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.

2 thoughts on “The pusher”

  1. Hey Jeff, clicked to your blog, the title of this entery caught my attention. Loved the 18 year old’s line about “there are a lot of Jewish people in NY.” Makes you almost picture him sitting in a classroom somewhere learning about converting those from other religions and there’s a map on the wall with a big red marker circle around NY and parts of Florida and Southern California with the words “major target area” written.

    As one of the born-agains it always makes me nervous when I hear the words of the eager but inexperienced. Part of the problem with just about any religion is that within its ranks there is division on theology. Thus words like extremist or traditionalist are born.

    What bothers me most is one of the biggest misnomers about Christianity, and that is that Christians claim they don’t sin. Your 18 year old claimed he doesn’t lustfully look at women and your blog led me to believe that he told you he doesn’t sin. Any bible thumper knows that God tells us we all sin, every last one us. I confidently tell you I am a Christian and I sin. The holier than thou attitude turns a lot of people off, understandably so, and the you must be perfect contention couldn’t be any further from true biblical teaching. Your actions get you nowhere.

    The second mistake our young friend made was that he agreed with your assessment that God would be mad at him for sinning. Also, not true. God tells us well all sin, is He mad at all of us? Of course not, quite the contrary.

    My final point before stepping off the pulpit. God keeps score. Again, not true, nothing biblical to support it. Or that some sin is worse than others, ie. lust vs. polluting God’s creation, Earth. Murder vs. stealing, etc. You’ll never read a word in the good book about the really bad sins and the “ahh, I can look past that” ones. They all carry the same weight, a sin is a sin.

    So I guess I am asking your readers to give a pass to the young man for just that reason, he’s young. His heart in his the right place his approach just needs some time to mature.

    As far as the “man can do what he wants with the earth” part, I have never heard that before and will find out if it’s biblical. I’m guessing misinterpretation. This much I do know is true, the earth will pass away one day but not because of SUVs and the 80’s hair spray revolution.

    Look forward to talking with you.


  2. i respect the kid for finding something he’s passionate about at an early age. most 18 yr olds only know about sportscenter and myspace. he’ll mature in time and tone down his rhetoric, hopefully. i’d love to know his family background and travel experience. namely, has he ever been to (the greatest city on the planet) New York or he’s heard that people walk around sinning constantly ??

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