Monday, April 05, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I don't speak Creole

I, like most emotionally healthy people, am (overwhelmed, empathetic, worn out) by the horror in the imagery of the Haiti earthquake. I cannot say what my first thought was when I found out, or even where I was when I first heard. It did not quite ring as personally as the 9/11 attacks, as I have never been to Haiti. I cannot say I even know anybody who has been to Haiti, even though it is closer to where I was born than as far as I traveled last week. The small nation has been almost an abstraction in my mind, not just in the ways that those foreign places like Greenland, Okinawa and Papua New Guinea are; Haiti represents suffering and poverty in a way very few other words can.

The text message campaigns, fund raisers and benefits have been inspiring. I have reservations and questions about what, exactly, success in this rebuilding effort will look like. It is a thought that convicted me, because history has not been kind to the Haitians and, strangely enough, a post I read on a Clemson sports message board pointed out that this earthquake is not God’s judgment being meted out; rather, we will be judged by our reactions to it. I think that is a fair statement.

By this measure, or any other really, I think one of the bigger de facto voices of Christian representation, Pat Robertson has surely failed. I find it intensely frustrating when these de facto voices are de facto without actual regard to the fidelity of their content. My associations are publicly judged by the opinions of Robertson and others like him, when the most (in)famous are directly contradictory to the very philosophy to which he espouses. I decided, then, that it is our responsibility, my responsibility, to say that the idea that Haiti is suffering because of sin or an insufficient faith is not representative of what Christians believe. In fact, John 9:3 pretty succinctly discounts this idea: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

This is a problem for us. When I say us, I do not just mean Christians. I mean people. The relationship that Christ wants is world changing. And the picture of that relationship that Robertson’s most publicized and controversial comments paints are, unfortunately, the only picture that many might see and as representative of how such a relationship should function as Joe Jackson’s fatherly relationship with the Jackson 5. Personalities like Robertson’s going unchecked are obstacles for spreading the Truth, and easily trump the (I’m sure) numerous virtuous and positive efforts that his ministry has effected. We must be good examples.

I do want to do something to help, though. But I want that something to be more than an anonymous text message that disappears down the memory hole and makes me feel better. The Haitian society was dysfunctional before this happened and how many text messages will I have to send so the Red Cross can afford to fix that? What can I do in order to be a better model of the life Christ wants us to live than Pat Robertson?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My butt feels papery

Hey everyone, it's been a while. I know, I know, you've been waiting with baited breath for this observation. I could tell by the overwhelming silence of comments I have gotten lately. Thanks for that, by the way. Makes me feel loved. And why does a blogger blog if not for unsolicited and unearned attention?

I am puzzled by a fixture on many a public bathroom wall. (No, not toilet paper, smartalec. That does not puzzle me at all anymore.) I remember as a child that some relative suggested that you put strips of toilet paper down on the seats in order to not sit on foreign toilets, and there has been a proliferation of doughnut shaped tissue paper in dispensable containers in bathroom stalls to achieve that end. They have it where I work, at air ports where TSA rifles through your things without really accomplishing much other than increasing the inconvenience in the world (like government paid entropy generators) and disgusting gas stations (I'm sure).

I have a question, though. What good does it do? What kinds of toilet borne plagues are out there? And what is that paper thin barrier really going to stop? I can understand wiping down before landing, because there are certainly contaminants that can be removed. But sitting on top of them? It's like the sneeze guard at salad bars if those guards were completely permeable to sneezes. What they should really have are something to keep the struts warm, because, well, sitting down on a cold morning makes me feel bad for girls every winter.

I wonder how big an industry that useless paper thing is. I think I have a brilliant business concept: some of that alcohol hand sanitizer strictly for toilet seats. It might not exactly keep you warm, and it might be weird when you try to put your pants back on, but you wouldn't have to worry about getting motaba virus on your bum.