Coffee With Roger


Regular readers know that I aggressively pursue moderation. Politics?  I am a centrist Democrat, have been since high school.  I have, however, friends up and down the political spectrum.  Religion?  Jewish.  Happily, intentionally, Jewish.  And I have friends who are ritualistically more observant than me and plenty of friends who define themselves as culturally or socially Jewish.

My needle is stuck in the middle.

I met Roger (name changed) for coffee last week. He chose Panera, the essence of moderation.  Roger would hate for anyone to mistake him for a moderate anything.

Roger is a well-educated young man. He and his wife have a house full of children out in the suburbs.  He is politically to the right of almost everyone choosing to have coffee with me.  And his faith, proudly worn on his sleeve, is a Jesus-focused Christianity.

We danced around politics and healthcare for a while, but all along I could tell that there was something else on his mind. Finally he asked if I was open to a personal question.  Me?  The Prince of Transparency?  Sure.  He wanted to know my thoughts about Jesus.

To his shock and amazement, I wanted to know his thoughts about Mohammed. I predicted that he doesn’t spend any time contemplating the Koran and Islam.  And I spend just as much time on the New Testament and the various forms of Christianity.  Again and again he returned to the story of the Resurrection and asked me to determine whether it was fact or a hoax, as if those extremes were the only choices.  And more importantly, as if I really cared.

I don’t.

My friend Heidi is an atheist. She doesn’t care what you believe as long as you don’t try to impose your faith on anyone else.  From her perspective and mine, Bill Maher and the Jehovah Witnesses have more in common than either have with us.   Proselytizing is proselytizing. Roger wasn’t recruiting.  He was just unprepared for someone failing to embrace his “Truth”.

Our conversation ended as it began. No one changed teams.  No one lost was saved.  No one saved was lost.  But I learned how someone else thinks.  And Roger learned how someone else who thinks asks questions.  What a country!



2 thoughts on “Coffee With Roger

  1. When was the last time Bill Maher knocked on your door? Maher’s Proselytizing is more like Profititizing, but I don’t think he really cares whether or not you buy anything.

  2. Bringing up Islam was a good idea to illustrate your lack of interest in Jesus. I think sometimes one’s “truth” is simply an idea they’ve held onto so long they can’t imagine how to question it. It’s just always seemed real. Since I was always questioning religion it was easy to let go as I’d never embraced it as truth. Our brains are good at compartmentalizing ideas so that we find ways to justify the contradictions between our “truths” and other (often more plausible) options.

    I find it interesting that he was focused on the resurrection. Some people believe it to be literally true, but other Christians don’t. While I can’t recall exactly what I thought about it as a kid, I suspect I considered it to be a myth, just as I did with so many of the things we were taught in Sunday school. This was a mainline protestant denomination so we were taught that the bible was full of myths and parables. The idea was that one could learn from them without them being literally true, just as one can learn from Aesop’s Fables. And we can learn from each other, as you did at your lunch, even if we don’t always agree.

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