Funny how an otherwise really nice weekend can be totally ruined by 20 minutes of stupidity.
I've mentioned before that I've been dating a guy for several years now... I've called him "my boyfriend" in all the posts that he appears in... but that's getting a little tired. He has a name, which I'm definitely not going to use here but he should at least have an alias. So from here on out, and for reasons known only to he and I, he'll be known as P.
Now that the introductions are out of the way...
On Friday I started listening to an episode of "This American Life". For those of you not familiar with the show, it's fantastic. An hour of radio documentary and storytelling that will knock your socks off if you are into that kind of stuff. I'm an NPR addict (which is where I originally found This American Life) so this stuff is right up my alley. I have a "subscription" to the show on iTunes so when I last connected my iPod to the service a new episode downloaded. I have a few saved on my iPod, so I don't know if this is the most recent one that I was listening to, but the topic of the show was "Heretics." In this case the entire hour was devoted to telling one man's story. He was a very successful preacher, an African American man who was so close to Oral Roberts that Oral called him, "my black son." One day he decided, for reasons that are logical but require more explanation than I can devote time to here, that he could not believe in hell. Turns out this is unpopular amongst christians and he was ultimately OFFICIALLY called a heretic. Now I know that no GOOD news about the church is ever reported, and there is a LOT of good news that comes out of sanctuaries all over the world, but when the bad news comes out... it's usually, really bad. This was one of those stories and it made me angry.
Friday night I got a call from P who wanted to know if I would like to see Borat on Saturday. I was really surprised because he had shown NO interest in that movie when it first started hitting big. I think the fact that it was nominated for a golden globe had something to do with his turnaround. We went and it was interesting... not what I expected and not as funny as I had hoped... but I'm not a reviewer... too subjective... if you are interested see it, if not don't. Anyway, I was already kind of subconsciously mad at Christians thanks to This American Life, and then Borat visited a church in Texas that I can only describe as "devout." People were speaking in tongues, running around, bouncing up and down... it looked a little like a Chuck E Cheese birthday party. The preacher's sermon was one of ignorance and intolerance and the whole thing was capped off with a good ol fashioned, hand's on "healing."
I need to make it clear at this point that P is very involved in his Church. He's no bible thumper, but he takes great pride in his faith and his stewardship. I respect that. I myself am not a believer. For me, life and earth are just a big happy accidents and while I'm certain there are unseen forces at work in our daily lives I think they have a natural, non-sentient explanation. Energy and matter are "god" to me. P knows this about me and we have had several heated discussions on the matter, but his faith is unshakable and my lack of faith is not changing either... so we agree to disagree on this very large issue.
Back to Borat who is being basically accosted on stage at this Texas church by people trying to save him. I'm appalled, by the sermon, by the people, by the antics... it's all so ridiculous to me and it dawned on me that P is a christian too! Not a fundamentalist, but he definitely shares the same bible, the same god... so during the scene I look over at him and I say (half jokingly), "I want you to quit." He chuckles because he knows exactly what I mean by that.
Saturday afternoon P and I were invited to a Hanukah party, which was really fun. Some friends of ours have just moved into a new house and this was their first gathering which they INSISTED on throwing even though they have begun to demolish their kitchen. They like to share the lighting of the menorah with friends and P and I were honored to be asked. Funny thing though... we got there at like 4:30. Ate, drank, lit the candles, said the prayers, listened to the two Hanukah songs over and over, it was a full evening. I don't know if it's just because we are old men or something but after a while we agreed it was time to go so we said our goodbyes and headed out. Remember we got there at 4:30... the clock in the car read 6:20. We thought it was 9pm!
We came back to This New Condo and had a couple more beers and watched TV, but in the back of my mind I could not let go of all the Christian hypocrisy I had been exposed to over the past couple days... it may have been trigged by a Christmas Shopping ad on TV or something... but I broke the cardinal rule and started in on P about christianity. This is a guy who could not harm a flea, gentle to a fault, kind, giving, forgiving... and here I was browbeating him over the merits of his religion. My voice was raised, I'm sure the neighbors could hear, how could he give so much time and effort so such a flawed system!? He'd try to respond and I would just verbally knock him back with examples of hypocrisy and double talk, thievery and lies... I had him on the mat and the ref was counting down and I still kept at him. Peppering him with questions no one can answer... finally he turned to me and I could see that he was choked up. I'd gone too far. I'd really said some awful, awful things and I could see in his eyes he was really hurt. "I'm going to go," he said.
It took some time, but eventually I convinced him to stay. It was a quiet night after that. I slept poorly and the next day things were still awkward. I apologized repeatedly and he (characteristically) told me it was OK. He blames both our reactions on the drinks we had... and to some extent he's right. I certainly don't expect to be invited back to Church anytime soon though.
I think we're OK now. Sunday we took a long walk through Midtown into Downtown Atlanta and didn't talk about religion. We did see some cool new buildings going up. The new Twelve Centennial Park hotel and condos building is going up fast, and we saw a sign for a new tower we'd never noticed before that will house a Palomar Hotel and condos that will START at $1 million. Met friends for drinks and football that afternoon and then home to a quiet evening of Survivor.
it would have been a great weekend. If only I wasn't such an asshole.
Tomorrow: 4 days without power