Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm a Non-Buddhist, Too

I had a free ticket to see the Dalai Lama at Seattle's Qwest Field. I gave it away to do my Saturday job selling papers to vendors, so as not to require a mad last minute search for a substitute for me. Many vendors went, as did the beloved Anitra (worst vendor ever, in terms of sales) and fellow "editor" Cecil the Vendor, who together reported back to me at the end of the day over fish and chips.

According to their reports and others, what I missed was a crowd of 50,000, speeches from politicians obviously trying to cash in on The Lama's good image, very bad acoustics (the word used most often was reverb) which added to The Lama's accent made for a largely incomprehensible speech. This is what I expected, which was why I wasn't too sad about not getting to go.

What I didn't miss was a lovely exchange with an avid Christian (I'll call him AC) back in the office before the whole thing.

While a dozen or so vendors were gathering at the office to get their free tickets and bus down to the event together, AC was showing off his hand-made cross and making it very well understood that although he was going to see a Buddhist, HE was a Christian. He was being so clear and vocal about his Christianity, in contrast to what the Dalai Lama is, that I started to wonder why he was going. How would he be able to hear, even with perfect acoustics? He must not be going for the purpose of hearing.

He got into a discussion with another fellow "editor" Stan Burriss, who got the benefit of the ticket I would have used. In the course of the discussion AC plied Stan for his religious faith, and Stan told him he was Christian. Then Stan pointed to Anitra and said if you're looking for a non-Christian, talk to her, or words to that affect. This illustrates one of Stan B's problems. Anitra has told him many times she counts herself Christian, but he always forgets each time within the hour.

So as Anitra and Stan left early, she called back to AC and said, she's a Christian -- it's her husband sitting behind the desk there that's the non-Christian.

Just great. It's like the Cavalry is at the teepee and the Captain says, "Any Injuns in there?" and my squaw says "I'm Danish. You're probably looking for my husband. I'll fetch him out." It's like Columbo is at the door, and says, "I just have a few questions to ask," and my woman says, "Oh I'm not good at questions, I'll get you my husband. He can be out as soon as he finishes cleaning the blood off his butcher knife." Way to go, Anitra. Good teamwork.

Truly I kid, but sure enough, after a break in vendor activity a few minutes later meant AC could have my undivided attention, he sat directly across from me and said, "So, what's your beef with Christianity?"

I wanted to tell him that the only beef I have with Christianity is that way too many Christians think that is a decent question. All he knows at this point is that I'm non-Christian, he doesn't know what I am, I haven't expressed any animosity toward his religion, he hasn't done me the formal courtesy of asking about mine, and if he did I couldn't explain it to him in less than a week. I didn't say any of that. I said, "I don't have a beef with Christianity. I just am what I am. Why do you have a beef with what I am?" To that he said he didn't have a beef, he loved me, he loves everybody, I was his Brother, etc.

But he does have a beef with non-Christians, because he sees them universally as rejecting his God, and isn't interested in who they are.

During the debriefing Cecil said that as the Dalai Lama appeared AC shouted something like "JESUS WALKED ON WATER!"

So my suspicion was right. He didn't go to hear.

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