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JWR 2.11 - Better Than You

 

DAN:

 

Do you agree with Jonathan?

 

About a week ago, as I searched for a place to sit and eat my fill I couldn't help but notice strange lime green table tents (small advertisements) which contained the phrase, "Do you agree with Jonathan?"  Strange for Burger King to employ the use of creative advertisements on a campus that gives them enough business as it is.

 

As I fumbled through Mt. Trashmore (my brain) to come up with a Jonathan I could agree with I decided to get a closer look at these strange green messages.  Needless to say I couldn't come up with any Jonathans I knew or could even agree with.  I mean, there's Jonathan Davis of KORN.  Let's not forget Jonathan Denver and the ravenous Jonathan Rader.  I may be able to agree with those three, but what was I to agree on?

 

I sat and began to eat.  It was then that my worst nightmares came true.  On the lower left-hand corner of these tents were the words "student impact".  Of course!...how could I have been so stupid to have blinded myself from the obvious.  CCC (Campus Christian Coalition) was up to it again.

 

In the world of marketing, it's called teaser advertising--showing an appealing message or slogan without revealing what the product is.  Crafty and clever...even damned creative!  Another rule of marketing:  Do not let your creativity over shadow your message.

 

Monday morning finally arrived and I was just as pumped as ever to go to class.  Unfortunately, I was unaware of the flock of lime green t-shirt laden people that I would encounter.  They were everywhere.  Lime green shirts with the question, "Do you agree with Jonathan?"  At this time I was about ready to grab one of them and ask them who the fuck Jonathan was in hopes of spoiling his attempts to brainwash campus.

 

Guess what?  Jonathan is going to speak to campus on Thursday in Burger King.  There's probably going to be a riot.  The last time religious figures showed up on campus to preach, they got scorned and ridiculed.  It drove me to the point of grasping my stomach because I couldn't spare the pain of laughter anymore.  Good shit.

 

I wish at all costs that you could come to campus and join in on the festivities Thursday.  As Corey Feldmann stated in the Burbs, "It's gonna be live!"  I'm constantly baffled by the way christians feel they have to get the word out through manipulative activities and outrageous events.  If they were tapping High Life I might show up, but I have class.  So, do you agree with Jonathan?  Don't think too hard, just say no.

 

Fuckin' christians remind me of Branch Dividians.  They all got these god damned green shirts with the same phrase--a phrase devoted to the fearless leader Jonathan.  "Who is Jonathan?  Silly mortal, Jonathan is our leader.  All hail Jonathan.  All hail the all knowing."  Fucking cronies.

 

I saw a hippie today with a lime green shirt....

...his said "FUCK JONATHAN"

 

Peace.

 

Dan (not in agreement)

 

 

JOHN:

 

Age of innocence.  Age of reason.  Age of enlightenment.  Age of progress.  Age.  Ago.  Key: 18.  Everything happens then.

 

Enough of innocence and reason and enlightenment and progress.  Clearly we are at a stalemate, like when Jon and I wrestle.  Two very powerful forces at their pinnacle: science and religion.  Neither can win because neither is any more or less than the other.

 

Now, this is the part when you disagree and I nod off.  This is also an age of indifference.

 

None are innocent.  The moment we switch on a TV or purchase a ticket for a movie or buy a compact disc of music or spoken word or open a book, magazine or newspaper or walk into a bar or a Unitarian church or a rodeo or a baseball stadium or take a look outside your window at the Hollow, the imaginary world of innocence is shattered.  And the trick is, itís only as depressing as you make it.

 

Jonathan.  There are a million Jonathans all over the world.  Itís not the Word they seek to teach, itís their ego they seek to feed.  The Messiah will not come brandishing a green T-shirt.  Nor will He come wearing a cheap suit and oil-slicked hair with a fake smile as you slip your hard-earned sweaty fistful of dollar bills way down deep inside his pa-a-a-a-anties.  Would you believe me if I told you I saw God once in human form?

 

I was once told that the Holy Spirit was visible in me.  By a very crazy woman.  I mean, very.  Some people will tell you everything if you just listen and let them talk.  A lot of people, I suspect.  I remember I was on my way home to watch Babylon 5 and I just stopped by to say hello to this woman and wound up listening to her for three hours in which I found out more about her than I know about myself.  I tried desperately to forget the whole thing, but one key query remains seared in my memory.  She asked: ďWhatís your sorrow?Ē

 

At the time my sorrow was a girl.  A very bad girl.  The bad girl who angered me so I pulled into school everyday a few minutes before necessity deemed it so I could listen to 2pac loudly.  Dan also sat there in his car (back when he had a car) with his music (something more appropriate) for his own reasons (similar to mine).  Today (this very day) it would be me slamming a bucket or two of gold balls then driving back with Sevendust.

 

Sorrow.  She taught me a lot about sorrow in this time it would have taken me to complete a Chem lab experiment.  I held my little bag of sorrow next to her crate and stopped even thinking about my sorrow and paid attention to hers.  Death, AIDS, miscarriage, psychological horrors, psychological disorders, surgery, infidelity, suicide...

 

This is the same world I live in?

 

Iím not carrying a lot of sorrow.  Iím carrying angst.  Thereís sadness, but itís not the same as sorrow.  Sorrow is so bad, it should be a sin.  My truckload of angst.  ďSatan is my engine.Ē

 

Some are dealt such shit hands.  Some are dealt fluff.  Some are dealt potential.  None are dealt divinity.

 

Thereís nowhere to go.  The thousand years is over.  Trapped.  Raped.  Roped.  Bound and gagged by our own e-lives.  There is nowhere you can go to go.  Have you ever tried to simply unplug yourself from electricity?  It canít be done.  First, unplug all your appliances and electronic gadgets because even turned off, they emit electronic noise.  Shut off all the breakers, remove all batteries from wireless things.  What do you have left, the God of electricity in the form of high tension towers and wires.  It is audible.  Even when underground.  Stand still and be moved by His constant sermon through your soles (souls).

 

The time limits for prophecy is nearing an end and as it passes by much like the Y2K hoopla, we will all stand in disbelief, amassing in numbers as the days continue to tick past until all but a few who do not matter face the fact that it will not come to pass and we must go back to dealing with the inevitable as Ben Franklin said so long ago: Death and taxes.  There will be no war over it.

 

I feel Death must either laugh or cry as he goes about his business.

 

ďThe sun is a star.Ē  John Updike in Toward the End of Time wrote if there was one piece of information he would want to pass on, it would be: ďThe sun is a star.Ē

 

ďItís okay.  Had a bad day.  Hands are bruised from breaking rocks all day.Ē  - Alice in Chains

 

If you look at the sky at sunrise, or sunset, or at night with a moon and stars, or during the day when the sun breaks through the clouds and shines scattered rays down there is no wonder we believe God lives up there.  (And to be polarily fair, Satan must live down there.)

 

I saw God in human form once.  It was not Jonathan--FUCK JONATHAN.  It was not in the face of a newborn.  It was not in a man of the cloth.  One night I was in the passengerís seat of a car stopped at a red light somewhere on the south side of Racine and a pickup truck pulled up on my right.  It was an older, broken-in workhorse of a truck.  The driver was no more than three feet from me.  It was simply an old guy.  He was in his sixties with a weathered face and grey hair, his flannel shirt was worn and dull like your grandpaís would be.  I caught a glimpse of him working for his living.  And I donít mean the work that the majority of us work: at a computer or on the phone or shuffling papers or contemplating.  It is work, but I mean work like farming or building or manufacturing.  The thankless jobs that consideration is not given to when you pray at Thanksgiving or Easter.  His wife sits at home knitting or playing the piano with wrinkled yet strong hands.  His children long since grown and moved away.  Thoughts of Medicare and Social Security and his blood pressure meds buzz around in his head like white noise.  Heís a simple guy.  Not simple like retarded, canít string together a coherent sentence or walk and chew bubble gum at the damn time--for Chrissakes, heís DRIVING a pickup--but simple like he does not have an e-mail address or a cell phone and he does not have a 401(k) and he does not know who the Backstreet Boys are and he has the cynicism to distrust everyone yet he gives the benefit of a doubt and he checks his change at McDonaldís in front of the employees and he does not shop at the Gap and he married the first girl he laid.  This guy is God simply because there is no Bible in His hands yet He stands for right and just and leads someone like me by quiet example.  Today, I want to be this old guy and drive my pickup home late to my loving wife in our small, outdated house with the Ď70ís shades that were so groovy when we were forty-ish and the refrigerator that was rad and gnarly when we bought it new in Ď84 and our twin beds.

 

Whoís better than who?  Iím not better than you.  Youíre not better than me.   There is the danger of being in a position of authority such as a minister and having a congregation hang on your words as you speak, literally, down to them.  ďHigh and mightyĒ for a reason.  The old guy is not better than anyone.  I know Jonathan thinks heís better than all of us.  I distrust Pat Robertson of The 700 Club.  The men than give sermons about the evils of popular styles of music are spiteful in their tone.

 

The God I hope exists would not be endorsed by many of the people that proclaim to be doing His work.  Iíve shaken hands with priests and ministers and even a rabbi or two.  Iím bigger than them.  Iím better spoken and more presentable than some of them, too.  Iím sorry, but I canít put someone between me and my God of thought.

 

Uncork the bottle slowly and try not to release too much pressure too soon or you might, say, hit an ottoman across the room and put a Canadian quarter-sized dent in the corner of a wall.

 

I donít want to effect change.  I just want to say something to try and ease my own mind.  It just so happens that I send it out to all of you.  I do want to effect affection somehow.

 

John

 

P.S.: Thank you, Dan

 

Copyright © 2001 John Lemut