Friday, March 16, 2012

The Agnostic and the Pastor

A few weeks ago, a friend came over to visit.  She was going through some tough times in her life and needed some encouragement.  Or, it was possibly the other way around, because she really made us smile.  As we spoke, she relayed some news about a former pastor of mine.  His wife was dying of cancer (and had been for the last few years).  His mother had just passed away after living almost a century.  He was very close to his mother.  But, worst of all, a part of his heart had been ripped out of his chest because he had had to get rid of his dogs.

This gentleman (let's call him JJ) had two loves in his life (besides his wife, Jesus, and his children, in that order): motorcycles and dogs. 

I am exactly the opposite.  I hate all animals with a passion.  Cats disgust me and dogs make me recoil in horror at their smell, dandruff, hair, drool, dirty feet, crap in the yard, and pee on the carpet.  I like mice.  They are so cute in a trap with one eye popped out of their head.  Regardless, I have always looked up to this man as the person I most want to emulate if I was ever forced to cohabitate with a dirty, filthy pet.  And now his dogs were gone.

This information made me ache for his happiness.  I love people, regardless of race or creed, and desire that all are content.  If they are not, I take it upon myself to at least bring a smile to their cheekbones and mirth to their lips.  So, on a whim, I emailed him, inviting him out for dinner - just the two of us.  I gave him no details because I wanted him to think I was just another person, asking him for counsel, needing him to expend more of himself for others.  I was going to turn the tables and give some back.

I am an undefined agnostic and JJ's life is all about Jesus Christ.  Growing up in fundamentalist Christianity, it was bored into my brain that hurting people needed Christ shown to them and the only vessels that could provide that were other "true Christians" who were natural channels for God's love.  In reality, I saw the exact opposite and watched many a person suck the life out of others to gain the most happiness for themselves.  I desire to show all Christians that atheists, agnostics, godless individuals, or anyone with no belief in a higher being, could just as easily show love to others and be an encouragement for no reason other than bringing contentment to those they come in contact with.

I arrived at our dinner date and caught sight of JJ across the parking lot of the restaurant and waved enthusiastically.  What transpired for the next two hours was some of the most fun I had all year.  We swapped stories of life.  His were all about Jesus (that is his life) and mine were, as usual, superficial, humorous, with the occasional self-deprecation, and the highly infrequent jab at JJ.  We spoke of theology, politics, drug legalization, Bill Gothard, Christian standards, his past, his future, dentistry, migraines, and many more subjects I will not share.  I loved every minute of it.

After the meal, we talked for another hour, then stepped out of the restaurant and stood on the sidewalk and spoke for another twenty minutes.  We said our goodbyes and he left, a strong Christian, and I, a strong agnostic. 

For two hours, the world stood still while two individuals brought joy to each other across the great chasm of their respective creeds.  For two hours, a pastor was able to do nothing but talk and enjoy the company of an idiot, drunk on coffee, and high on the success of another whimsical idea.  For two hours, a young man, who had rejected the idea of god, listened with rapt attention at the love a pastor had for his god. 

As I listened to JJ speak of his god, I was full of rhetorical questions as to why everything he spoke about was false, very much a fairy tale, and quite nearly impossible.  But it didn't matter.  JJ was not in the business of hurting people.  Had he been, this reflection would be much different, more than likely ending up with a young man in handcuffs, sitting in a county cell.  Rather, he was in the business of loving others in his own way, no matter how misguided I felt he was.  And I was happy to nod, smile, and ask pointed questions (Okay...whatever...I don't ask legitimate questions.  I just toss in jokes.  And JJ.  Wow!  Never has a bloke laughed at my humor like he has all my life.  And I have known him since I was conceived.)

Tonight was an epic evening.



  1. Always nice to hear about good things happening in the world. =)

  2. I appreciate this post. It's nice to see people get a long as friends with each other, even with such vast differances of view/belief.

    Sometimes your posts come accross as a little abrasive, but to see you actually go out of your way to reach out to someone of opposite belief, raises my respect for you quite a bit. I'm sure that the love you showed that pastor that day, meant a lot to him.

    Thank you for sharing that. It made my day!