Friday, November 1, 2013

An Old Friend

     I was pleased when I got to the Government Center t-stop one evening this week and saw an old "friend."  I know him not by his name, but by the brochures he hands out and the placard he wears.  It's a large rendering of the fiery pits of hell, complete with some sinners in agony.
     The old placard used to say something like "Are you saved?" Or "You're going to hell" or something like that.  Years ago when I worked downtown, I had to pass by him on late nights in order to get to my train platform.  I'm a fairly agreeable sort, and when strangers talk to me, I tend to answer them, or at least acknowledge them.  I don't like to ignore people.  This has, from time to time not resulted in the best possible outcome, but it makes for a good story.
     One night, after having had the pamphlets shoved in my face a couple times, instead of just saying "No, thank you," I said "I'm good. I'm saved."  He questioned the authenticity of said salvation, asking if I was Catholic.  When I said no, he scoffed and told me that I had been led astray ... as only Catholics were getting in.  I disagreed and quickly realized that we weren't going to have a legitimate theological discussion.  So, I excused myself and went on my way.  And thus the weekly "conversation" was born.
     I don't know what I was expecting.  I mean honestly ... did I really think I was going to have an open minded two-way conversation involving a real exchange of thought with a guy wearing a sandwich board painted with flames.  There are other examples I could use, but I think when you've crossed that threshold, where you leave the house with the sandwich board - you're kind of committed to your particular ideology, and no matter how persuasive I am, I'm probably not going to be able to spark new thought in you.
     So, for months after our little exchange, when I walked past him, he'd remind me that I wasn't saved.  I'd call back, "Yes, I am."  "No, you're not," back and forth we went.  Very mature on my part I know, but I didn't want this guy to pass his judgment without me getting a word in - even if I looked a little crazy doing it.
     It made me smile to see him this week.  It remains to be seen if we'll take up round two.


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