Friday, August 11, 2006

The encounter

An episode from my trip to Europe--nearly verbatim.

I was coming out of the hotel restaurant when I saw the attractive, impeccably dressed Ms. X and her (I think) second husband, whom I think may have been a jewish convert to evangelicism. I'm not certain of that though, and can only go by his
surname which, of course, in Northern Ireland instantly tells one a person's religion and can in the wrong circumstances get one shot.

"You're coming up to my part of the country for a wedding soon, arent you?"
"Not for a wedding," said Ms. X. "For a christening."
"My grandson is getting christened."
"Very nice."


"Damian, you don't know what it's like when you have grandchildren who don't walk with the Lord. Thankfully, my daughter has come around and is christening my grandson who's five now. We've been trying so hard for this. So hard."
"I...I see."
"I have four children and I thought I brought them up well, but none of them walk with Jesus or allow their children the pleasure,"she says. "It's devastating."
Hubby cranes his neck in my direction, looks moist and sad about the eyes, and says, "It's so sad. We all need Jesus in our lives."

I recognize his look--it's the look that says 'You will burn in the hot, eternal flames if you do not have Jesus. Get saved.'

Silence as my mind whirls.

"Well, I'm Catholic, but I would never presume to say or require that everyone needs Jesus as their personal Lord and savior. (Having been brought up in fundamentalist Northern Ireland, I know the code words to invoke by now as they are posted on telegraph poles, tree trunks, sides of barns, etc.) God comes in many forms, Ms. X. For example, the Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have a different concept of God and none of them subscribe to Jesus."
Hubby cranes again and says, "Everyone must have Jesus."
"These people are equally as right as Christians," I say. "We are but one form of belief and God planned it this way."

Ms. X has a beautiful smile and I see her lips curl up slightly and I am given a sad puppy dog look. She shakes her head knowingly. "Damian, only Jesus. Only Jesus is king."

I have just been canvassed and my mind is strong and we have reached a stalemate. Stalemate for me, at least. More likely for them, "He's so nice but doomed to writhe within the eternally scorching flames."

Gosh, Ms. X, it's very late,"I say. "I really must go to bed. Good night now."

In case you're wondering, yes, I forgive them for the approach.

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Beryl Singleton Bissell said...

We have a wonderful old priest in our area who has a wonderful response. "Of course I'm saved. I'm Catholic."

Beryl Singleton Bissell said...

Oh wait. I forgot to mention the "good" Christian woman who wrote a letter to the editor after a local teen committed suicide reflecting on the fact it was so sad that he hadn't been saved. The editor of one paper refused to publish it. The editor of the second "conservative" paper did. And the grieving parents most likely read her "Christian" comment.

Damian McNicholl said...

Yes, the priest has found a good response, Beryl. Thanks for your comments.