“My name is Julian Rogers, I’m here with my husband and our pastor, and we are here today to tell you college kids that when you were little, your parents didn’t give you a good Bible beating and now you’re going crazy!”
Nice. I like where this is going.
“You’re all living in ways of self-satisfaction! Pleasuring your penis and clitoris! Unless you repent your sins and learn what the Bible is trying to teach us, you may all find yourselves in hell!”
That’d be funny if she wasn’t serious.
Who was she when she was younger? She carried her pocket Bible close to her, but moved in flamboyant ways that only suggested either a true level of madness or routine. Her outfit consisted of a flowy monotone dress and a wool, almost homemade looking sweater that reminded me of a stereotypical hippie long past her prime. She was greying, and so was her large husband who was sitting down on the other end of the courtyard next to a carefully trimmed man in a grey suit and sunglasses. The pastor I suppose. Cults were kind of a big thing back in her day, maybe she never left.
“Now my husband and I have five kids and we did just as the Bible tells us.”
It was sunny for fall. The clear sky let through light that seemed to bounce off everything from the grass to the concrete pavement, reflections from a damp and misty night. My eyes didn’t want to shift to the light by looking away from the woman, but I could still see herds of students passing by the circular courtyard, often looking and listening to the crazy lady for a moment before realizing she wasn’t worth their time. Some stayed though, intent on listening to the oh-so-carefully chosen words of yet another faithful radical. They waited with smiles on their faces, some leaning in every time she would come close to saying something over-the-top, hoping to get an excuse to initiate in a bit of socially accepted group-hate. But I couldn’t walk away just yet, I couldn’t tell what they wanted, and they were beginning to test her.
“How would you feel if I was gay?”
“OH NO! Don’t tell me you’re gay! It’s a sin to pack fudge!”
Yikes, almost anything could’ve been better than that.
It seemed that the young crowd thought so too. Those few that stood or sat in silent awe of Mrs. Rogers were now opening their mouths. Something had to be said, didn’t it?
“You aren’t a real Christian!”
Wow, that one made me wince a little…
Thankfully, somewhere along my line it became easy to focus. Even before I put in my headphones I was no longer able to hear anything that hate space was saying. Walking home was the only thing that mattered, and it takes over half an hour to get back. I suppose I can bear through it.
I already used up my distractionary tricks, and I’m in a mental limbo. I already popped my knuckles on my hands, I cracked my neck, and I even released the tingling sensation that lingers in the nape of my neck three times. No more to do besides keep my mind blank, and push away the colors and the images of what I just saw. The hardest part might be to remove the lingering force that lies in my neck, a frustration refusing to dismiss, Adam’s apple, but so long as I just focus on everything else…
The path I chose to walk home was the busiest. Cars were already on the streets, driven by people who were ready to eat, and there was the occasional pedestrian like myself who thought it easier to walk to campus. Every time I saw someone about to pass me, I would do the polite thing and either walk on the grass or on the bike path so they may have space. What were they taught that gave them the restraint to not yell at me for giving them room? I suppose I should just be thankful that they didn’t yell at me for bending to their presence. Praise God.
But I should focus on everything else, shouldn’t I?
Just before the third stop light, I pass the patio to the biggest grocery store in my town. It lies in the daylight, often unused by its customers, but will occasionally provide an aging man or woman a place to rest before starting their own walk. The man sitting there now was waiting with his bags for what I assumed would be the next bus to arrive. He had a grey beard, a large Celtic cross, and a gut that demanded respect. He nodded towards me as I passed, and I nodded back; My favorite unspoken blessing.
That’s enough, I can’t linger on this anymore there has to be something else…
I lived in the misshapen grey-stone house my entire thinking life. I’ve been with it through the best and the worst of times, and as I knew every squeak and sound of its floors, I’m sure it knew every passage of me. Opening its door let me to shed all my layers yet again, the comfort of a home allowing me to hang them on a hook to be worn and used later.
But I suppose not everything needs to be shed.
I decided to find something that could have the best answers, not that just anything could, but at least this book had something of relevancy. The blue binding only simplified it, a single black square on the binding highlighted The Jerusalem Bible in gold, its pages’ light, and in the early stages of turning yellow from age.
Where would be a passage about hate? The warning of being consumed by anger, probably in here somewhere… I always liked the Genesis of the Bible, the way it began with pure creation, simplicity, and light. Simple love of someone godly, why isn’t that the beating?