Speaking of Jesus

For whatever reason, Joe’s last post reminded me of an experience I once had that I hadn’t thought of for a while. Several years ago I became friends with a newly converted Christian. She had several friends who were also Christian, though more forcefully than herself. And, at the time, she was dating someone who was also a very devout Christian.

Given the Christian theme among my new friends I decided to attend church with them on a semi-regular basis just to see what the experience was like. Overall, my church experience was a mixture of boring ceremonial procedures, insightful commentary on humanity, not so insightful commentary on humanity, deeply moving music (sound more than lyrics) and an invigorating sense of connection among people.

But what I remember most vividly was the end of church, wherein we were told to hold hands with our neighbor and simultaneously recite 5 things to each other at the cue of the pastor. I only remember one of the lines, which was, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord Savior,” or something close to that. I always held their hands, but never spoke the lines. I couldn’t because I didn’t believe them, much less understand what they meant specifically. The expression on some of my partners’ faces was one of shock as I looked them in the eye and remained silent after each of the cues, leaving them the sole participant in a one-way interaction. After the recitations they almost always drew me closer to them, usually putting an arm around me, and would ask in a concerned tone, “Why weren’t you speaking?”. Then came the hard part. I had to be honest, so I told them, somewhat timidly, that I don’t believe that Jesus is my savior and that I don’t really understand Christianity. Then their jaws would drop, they’d pull me even closer to a full-on hug, and would tell me in a very consoling tone that it was okay not to understand. My belief will come in time and that they’ll be praying for me. One woman even cried.

I went to church for a majority of the Sundays that summer. Looking back, they were a strangely intense set of experiences through which I learned more about the emotional effect of ideological isolation than about how to be a good person.


evangelicals saving the day

In contemplating what I want to spend the majority of my life doing, I've sort of settled on trying to improve the lives of people whose lives are really hard. The only way that's going to happen in a sustainable way in this century is if the U.S. government starts giving away more money. And the only way that is going to happen is if politicans' constituents allow them or force them to open up the governments coffers a little wider. Like many people who have read the Bible and have taken to heart the teachings of Jesus, I have long been dissappointed by the fact that evangelicals have chosen to focus on issues of sexuality and reproduction for a poltical agenda rather than concern for the poor and the oppressed. But, in contemplating specific career paths, in the back of my mind I wondered if I couldn't find a way to try to steer the evangelical agenda toward a more economic focus, one that still had a clear Biblical and spiritual grounding. If that could be done, global development would have a real chance of becoming a high priority for the U.S. government.

If David Brooks (conservative columnist for the NYT) is right, this might actually be happening. At the risk of hyperbole, this could be one of the most important political shifts in history.

Sad Day for Europhiles

For years numerous experts on various NPR programs such as MarketPlace have preached the inevitability of Euro dominination. "Sky high" trade and fiscal deficits and general animosity towards the US was supposed to perminantly put the greenback back behind the Euro where it belongs. Sorry, doesn't look like it's going to happen because the Euopean Union constitution is going down.


MP3 Playaz

My job is pretty sweet, because I have around 2 hours everyday to read while the kid I work with takes a nap. Unfortunately, these potentially tranquil and intellectually stimulating hours are consistently filled with the incessant harping of my gossip hungry co-workers. I would like to shut out their innane banter with some music, so I have decided to purchase some sort of MP3 player. I'm probably going to buy the 4 gig Ipod mini, but I heard that they don't have a random option. Is that true? Some of the non-apple ones I looked at had an FM tuner, so I could listen to the radio as well as my tunes. Does the ipod have that option?

I thought about the shuffle, but I figure I might as well get something a little more tweeked out. At the same time, I don't really feel the need for something that can hold a million songs.

I guess I'm wondering if there are non-itunes mp3 players that would give a better bang for the buck. Any advice?