Stuff White Christians like

It seems like all the cool blogging kids are talking about “Stuff White People Like” and its parody, “Stuff Christians Like.”  As uncharaceteristic as it is for me to do this, I have to agree with the going opinion: both these blogs are very funny, very clever pieces of work.

As I was considering these blogs, two things occured to me.  These are profound realizations that came to me in the way of dream-like epiphanies.

Realization #1: I’m a white person!

Realization #2: I’m a Christian!

Because I’m a geeky teacher, one of those Venn Diagram things popped in my head.  If you’ve gone to school in the last 20 years, you probably remember Venn Diagrams.  The theory is that you create two slightly overlapping circles.  Each circle represents a specific idea.  Things that are true of both ideas you put in the middle, overlapping portions of the circle.  Things that are only true of one or the other you put in the outer portion of the circle.  (The reality, just for the record, is that they end up all sloppy and messed up)

At any rate, realization #1 and realization #2 above lead me to the conclusion that I could in fact put myself in that central place in the Venn Diagram formed by those two blogs.  There are people in the world who are kind-of lucky.  These are white people who aren’t Christians, or Christians who aren’t white people.  The reason that these people are only kind-of lucky is that they only have one blog telling them what they are supposed to like.

I’m extra lucky.  I get two. 

My initial reaction was to find this prospect daunting.  Each of those blogs lists literally hundreds of things.  I have a tendency to be rather cynical.  I’m actually not sure if there are hundreds of things that I do like.

But then it occured to me: maybe if something appears on only one website it’s optional.  But if something were too appear on both, why then, it’s unaimous, I have to like it!!!  My fellow inhabitants of the center, fish-shaped portion of the Venn Diagram, these are the things I’m supposed to like!

This realization brings about relief on 2 seperate fronts.  First, I’m relieved that I’d don’t have to like 8,000 things.  Secondly, I’m saved from actually having to do the work of figuring out what I like as a white guy and a Christian.  Somebody else has done the work for me!

With these realizations in mind, I set a supercomputer to the task of exhaustive data analysis.  Actually, that’s a total lie.  All I really did was scroll through both blogs and try to keep as many as I could in my brain. 

The results I turned up:

uhm, none, actually. 

Maybe some of you can help me.  Is there anything I’m supposed to like, as somebody who is both white and Christian?  In the end, I guess those blogs weren’t that helpful as objects for me to arrange my life around. 

But they are quite funny.  And I suppose all this explains why there’s not so many things I like.

The Spider

Two weeks ago:

My testosterone reached some critical mass

and so I rolled up that magazine, motivated

at last

to kill that thing that had spun it’s web

next to the door to the mailbox.

Then you deflated me.

You explained that at some point there was this turning point

in your relationship with that arachnid.

You disarm me,

open my weapon

and turn it to the horoscopes.

I am paralyzed and muted by your fickle nature.


the black thing was on the ground motionless

its web was gathering dust so far above it,

next to the doorknob.

I wonder if you should have lead an intervention

before your eight legged friend

ended it all

by leaping from those heights.

The Bible can be very, very funny

I think there are blessings in becoming a Christian late in life.  I think about kids– even my own kids– who grow up with bible stories.   When people are exposed to stories before they can comprehend the full depths of them, they end up, sometimes, missing the point forever.   I’ve read through the bible a couple times, and read the gospels numerous times… But when I read with fresh ears and eyes I always find new and fresh insights… and I often find things which I think are quite intentionally funny.

I was reading the Gospel of John, Chapter 9 today.  This is the story of Jesus healing the blind man by spitting on mud and placing the mud on the man’s eyes.

To our own sensibilities this might seem a bit… crass.  It certainly isn’t in keeping with the peaceful, mellow, etheral potrayal Jesus usually gets.  (Our former pastor, Lonnie, brought this point home brilliantly by trying to muster enough spit to turn a handful of dirt into mud on stage in front of us.)

Now… this gets even funnier when we think about the Jews and their… interest in cleanliness.  The associated cleanliness with moral purity, a fact that Jesus often criticizes.  They had significant issues with body fluids and dirtiness. 

Jesus heals in many different ways through the gospels.  He never uses the whole mud thing again.  But this time he did… Not only was this on a sabbath, but he seems to quite intentionally (pardon the pun) spit in the face of the other ways the “spiritual elite” had become legalistic.

Sometimes I think about writing a cultural translation of the gospels; something between a paraphrase and a novel, which seeks to relocate Jesus teachings in a contemporary context.

I’m about to say something which might be offensive to some….

If I were to try and culturally translate this event, and I wanted to capture the sort of cultural taboo that Jesus violated by spitting in the mud and smearing it on the blind man, I think I’d have Jesus urinate instead of spit in the mud… I think this action comes close to capturing the “oh gross!” factor that his actions must have brought about.

Tomato Necromancers

Someone I never met before

(who might live in Beverly Hills

or Bangkok

who might be pretzel salesman by day

or a cross dresser in a transvestite revue)

Someone I never met before

sent me an email.

The FROM: column said

George T.

But that’s not what I found so interesting.

The Title: column said

Tomato Necromancers #6.

Now, that I find interesting.

Is this a sort-of secret code?

Am I, yet again, one of the un-cool kids?

Too clueless to even understand the peer pressures I am supposed to experience

It’s a good thing about being thirty

I don’t care about that stuff so much.

But I care about Tomato Necromancers.

Produce wizards, Mystic gardeners,

Animating that crimson fence sitter

which is both or neither fruit and vegetable

basis for sauces, slices, soups…

And I must wonder of the first five

Tomato Necromancers

Did they all go down together

Defending this dismension from Extra Terrestrial Earth Worms?

Were they victims to their own hubris,

Overwhelmed or outwitted by armies of zombie vegetables?

Or are they still lurking about darkened gardens,

a League of Green-thumbed defenders?

Perhaps I will find out more if I open this email

which sits among impossible promises of instant degrees, herbal improvements

and smut, and smut, and smut

And it occurs to me

That this email is probably an impossible promise of an instant degree,

An offer of money-back-guarenteed herbal improvements,

or most likely:

smut, smut, or smut.

I am an optimist

So I hope that there is a sublime, arcane meaning to the email

Even as I delete it,

With an ounce of curiosity,

Without a shred of fanfare.

The trail

The doctor who brought me into the world

could be suffering dementia,

in a grey forgotten place somewhere.

The teddy bear

which held me through infant night terrors

is probably rotting in a dump, somewhere, abondoned.

For all I know

The house I grew up in.

With the ivy covered walls.

Burned down.

My second grade teacher

The one who really believed in me.

Very well might be

holding a bottle and wondering

what happened to her life.

My best friend in middle school

died last year.

The lips

of the first girl I ever kissed.

They were so smooth back then:

Now she might be sitting in a room

staring at a wall

hating everything.

I remember

the smile on the kid

who I sold my first car ever to.

It’s entirely possible

that battered Civic

ended up a smoldering wreck tortured out it’s True Shape.

The first job I ever had

was for a place that went out of business.

The owners dreamed died with that place.

One of the first students I ever taught.

Died in Iraq.

Moments after I smiled at the check out girl this morning

She might have felt dry mouth, and pain in her arm.

A few minutes after you hear my words

maybe the bottom will fall out of your everything.

The sun

could have blinked out of existence

five and a half minutes ago.

We wouldn’t know.

For another thirty seconds.

The Yawn

The body has its secrets.

For example:

A yawn–

perfectally executed–

will bring about transcendence.

It begins at the toes which curl downward, a little

looking for purchase inside socks inside shoes

the knees bend slightly

thighs begin to rock foreward

stomach calm and relaxed,

making room for the diaphram.

The chest is brought up

by shoulders which strech out…

the neck is arched backward

The mouth spreads in a perfect circle, so wide

that the cracks in the lips feel the pull.

Such a yawn–

perfectally executed–

will bring about transcendence.

That is why body speaks to body

and yawns spread like gossip across a room.

a yawn–

perfectally executed–

will bring about transcendence:

beyond thoughts, beyond words.

That is why the larynx alone rebels,

sensing impending obselecence

and makes its ugly little moan to throw off the whole affair.


Two weeks ago:

My testosterone reached some critical mass

and so I rolled up that magazine, motivated

at last

to kill that thing that had spun it’s web

next to the door to the mailbox.

Then you deflated me.

You explained that at some point there was this turning point

in your relationship with that arachnid.

You disarm me,

open my weapon

and turn it to the horoscopes.

I am paralyzed and muted by your fickle nature.


the black thing was on the ground motionless

it’s web was gathering dust so far above it,

next to the doorknob.

I wonder if you should have lead an intervention

I wonder if your eight legged friend

still would have jumped

if only he new that you cared.

How To Write an Oprah Best Seller


in a world that operates

like a poorly done hybrid

of The World According to Garp

and Forest Gump

Now: list 87 character quirks.

Randomly ascribe 17 and a half of them to a main character

who must be female


and dumber than your phys. ed. teacher in high school.

Apply the other sixty-nine and one half quirks

to the people who will rally around the protagonist

after three chapters of abuse, melancholy, and opression.

The fourth chapter should introduce sexual tension with somebody who’d never,

in the real world,

be attracted to the mousy little victim…

it should also foreshadow

some hitherto unimagined talent.

The talent should be something surprising

not something we’d ordinarily want to be good at

maybe dripping with clumsy symbolism.

Perhaps she’s the worlds greatest sculptor of soft serve ice cream.

but suffers from lactose intolerance.

Just imagine all the metaphors you can imply

as her Magnum Opuses all melt around her.

Watch her get better.


Believe in herself.

Master her dairy.

But her savoir has to do something stupid.

Maybe it reminds the hero of her

good-for-nothing-no-good ex boyfriend

When she leaves him

her talent fades

or she realizes

the thing discerning readers picked up

half a book ago:

It doesn’t really matter– even a little bit

if you can sculpt soft serve ice cream.

When they reunite

at the place they first met

They kiss the way they’ve wanted to for the whole book

and they discover together it was never about the ice cream after all.

That’s when the gift returns:

At the end of the second-to-last chapter

There are two differences

between this poem and the latest Oprah book.

The first is that it won’t earn 87 million dollars.

The second

is that I won’t bother

spelling out

what happens in the last chapter.

You already know.


I think that all poetry should be written this wayA spark rises up from this tension.

It sets the paper aflame.

You stood over simmering pots like a Goddess floating above supplicants.

You, who had run the house all day

Had tended our children,

laundry, bills, groceries…

I, a crazy man,

Approached you at the end of the day.

“I have to write. Right now.”

A lock of hair fell from your bandana

“You have four minutes.

If you take one moment longer,

then I will kill you.”

You smiled then, and I did, too, at your little joke.

And so I write these words;

not what I planned on writing.

And I wonder how many minutes ha