Saturday, June 21, 2008


I'm working my way very slowly from downtown Tacoma toward Steilacoom ("STELLuh-k'm"). I doubt I'll be able to make Dupont this evening, not only because of tody's very late start but also because my right foot is starting to act irritated again-- a sign that another blister might be forming.

At times like this, I'm torn between resting my feet and surging ahead. Each option has its own set of disadvantages: when I rest, I lose time; when I surge ahead, I damage my feet more quickly, which ultimately also means losing time.

Right now, I'm finishing up a late lunch at a Pho restaurant-- cheap and tasty. On the way here, I met Paul and Ginger (you'll recall that Paul lives in downtown Seattle in the Pioneer Square area). They honked at me and swerved to park in front of me on the road's shoulder, where we had a nice roadside conversation, none of us particularly concerned about the passing traffic.

A couple miles before my meeting with Paul and Ginger, I was hailed by three guys on a street corner. Turns out these three were offering free food and drink as part of the ministry for their church. I told them about my project, and they seemed quite interested in it. They weren't confrontational; quite the contrary, they listened very respectfully and attentively. I went over to the truck where the food and drink were being doled out to folks in need (or even to random people on the street like yours truly), and ended up shaking a lot of hands.

While it's true that this roadside ministry was being used, at least in part, to promote the gospel, it also wasn't cynical, underhanded, or coercive, a point often missed by people who "feel pressure" from proselytizers. Unless you're dealing with some real jerks, you're always free to say "no" to these folks. Remember that. If they're truly preaching a gospel of compassion and love, if they're truly secure in their own faith, they'll let you go on your way.

So don't be offended if you hear someone ask you whether you've accepted Christ as your lord and savior. If you're, say, a confirmed Buddhist, just explain your own commitment politely and succinctly. The street corner isn't the best place to engage in theological debate, and besides, you'd have to ask yourself why you would do such a thing. Nine times out of ten, the reason comes down to something small-minded. Why feed the small-mindedness?

I went to a gas station to ask for the best directions to Steilacoom, and a female gas station attendant had an interesting insight. When I told her I was wandering around asking people why religions preach love and compassion, but people still do violence for religious reasons, she said, "I don't think we'll ever learn the answer to that one. Only God knows." While I have my own theories as to why things are the way they are, I can relate to the notion that the problem is, ultimately, a mystery.

So! The pho has been chomped and slurped, and the time has come to hit the road again.

More later.


1 comment:

Malcolm Pollack said...

I know the answer. Tell you later.