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So a Guy Walks Into a Bar...

...and he says to the bartender, "Wotta ya got for a guy who had a needle habit in the 70s, found out after he was married that he liked sleeping around with men, found out later he has Hep C and probably is HIV positive, whose long-suffering wife finally left him, and who has spent the last few years in a drug-addled series of polyamorous relationships with a variety of people, most of whom were, like him, using crack?"

The bartender thinks for a moment and says, "Jesus."

The mail today brings a... holiday card, I guess you'd call it. Anyway it has a hand-painted candle on the cover and has been all spangled up with glitter. Inside there are two sets of lyrics -- one from a "Lutheran Sunday School song" circa 1955, the other from a "Baptist Bible Study song", circa 2005. Both songs concern themselves with light. Neatly folded inside the card is another piece of paper. It's one of those "Year in Review" newsletters people send out at holiday time to catch people up.

Therein we find vague references to three brushes with death, and various clues about another series of mystifying, unnamed events. But never mind, the author tells us. There is really only one thing that transpired over the last year that is truly worthy of note. On the third Wednesday in September, in a homeless shelter somewhere upstate, he was ushered into the presence of the Lord Jesus, and his life is now transformed.

Those of you who know me know me to be a pretty irreligious guy. I've toned down much of the rowdy atheism of my youth, but I remain an accomplished unbeliever. Still, these days, my attitude is pretty much: mind your own damned bees-wax and I'll mind mine.

When I started reading this newsletter from this friend I haven't seen in years, I had a creepy feeling I knew what was coming. Kind of like when you can tell with absolute certainty your best friend on the high school swim team is about to tell you he's found out he's a homo.

So when he actually came out with it -- that he'd found Jesus and his life was transformed -- I was expecting I would feel, I don't know... a little exasperated maybe.

But the truth is, I could tell right away I was glad of it. It's not like any of us had much to offer him anymore. Come to think of it, over the years, it never seemed like we had much of anything to offer him. At least not anything he really seemed to want.

So, yeah, it turns out I'm pretty glad he found Jesus. Really. I am. And I hope his life really is transformed by his acceptance of the Lord.

But I still don't want the Ten Commandments parked inside my local courthouse.

I only mention that because that's politics of a sort I particularly object to and what my friend from some years ago just found... that's religion, see? I get the impression some people are still a little confused about the two.


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Yeah, I sort of do. I have an acquantance I talk to often who is an evangelical, and one day I said to him "Look, I am never going to believe loony stuff like a 6,000 year old Earth or that every fetus is sacred" and he assured me that he would never try to get me to accept anything like that.

Yes, what your friend has found is a lifeline, when he may have had nothing to work from before. That other stuff, that's just a way to draw an us vs. them line. As my dear old white haired mother says, "I know what the Ten Commandments are, I learned them in SUnday School. I don't need to see a list of them in a public building. How about posting the Bill of Rights instead, since the only one you boys seem to recall is the second one of those?"

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