grilled chese. southern baptists. ikea. indian food. people under the bridge. Atlanta.

I woke up around 2 pm,

which was a problem seeing as how I had a meeting at 10 am.

I cooked grilled cheese over the electric stove for breakfast as I slowly recounted my dream. It was these Assembly of God friends sitting on the edge of my bed, as I painted abstract clouds of navy, black, and red. They asked if I was giving up on God. I turned and asked them what did the spirit do when it was brooding. they talked louder. I painted more furiously- everything dark, everything mystery. they started making logical proofs for God and I kept painting.  sizzle, the grilled cheese almost black on one side. I flipped it, and brought it to my mouth. It burnt my lip. a great start to a perfect day.

I grabbed my bible

continued to munch on my grilled cheese despite its trying to kill me before i could devour it. I flipped to the acts narrative which has captured my heart for the past week. I prayed and dove right in. I read acts ten again. Cornelius was a pagan. He feared God… God speaks to pagans.  Straight out of the same bible used to beat up pagans in my modern context. I read on and prayed.

I then called my second favorite atheist who insisted that I should come to work for his company in California.

I told him I had to plant this church here in Atlanta. “You mean your cult.” He laughed. I loved him for his sincerity, knowledge of the Bible and amazing wit. But mostly because he never judged me. He asked me what I was thinking about. I said “Ikea.” We laughed. I am getting ready to nest. I may be a breeder soon.  Will I be blinded by the idol gods of consumerism? He told me he thought I would follow Christ. He always said kind things about me. I hopped off the phone and decided to go to Lithia Springs.

I visited my grandmother for a while.  Her basket beside her hid all the Sunday School Lessons she had worked on that day. She laid back in her lazy chair talking about her church’s financial problems, the ladies in the sunday school, and then my fiance. I stared out the window watching the birds hit up the blur of flowering trees as she spoke. I heard her and listened. She asked me if my church was going to support me in the church plant endeavor. I said “what church is that?” She described the church that loved me and accepted me when I came back to the whole notion of Jesus as Savior after having seen him when I died from my drug overdose. I thought about all the amazing people who called it their church home. I smiled. I thought about how they helped me walk through hard times and loved me, even though I pushed all their boundaries.“No, No they aren’t.” My grandmother sat up and said “what?” I then when through a biblical exposition because that’s the language that good old fashion Southern Baptists and Pentecostals understand. And I explained that I could no longer hold all the human words about God so tightly. I told her I embraced the mystery of God and had many more questions than answers. I also told her I would do anything to love the people I felt were the most marginalized in our society, including the LGBT community. Of course, You can imagine her face. I thought it had only been 15 years since a black person showed up to their church and chuckled to myself. The little county of Douglas  got into some kinda spirit of religion and completely forgot the words of Christ, I am not sure if it happened 280 years ago when they chased the red man out, or 60 years ago when they were allowing strange fruit to hang from the oaks. (Yeah, abolition did not end slavery conceptually) The waters contained lithium, hence the name Lithia Springs, but I do not know if the waters ever gave sanctuary to anyone who was oppressed heavily by the religious spirit. I spoke with conviction and added “but I could be wrong.” She said “Does Terry’s daddy know you think like this?” “Have they talked him out of marrying you?”

I laughed. “They love me.” “Everyone does, Bec” But yes grandmother I am basically a heretic.

anyone who hung out with me more than 30 minutes would realize that I cherish Jesus and God deeply but I don’t care much for Christianity. She then asked if I needed any furniture…

and then my lust wandered to ikea. OH IKEA, I love walking through it. So I did. I wrapped things up with Nana Vivian, let myself out the door and scooped up one of my friends. We drove down to Ikea. We walked around the closet organizers, cooing and making strange noises similar to delight. We watched all the upper-middle class people in Atlanta walk around and coo as well. I couldn’t stop thinking about privilege and poverty. I wondered if any of the starving children tonight were obsessed over  green paper lamps or large oblong tables made out of red translucent plastic. This was only for the rich. I was sad. and somewhat stimulated by all this amazing product. consumerism materialism, the promise of a semi-sophisticated life. all part of the systematic illness our institutions faced now. I wondered how much of this pop-plastic stuff would last after the big shake occurred. My mind left me for a moment as I envisioned some apocalyptic imagery and dust from the fallout. Kayla brought me to my senses as she said “Oh, toilet bowl brushes.”

we left ikea amused at all the things that seemed to make materialism more enjoyable. after all when you collect so much random treasure you need somewhere to organize it. And we drove to Little 5 points.

We ate some gulab juman after snarfing down some tindoori chicken and shis kaboob. 40 bucks bought us a thirty minute gluttonous triumph. we walked back to see two drunken homeless women falling all over themself and traffick. We smiled at their loud laughing but wondered if they would make it home safe. I waved goodbye to the Rastafarians smoking weed.

We took a mini-tour of Atlanta. We drove down to Whitehall and I waved at the people who lived under the bridge. Kayla recalled a story about not being able to give a homeless person food one time and how it really broke her heart.  How do i even do ministry to people now that I am kicked out of church? I wondered that. I wondered what it would look like to hug the homeless person and offer them a sandwich as this free-agent for God who didn’t have a contract with one of the steeple people.  I had been a hugger of homeless since I was small. I would continue to be one. We passed a few whores.  The city had grabbed my heart.

It was my atlanta.  and what to do about it? …


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