Saturday, March 24, 2007

Apocrypha

Here's a nice story I found on another site. Notice it's a story "heard several years ago"
  • Religious Story

  • Sounds to me like just more religious advertizing to me.
    Did bring tears to my eyes, however
    I guess we all have little wishes or unfulfilled desires that we would like to have assuaged. Unfortunatly, the reality is that people can't read minds. So unless these desires or "needs" are communicated in some fashion, they remain unfulfilled.
    And, most liklely, if communicated, to be contested rather than sympathized with.
    Notice, too the difference in social hierarchy. The storyteller is this saintly religious type who is the only one sensitive enough to recognise Agnes' pain.
    Would he care if she was at some other social level. Would he care if she was the human resource director of the Seattle Symphony for instance?
    I think, realistically, that it's just as likely that a reasonably intelligent prostitute would take pity on a religious fool.
    But, that's just me. I would like to be able to care for every one of you.
    The only trouble I've had is from the religious. It's like they have copyrighted
    human compassion, and get vicious if you try to practice without thier permission.

    Anyway, here's the story. Anyone who reads regularly or goes to movies, or watches television will recognise it as fiction.

    I't s still a nice story.

    When I reflect on God’s Prodigal Love I am reminded of a story I heard several years ago, told by Tony Campolo, noted author, pastor, professor of sociology at Eastern College, and an advocate for gay rights. This experience took place during a visit to Honolulu for a Christian Conference. On his first night there, due to time zone differences, he awoke around three a.m. and left the hotel in search of a place to get something to eat. Eventually he found a tiny coffee shop, with one man behind the bar who served him coffee and a doughnut. Tony was the only customer until, quite suddenly, the coffee shop was filled with girls. Some sat at small tables, others at the counter near Tony. From their conversation he learned an astonishing amount about Honolulu’s night life, for the girls were discussing their night’s work and their male clients. These girls were prostitutes. He tells the story:

    “I overheard the woman sitting beside me say, “Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m going to be thirty-nine.”

    Her friend responded in a nasty tone, “So what do you want from me? A birthday party? What do you want? Ya want me to get you a cake and sing ‘Happy Birthday?’”

    “Come on!” said the woman sitting next to me. “Why do you have to be so mean? I was just telling you, that’s all. Why do you have to put me down? I was just telling you it was my birthday. I don’t want anything from you. I mean, why should you give me a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?”

    When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the women had left. Then I called over the guy behind the counter and I asked him, “Do they come in here every night?”

    “Yeah!” he answered.

    “The one right next to me, does she come here every night?”

    “Yeah,” he said. “That’s Agnes. Yeah, she comes in here every night. Why d’ya wanta know?”

    “Because I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think about us throwing a birthday party for her right here tomorrow night? If it’s OK with you, I’ll get back here tomorrow morning about 2:30 and decorate the place. I’ll even get a birthday cake!”

    “No way,” said Harry, “The birthday cake’s my thing. I’ll make the cake.”

    At 2:30 the next morning, I was back at the diner. I had picked up some crepe-paper decorations at the store and had made a sign out of big pieces of cardboard that read, “Happy Birthday, Agnes!” I decorated the diner from one end to the other. I had that diner looking good. Harry had invited some of the early morning regulars, telling them it was surprise, so the place was packed.

    At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open and in came Agnes and her friend. When they came in we all screamed, “Happy birthday!” Never have I seen a person so flabbergasted…so stunned…so shaken. Her mouth fell open. As she was led to sit on one of the stools along the counter we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her. As we came to the end of our singing with “happy birthday dear Agnes, happy birthday to you,” her eyes moistened, when the birthday cake with all the candles on it was carried out, she burst into tears.

    Harry mumbled, “Blow out the candles, Agnes! Come on! Blow out the candles! If you don’t blow out the candles, I’m gonna blow out the candles.” And, after an endless few seconds, he did. Then he handed her a knife and told her, “Cut the cake, Agnes, we all want some cake.”

    Agnes looked down at the cake. Then without taking her eyes off it, she slowly and softly said, “Look Harry, is it all right with you if I….is it OK if keep the cake a little while? I mean is it all right if we don’t eat it right away?”

    Harry shrugged and answered, “Sure! It’s O.K If you want to keep the cake, keep the cake. Take it home if you want to.”

    “Can I,” she asked. Then looking at me she said, “I live just down the street a couple of doors. I want to take the cake home, OK? I’ll be right back. Honest!”

    She got off the stool picked up the cake, and, carrying it like it was the Holy Grail walked slowly toward the door.

    As we all just stood there motionless, she left. When the door closed there was a stunned silence in the place. Not knowing what else to do, I broke the silence by saying, “What do you say we pray?”

    I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her. When I finished, Harry leaned over the counter and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he said “Hay! You never told me you were a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to?”

    In one of those moments when just the right words came, I answered, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning.”

    Harry waited a moment and then almost sneered as he answered, “No you don’t. There’s no church like that. If there was, I’d join it. I’d join a church like that!”[2]

    Today, may we let the message in Jesus’ parables speak to us of God’s Prodigal love that always meets us where we are and calls us home to the heart of God.

    Could be an Opera? Probably is already somewhere.

    Let us pray…

    Labels: , ,

    5 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    A VERY great blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You're right!!! The religious seem to feel they have EVERY virtue copyrighted!! To them, we unchurched Humanists seem to have no rights to ANY virtue, even compassion (and especially tolerance!!!) of which we often have more than they!!

    1:18 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This has nothing to do with this superb blog, but with a comment I made on one of your earlier blogs.
    A friend sent me a "Wall St. Journal" (14 FEB 07) (p. D12)on Anja Silja, the still-atractive opera soprano with a still-great voice. This article is a long, comprehensive one, well-worth reading!!

    1:21 AM  
    Blogger butch said...

    Agnes is a great name for a whore. Reminds me of the great play and film, AGNES OF GOD, about the novice nun who became pregnant. She went off the deep end and claimed it was "divine intervention". Turned out it was one of the gardners for the convent. Wouldn't it be lovely if prostitutes were actually women who are worthy of our compassion, like Cabiria, or sweet Charity, of Matt Dillon's Miss Kitty? Unfortunately, most of them are pathetic abused drug-ridden creatures who have been forced into the life, or have chosen to "make some money", while working their way through college; like the exotic dancers who do encores in your car after hours. Our narrator had a heart, and three cheers for him. But relative to what? Probably the other whores would shun Agnes now, and be pissed off because she had some attention; thus disrupting the fragile balance of the sisterhood, the family, the community of concubines.
    I love the word,"Apocrypha" --that is writings of "dubious authenticity", or early Christian writings NOT included in the New Testament; and that would include all those Gnostic gospels, and 90% of what Christ actually experienced and expressed. Christians are in the minority in the world, midst the teeming billions of populus, and yet they always seem to be in the majority when it comes to the city councils, state governments, the Senate, and the Congress. No one, it seems can be President without the proper amount of genuflection, and "authentic" church patronage. And we must remember, folks, most acts of good samaritianism are misunderstood, maligned, misinterpreted, and/or resented. Welcome to the world. Reality, what a concept.
    It is a nice thought that perhaps Miss Agnes took her birthday cake home and wept tears of happiness and gratitude over it. But more than likely, once alone, the overwhelming load of shit that was her life cascaded down upon her, and she tossed the fucking cake out of the window. Appropriately, it might be just as the stanger, the samaritan, was passing by.
    What it more important about his posting, dear Dougie, is that the story "touched you"; that you are still emotionally vulnerable and approachable and accessible. I wonder, unless you are talking about the wives who have married for security instead of love, thus prostituting themselves, using sex to better their station in life, who the hell are you referring to when you say,"reasonably intelligent prostitute"? Perhaps the high priced call girls, the uptown bitches who screw for a thousand dollars an hour, who have more college degrees than you do, and a nicer car and fatter bank account. Of course, those whores would not have been in Harry's Diner at 3:30am though, right? Good posting though, slick. Keep it up.
    Glenn

    7:01 AM  
    Blogger Lane Savant said...

    If God had any prodigal love to give, there wouldn't be any lonely abused people, and I wouldn't be pissed off at the world.

    10:02 AM  
    Blogger butch said...

    Dougie:
    It breaks down like this, remember the Beatles lyric,"In the end you the love you take is equal to the love you make." Can you dig it, Bro? God, or Love, or Nature, or some Life Source yet unnamed is out there in the teeming cosmos, and we are here on this plane of existance. Our life, our happiness is 100% related to choices we make, and actions we take. I remember bitching to a friend during the first year of my stepfathership,"My (3) girls just don't want to hug me. They hug their mother and stand off when I move near." My friend said," Do you want hugs? Then become more huggable." Wise words for me. These days I get and give hugs aplenty. I even gave you one after decades of silence, and you reciprocated. It didn't too hard for you, right? Men abuse other men and women. God, or Mr. Whatever, does not have specific jurisdiction on this plane except in your heart, and in your genetic recall of past lives, here and elsewhere. Yes, sir, read your Buddhism and such. I believe there is life between lives, in Bardo, where we review this one, and compare it to the others, and make plans for the next one. I spend a lot of time being pissed off at authority figures, and politicians. George W. Bush really gets my tail in a knot. I keep trying to "vote" the sombitch out of office, but so far it has been like swinging a sock full of shit at the moon; no luck. Being lonely, sir, is also a choice. We have the capacity as a species to be alone without being lonely. Really we do. With all your creative interests, one would assume you do not have time to get, feel, or be lonely. Your lovely wife is near. Your sister and nephews are near. Even old friends such as yours truly come out of the woodwork once in while and are available to hear your views, and kick your ass if necessary, lol. I used to be postive that there could be no God. Like Meredith, I was a nihilist. But when I became ill, and I had to confront my own mortality, and put my house in order, I discovered that all the metaphysical wonders that have occured in my life were connected; that there is an active synchronicity to the hum and warp and weave of things. As spiritual beings, we co-created this world, and choose to inhabit it incarnate life after life. It is an exciting dramatic beautiful place to hang out. The one thing highly evident here, that is scarce elsewhere in the universe is "emotion". So positve or negative, wallow in it, sir. Realize that as you make your individual transition you will be lauded by other entities as a hero; someone who spent time here, in lesson, trying to remember what you already knew, trying to piece together tiny pieces of the eternal truths and see the big picture, which is like seeing a picture of a car door handle and trying to imagine the whole car; lol. When the intellect is vast, as it is with you, sir, one has to fight the need to generalize, to catagorize, to delegate, to look for answers outside of one's own sphere. But life is a gas, beautiful, precious; so just do it. And remember the solution for all of our perceived problems is an inside job; look within and the clarity will clear your sinuses and your heart. Get out of that right brain, my friend.
    Love: Glenn

    12:04 PM  

    Post a Comment

    Links to this post:

    Create a Link

    << Home

    Web Counter
    My worth as a human being