My goal is to post something once a week. However, this week I will be posting something every day, as we have 44 years of a rather ordinary life to get through.
When I was a child I lived in State College, PA, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Like so many other kids, I spent every fall Saturday at Beaver stadium, playing football in the grass outside the stadium, dreaming of playing on the other side of the gates one day. (Truth be told, my dream was to be THE Nittany Lion. Have you seen how many push-ups that guy could do? See Penn State vs. Cincinnati, 1991.)
Every summer State College has an arts festival. Some people might be thinking, “Oh, an arts festival. Cute.” There is nothing cute about this thing, though. It’s massive. Takes over the entire downtown area. When I was a kid in the early 80’s we’d take the bus downtown with pockets full of enough cash to get a couple slices at Brother’s Pizza and enough quarters to spend a couple hours playing Donkey Kong.
Summer ’83, I went downtown and at the corner of College Avenue and Allen Street, I met some street preachers. Even now, I can picture them, and I remember their mantra, “If it’s not of Jesus, then it’s of Satan!” They were loud. They were passionate. So, being a 13 year-old wiseass, I thought I would engage. I asked them what exactly they meant. I asked them if they ate pizza. I asked them if they thought this album was evil.
Now to be clear, they weren’t intimidated by me. Their arguments were well rehearsed. They had their scripture passages memorized. They were able to defend why it was okay for them to wear jeans even though their Levi’s were not “of Jesus.” They were pretty confident I was going to Hell, and so was everyone else who was listening.
For whatever reason, though, I left that day with two thoughts/beliefs that have stayed with me over the last 30 years.
1) I really don’t think God is that angry with us.
2) I really don’t think God wants us to be that angry when we talk about God.
Funny. At the time, it seemed like just a day.