My parents arrived yesterday afternoon. And all has gone well, and the blood pressure has not shot through the roof yet. 🙂
I wanted to say that before my parents got here, I have spoke to a few close friends about the situation. Through those kind conversations, I gathered up a good couple kicks in the pants and felt that I could have the strength not to be so fucking egocentric about the whole situation as if I’m the only goon to experience some occasional discomfort from certain doses of parental presence.
It’s gone well so far. Last night, my parents made us feel very comfortable about the idea that there’s no prayer before a meal at our table. As I was serving shrimp with sautéed garlicky arugula (rocket) over lightly toasted Israeli Middle Eastern couscous, my mouth was pregnant with the words, “Dad, you can say a prayer if you like.” But before it came out of my mouth, my parents were set on asking about the recipe, how to dish it onto their plates, and they made compliments to the chef.
So I left it alone.
After dinner, we taught my parents to play Dutch Blitz, which despite losing badly the first time (to me), they insisted on playing again only to be dominated again (by me … sweet sweet Schadenfreude!). Tina usually wins at Dutch Blitz, so I was ecstatic glad to have won.
While my mom and Tina started to get ready to hit the sack, my dad and I talked for a while around the kitchen table. Adjacent to the table is my book shelf, which holds a lot of books that he gave me to help my “scholarly pursuit of religion” back in the day, as well as books that have helped reshape my current position. For example, butted right up against “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel is “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman. “God is Not Great” by Hitch is right next to “Reformed Dogmatics” and that’s right next to “Superstition” by Dr. Park. Of course “The End of Faith” happens to be touching the bible and so on and so on.
At one point, he directed me over to the shelf to tell me about one author who’s view of the bible is more literal and strict. His book is “Reformed Dogmatics” by Herman Hoeksema. Dad told me (again) about a book he’s reading in Dutch that loosely translates (according to my dad): “The History of our Fathers”. Dad told me last night that the book talks about different schisms in the Dutch church. And for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time to talk about one topic, he told me that there have been many church breakups because of simple matters, such as “Did the snake really talk in the garden of Eden?”
While we were talking he was talking, all I could think about was one time almost 10 years ago when I was asking him some questions about the “documentary hypothesis“, the idea the Hebrew bible was written by several different minds at different times and then assembled rather late (between 600 and 500 BCE). He interrupted my questioning and said, “Jer, if part of the bible is labeled untrue, than the whole thing is untrue.”
That one statement simplified everything. I find no loving god in the biblical message. I also found it ridiculous that there were plagues, partings of seas, dudes living to 900 years, grandiose miracles like flames shooting from heaven to start a fire from god, while Ba’al couldn’t do diddly. So it became easy to view the bible as full of major flaws. If one thing isn’t true than none of it is, became a whole slew of things aren’t true. Done and done. Next item on the chopping block!
So there we were, dad and me, by the shelf of Christianity butting right up against agnosticism and atheism. Dad was talking about how the Dutch church broke over whether or not the snake literally or figuratively talked in the garden of eden. It’s hard to contribute to a conversation with my dad. He doesn’t listen. But all I could think about was how if that’s the minor quibble for disagreement, than my argument against seems major. I don’t believe ANY of that stuff. Woman wasn’t made to be a “helper”, but a companion. The sheer egregious nonsense that “man and woman” is the one and only way is beyond ignorant to me. Which is why I support all my happy gay friends in their relationships with their companions.
And despite every feeling of wanting to say “I don’t believe any of that stuff,” I just let him meander through his talk. It didn’t bother me. Thank freakish flying spaghetti. I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable at my table. He’s welcome here, and I love him. So there’s no reason to quibble over small or large things. He’s got “faith” and there’s not much to do in the way of arguing it. Right?
While I’m typing, he just walked over to the kitchen counter, where my copy of “The Greatest Show on Earth” is sitting. It just arrived on Friday (finally) from Amazon with a few other things I ordered, just in time for their visit. I started reading it this morning in bed, and had carried it out of the bedroom with me to continue reading. He looked at the spine, put it down and walked away. I’ll bring it up later and see what he has to say.
In the meantime, all is honky dory. We’re having a pleasant time at the café with no hiccups or controversies.
As Billy Boy Stink-a-butter O’Reilly would say, “What say you?”