Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interrupted by fundamentalism

The other day I had a meeting with some folks on the nursery team at Tim Horton's (the closest thing we have to Starbucks in "the Valley") when a woman interrupted us with something "important" to say. She asked me if the object on the table was indeed a bible. At this point, I expected her to say something like, "Wow, it's good to see other Christians out and about," as I was accustomed to hearing from women her age (60's) in Bradenton, FL.  What I did not expect was that which came out of her mouth.

She began, "My third grade Sunday School Teacher taught me something and it has stuck with me ever since." Still, I'm expecting something encouraging. After all, we were brainstorming on ways how to better teach the Toddlers the gospel during their nursery time, and how to get parents involved in the process. Good things I thought. 

But then the bomb shell: "You never put anything on top of the bible." There was a plate from my donut resting on top of the bible. So she took the plate off, freeing me from the pending judgment of God on my hapless soul no doubt. Probably not a second too soon.

And then, like a small black-tip shark with an investigatory bite on a surfer, she was gone. Disappearing into the vast sea of everyday life, this Christian soldier marked onward with pride toward the next opportunity to make a spiritual citizen's arrest. Or maybe she just went home? Who knows or cares? 

We three paused in disbelief. I was speechless, fortunately, because words might not have been "gracious, seasoned with salt," as instructed in Colossians 4:6. Blindsided by fundamentalistic  superstition, I had absolutely nothing to say, but "wow." I knew from personal experience that fundamentalism and legalism ran rampant here in West Va like the ancient buffalo of old, but I guess I'd not been run over by such a buffalo before. I felt it this time.
Of course after she left, I thought I should have clarified that my bible was actually the ESV, and not the Holy and uniquely inspired King James version. So it was technically not a recognized bible for "fundies." Maybe I could have kept my plate on it after all?

What does one say in such a scenario? Is there anything which one should say, or are there things better to say, or should we just follow Allison Krauss' instructions, saying it best "when you say nothing at all?

I have some takes on how I could have responded, and plan to respond the next time someone uses such a silly superstition in God's name. But this post is already getting too long.


Randy Greenwald said...

Wow. Great story. But I thought I taught you better than that. My Bible lives on my phone. You still carry a print one??!

Geoffsnook said...

Well Randy, some of us are stuck in contracts with Verizon and the Verizon I-phone doesn't let you surf web and talk at same time, so I'll be hitting up the paper bible for at least until next March.

Jeremy Bias said...

Very unfortunate, but not very suprising. Sorry it happened in a public setting. Consider it a sign of God's mercy that He didn't give you a chance to respond. I'm not sure how much good could have come from it! Thanks for the post and the honesty. I'm right there with you. One more thing, Keith Wheatley sang the best version of that song, not Mrs. Krauss!

Geoffsnook said...

Jeremy, yep, probably best not to say anything. It wouldn't have done any good, and it might not have been merciful. But here's a questions, should the presumed end (it not doing any good to say anything) always dictate whether we respond? I'll try to explore some more of that in the next post.

Jeremy Bias said...

In answer to your question, I'd have to say "no". In the right circumstance, you may actually be able to get across to someone like the lady you "met" at Tim Horton's. Even if it simply made her stop and think about why she believes what she believes. I look forward to the next post!