If I were to get a job as a cashier at a vehicle rental place, I think I would have better odds of meeting some of the minor celebrities that I admire, such as motivational preachers and French house DJs, because people in those professions are required to go on frequent U.S. tours (I know nothing about French house music, by the way: it’s just a coincidence that I admire one of the people who could be labeled as part of that scene—in truth, I know him better as a film director). These people would probably need a car, when they travel through my neck of the woods; and, for that reason, they might enter the rental establishment where I am employed and say: “My name is Bryan—I’m here because I reserved a luxury vehicle.”
I then would inform this customer that unfortunately my company made a mistake: there are no more luxury vehicles available—all we have left are minivans. Would you like to rent a minivan, instead? Because we have a whole lot of minivans out back.
But it wouldn’t matter at all if I encountered someone semi-famous in this way; because I wouldn’t dare to treat a minor celebrity as anything other than a regular paying customer. I would never ask for their autograph or a phone-photo. I would not even say “Hey! I recognize you! I admire your work!” —No, I would simply do my job: I would go and retrieve the paperwork and keys for their minivan.
Let me switch gears and try to sketch out my own religious history. I was raised as a Protestant, but I left the church in my teens and didn’t take religion seriously until my early twenties—at that time, I started reading intensely and constantly in the King James Bible.
Why the King James version? Because that’s the translation that I like the best. Among many other traits, I love its rhythm: its majestic cadences—the King James strikes me as at once alien and ornate. If I ever act ambivalently towards this Bible, it’s only out of jealousy: so the book should take it as a compliment. If the King James Bible were to enter my establishment and ask to rent a luxury car, I’d definitely coerce it to pose with me for a phone-photo: that’s how star struck I’d be. And I’d give it our choicest minivan.
Anyway, after spending my teen years as an infidel, when I reached my mid-twenties, I began to come down with Christianity. Now, although I always loathed its practices, I thought that God wanted us all to be part of the church—pick a church, any church—so I joined a local assemblage, intending to try to harmonize with its members, for Christ’s sake. (I didn’t realize how myopic I was back then—I just thought I was doing the LORD’s work.)
Direct interaction with fellow solipsists, especially the church’s leaders, caused me to see my own religious notions for what they were: personal poetry, as opposed to objective truth; and so I left the church when I was about 27, having learned an important lesson about the creative tendencies of the human mind.
Nowadays I love the Bible more than ever, but I consider many other writings even more important than the so-called Holy Scriptures. A couple favorite texts that inform my current spiritual mindset are “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by William Blake.
I love the freedom of being the lone member of my own private belief system; but I’m bitter about how long it took me to grasp it. Plus I miss the community of the church—that’s why I wish that all churches would voluntarily secularize themselves.
The Official Diary Stylebook states that entries should start out fun and end up dull. The beginning of any diary entry should be like the ride that my local amusement park calls THE OCTOPUS:
It should have spinning cars that twirl at the end of multiple giant arms, and these arms should rotate too, and the whole ride should wobble around hazardously while its appendages jerk up and down. Plus its skin should be painted shiny black, like a Porsche 911.
That’s how a diary entry should begin. But the entry should end on a boring note, like a four-hour dive back home from dad’s musty old cabin in his wood-paneled station wagon that runs on diesel fuel.
So I’ll talk about writing, because that’s an ideal way to end this. Part of me is eager to figure out what readers want from writers; and part of me fears that the truth is: people simply don’t want writers at all; they never have—except for a gorgeous minority who are able to read with an open heart, for pleasure (or for any reason other than to excel at their godawful day job).
Let me end this here—I’ll write more about writing, tomorrow.