Tuesday, May 22, 2007

you're mormon or a member...

...to have fun in Salt Lake City that is, according to someone in our party. I'm definitely not mormon and agree with Groucho Marx that "I'd never join any club that would have me as a member". yet here I was last weekend at Murphy's Bar newly bestowed with a lifetime membership (drinking only allowed in "private" clubs in Utah) and slamming down car bombs with the "wild cousins" in celebration of the impending wedding of a family member. (earlier, during enjoyment of a few microbrews at Squatters Pub and being asked my relationship to the wedding couple numerous times, I figured out I was the bride's-aunt's-step-son-in-law.)

it was a fun, whirlwind weekend trip in crazy Utah. now and then it's nice to feel like you belong, to be inside and included. I'm not the bar hopping gregarious type. my normal state is one of peaceful solitude. that's where I'm most comfortable and productive. but it's good to get dissolute once in while... and what better excuse than a new marriage?

while I claim to be religious, my religion is not organized. sunday afternoon as we toured the spotless gardens, buildings and statues in Temple Square and I read the official proclamations chiseled in stone, I kept wondering out loud "why was Joseph Smith murdered?" (story here). how else is my religion disorganized? I enjoy reading the gutsy athiest reasoning and debates by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (skewering the corpse of the recently departed Jerry Falwell).

my god of course allows suffering, hate and discontent, and a general lack of caring as well as good and love. the best evidence for my god is existence itself - "I am" is all I need. the proof of our existence is self-evident. another man's view of the probabilities of our existence happening as it is are
"The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System"
"Probability For Life On Earth"
. take that with a bit of salt please.

anyway, the most religious conversation I had in salt lake was downtown sunday not in temple square where the pleasant zombies greeted me, but at carls jr -- one of the few places open on the sabbath. on the way to wash up I came across a paraplegic borderline homeless guy (looked rough but had bought lunch and had a cellphone). he was complaining about a hobo outside the restaurant begging and stealing from the salsa bar - "It's not right, him doing that...". I started to engage in conversation saying saying we all do what me must, we all have our crosses to bear. but he wasn't interested in listening, so I moved on. after lunch and exiting carls I was approached by aforementioned hobo at the corner. our conversation went like this:
"excuse me sir, I'm an american indian. you know, your father defeated Superman".
"Superman? my father?"
"your father defeated Superman. and he defeated Spiderman."
"are you talking about the great father?"
he paused and smiled. he didn't know what to say.
from behind me came a yell. "aaaaah! where you going?"
I turned and saw a mildly disabled (physical and mentally I think) guy pushed an overweight woman in a wheelchair. they had trouble coming up the curb because a concrete barrier and my body were blocking the way somewhat. the two started arguing. they were well practiced and quick about it. my american indian friend tried to intervene: "don't fight. please don't fight. I'm an american indian..."
they were gone quickly and the hobo came back to me. "I was hoping to get a quarter or maybe fifty cents".
"oh, feeling lucky are you?"
I placed a quarter in his thick palm and looked at his aged pocked face and cloudy eyes. he took the quarter and said "call it" with a smile.
"tails", I said. he deftly gave it a flip. I lost.

so where was god in all of this? where was god witnessed in salt lake city? in existence itself.. in each of the interactions described. that maya is my pantheistic heresy, part of my catholicus religion. like the tree falling in the forest with no one to hear, I tell my stories to the universe of the internet and say "yes, god was here. this did happen."

from the hobo's coin flip to the blessed union of Brad and Emily, God indeed was with us.

lastly, don't know how this all fits in, but it seems I just missed bumping into another religious leader in SLC: Rev. Al Sharpton was doing the mormon thang today (story). politics dontcha know. I think I prefer the Rev's debate with Christopher Hitchens. hmmm, that's all about book promotion, right?