I had a wonderful first day of my conference at the George Washington University Institute for Spirituality and Health. The conference was thought provoking and made me realize once again that afterIraqI really don’t know a whole lotta anything about anything. But then as Earl Weaver said “it’s what learn after you know it all than counts.”
Back before Iraq I knew freaking everything. Beliefs, faith, politics you name it I knew it all and it fit in my nice little world. Iraqwas for me what Karl Barth’s Epistle to the Romans was when it came out in 1915. It was said that the book “exploded like a bomb on the theological playgrounds ofEurope.” Iraq was like that for me. It left me searching for answers to questions that I not only thought I had answered and that I thought I had refuted all others.
Sometimes humility sucks even if we need it.
I have enjoyed the conference so far. One of our lecturers Dr. John Griffith the interim Dean of the School of Psychiatry at the GWU Medical School threw about 9 existential questions at us and I realized that had I answered them in July of 2007 that I would have shat out the answers like a baboon who had too many beans, jalapeños and prune juice chasers. Today I knew that despite knowing a lot that I am still a work in progress and even though I really do know this it is humbling to have it thrown in my face. Thankfully the God that I know is much more understanding, gracious and forgiving than the theologian that I used to be.
After yesterday I needed a new room and if you have read my previous post you will understand why. Thankfully the people were more than accommodating and the accommodations though Spartan was a lot more comfortable and healthful than the last. Even the AC works very well. I can deal with Spartan more in a combat zone than I can in my own country.
Speaking of my own country…. I am residing less than a mile from the White House and the Capitol and pass the White House and the Treasury each night too and from the Washington DC Gordon Biersch Brewery. It’s not Virginia Beachbut I get good service at the Bar, the bartender remembered me from last night and I basically have eaten and drank for very little money by cashing in some of my rewards points.
While walking about today as well as yesterday I noticed that almost no one responds when I wish them a cheery good morning, good afternoon or good evening. Instead I find that I am nearly run over by people that seem to have no cognition of anything other than them, their smart phone or tablet or MP3 player. No one looks up, no one talks and if they do happen to notice you they look like you must be some kind of reprobate, madman, criminal or terrorist. Now I don’t know how anyone can think that I am any of the above but Washington DC is not on the top of my list of “friendly” cities. I guess that is the fault of the terrible vain, cynical, corrupt and power mad politicians, pundits, preachers, lobbyists, political hacks, partisan journalists and others that prowl about the city seeking the ruin of souls.
In fact of the over 100 non-conference goers that I greeted today I had just 5 return the greeting. Two policemen, one security guard, one homeless man and one cleaning lady. No one else said a word. I wonder what the hell is going on, then I look at Congress and I realized that for all too many people no one else matters anymore. We have lost our soul.
For me to reach out like this is hard. I am an extremely introverted person that pushes to engage people at work and then comes home in a state of exhaustion. My personality type if you use the Myers-Briggs temperament indicator is INTJ. For those that don’t know the Myers-Briggs this means that I am introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging. I am not a touchy feely person and am rather detached, analytical and it is hard for me to come out of that mode. My personality type is rare and is seldom found in decent society and is almost never found in ministry. According to a shrink that I know my type seldom gets married and is generally considered to be a pain in the ass “know it all” to most people. Dr House is a classic INTJ. In fact a now retired Navy Chaplain that I worked with at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center referred to me as “Dr. House.” Yet somehow I am married and in ministry. Don’t ask me how it is certainly a mystery that the Deity Herself keeps and probably laughs about.
The friendliest people that you meet in DC are the bar tenders and people that you might sit next to at a bar. I had a wonderful time tonight drinking beer, eating steak tacos and talking baseball with a fellow out of towner also named Steve fromSeattleat Gordon Biersch. I stayed longer and drank more than I normally would but I wasn’t driving and I got home before I turned into a pumpkin. I like bartenders, they tend to listen better than most people and actually remember what you prefer. I’m sorry but most people don’t do that anymore, especially pastors, pundits and politicians. Unfortunately this “unholy trinity” and their business, banking and brokering financial wheeler dealer buddies are the people driving the country off the cliff because they only seek what is best for them and what will get them or those that they support elected next year. It is no wonder that regular people in this beautiful city don’t talk to each other. What a shame.
So as I close the night and prepare to read and medicate (with legal medicine thank you) myself to sleep I have to add a final thought about the insanity of the Debt Ceiling and the poisonous political atmosphere that enshrouds the country like a cloud of Mustard Gas burning our eyes and lungs and scaring us for life. What I believe is that there are people on both sides of the political chasm that would rather be true to their ideology than to the people that they represent and to the country that each of them took an oath to support and defend. Truthfully I am frightened.
When I was at Gordon Biersch CNN and Fox News were still playing. At7 PMI asked the bartender if there was a baseball game or anything else less depressive and negative than was on the news channels. Thank God that baseball was on as it seems to be one of the few institutions in the country that is running halfway right.
I do have a suggestion to end the impasse about the budget and debt ceiling. I call it the Beer Party Platform. I suggest that we get all of the members of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government flat out drunk and let them fight it out like it was an Old West barroom brawl. Let them get all the poison out of their system and if it means a few broken bones then so be it. Then when all the fighting was done and Mongo comes to try to kill the Sheriff of Rock Ridge that everyone puts themselves together and works to restore sanity and civility to our society. Admittedly this is a bit Mel Brooks like but what can I say? Did you see the end of Blazing Saddles? It all ends right.
So God bless America, the God fearing citizens of Rock Ridge, ,baseball and the American people. We certainly deserve better than what we’ve got.
So tomorrow I will have lunch with a wonderful former commanding officer and in the evening head out to National’s Park to see if I can get a military discount in the cheap seats.