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Sunday, 5 October 2014

God

It's about 8 am and Oona and I are getting coffee at the cafe when I notice that Will, who makes the coffee, has 'Jesus' tattooed on his wrist.
'So, you're into Jesus, then?' I say to him.
'Yes,' says Will, who looks just what I imagine Kevin Costner's full-lipped, slightly prettier brother might have looked like at 21, 'Jesus is my saviour and Lord,'
'Nice,' I say, 'good on you,'
Then he holds out his arm and shows me where he would like a tattoo of the Lion of Judah, and says 'I'm pretty sure I know what Miss Oona's views are, but what are your views on religion?'
'Well,' I say and let go of his wrist, 'I go to Quaker meetings, on occasion, because I find the peace in the room calming and the community of people mellow, and I like the calm inside the Buddhist temple in San Diego, but I'd say that humans have made up gods to really just comfort or punish themselves and each other,'
'So, why do you love your god?' I ask Will, who also has something from "Luke 9:23" tattooed below his bicep, and is now sitting at the window counter where his books and laptop are laid out, where he spends time, between making coffees, studying online for the seminary.
'I was a straight A student,' he tells me, 'playing sports, doing really well with my life, but there was something missing. I felt empty,'
'That's when you should have started taking drugs, like normal people,' I tell him.
Oona starts to laugh, and so does Will, and so do I, because I'm sort of joking.
Then Will starts quoting scripture and talking about sin.
And forgiveness.
And love.
And hell.
And I say, 'You think I'm going to hell, right, Will, because I am gay?'
Will's face tells me he is uncomfortable but eventually he says yes, I will be going to hell.
'So, even though you like me, we're smiling at each other and I have brought three 'Hope' wrist bands for your African charity and I am nice to my friends and on the whole, I am a goodly sort of person, according to you, because of how I am wired up biologically and emotionally, I am still going go to hell, which, in reality, if it existed, would be totally the worst, burning, miserable shithole anyone could ever, ever be sent AND it would be okay with you that I would be there FOREVER!'
Will, who is wearing his red baseball cap backwards and has glasses like Kevin Costner wore in JFK, thinks for a moment and then says- 'Yes, ma'am. Unless you accept salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ,'
'Then,' I tell Will, 'I think your religion is simply mean and all about power and scaring people,'

Then a guy who has come over and sat down near Will but has not been formally asked for his opinion, starts giving it.
He starts talking about how animals in the wild breed, how they have the parts necessary to procreate, how marriage is a sacred biblical covenant, that it's a sin to have sex outside of marriage and for non-breeding purposes and that it's unnatural and a sin for homosexuals to have sex at all.
On and on and on he goes with examples of the sexual habits of animals in the wild and how they have the right body parts to have the right kind of sex, insinuating what big trouble civilisation would be in if homosexuals took over and there was only ever gay sex allowed.
After a while I can't stand it anymore and, feeling as if my hair is on fire, I get up from my chair and ask him the questions- 'What about married couples who can't have children, or don't want to? What about people who like to have anal sex? What about blow jobs? What about cunnilingus? Should those all be banned because no one gets pregnant as a result?'
However, I do not wait for his answer.
Instead I go through the outdoor and stand on the footpath smoking my e-cigarette while Josh, the Baptist Pastor, who has overheard the conversation and followed me outside, starts talking to me.
He tells me he is sorry for the man inside, and that at his church he preaches love and tolerance and acceptance.
But after talking to Pastor Josh for quite some time, it becomes clear that he doesn't, because next he says- 'I know many people who used to live your lifestyle, but they have been saved and have married and live successful heterosexual lives, now,'
'Yes, but most likely because they've been terrified and bullied into it by their families, and religions like yours and really, truly, at their core,' I say, tapping him on the chest while he stands there holding his coffee and staring at me, 'they're STILL homosexual,'
'Yes,' says Josh, 'while many of them may still have those feelings, they have chosen, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to no longer live that lifestyle,'
'Dude,' I say, sucking and blowing hard on my e-cigarette, 'being a homo isn't a lifestyle choice. It's not like choosing loft living, or to be a hipster. It's not like adopting Buddhist principles or going on the Paleo diet or joining Crossift or being "green",'
Then Josh tells me he loves me and will pray for me, and then I tell him I find that condescending.
'It's not condescending,' he tells me, 'our congregation pray for each other all the time,'
'Yes, but you're not praying for me because I've got Leukemia or there was a fire in my barn and I lost all my cows. You're praying for me because you want me to be something other than what you and your bible think I should be. You think I am wrong, and perverse, and that I am bound for hell. And that,' I say to Josh, 'implies you pity and despise me at the same time as saying you love me,'
Then, suddenly, Oona is standing next to us and says that the man who was obsessed with animal sex has gone and would I like to come back inside.
I tell Oona yes and then I tell Josh that I have enjoyed our conversation and that I will visit him in his church next time I am here, but only if he will do me one small favour.
'Sure,' he says.
'Stop referring to who I am and what I do as a 'lifestyle choice.' I say, giving him a hug and leaving him outside on the footpath while I go back inside with Oona for some more coffee





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