I learned in my growing up years that with certain people there are certain subjects you simply do not broach.
So I asked the Lord for courage to talk to Jim, a guy who admittedly intimidates me.
After bantering over some contemporary political issues, I turned the conversation a bit:
“Do you ever pray or do anything with your spiritual life?”
I wondered how this would land.
“I have my own religion,” Jim said without blinking, looking at me.
Normally I’m on top of this stuff but my tongue seemed to be lodged half-way down my throat.
“Your own religion? Er — how do you know it’s true?” I said a little awkwardly.
“How do you know yours is true?”
“I asked you first.”
He smiled, as if I’d scored a point. I was starting to relax.
“I have my own way of doing things. Is that wrong?”
“But Jim, how do you learn and grow? How do you hear from God, if you’re totally on your own?”
He mentioned a revered mentor in his background who’d tutored him in these matters. This was, I knew, the Forbidden Subject, the untouchable topic — Jim’s unassailable foundation.
I prayed for more courage and blurted out, “But what makes (mentor) a reliable guide to religion? He had no theological training! Why listen to him?”
There, I’d said it, finally. Now perhaps the expected explosion would come, like, “How dare you — “
Instead, this fine man heard me out. I proceeded to suggest that he find a church where the community of faith gathers for encouragement, teaching and worship.
He thought about it a moment, then flatly refused. Damn clergy were either in someone’s pants or in your pocketbook.
“No way am I going to let them tell me how to live my life!” he spat out.
Now we were getting somewhere. My demons were gone. I thought I knew what to say next . . .
I’ll write about it next week.
* lyrics by Jim Croce