“Holier than thou” – not when your home is a car

“Abortion Advocates Gather on Mall” read the headline that won me “The Salman Rushdie Award for Initiative in Headline Writing”

“The Shorthorn,” the campus newspaper at the University of Texas at Arlington,  honored me with the award at a Christmas party.
The deadline right on top of me, I’d stood in as editor to put up a last-minute headline and it fit.
So away it went along with my reputation for fairness.

The day the story ran an angry group of females found their way to the Shorthorn office to make the point they where “Pro-choice” and not “Abortion Advocates.”
That incident 19 years ago soared right up into loss of credibility along with a staff meeting where I pronounced Mormons part of a cult, unknowingly sitting next to one.
I’ve mellowed in my old age and though still “Pro-Life” if a label can be put to my stance on abortion, I’m not confrontational.
Confrontation never seemed to work from what I’ve witnessed anyway.
Had I asked the now worn-out cliched question “What Would Jesus Do?” I’m not sure I could have come up with the right answer at the time.

I like the question posed in the book I’m currently reading, “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage” by Dave Burchett.
To paraphrase, he asks what Jesus would spend his time on.
My way of thinking joins that of Burchett – that where Jesus wouldn’t spend time in joining us splitting churches or finding fault with one another.

One of my favorite movie scenes (although not the entire movie) comes from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”
In it, Brian is mistaken for the messiah and chased by a noisy throng of believers.
During the chase he loses a shoe and drops a water gourd.
Part of the throng grabs the shoe and yells “Follow the Shoe! Follow the Shoe!”
Another group seizes the gourd and cries “Follow the Gourd! Follow the Gourd!”
No one’s eyes are on Brian as he slips away. They’re too busy arguing with one another.
Thus the first split among followers.
Thus are churchgoing combatants’ eyes turned on one another and ignoring Jesus Christ.

Of course, my behavior undoubtedly didn’t do much for Christianity.
I’m still working on that and how to tell someone about Jesus.
The best answer given me was to be myself and “get in touch with my inner loser.”
Not hard. Every time I think I’ve won or done something noteworthy and inflate ego and pride, a fall surely comes.
Just recently, I finished up a few months of living in a car to move into my sister’s basement. Believe me, I’m extremely grateful to her, but also extremely humbled.
Many of those who worked at The Shorthorn with me are currently buying their own homes and working as editors.
I got in touch with one who is now a managing editor who remembered how fun I was to be around when I was drunk at parties.
Isn’t it great that of all the awards I won in college this one guy whose opinion really mattered to me then and now remembers my drunken hug and slobbering admiration of him at a party that somehow I don’t recall?
Now that’s humbling. That’s an impetus to change.

My friends, relatives and children are almost all happy that I stopped drinking seven months ago – that’s a good change God brought about.
And part of my change into a “new creature” is to regularly join with other believers in worshipping God.
I love the church I attend in a middle school. Not only do they have a low overhead but they really are a loving, caring bunch that bought me a Bible and a car.
One of the charities they fund (and me too) is one called Grace Car Care that provides vehicles to those who need them but can’t necessarily afford one. They fix cars too, when possible. In addition, the church’s low overhead makes possible funding missionaries in Guatemala (who also install water-purification systems and clean-burning stoves for impoverished Guatemalans in the mountains).
And we all realize when we gather that we are such stinkers, such sinners. We’re in touch with our inner losers that Jesus is changing to winners. We become His hands.
God’s working on me with that, my “Holier-than-thou attitude” and I pray my writing.


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