Trust in God . . But Verify Everything Else

For the first time since I was too single to really give a blessed fuck, it happened to me again recently. It was the kind of awkward query that had me referencing my inner Rolodex of on the spot excuses, before I realized I had been asked via text . . which gave me enough time to make some shit up.

I was asked to church.

The last time I was asked to attend church, she was a thirty something looker who needed me to attend service with her. And I know this gets me no points with the guy upstairs, but the church thing became a deal breaker. This time around, a little different and much sadder.

I’ll call the person doing the inquiring Barry, since that’s his name. I’ve mentioned this dude before. We’re friends, kind of. He usually delivers up a text, unsolicited, about some stupid shit or other. I’ll respond with the requisite “LOL” or “How goes things?”. The average response time ranges from five and a half seconds to a couple weeks, which is why we’re just ‘kind of’ when it comes to friends.

The church thing caught me off guard, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Barry’s an ex cop, so I’m prepared for all manner of crazy shit to come down the pike. For all I know, he’s been leading a Walter White-like double life and he needs help getting across the border. And really, I would be more than happy to help him with that expedition in exchange for oh . . say a million in cash and a pair of those terribly overpriced AirPods.

If he called to tell me he’d just killed his pain in the ass next door neighbor, I’d bring the shovels and the lime. In exchange for say . . a case of bourbon. And if he got his girlfriend pregnant, I’d drive him to Mexico for ten grand and a taco dinner. Which is wholesale in comparison to the Walter White scenario.

In the event the authorities were to discover this post at some future date, let it be known I wrote this in jest. If I happened to follow through with any of these scenarios in the commission of a crime, I was most likely under duress. So you have my permission to shoot Barry on sight.

So the church inquiry. That was way more awkward a predicament for me than any of the above situations, and the fact that I ain’t kidding about it tells me that Imma have lots of ‘splaining to do when my ticket gets punched to the great beyond. But that’s another awkward conversation for another day . . .

As for this question, I could have taken it to mean the guy was being compassionate. So of course I looked at motive. Did he want some cover for the car ride to and from church, when he’s usually engaged in a steel cage match argument with his lady friend? Was he vying for a “Congregation Member of the Month” prize if he brought in some new recruits? And what did the winner get? Does this church offer sin passes? Maybe he’d get the pastor’s parking space for a month . . . or a psalm named after him. Or maybe . . . I should stop because that lightning I’m hearing as I type this, it’s getting too close for comfort . . .

That’s not my scene, but I’m honored you would think of me. 

That was my reply. Which is lame in comparison to what I might have used for a comeback. A top five? Sure, why not . . .

5- I don’t let Jesus take the wheel because I can’t afford his deductible
4- Church? Isn’t that where you vote?
3- I’ll go, but only if you promise not to wake me up until the service is over
2- I watch Filipino death match rugby on Sundays
1- Is it “Water Into Wine” Sunday? Because if so, I’m in . . .

I kept it high road given the subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, because it means that Barry probably feels like my soul needs saving. And I like to think that I come across as being interesting like that. And it’s why I had to turn him down. Because I can’t let my personal relationship with God mess with the reputation I’ve been cultivating, basically my entire adult life.

God forbid.



83 thoughts on “Trust in God . . But Verify Everything Else

  1. I was raised Catholic and had to go to church every Sunday and holy day until I turned 18, when I was blessedly given the right to choose for myself. I never went back to church again except for funerals and weddings, and one baptism. Except one time. My kids were young and they were spending Christmas Eve with my mom. She asked if she could take them to church the next morning and we said yes. (My kids were raised Jewish, my wife’s faith.) I decided to surprise her and show up and attend the service with them. It wasn’t horrible — the sermon was all about Jesus’ teachings regarding love and forgiveness, lessons I think we could all use a little more of — but ultimately, all that God talk just drives me crazy.

    One of our friends was also raised Catholic and about 25 years ago, due to some things going on in her personal life, she reconnected with her faith and became an extremely devout Catholic. At one point, she saw my mom in church and told her that they needed to work together to get me back to church. My mom looked at her and said, “He’s doing just fine the way he is.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s like this, I have a faith that is deeply personal. I believe in what I believe in but I don’t go around selling encyclopedias to other people. And I feel, sometimes, like that’s a game plan for certain members. Maybe it’s doubt playing them to forge ahead, I don’t know.

      When I got married, I attended church with my wife for a few years but as time went on I became increasingly disillusioned. It was a soap opera, networking club . . or at least it felt that way to me. I bowed out.

      Your mom had a great comeback.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A work of art, Pilgrim. I enjoyed the Barry story. Of course, I’m fascinated as to why he would ask you to go to church. You covered all the possible reasons, so I won’t go through the list again. I attend church when my daughter or sister asks me to take them. They are Catholic (Converts both), and I am a Luthern. Not that it matters cause the last time I was in a Luthern church was when my high school sweetheart told me she had fallen for the music minister. Anyway, it does cause me to wonder. One just doesn’t come out and randomly ask another to church. I think saying “no” did away with a lot of complicated situations that could have come up. Still, I would love to know why he asked.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. B,

    I’m with you on this. Back in the day that I was “on the market” on the dating apps, the first mention of devout or Catholic or anything relating to Jesus and God had me swiping left so fast…

    I’m lucky. My mother was so disillusioned with all things church, other than having us baptized, first communioned and confirmed, the only church-going we ever did was to attend funerals and weddings. And oh, I lie. Midnight mass when we went up north to my grandmother’s and she insisted. Worse rendition of “Oh Holy Night” I have ever heard.

    Love your list of what you would be wiling to do over go to church! You know you are going straight to hell, don’t you? ‘Course that’s where all our peeps will be… Or we’ll renegotiate when our post it is delivered.

    I think you gave the right reply… keep the snark to the blog – you are not so cavalier as to insult Barry’s probably honest request.

    Excellent choice of song, as per. This is one of those songs that, until you see the lyrics you have no blessed clue what Kiedis is singing!


    Liked by 3 people

    • Q

      I swiped left on her at that point, in spirit anyways LOL. Nice chica and all, but needing me to go to church . . . can’t be having it.

      I haven’t been to church in I don’t know how long a time now. It was one of those things I did for a while when the kids were small and I was married. But I quickly became disillusioned by it all. Very perception oriented.

      That was the short list. I kept it to five so I wouldn’t be smited on the spot. I hate when that happens!

      I think he meant well. No, I know he did. And I’m not the only person he’s asked, as I would find out later.

      Yeah, the lyrics would completely go over most people’s heads. Great song though, as per the Chili Peppers of the time.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Nope. I feel you. If that was not on the profile or didn’t come up until the first conversation, he had a chance of a meet. First sign of God something… ciao-bye!

        That’s okay. You tried. I just can’t stand the business of religion/church. I suppose if I were to accidentally land on a service with a preacher a la Boyd, I might last a few services…

        You gotta be careful. You just don’t know what will illicit a smite.

        He probably did. You’re not, eh? Hmmm. Llike John, I’d be curious as to the why of the ask.

        I love this song. I always wondered what the hell he was singing. “With the birds of shared it’s a lonely view…” didn’t feel right so I had to look it up 😉 LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t mind Jesus chicks. So long as there was a side of the fence and they understood this.

          If Boyd was doing the service, I would attend. Otherwise, I’m probably going to have to rain check it.

          That’s the thing about smites. They’re highly unpredictable. You’d think Pat Robertson would’ve been smited to Jupiter by now but nope . . .

          You guys are more curious than me.

          You were close!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. In my world God doesn’t just live in the Churches on Sundays. He is the wind, the trees, the sleeping breath of a child. He’s not the hypocrite, religion is. And seriously, if He doesn’t have a sense of humour, we are all damned!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As a regular church attendee, I concur in so many ways. Yes, church isn’t for everyone, but not all churches are the same. Yes, non-attendees can be spiritual – but in different ways. Yes, non-attendees can be religious, but in there own way. …. and now the kicker – not all churches are the same, so all aren’t meant for all attendees. Well done, Marc!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Cincy. The churches around here tend to gravitate to meh. You have your stodgy, conservative thinking churches that are still stuck in a different century. And then you have your country clubs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Perfect response, Marc. Now go buy as many garlic braids as you can get your hands on. I hear needy vampires avoid that as much as their blood sucking cousins do. Going to church is not the same as being spiritual. Because I’m one of those fallen Catholic girls whose Golden Rule soul could probably survive the postering parade of hypocrites just fine, I definitely admire your tact (and snickered out loud at the potential scenarios you penned). ⚡️⚡️⚡️ Ouch. Guess I probably shouldn’t have said that outloud, eh?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Laughing good at the alternatives you listed.
    And it sounds to me like you have very sound theology – the personal relationship with God is where it is at and should be at.
    The American version of church leaves many of us displaced –

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love how you take a simple scenario and make an entertaining story out of it. I also had to go to church until 18, then I bowed out with few exceptions. After my brother became a Jehovah’s Witness, I really ran screaming from the whole religion nonsense. Why oh why must people force their spiritual (not empirical) beliefs on others?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh man, this is like a movie where I miss the ending. I’m curious why he asked you, though I know you mention he’s asked others. Is he trying to save lost souls? Does he need a BFF to walk up to communion with? Aren’t you curious? Or do you think it’s best not to ask and push the conversation forward?..:)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I know this was probably in all seriousness and your response was perfectly appropriate. It did however remind me of Forrest Gump … when Lt. Dan asked, have you found Jesus yet and he says, I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him. That made me laugh because it’s the perfect response. I’ve never been asked by anybody to go to church. I’d probably say thanks I’m good. Or wonder why they asked, did he tell you why? Just curious. I’m Catholic and I go to church but I don’t go off inviting people to come with me. Faith and Spirituality are somewhat of a private and special relationship, unless the person is open about it and inviting I don’t go spreading the word. I feel like they got it, they’re up to speed. Plus it depends on my relationship with them. Even close friends got their own places and feel comfy where they’re at. Religion has its cringe worthy moments I mean look at the priest thing, and all these Christian conservatives looking the other way while this fool goes against every principle they supposedly stand for, I mean the hypocrisy is off the chart … but real faith and spirituality are true and can be practiced anywhere. Sometimes people feel the need to share that and sometimes they let others find their own path. Sunshine and waves buddy 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not much of a Gump fan (I know . . I know) but that is a CLASSIC line. And really, I don’t get that a movie with so many classic lines always gets boxed into that chocolate one.

      Barry does this. He’s a sharer. He is an outreach person, glass half full, bright eyed and bushy tailed lad of his mid fifties who means well in everything he does. But yeah, I don’t think church is like asking someone to the batting cages. For me, it’s a very personal thing.

      Sunshine and waves, hermana

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally true. That batting cage analogy. That’s a good way of explaining it. Maybe since he’s well-meaning he thought you’d see it as just an ask. But you’re right some people are not aware of the batting cage difference. Or like Seinfeld when that guy from the Mets asked Jerry to help him move. They had a whole episode on that. That was a funny one.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Very funny. I would have used your polite way of saying no, as well. Yet, the others feel quite right.
    I gave up on believing around 14 years of age. It just was so hypocritical of the cathoholic church to make me sit at the back because my mom was a divorcee.
    As an adult,I did costumes for a Showtime movie (Our Fathers) about priests & pedophilia … I read and learned a lot. I am disgusted.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barry means well, but he definitely doesn’t see or get what boundaries are made for.

      I think that’s what drives so many people away, the hypocrisy.

      Wow, you really have quite the story. Did you ever see the movie Spotlight? It is about the Archdiocese in Boston when all these claims began to surface.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, but that is where the story I worked on took place. It’s about the whole business of Cardinal Law covering up. We even met some sexual abuse survivors, when they visited the set.
        In the end, the church had to sell most of it’s property, and Cardinal (F)law moved to the Vatican, where he remained a cardinal until his death. it had a start studded cast!
        LOL.. It’s based on part of a book by David France – Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal
        The paperback has 675 pages ad weighs 1.2 pounds. I had a hard copy, which felt as heavy as a boulder, for research. I dropped it on my big toe, right foot while reading it. The toe broke. I had to do the movie with one shoe a size bigger than the other shoe. It did not heal until the show was finally over…. about 4 months later.

        Liked by 1 person

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