Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Old Friend Joins the Three Musketeers for Dinner

One of my best friends, B.J., came down to visit Addie, Belle, and I. She is just wonderful, and I miss her so much and wish I saw her more often. We taught together for a year and, despite a bit of distance, our friendship has persevered. We went to Bugaboo Creek where Belle told lame knock-knock jokes and Addie actually got the double entendre details of stories B.J. and I tell about out adventures at work (There's a book called Up the Down Staircase--it should be read by everyone in education).

Anyway, there are many invaluable memories I have with B.J., but my personal favorite has been recounted already in one of my other blogs (originally written in 2007, if you can believe it). However, it was such a great story that I figured I'd post it here for your viewing pleasure--and as thanks to B.J., who always seems to know when I need a friend to lean on. And a laugh ... always a laugh : )

So, here it is ... once again : ) The true story of B.J. and the Prayer Rug.
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Just got off the phone with my good friend B.J. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard. I think we're both going to hell.

In general, B.J. is a very calm, cool, and collected individual. However, she called me this afternoon rather shaken with a story that absolutely couldn't wait until tomorrow. B.J. carefully explained to me that, while horror movies and superstitions don't generally freak her out, she has a slight issue with those that deal with the religious (such as the movie "Stigmata").

Now, B.J. and I went out to dinner last night and reminisced about how she had to attend "God Training" in order to work as a volleyball coach at a religious school. We were laughing about the ludacrisy of the video itself ("Not ALL homosexuals are pedophiles"), and, okay, we got silly about how black and white really were B.J.'s colors if she decided to become a nun.

Evidently God was listening.

In today's mail, B.J. received a package from St. Matthew's Churches (note the plural) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Within, there was a letter, a sealed package, and a prayer rug composed of two sheets of computer paper containing the face of Jesus Christ. However, it has the disturbing optical illusion feature where the eyes look closed initially but, when you look just right, all of a sudden the big guy is staring right at you, following your every move. B.J. was creeped out, to say the least.

Well, not wanting to further bring down any wrath of God upon herself, B.J. called some people (including her mom--"Jesus is watching me, Mom, he's watching me!") and yours truly.

She started out by reading me the letter she received. The gist of it was that she needed to, alone in a room by herself, utilize the prayer rug for its intended purpose (to wit, praying). After that, she was instructed to put it into her Bible for the night. No Bible? No worries ... just put it under your bed for the night. While J.C. is chilling under your bed, the plan is that you flip the letter over and fill out the "wish list"--money, new house, new job, new boyfriend, et cetera et cetera. You then mailed the prayer rug back to a P.O. Box in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and that was that.

(I should note that B.J. did try to hide the prayer rug under her bed, but her cat started eating it. Realizing that this was likely sacrilegious on a variety of levels, B.J. kept the prayer rug out in the open. I suggested sealing it in a bag or something, but she was concerned that Jesus might suffocate)

After following these directions, B.J. was allowed to open the SPECIAL SECRET package containing her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY. I should also probably mention the "testimonials" from "real people" who used the prayer rug and saw all their dreams come true.

Of course, this made B.J. uneasy ... it would have made me uneasy too. Therefore, we googled St. Matthew's Churches (again, note the plural) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were a number of hits identifying it as a scam (basically, they send you free stuff ranging from "a piece of Noah's Ark" to a shred of Joseph's coat of many colors to completely hook you before they begin asking for money or income tithing).

Well, I think this made B.J. feel a little better. We also did a Google image search and found the church (?) itself ... there were sad and pathetic pictures of scores of people in different churches all over the country. It was just very sad and unfortunate.

Well, B.J. was evidently convinced enough that it was a scam that she decided to open her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY. I should note that she did put down the phone, go into a room by herself, and use the prayer rug first. To be completely honest, I would have done the same thing ... to not would be like setting up some sort of dark karma. She then opened her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY and received the same "message" no doubt received by hundreds of people today.

B.J. at this point was no longer seriously freaked out about the whole thing. The more she read, the better she felt about the fact that it was clearly a scam. We got laughing about the prayer rug (thought it might be neat to bring it into work ... it was sort of fun predicting the different reactions our coworkers might have), and I told her I'd write a blog about it, just because it was such a priceless story.

The thing is, as I'm writing this, I'm getting really angry with St. Matthew's Churches (I won't emphasize the plural this time). Religion is a personal and private thing. The feeling of a higher power is something that many people find great comfort in. Taking advantage of people without the means or the common sense to investigate scams in the name of God is just beyond despicable.

You might be surprised to know that I'm a believer myself. I was raised a Catholic and though I'm pretty much lapsed at this point in my life, I think most sects of Christianity are similar in a lot of regards. Essentially, the priests or pastors or ministers or whatever-you-call-them are the "higher power" you deal with. I have an extremely important, powerful, and personal relationship with God; I don't think I need to attend church regularly to maintain this.

I mention this because I don't want anyone to view me (or especially B.J., who is pretty much a saint) as awful. Because I believe in God, and believe strongly, I feel justified in saying this:

I am confident that He was laughing right along with us.