empath meanwhile continued taking drags on their cigarette, almost in a dream-like state. Empath’s roommate later confirmed that Empath – normally a happy-go-lucky person with an infectious enthusiasm – could not stop crying for two straight days, and was convinced that either WWIII would break out or someone was about to die. Though Empath’s temper was much more docile than usual, as Empath didn’t fly off the handle or get mad once during those two days.