As I was reading at one of my regular stops in the blogosphere, (pilgrimgirl, and you should really stop in and read her someday…she’s a wonderful writer and a wonderful person whose posts are incisive and thoughtful), one of the comments a reader left in response to a recent post really struck me.
It was a simple thought: “It's always kind of entertaining to see what will out me as a complete crank case.”
I read that, and I thought, Yeah, rings a bell.
A case in point from yesterday, when my mother and I were out at lunch: There were two long tables of mid-to-late teens seated right next to us. About half of them, distributed among the two tables, were wearing t-shirts that said something to the effect that they were 100 percent members of the Army of the Lord. Which bothered me right there. First of all, I felt like that represented bad theology: as far as I can remember, Jesus discouraged his followers from establishing a kingdom here on earth, and armies belong to earthly kingdoms. Second of all, that sort of thing smacks of the willingness to convert by force, something I don’t approve of from any religion. And thirdly, although I’m not really a practicing anything at this point, I find it disrespectful to reduce who believers think of as God to the same level as a rock star, a football team, or a clothing label.
Still, I wasn’t going to say anything to them, although I grumbled about it to my mother all through the meal.
But then, as the group left, just as I was commenting that the whole bunch of them needed a keeper, based on their behavior, one of the girls started giggling as she took the ketchup bottle on the table and proceeded to empty about half of it into the melted remains of a bowl of ice cream that one of the other kids had left.
That was it. “Excuse me,” I said. “What are you doing wasting food like that? The t-shirts some of you are wearing indicate that you are religious, think of yourselves as godly people. But wasting food like that isn’t a very godly thing to do.” They just looked at me like I’d grown a third eye in the middle of my forehead or something and walked away.
I’m still not sure that I should have said anything. They were teenagers, for Pete’s sake, and teenagers act like that sometimes. But, you know, it seems to me that wearing a t-shirt that proclaims their religiosity like that, they need to learn at some point that such a public proclamation of specific beliefs and values carries some sort of responsibility, some sort of consequences, with it. It is something those kids need to learn.