Dennis Perrin’s Red State Son is one of my favorite blogs. I think I stumbled across it sometime early last year and added it to my RSS feed. He generally mixes his posts with comments on religion, politics and film/tv among other things. His description of a day watching the Rose Bowl with family is priceless.
The following day, the fam went to a local relative’s house to eat nachos, drink beer and watch Michigan play USC in the Rose Bowl. This visit had the potential to turn into a bad production of its own. While we are close to these people, we cannot discuss politics, or religion, or sex, or drugs, or the war, or really anything else that might be going on apart from cultural diversions like college football. These people are pretty rightwing in their politics and Christianity, so we knew what to expect. But I didn’t anticipate rubbing shoulders with a couple of real nutjobs, both of whom I’d met before, and had hoped to never see again.
The first person is a woman in her early 20s, a soldier in the Army Reserve who served a brief tour of Afghanistan. A mutual friend of the family who grew up with this girl told me that she was insane, and she did little to dispel that reputation the first time I met her, eyes glazed as she spoke of the wonders US-led wars, how America was guided by God and the rest of it. Apparently, visiting a dirt poor country in chaos like Afghanistan did little to shake her faith, in fact, it hardened it. When the national anthem was played before the start of the Rose Bowl, this woman literally stood at attention in front of the large screen. I thought it was a joke, but no — she was absolutely serious. Once the anthem ended, she let out a whoop, widened her eyes and told the rest of us how excited she gets when she hears that song. Everyone other than my immediate family smiled back and nodded their heads in agreement. I went to the kitchen to see if there was any vodka.
The other person is an ex-high school football star turned rightwing Christian minister. Man, there is nothing worse than a religious jock, given that most jocks buy into the authoritarianism of sports anyway; and when you add an extreme interpretation of the Bible . . . Lord, help us. This guy, simply put, is a royal asshole: loud, belligerent, convinced of his personal holiness and of the evil in those who disagree with him. I’ve seen him in action at weddings and other gatherings, and he tries to steamroll people into seeing God his way, using his massive (and now bulging) frame to press his point. And then there are the moments when he assures all that not only is Jesus in the room, the Son of God is standing right next to him, telling him what to say — sort of like Jimmy Stewart in “Harvey”, but without the charm or intelligence.
This day, the guy made sure that everybody knew he was in room, attempting to get each and every person to acknowledge his presence. I ignored the guy as best I could and focused on the game. Before long, however, he strolled over to where I was standing and planted himself right next to me. I could feel him breathing on my cheek, and saw him, peripherally, studying my profile. I almost turned to him to say “I appreciate the attention, but I don’t swing that way.” However, in that room, such a comment would violate the No Reality rule (as did my quip about the Michigan marching band playing “Stairway To Heaven”: “What’s this?” I wondered aloud. “A tribute to stoner music of the 70s?” This met with complete silence and stares). So I simply kept ignoring him until he gave up and left.
Jesus, on the other hand, remained for a moment and whispered to me, “Isn’t that guy a complete knob? Still, I must show mercy to him. It’s what I do.”
Amen to that. I have the feeling we’re gonna need lots of mercy in the months ahead.
It’s not quite on the same scale, but it reminds me of visiting my parents in Oklahoma and spending time with some of the extended family there.
[tags]redstateson, dennisperrin, family, holidays, religion[/tags]