Monday, April 04, 2005

A Very Strange Evening

Last Friday night I went over to my best friend's house (well, my best friend from high school). I think I've mentioned him before - we had a falling out after he came to Laramie for school 14 years ago and got all weird with religion.

Anyway, he's now an assistant pastor at a fundie church here in town, and I saw him preach a few weekends ago. He called me earlier this week and invited me to dinner at his house last night, and hey! I'm always up for a home cooked meal. And yeah, I try not to eat beef, but when you're invited to someone's house and they serve spaghetti with meat sauce, and when you've been living on a diet of cafeteria food, you don't complain.

Now, H has always been a very, very smart guy. He majored in electrical engineering and would undoubtedly have pursued and obtained a doctorate had he not heard the voice of God in his ear. And when I asked him, as delicately as possible, to explain his views on who controls the keys to heaven, I listened patiently as he explained that those who think their deeds on earth are important are actually "slapping Christ in the face." (The reasoning here goes something like, you are saved by grace alone, and to think you can EARN your way into heaven is like saying you have the right to ask God to owe you something.)

Some of H's religious stuff was reasonable. But when he started in with his assertions that the earth is 4500 years old, and that we deserve hell for simply existing, I got nervous. What put the evening over the top, though, what moved it from "uncomfortable" to "straight out of a Stephen King novel," was how H talked to his kids.

He has two sons and a daughter. At one point during dinner we were talking about their new church going up out by the interstate. His five year old daughter piped up with, "And there will be a cross on the top of the church so that everyone will know Jesus Christ died for their sins."

Now, I'm fine with the church itself - unlike some of my more radical friends, I don't equate separation of church and state with separation of church and society. I'm also fine with the belief itself; that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son. For that matter, I'm fine with the Buddha achieving perfection or enlightenment or whatever. But hearing religious dogma from your former best friend is one thing; hearing it from a five year old with spaghetti sauce smeared across her face is quite another.

There was some other stuff, too, but I'll let it lie.

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