“Passing on your left” is a standard shout on the bike paths of central Iowa to let pedestrians and other bikers know you’re coming through. Yesterday I did my first shout at about fifty feet, saw no movement, then repeated “PASSING ON YOUR LEFT!” at about twenty feet. My next shout was something like “HEYAUGHH” after the spaced-out teen inexplicably veered into my path at point-blank range. Considering I was clipped into my bike and going about 17 miles per hour when I crashed into the bike he was pushing, I was happy to walk away with just a little road rash on my limbs. But that incident reminded me of a previous incident with an oddly religious encounter appended.
It was last summer when I hit a stagnant puddle at some angle less than vertical and my bike slipped out from under me on chronic green slime. I’d like to see a slow motion replay of the crash to see exactly what happened, but according to my best reconstruction, the side of my helmet hit the ground, my visor popped off, and my head came down on the visor, resulting in two deep cuts above my eye. Daughter Blue #3 likes to call the larger scar my Nike swoosh, but I was unaware of its decorative potential at the time, distracted as I was by the fountain of blood pouring past my left eye and creating abstract art on the pavement. I know head wounds bleed profusely so I wasn’t in panic mode as I checked out the rest of my body and my bike for repair items and pondered the best way to get to an emergency room.
That was when the religious part began. While trying to stem the flow of blood, I heard “It’s my fault. God told me that would happen.” I looked back to see a pedestrian approaching. I asked him how my wounds looked. “Pretty bad.. . . I’m sorry, God told me that would happen and I didn’t warn you. I’m sorry.” I thought about arguing along the lines of B.B. Warfield’s book on cessationism and, in the alternative, considered a smart-alecky comment, but neither seemed appropriate in the circumstances, so I just thanked him for checking in on me and started walking to the nearest road. As for the pedestrian, I’d never seen him before and I’ve never seen him since.
It seems my life is littered with oddball quirky events with a religious angle. Am I the only one?
Less dramatic but still noteworthy was a recent state-sponsored event held in a state building featuring speeches by officials of the state. The first speaker was a Republican elected offical who invoked God in a typical Republican way as he blessed us on behalf of the Almighty. The second was a retired priest who, among other things, prayed that unions worldwide would have more influence than governments over workplace conditions. As presumptuous as that sounds, he pretty much became the Speaker With Whom You Would Most Like to Have a Beer. He cinched that award by delivering a great closing line; introducing the next speaker, he concluded with “… and he’s a good man,” then, walking away from the podium, he mumbled “I think he’s a good man.” The good man – an appointed official who really does seem like a good man – invoked The Purpose Driven Life during his speechand delivered what could best be described as higher power evangelism as he quoted Warren’s book. Oh, and he was a Catholic, providing further evidence of the existence of evangelical Catholics. The speeches concluded with two union representatives, who, of course, made no mention of God.
If the event was held in a different state, one could imagine some controversy over all that state-sponsored religiosity, but remember the picture of the single doughnut. These folks with scruples over taking the last doughnut are the same folk who are just too nice to bicker over a little state-sponsored religion.