Friday, May 22, 2009

Christ's Alms Bowl

Yesterday a funny thing happened to me.

Okay, I know, that's not unusual in itself, but this time it was neither life-threatening, scandalous, nor unmentionable due to monastic precepts against mentioning certain things to people who aren't monks, so here it is:

I set out on alms as usual, stopped outside the monastery for the people waiting, went by the first house where all the meditators line up to put food in my bowl, then started up towards Coldwater Canyon to head down to Sanam Luang (my final destination). I then received food from a woman's house across from the monastery, then on to the corner where I would turn South down Coldwater.

When I turned the corner, I heard a man's voice from the road saying in a rather loud and unfriendly tone, "Sir!", "Sir!" I turned to see a man in a black luxury sedan wearing a suit beckoning me to come close. He held out a small bottle and said, "here. Would you like some water? Here." It was easy to see through him, based on the tone of voice, and the black-covered book sitting at the handbrake clinched it. Another Annoying Christian. With a sigh, I moved to the window to accept his offering, after which he reached down to pull a tomato off the floor ("It fell," he said.) and dump it in, along with a can of mixed fruit ("See, it's cold," he said, touching the can to the back of my hand before in clunked in on top of the tomato). Then he picked up a branch and a leaf (off the floor where the tomato had fallen) with two unripe figs on it and showed me them proudly (yes dear, very nice), saying "you can't eat them yet, but... well, here you go." He then grabbed the rim of my alms bowl and said, "I give these to you in the name of Jesus Christ. May God bless you." I laughed at him and said back, "right... may God bless you too." He then let go and set off in his mission-mobile down the street.

As I walked away, I thought how queer it is that Christians don't seem to realize their own inherent hypocrisy. He in his luxury car thought to tell a homeless, barefoot renunciant that he acts in Jesus' name? I wish I could have had a video camera so I could show you all how silly he looked. It occurs to me that, if this is the best they have to offer as far as missionary work is concerned, Christianity doesn't have much of a future, I'm afraid.