Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brent & I Debate: Who are "the Others?"

Part 3 of this week's series.

Sunday one week ago.
Somewhere along Route 68.
Central Kentucky.

Brent and I are driving home from Sunday services at Quest Community Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

We've just heard a very challenging sermon from our pastor, Pete Hise.

Pete asserts that most of us have our own list of "Others," or, people who we consider beneath us or from whom we separate ourselves.

Like many other times after one of these Pete Hise sermons, we are silent, each mulling the points of the talk, each trying to decide if we fit into any category, each questioning whether we need forgiveness for a weakness we have overlooked in our innermost souls.

Brent surprises me by being the first to speak.

"So. That was interesting."

"Yeah. Really something."


"So." He pauses. "I know who your 'Others' are."

I glance over at him. He's wearing a knowing grin, that one that says, "I've been married to you for 8 years now and I have you pegged."

"OK, I'll bite. Who do you think my 'Others' are?"

"It's easy." Pause. He's waiting for me to nudge him but I just sit still, waiting for his pronouncement. I'm sure he doesn't have it right, because I have never brought up my "Others" to him, not in all of these years of knowing him. But I allow him this chance to one-up me, if he can.

"They are ... baby Christians."

Baby Christians. He's referring to people who have recently made a commitment to Jesus and who are very assertive in their faith but are still floundering in their quest for basic Biblical knowledge.

"Huh. Interesting you would say that. But no. Not in the least. Why do you think I don't like baby Christians?"

"Because you're always putting them down."

"I am not. I just get frustrated sometimes, like when you're in a prayer circle and someone tells the group that their cat is having surgery in the morning and please pray for it. Or someone else brings up that they need prayer on their decision for a new car. Yes, that agitates me, but I don't dislike baby Christians. I like them a lot. They are not my 'Others.'"

He is clearly chagrined. "OK," he says, "so who are they?"

"I'll tell you, but you won't believe it: They are women with low IQs who are obese and never take baths."


"But I have a reason: They're the women who my parents used to help in the Salvation Army, and we always had to give one a ride home, and she would always smell so bad that all of us would have to take showers to wash off the odor, and we'd leave the car windows open all night long to get rid of the stench inside the vehicle. So those are my 'Others.'"

"Huh. I never knew that."

I smile. "I know you didn't. So ... OK ... who are your 'Others?'"

He smiles back. "I don't have any."

"Come on!"

"Seriously, I don't."

"You do, too."

"No, I don't. I'm a perfect person."

Knowing this has as much truth as the legend of Santa Claus, I drop the discussion, and we continue to drive, lost in our own thoughts about the people we consider to be of low esteem.

Two nights later.
A Mexican restaurant.
Danville, Kentucky.

Brent and I are out for our wedding anniversary, and we've hit a nice cheap Mexican restaurant next to the movie theater where we will see Star Trek.

I grab a tortilla chip and dunk it into a chunky salsa, then pause before I pop it into my mouth.

"So. Have you thought about the big question?" I ask.

"What big question?"

"Who are your 'Others?'"

"Oh, we're back to that again. I told you, I don't have any 'Others.'"

"That's B.S. and you know it. Who are they? Immigrants? Black people?"

"None of the above. I don't have any 'Others,' because everyone on the planet is an 'Other.' Everyone falls into that category. I don't like people. Period. I don't like anyone. So, I don't have any 'Others.'"


We continue to crunch the tortillas, staring into each other's eyes, not out of romantic compulsion but because we're trying to wear the other person down on this argument.

I change the subject. "Oh, I forgot to tell you. Our babysitter wants to take Neil to her church's Vacation Bible School. I thought it sounded fun for him, so I said yes."

"You did? What kind of church?"

"I don't know ... I think she said they go to a Baptist church."

"Baptists." He spits the word out with a certain level of venom. "I can't stand Baptists."

"A HA!" I shout so loud that the other diners turn to look at our table. "Those are your 'Others!'"

"They are not!"

"Sure they are. You talk about Baptists all the time like that."

"Well of course I do. They're the most divisive denomination in Christianity."

"How can you say that"

"They are."

"Well don't you think everyone can be divisive?"

"Sure, but the Baptists are the worst."

"Geez." I shake my head. "You are so full of it. Those are your 'Others.'"

"Oh yeah? Well I still say that baby Christians are yours."

The fajitas arrive. We focus on the sizzling beef and creamy guacamole. Discussion shifts to the Star Trek movie we're about to see.

The Others are forgotten ... for now ...

Want to know more? Tune in tomorrow for the next part of the story and to see how all of this ties together.

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