During the eighties when high hair, Jordache jeans and blue eye shadow were chic amongst my peers in South Jersey I assiduously shopped in antique stores for 1940s dresses with peplums and raided my Grand Aunt’s closet for saucy, velvet and feathered hats from the same era. While the girls in my class listened to Duran Duran and Michael Jackson I was usually listening to The Andrews Sisters or maybe The Doors on my walkman. To this day I’ve never seen “Flash Dance”. Instead, I poured over the TV Guide every Sunday in hopes that the late late late show might have another Greta Garbo festival. While other kids were hanging out at the mall I was playing with my little brother or writing mostly atrocious poetry for which I received a scholarship to go to a Summer Arts Program every July with all of the other weird kids. Being weird was a badge of honor I wore with tremendous pride.
One day in the cafeteria at the summer arts program I wound up talking to a guy I’d admired from afar but I never knew by name. He wanted to be a classical pianist and I was struck by how much he practiced and how beautifully he played. I was also happy to chum up to him because he too, as far as I was concerned, was exquisitely weird. After about a week of being close to inseparable he confided that before I started talking to him he had no idea how nice I was. I always seemed like such a snob.
Me a snob?! Impossible- I was an anti-snob! Wasn’t I sitting there eating green jello with Philip, this shy Jewish kid with bad skin, thick glasses and a crush on Johann Sabastian Bach? Even if the pretty girls who wore pink lip gloss and sang Whitney Huston ballads or the popular, drama queens of both sexes in the Theater Department had any interest in me I would never have given them a second glance. After all, if I was religious about anything back then it was about having contempt for the attractive and the popular. It took the mirror of Phillip’s unfiltered surprise to find that under my snobbery there was actually a human being to make me see that a person who believes their tastes are superior to those of other people is the Webster’s definition of a snob.
Since this time, I have come to realize that my snobbery is like psoriasis. I think it’s finally gone but then someone tells me their “spiritual but not religious”and wham! Thank God someone rooted for me to be a better person. I’ve been actively working at it for over thirty years and I still want to change.
One of the parables Jesus tells is about a beloved pastor whose weekly schedule included feeding the poor and visiting the homebound and an obnoxious, loud mouthed scam artist who sells pirated movies and flips off pedestrians in the way of his car. Both men are at church praying next to each other on Sunday morning. The Minister prays “Dear God, thank you for not making me like this creep who smells like cheap wine and took up two spots in the parking lot.” The scam artist prays “God, I am a train wreck. Help!” Jesus finishes the parable by saying God loved one of these guys’ prayers and it wasn’t the pastors.
Apparently Jesus doesn’t value our goodness no matter how athletic. Instead, he takes complete delight in our longing to be rescued, not from all of the creeps around us, but from ourselves.
Jesus, please help me get out of my own way today. Amen.
Your sister in Christ,