Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The pusher


I keep forgetting to write about an incident that took place two weeks ago that truly fascinated me. I was on a flight from New York to Houston, seated next to a skinny 18-year-old with a twangy accent. He was in the middle seat, so I told him, “Boy, that sucks. Sorry.” He nodded, then said he had just connected from a flight from Israel.

At this point, I made a silent prediction. This kid was either:

A. A Jewish kid visiting the Holy Land.

B A devoutly Christian kid who went to Israel on a “mission.”

The answer was B. After he told me this and we exchanged some brief chitchat, he said, “Can I guess you’re Jewish?” And I said, “What makes you say that?”

“Well,” he said, “there are a lot of Jewish people who live in New York.”

I nodded, told him I was Jewish—and then he spent 25 minutes trying to open my heart, mind, soul (and, presumably, wallet) to Jesus Christ. Now, I have no real problem with those Christians who try and convert we others. Yeah, it’s annoying. Yeah, it’s sorta bullshit. But, from their vantage point, the only way to eternal salvation is through a belief in Christ. In that regard, they’re being sort of selfless.

Turns out this guy is actually attending a Bible college in San Antonio, and his major deals with the actually practice of converting other religions. It’s literally what he wants to do for a living. Hence, he went on and on talking about sin; about how he refuses to look at pretty women because it might lead to impure thoughts; about how homosexuality is a damnation. He ran off sin after sin after sin, and how God is up there, looking down and keeping score.

Finally, I asked a question. “Here’s the thing I don’t get,” I said. “You think God would be mad at you for looking sexually at a pretty woman, right?” He nodded. “And yet,” I said, “you’re sitting here, flying on an airplane that’s releasing tons upon tons of toxic emissions into the air and contributing to the earth’s demise. Don’t you think that’s a little worse than checking out a hottie?”

The pusher proceeded to give a line I’ve heard many born-again Christians utter before; a line that would lose any debate 100 of 100 times. “God,” he said, “made earth for man to do as he pleases.”

Go back to school, kid. Goodnight.