Have you ever said or written something that you regret? Maybe regret is not the best word…have you ever said or written something that now makes you feel like a jackass? This piece is Exhibit A from my vault. It’s my final assignment that I handed in for English 101 my freshman year in college. (The assignment was that we had to project 20 years into the future, we had become some sort of success, and a major news outlet is interviewing us. Somehow we had to incorporate what we had learned from the class into the interview.)
My professor and I had a difficult, sometimes contentious teacher-student relationship. She was a college English prof who was trying to get her students to open their minds a little, and I being a dumb and arrogant 18 year old Christian mistook her for wanting me to give up my faith. I remember being a really smug jerk in class discussions, pretending that I was humble yet thinking that only I had it all figured out. And I took great pleasure in this last jab at her teaching methods, relishing in how clever I was and how she must have been perplexed at its meaning (although it was patently clear to anyone who *knew* what was happening in the world).
Since then I’ve grown up a bit and hopefully am a bit older, wiser, and more humble. I’ve shed the vestiges of my dispensational end-times theology, and I am (happy to say) not the Antichrist! So read on and have a laugh at my expense. If you don’t get the joke, then maybe you’ve been “left behind!”
Name: Brian Sandifer
Title: Chairman of European Economic Community
Major Life Accomplishment: Worked out treaty between the State of Israel and all Arab Nations
NW: The public is wondering how the mind of such a great world leader like yourself works. Tell me Brian, were you always such a peaceful and accepting person?
Brian: No, surprisingly I was not. Back in my early years of college I was quite the fanatical ultraconservative Christian who was pushing his views on everybody. Boy, how I wanted to change the world! I was not accepting of any other religious belief or of no belief at all. I wanted everyone to go to “Christian heaven.” It was not until a college English teacher challenged my “closed-minded” beliefs that I became so loving and accepting.
NW: What exactly did this English teacher do to you?
Brian: Actually, it was a combination of many things. She challenged me to question all things–the way I thought, the way I viewed others, the way I saw myself.
NW: How did you think, view others, and see yourself back then?
Brian: Please understand I really did have good intentions. I just wasn’t going in the right direction. I thought that the only true religion was Christianity and that I had to “save” everyone from going to hell. But I was only a closed-minded young man. The first paper I wrote for that teacher was supposed to be an interpretation of a text from a different point of view and a commentary on why I wrote the way I did. I found myself questioning many of my beliefs on why I was judging others and which way of reading was correct: a literal or allegorical interpretive lens.
NW: So how did you see yourself back then?
Brian: I saw myself as “saved” and unworthy of it. I saw myself as a miserable sinner. But you know, I came to realize that everyone was just like me and everyone else wasn’t that bad, so I couldn’t be that bad. I decided that all I had to do was love myself and everything would be all right. I mean, if everyone’s first love is their self, then most of the world’s problems will disappear. On the third paper I wrote for that teacher, I concluded that no form of government could work because everyone was evil and all world leaders are powermongers. But I soon came to realize that while everyone is the same, evil is not the common bond. Love is the common bond! As long as everyone loves their self then peace and safety will reign forever!
NW: It is truly awesome how the power of the European Economic Community has temporarily and hopefully finally resolved the Arab-Israeli crisis. What gave you the idea of the seven year peace treaty between the Israelis and the Arabs? Did it have something to do with your English teacher?
Brian: Well, yes in a way. You see, there was so much love and acceptance in that class that I found myself questioning my “Christian Convictions.” In fact, the fourth and final paper I wrote that year was supposed to make me come up with my own “interpretive lens” for literature. I decided that in evaluating literature that it was only fair to assume everyone as equal. I also discovered that religion (made up entirely by man) is just a way for humans to explain the unexplainable and to push morals on someone else. If this is the case, I concluded that I could somehow unite the religions of the world into one loving, monster world religion that accepts all. This, first and foremost, was what I learned from that teacher–that to get along with others, people must give up a little and accept people for who they are and not be disrespectful or judgmental of other’s opinions.
As for your question about my idea for the seven year Arab-Israeli treaty: I got the idea while meditating and trying to get in touch with my inner self. I knew that to guarantee peace and safety on Earth I had to somehow satisfy the Jews’ cries for peace. The whole world realizes that the cause of Israel’s troubles is their staunch rejection of any religious belief beside their own. The nation of Israel is incapable of loving right now. So a seven year treaty (seven is the number of perfection in Jewish theology) that strongly urges Israel to “clean up its act” and be accepting and loving of others seemed ideal. If, at the end of seven years, Israel has not changed her ways, then the world community will have to take drastic measures in order to ensure a peaceful environment on our Mother Earth.
NW: Yes, the possibility of war is very frightening, especially with most nations having nuclear capabilities. Let’s hope it doesn’t have to come to that. Just one question, Brian, that I would personally like to know: How do you feel about the fact that of all the people on the planet, your randomly generated personal identification number just happens to be 666?
Brian: I had a feeling you would bring that up! Ha! Ha! I think it is just a funny coincidence. It doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, in that very same English class I learned that “symbols” and “hidden meanings” can be very humorous!