Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
Spare Me From Your Followers
by Daniel Latham
WWJD - What would Jesus do? The bumper stickers, bracelets, and t- shirts began popping up like locusts during a biblical plague a few years ago. They were so prevalent in my corner of the world that I started to feel like a Sneetch without a star on my belly.
I wasn’t sure what the question meant. Was it a plea for the reader to think before taking action? Was the person displaying the sign asking my opinion? I’ll tell you: Jesus would use his turn signals, Jesus would vote Green, Jesus would buy organic.
Feeling the need to stake out my own theological boundaries, I made my own bumper sticker. WWMD - What Would Moses Do?
I'm not religious. I'm just angry a lot. It is understandable the two states of mind get confused.
Sure enough, the faithful came to me with questions, assumptions, and presumptions.
"Are you a Christian?" one asked me at work.
“What in God's name have I done to give her that idea,?” I wondered.
I shook my head. "No," I replied.
"Do you believe in God?"
"Yes," I said.
"Would you pray for my brother-in-law? He was diagnosed with cancer."
"Sure," I said. "What’s his name?"
I opened up my day planner, found an opening between 2:00 and 2:15 and penciled in 'Pray for John, re: cancer.'
A Seeker of Truth pointed at my car in the grocery store parking lot and read the bumper sticker aloud, "What Would Moses Do?"
"What would Moses do?" she asked me.
"He would smite people," I replied, patting my jacket for my car keys. I had to go. I had that two o’clock appointment to pray for John’s cancer.
"What does ‘smite’ mean?"
I paused and looked at her. What a refreshing question, much more interesting than "what’s a synagogue,” and “do you believe in God."
"It used to mean 'kill', but I think people now use it to mean ‘beat savagely.'"
She looked at the sky, commented that it looked like summer was over and continued her seeking somewhere else.
Bob had his first 30 days clean and sober and discovered Higher Power. He is now addicted to telling everybody at the gym how spiritual he is.
"Do you and your wife go to church?" he asked me.
When people ask that, they hope the answer is no so they can save me and earn brownie points with God. Just how would someone brown nose God, anyway?
"We go to synagogue," I informed him.
"What’s synagogue?" he asked. His lips twisted over the effort to pronounce the strange, foreign-sounding word.
"It's church for Jews," I further informed him.
"Oh", he looked at the ground, disappointed. "Do you pray to God?"
"Yesssss." Unsuccessfully biting back the impatient hiss, I put my headphones back on and got on the treadmill.
That Friday, I prayed to God. I beseeched Him to spare me from his followers.
Daniel Latham is a caregiver living in Medford, Oregon. His essays have been read on Jefferson Public Radio, and published in the Ashland Daily Tidings newspaper. Daniel and his wife, Kelly are teaching their two dogs, Rusty and Bobo, to be productive and responsible members of society. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.