Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last Plane Out

There is a man who works for my company, who from all previous casual encounters had left me with the impression that we was sensitive, intelligent and reasonable. He made no secret about the fact that he was active in his church, but he didn’t make a big deal about it. He has a reputation of being a top-notch technician, a fine musician, and has been described as “extremely intelligent.”

Somehow, yesterday, we started speaking about Christianity. I was totally unprepared for the onslaught. He went off on Muslims, talking about Jacob and Esau, and God choosing Jacob, and the Jews (and by association) the Christians being “the chosen people.” He went on to the crusades not being such a bad thing, and how the war in Iraq was an extension of that, of Christians defending themselves against Islam who’s goal is to eliminate all non-Muslims.

I respectfully suggested that perhaps Muslims might believe the same of Christians. I informed him of the fact that I worked along side a Muslim in England who sounded more like Joe Strummer (of the Clash) than Osama Bin Laden, and that he was just like a lot of us – loves his wife and kids, goes to work, plays racquetball, goes out to lunch and doesn’t mean any harm to anyone.

He told me that there were no Christian terrorists. I asked him what if he was judged by the actions of (abortion clinic and Olympic bomber) Eric Rudolph, who claimed that he was a Christian? He hemmed, hawed and snorted something under his breath that led me to believe that he doesn't consider Eric Rudolph a terrorist, but knew better than to admit that to me.

I also told him that the Jesus I knew spoke of peace and loving thy neighbor, of turning the other cheek, of offering your shirt when they take your cloak, of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. He urged us to be kind and generous to the poor. He was tolerant of Mary Magdalene and instructed those without sin to cast the first stone. I told him that I didn’t buy the whole book of revelations picture of Jesus returning on a horse, visiting pestilence and death upon all who opposed him. None of that came out of Jesus’ mouth.

Again, he hemmed, hawed and muttered, and I inferred that he didn’t agree with me.

Then he went on to tell me that he believed in a flat-tax.

I reminded him that Christians are supposed to be tolerant, and he told me that wasn’t so. He told me that indeed he is extremely intolerant against the things that he knows are wrong. He knows that only Christians are going to be saved. He knows how God wants us to live. He knows that all the other religions of the world are wrong. He did admit that as a Christian he was supposed to spread the word of God and leave those alone who rejected it, but it seemed disingenuous and inconsistent with everything else he was telling me.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I was consumed by it last night, and still am this morning. Trying to reconcile what I think is right and what I believe needs to be done with the fact that so many people of faith believe as he does.

I grabbed a mix CD of Kevin Gilbert, and blasted “Last Plane Out” and “ All Fall Down” on the way to work this morning. I wish there was a way that I could sit all of us down and listen to these songs together, and remind myself that there are many people in this world who share my beliefs, who want to work for peace and understanding, and who want to base decisions on logic and reason, and not some dangerous interpretation of a book that was written 2000 years ago.



by Gilbert, Leonard, Pratt from the Album "Toy Matinee"
Greetings from Sodom
How we wish you were here
The weather's getting warmer
Now that the trees are all cleared
There's no time for a conscience
And we recognize no crime
Yeah we got dogs and Valvoline
It's a pretty damn good time
Men of reason, not of rhyme
Keep the spoils and share your crime
Goodman, Badman, lost without
A hope for passage on the last plane out
There was one repressed do-gooder
And a few who still believed
Yes I think there were five good men here yesterday
But they were asked to leave
So we've kept the good old vices
And laboured to invent a few
With cake in vulgar surplus
We can have it and eat it, too
Men of reason, hide your face
Walking backwards, plays his ace
Goodman, Badman, lost without
A hope for passage on the last plane out
Here's a concept you can't dance to
An idea you cannot hum
There may not be an empty seat
When all is said and done
I'm not the guy who sings the hymns
No bleeding heart to mend
But I like the part where Icarus
Hijacks the little red hen
Someone said the Big Man
May be joining us soon
But I never was the type to hang
With the harbingers of doom
And this party is addictive
Self-destructive, no doubt
So I hope that someone saves a seat for me
On the last plane out

"All Fall Down"
By Kevin Gilbert from the album "Thud"

I guess this is it
Time for what's been called the finale
And this one comes as no surprise
One of a kind, you'll never see this anywhere else, friends,
Sort of brings a tear to your eye
So be watching closely and you'll be impressed
An order is given and a button is pressed
Then a light that is blinding and a sound that is shrill
Don't blink or you'll miss it, it's the end of free will

So turn the radio up and pass the bottle round
And then we'll have one more drink before we all fall down
I'll wear my favorite tie, you can wear your wedding gown
And then we'll both look real sharp when we all fall down

Look at them now, drawing little lines with their speeches
Each daring the other to cross
It won't be long now, one will make a stand he believes in
Believing it's well worth the cost
Then the other gets angry refuses to budge
Fueled by some understandable grudge
And now we wait quietly till the missile arrives
There's no need to shout about the end of our lives

So bring your friends now, and we'll laugh at all the clowns
Who think there'll be a better world when we all fall down
And we can sing this song, we'll make a joyful sound
We'll be singing na na na when we all fall down

Buildings and bridges all leveled to the ground
Cities and nations and we just stand around
Someone unlocked the big cage
and the beast cannot be found
So strike up the music and we'll all fall down.


Anonymous blue girl said...

Mornin' Al!

I was at a meeting Tuesday and had to present ideas for a TV commercial. The CEO of the company liked one way more than the other -- but he didn't put it that way. He stood up and said he "really, really hated" the one idea. (There were maybe 20 people in the conference room)

I said -- Jeez Ron! HATE? You HATE it? That's pretty strong language to describe an idea! C'mon now, HATE?

And he goes, "ok. I don't hate it. There are some thing's I really hate. Like Muslims and liberals. When I compare those two to your idea -- I now take it back. I don't hate it so much!"

Well. There was some nervous laughter -- and then we moved on quickly.

8:32 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

You should tell that story over at your place.

9:30 AM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Jesus. I don't know if I could have helped myself in a situation like that. Good for you for calling him on the first part, which was totally inappropriate, but ... Jesus. You have my sympathies.

Same sentiments, basically. You handled yourself better than I would have ... I probably would have gotten in a shouting match with the asshole. Because that's what he obviously is: an asshole. Like BG's CEO.

One sidenote:
You bring up the flat tax like it's a bad thing, but a flat tax, done right, could be a fantastic thing. Think about it: If they really took away all loopholes and deductions AND made the flat tax graduated, so that as your income increased, so too would the percentage you paid, it could be extremely equitable. It could stop the rich from hiding their profits and paying nothing (because only the rich have access to such loopholes and shelters), without being regressive (if it was graduated). IMO, anyway...

10:40 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Fan: The issue is, when *they* say "flat tax" they mean fixed, not graduated. They have a very skewed definition of the word "fair."

10:53 AM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Great post, man. Sounds like you were talking to my dad. Impossible, since he's dead, but he was of the same 'mind'. His opinion was that we wouldn't have all these problems in the Middle East if the Jews would have killed all the Philistines 4,000 years ago or so like God told them to. Now all our problems are multiplied because they breed, you know. And that's what you get for not listening to God. I asked him why God didn't just send a plague or something and kill them all Himself, and he hemmed and hawed and said something about God teaching us obedience and personal responsibility.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

Great post, and sadly all too familiar.

Unfortunately too many Christian's have this warped perspective where simply saying you're Christian is all you have to do.

That little book called the bible that is full of the rules they are supposed to be holding in high regard is something you beat, not something you read and reflect over. (I guess there are an awful lot of Begats in there).

Church sermons are something you half doze through on a Sunday morning while you think about the Golf Game you'll be playing later.

It's strange, the church nearby has it's largest congregation at the 5 o'clock mass on early Saturday Evening. Sunday's are for playing sport or sleeping in I suppose. 'What do you mean it's a Commandment? I was out drinking last night? God would want me to Sleep In'.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

I dunno, I'd be pretty bitter and hateful too if I WAS A MAN WITH A VAGINA.

Well reasoned and insightful, no?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I bow to the Master of Well-Reasoned Arguement. LOL

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Wolf said...

And there I was feeling a little bit bad that I'd "reminded" a co-worker that her spiritual/feng whatever/yoga doohicky healer was using ideas with no basis in science.

Funny, it hasn't come up again in conversation...

6:19 PM  
Blogger fuckstick2020 said...

Pat Robertson is a wonderful example of what a Christian is supposed to be. He reminds me of your friend there.

12:23 PM  

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