Wednesday, July 30, 2008
On the Annoying Truth of True Believers
Nancy and I went to the mountain to hear Jesus yesterday. Well, not actually Jesus, but He's who I thought of by the end of the evening -- Him and one of His disciples.
We actually went to see Neil Diamond in concert last night. We spent all our American Express points (and a few bucks besides) to get good seats at the venue. As we settled into our seats and got ready for an evening of fine music and lyrics and energy from one our favorite musicians, along came the True Believer (Hmmm, maybe his favorite song is Diamond's "I'm a Believer."). Anyhoo, this yahoo and his female friend plopped down behind us (after being kicked out of another row for being in the wrong seats -- but that's a whole 'nother blog). He immediately began testifying. Loudly. And often. "Neil, I love Neil. He's the man. He's like Elvis only bigger. I think I'll cry when I see him." I am not making this up. Then the "Wooo-hooo's" began emanating from his constantly opened mouth. Then more "Neil, I love Neil. He's the MAN!"
Then the lights lowered and the band started cranking it up. And so did the True Believer. "Bring it on, Neil, bring it on. Lay it on us. He's awesome. He's the MMAANN!" It actually got worse when Diamond stepped on stage and began the opening number. Between his adulatory remarks, the True Believer sang along. Loudly. Off-beat. Pulling a harmonica out and playing along.
I'll tell you, it was almost more than this Quaker could bear. It seemed a good time to dump the peace testimony in favor of a slight tap up the side of the True Believer's head. But I grimaced and bore it. He can't keep it up, I reasoned. Bad reasoning. He could and did. Two songs. Three songs. Four songs.
On number four I gave him my most practiced "Lew Look" (a glare that my Uncle Lew the Ohio State Highway Patrolman practiced to great effect on us when we were kids). Nothing.
Then the lights went down and Diamond perched on a stool to sing a ballad, which he said came from his new album. The True Believer still shouted "Bring it on. You're the MMMMAAAANNN." I added the phrase, "Do you mind?!" to the "Lew Look." "What," I heard him ask his significant other, "is that guy's problem?" But he got a little quieter. Until Diamond got to the lyric that went "I looked for my truth."
The True Believer about had a heart attack. "Looked for your truth? Whaddya mean. You're 67 years old -- you should know your truth. Can you believe this? What's he saying?" I glared at him and Nancy even asked, "Would you please be quiet?" Then the True Believer bent down and started in on Nancy, "I just want to go on record as saying I disagree with this searching for truth. There is Truth. He should know it by now. This is stupid." At which point I finally told him to be quiet or I'd get the usher.
Still, I was struck by the fervency of the True Believer -- both for and against his buddy Neil in just a matter of minutes. All because of some words that didn't' fit the Neil he loved. Simon Peter updated, I thought. "I tell you I never knew that man (or his songs)." The True Believer denied his Lord of Lyrics and sat ashamed of his Song Savior.
Lord, I thought, please don't let me be a True Believer -- at least like this guy. Make me constant in faith. Teach me to be trustworthy -- even when your words are ones I'd rather not hear. Make me a believer who's true.