Sunday, October 10, 2010


Beer and penitence

I was sitting at a sidewalk table the other day, having a beer. At the next table were three women in their forties, speaking with southern accents. Why is it that southern accents seem so often to mean Christian? As I sipped, I overheard fragments, here and there, of their conversation, and every fragment had something to do with God, praying, or being Christian.

Every day I get up, and I ask God to forgive me for anything I did yesterday.

My first thought on hearing that was to wonder what value there would be — to God or to a real person — in such a series of generic apologies. Whatever I might have done, I’m sorry. No, that doesn’t cut it. Be specific. Acknowledge what you did, and apologize specifically for it. And then don’t do it again.

That ties into this one, of course:

If you’re Christian, even if you make a mistake, every day’s new.

If you’re Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist... or, of course, and especially, atheist... you’re screwed. You make a mistake, and that’s it. Christian, though, well, just get up every morning and tell God you’re sorry, and everything resets.

On the other hand, the Jews, who just went through this process the other week on Yom Kippur, batch it all up for once a year. Spend a day fasting and gathering in prayer, asking generic forgiveness for all the bad things that you’ve all, collectively done over the past year. But feel guilty from day to day; it’s good for the soul.

Later in the conversation, as they talked about their children, one said this:

I pray that I won’t pass down to them all of my dysfunction.

But she is, of course: she’s undoubtedly teaching them her silly superstitions, and showing them how to be dysfunctional and yet start over every day.


Call me Paul said...

Tell us more about the beer.

Barry Leiba said...

I have a photo here. Nice, though it could be hoppier.

Thomas J. Brown said...

Both of the previous comments made me laugh out loud (literally!).

My wife and I had lunch at Taco Bell today. Just as we were leaving, we noticed a family at an adjacent table joining hands and praying. While I guess eating at Taco Bell is technically a meal, it just seemed weird and a little silly to thank God for fast food.

Barry Leiba said...

I saw a similar scene at a Dunkin’ Donuts a short while ago. It does make one wonder.

Call me Paul said...

During my trip to D.C. last week I had dinner in a delightful place in Columbia Heights where I had the opportunity to try a Star Hill Northern Lights IPA. I loved, loved, loved it! Awesome beer. The next day I tried a couple of different Festbiers and was underwhelmed. Brought home a few hoppy adventures to try out later: