From Connections: One Day On Campus
The writer is a college freshman, assistant editor of the Tyler Junior College News and member of the staff of The Journal. He receives E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Trey Cartwright
BIG SANDY, Texas--I've lived in Big Sandy for my whole life. If you actually know where that town is, I hope you're subscribing to this publication and not just bumming it off your friends.
The Big Sandy, Texas, has been a smoldering hotbed of cultural activity for as long as I can remember. By cultural activity I mean that the biggest business around here, outside of owning your own liquor store, is having your own church. Spending my formative years here was interesting, to say the least.
When my nonChurch of Godmember school friends would ask me what exactly it was we did when we left town for a week or so in the fall, I would tell them the stories. Stories of how we traveled to faraway and fascinating places like Wisconsin Dells. Stories of the goat sacrifices and the drinking of molten bat earwax and the dances with Sasquatch. Stories of how we would hold Santa Claus hostage every year, and the only reason the Protestants of the world ever got any toys at Christmas was that the elves made out a generous check to the Ambassador College Outreach Program Fund.
That's not quite the truth, I know. But if they can mess with the Fourth Commandment then I can pretend to mess with the Ninth.
The above tales all made the rounds in the local elementary schools. I was kind of sad when the natives quit believing them. By the time I got to high school, word had leaked out that all we did was go to church every day and the rest of the time hang out in hotels and play practical jokes on each other involving ice machines. Somebody must have squealed, probably some wimp of a PK. Part of the fun of my Feast was gone. Where was I going to find another batch of gullible Big Sandyites?
I've been in college for a year now, and I've found that the nonChurch of God types are more fun at our institution of higher learning than they ever were in grade school.
Earlier this semester Young Man David Havir (not to be confused with Old Man Dave Havir) and I were sitting on a campus park bench discussing classes and other things that college-age males speak of when suddenly we were set upon by two girls carrying tracts and pamphlets.
Normally I would just accept a pamphlet and mutter something that would make them go away. Something like "Why, yes, I have accepted Jesus as my personal Savior; thank you ever so much for checking," or maybe "Thank you, and here's your complimentary copy of The Journal: News of the Churches of God."
But that day I felt frisky, and the girls were kind of cute. So the conversation started out something like this:
Them: "Hello, have you found the Lord?"
Me: "Why, is He missing?"
Them: "That's not what we meant. Are you prepared?"
Me: "Yeah, I'm prepared. I didn't spend seven years in the Boy Scouts for nothing. I'll have you know that I made the rank of eagle, which means--besides other good stuff--that I've got the largest collection of campfire jokes known to man."
Them: "So you're going to heaven, then?"
Me: "Oh, I don't really believe in going to heaven."
It went straight downhill from there. I've never seen people look at me quite like that before. They started edging away and staring at me with a look that said "lighting-bolt material." They got out of there pretty quick.
They were not quite as captive an audience as the grade-school crowd, but just as nervous.
Some people are easily frightened. But this particular bunch would soon be back, in greater numbers and with four-color brochures, since the black-and-white ones didn't seem to work on us.
Sure enough, every member of the Baptist Student Association suddenly appeared around our little park bench. Funny thing about those Baptists, they believe that if you hold somebody under water long enough he'll come around to your way of thinking.
But the ones who really get you are the charismatics. I thought there for a minute they would start speaking in tongues. Nobody can Bible-thump quite like a charismatic. And things really got heated when the Buddhist showed up. But at least he decided to take ourside.
These people don't grasp the concept that the immortal-soul business isn't backed up in the Bible quite like they would like to believe.
They don't like the thought of much of their conceptions about heaven and hell coming from the mind of a late medieval Italian poet who was writing a poem as a memorial for some chick he had the hots for. In fact, they were rather hostile when I pointed that out.
This was quite possibly the most interesting day of my college career so far: people of so many varying backgrounds, races and religions coming together to argue. I get a little misty-eyed when I think about it even now.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God