Why are you at the Computer?

Where do I even start?

It was Wednesday of this past week, just four days ago.

The engineering buildings are quiet in the summer. The library is largely empty. I sat down at one of the computers in the small block near the entrance and listlessly browsed through mail, messages, and some useless information. Sitting at a right angle to me was a black guy, and an older man with gray hair and glasses.

I had been there for a while when the man with the gray hair suddenly turned to the black guy, who was clearly a stranger.

“Why… are you at the computer?” he said. The black guy stared at him blankly.

“Why are not on the street, spreading the message?” he continued. The black guy turned back to his computer and zoned out.

“You’ve betrayed us. Why are you on the computer? Why are you not…”

I was thinking about this later as I walked down Spadina. No tomatoes at Burger King. I thought it was a joke, and I was going to be on some “We stopped selling the Whopper with tomatoes to see what would happen” commercial, but I opened up the Whopper and there really were no tomatoes. This saddened me.

People streamed by. South on Spadina, left on Queen, past Steve’s music store. I came to an intersection and about 6 young guys on bicycles made a gentle arc that intersected my path. I took a few extra steps to let them pass behind me. The first of them looked up as he went by, right into my eyes, and said:

“Faith”

———————

I don’t talk to strangers often, but perhaps still more than the average person in this city, and never due to insanity or as a psychological gag. An opportunity to speak to someone, to convey meaning, takes far more than time and space. You can touch on all four dimensions of the continuum with others, without a single word bridging the chasm.

I am a so-called Evangelical, and I will tell you about my faith, and not always because you asked me about it. But the most obvious way to do something is not always effective. Hence we sometimes bear an itch, and tell the others don’t scratch!

A person’s beliefs regarding spirituality, existence, meaning, and purpose are the most important opinions and beliefs that they have. They determine the direction of their whole life, barring those who have neglected these questions so completely that they stumble through life fulfilling base needs (and those of us who fancy ourselves “purpose-driven” are still prone to this!)

It seems incredible that it is so seldom discussed, such that people we know for years in various contexts will never have a conversation about it. It’s as if we cannot afford to spend a few hours thinking about which field of study to apply to for university (and why) though we will expend enormous quantities of time and energy getting through it. It’s as if we would rather live an perfect lie than an excellent truth.

I’ve mused that this may be one reason why “smart people” will never run the world, but rather, people with manipulative skills–most of us have a tendency to burrow down into a science, a skill, a body of knowledge, and become outstanding without knowing exactly why, only to have everything we are manipulated and directed by someone who has even the most base set of ideals. We simply want to be outstanding at something. In a scene in “Lord of War,” Nicholas Cage’s character explains his business selling weapons simply by saying “I’m good at it.” [Update–actually, this all doesn’t even belong in this post. I think I’ll write something separate about it]

And perhaps it’s all because the questions and the answers seem so immaterial.

Nonetheless, this makes it possible to talk to anyone about belief, or unbelief, in the divine. As for Christians: how, when, where, and why do we do this? And what do we say?

The answers are quite involved, but unlike the answers to some questions, I think these ones all exist.

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