Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Mayans, Mormons, and French Fries

I’m sitting at IHOP reading USAToday uncomfortably aware that the man in the booth across from mine is watching me. As I finished the News section, which I always read first, I grabbed the Sports section, which I never read, and offered both to my neighbor.

“Paper?” I said.

“No thanks,” he said, “I never read the thing. When I want to know what’s going on in the world I turn to the only source you can trust, the Bible.”

“Fair and balanced,” I said smiling.

“Just and true,” he said, not smiling.

“Really?” I said. “The Bible keeps you up on the day’s news?”

“It tells me what's really going on. You think those papers know anything? They distract you with the surface stuff, but the real news is that Jesus is coming back and soon. All these wars and the debt ceiling are just signs of the Apocalypse. The world comes to an end December 21, 2012.”

“That may be,” I said, “but that isn’t in the Bible, that’s the Mayans.”

“The Mayans were Jews who came here before Jesus, and Jesus came to them and gave them their calendar and told them and us when the world was going to end and when he was coming back.”

“That may be,” I said, “but that isn’t in the Bible, that’s sort of from the Book of Mormon.”

“I don’t know about Mormons, but I know about the Bible. December 21, 2012—the end. But you know that don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re the rabbi. I’ve seen your picture in the paper.”

“I thought you didn’t read…”

“You know Jesus is coming back and you’re doing everything you can to stop it.”

“Me personally?”

“You and all the other Jews who deny the Lord.”

“That’s pretty much all of us,” I said. “In fact, in American today, that pretty much defines what it means to be a Jew: we are just like you except we deny the Lord.” I was trying to bond with this guy, and failing miserably.

“Damn straight. You know you can’t stop him, and he is going to kill you all. All but some who will go to Israel to welcome him and worship him.”

“144,000,” I said.

“That’s right. Why don’t you want to be among them?”

“What makes you think I don’t want to be among them?” I said.

“Well, you’re sitting here in IHOP rather than in Jerusalem. He won’t come until all you Jews move to Israel.”

“Where he will kill us.”

“Yeah, but only if you don’t accept him as your Lord and Savior.”

“And that is going to happen on December 12, 2012? What about the pastor who says it’s going to happen on October 21, 2011.”

“He doesn’t know his Bible,” he said.

“Maybe he does. Maybe he knows it better. Maybe he’s just not a Mayan Mormon like you.”

That was a conversation killer, and I regretted saying it as soon as I heard the words come out of my mouth. I should have apologized, but the man had already shut down. He took a last sip of his coffee, exited his booth, and walked to the cashier to pay his bill.

I turned back to my eggs. They were cold, and I wasn’t hungry any more. I waited until the man had paid for his breakfast and left the restaurant. I then stood up to do the same. Something called my attention to the plate of French fries lying on his table. Most were laying on one side of the plate but two—one long, one short—lay on the other side in a cross formation.

“Jesus? Is that you?” I said silently. I waited for a reply. Nothing. I walked over to the cashier and waited for her to take my money. Two pens lay on the counter in cross formation. “Jesus?” I thought.

I kept seeing crosses all day. On my drive home I even saw two Mormon missionaries on their bicycles. I was hoping they’d knock on my door, but I knew that even then I wouldn’t believe. If a Mayan dropped by however, all bets are off.


Lou Mindar said...

This willingness on the part of Christians to share their belief and happily tell you that yours is wrong (if you don't agree with them) is something I have had a hard time getting used to living in the south. Coming from the north, I'm used to people just eating their breakfast and ignoring me when I go to an IHOP.

On a more serious note, if Christians actually read the Bible and knew anything about its history, they might not say such ridiculous nonsense.

The Noble Strumpet said...

After living in San Antonio for seven years, I never though Texas would be the better alternative to any place. But now that I've lived in Murfreesboro for one year, I'm ready to go back. San Antonio is an open, accepting place. Murfreesboro feels like Jesusville without the amusement.

Maggid said...

See, i think i get into interesting conversations - yours always top them . . first i think, well, Rami gets great encounters, so I'm in great company - then maybe you get all the BEST interactions . . of course, you know exactly what to do with them and how to share them with us - so, i have a looong way to go . . . I'd like to be the one at IHOP - I'd like to ask a couple of questions . . . I know you'd give me your very best answers - okay, maybe your very best answers are right here - for me to sort through (and weigh) - next time you visit us - and i hope it's soon - I hope I don't have a coughing fit.
anyway, you make my days sparkle.

Grégoire said...

I grew up hearing silly stories about "the Lamanites" and "the war in heaven", and even at age 5 I found these tales far-fetched.

God made me (and those like me) an unbeliever. By studying mathematics and philosophy, I (and those like me) worship Him.

(that second paragraph is me paraphrasing ibn-Rusd... I haven't worshipped long enough to be able to crank stuff like that out on my own steam)

Barbs said...

I'm from D.C. but have lived here for eight years and I still haven't adjusted to the divisions that exist among different Faiths in M'boro. Most of the time, I don't even recognize my Jesus in the Bible Belt. We're called to love one another but, especially recently, all I see is anger. Heartbreaking.

Rabbi Rami said...

Great comments, thanks. Let me say that I love living here. I've lived on the east and west coasts, and never ran into serious Bible believers on either one. I love these kind of discussions. Most are nicer and wiser than this, but I don't write about them.

I walked into City Cafe with a film crew for breakfast one morning and a booth of pastors (is that the right phrase? Is it like a gaggle of geese?) recognized me and started talking. We got it all on tape. Someday it will make into onto www.holyrascals.com/.

Love to you all.

Barry said...

I'll never forgive Ronald Reagan for closing the mental hospitals. Now all these people are wandering the streets harassing the public instead of being treated for their mental disorders.

Deb said...

Please tell me this did not really happen.

Buttercup said...

Having lived in Nashville I knowthis really happened. I'm waiting for a Mayan to knock on my door. Being I'm in New York now it could be any day.

Mike Smoot said...

Whether it actually happened or is simply a case of literary license, it is a fine example of religious stepford wives. In any situation, real or otherwise, these people are scary.