The Suburban War Lord Prayer

“After all these years of believing in Jesus, After all these drugs, I thought I was Him.” — The Clash

The problem with religion these days is that all the world’s great minds have been abandoning God ever since Edison invented the light bulb. It’s not hard to see the connection.

In the beginning, there was darkness and shit stayed pretty dark until Edison stuck a filament in a vacuum and applied an electrical current. Voila. Man re-created God’s work.

Pretty soon thinking about the nature of God was left to dolts and simpletons. Seems like the meaner and less imaginative someone became, the more sway they had over the flock.

Regular people just stopped believing. They stopped thinking about God. They stopped trying to be love. The whole idea of thinking about God became embarrassing.

I still believe in God. I am, however, a man without a church. Basically, no one wants me (sniff, sniff).

That’s fine. It’s just me running around like a lone wolf in the wilderness and it’s probably how I was meant to be. (although I’m a total sucker for the communion.

So I believe in an all powerful God. I talk to him all the time. I try not to ask him for much. I tend to assume he’s a little too busy to worry about my petty problems.

I also firmly believe that he’s given us the greatest gift ever — each other. If men and women would just work together to help each other a little more, things would be a lot better here on Earth.

I think Jesus of Nazareth was probably a real person. I doubt he was literally the Son of God. That just doesn’t seem to be God’s way. Knocking up single girls and then leaving them with some other dude is, frankly, tacky. If you combed through the Gospels a few times you will see that Jesus is shockingly vague about whether or not he is the Son of God. He does get really explicit regarding people using the church to create wealth, judging others and generally being assholes.

Did Jesus rise from the dead? I don’t know. Does it even matter? Is Christianity suppose to revolve around Jesus rising from the dead and teaching rabbits how to poop out colored eggs or is Christianity about a guy from a messed up childhood trying to show the world a better way to live? He spent a lot more time talking about how to live than how he was going to die.

But I’m rambling now… This post is suppose to be about prayer.

In general, this is the official Suburban War Lord Prayer:

“Dear God, you are the greatest ever. You made everything. All I have I owe to you. Thank you.

I also want to thank you for my family and my friends.

God, please watch over XXXXX. They are awesome. If anything bad happens to XXXXX I’m going to be really pissed at you. You know they are a good person. This shit they have to deal with isn’t fair.

I would really like it if you could shift a lot of their worries and concerns over to me. I don’t have much going on right now so the extra work would actually be a nice break.

Yes, we both know I totally want to bang them but that doesn’t mean I’ve got bad intentions. Seriously, God, you KNOW I wanted to help them long before I wanted to get it on with them.

Just, throw me a bone here and watch over them extra close.

In fact, here’s the deal. Stop watching over me at all.

Any time you are spending watching over me, watch over XXXXX instead. You gotta watch over their family too. XXXXX has done a great job with them and I’d hate to see someone come along and screw that up.

We gotta a deal or what? If I’m off base here, make the bed float in the air (long frightening pause). Sweet. Thanks God.”

I typically say I’m sorry for all the crappy things I did during the day.

I don’t ever ask for anything for myself. I know I don’t deserve it.

I don’t ever ask for salvation because it’s either going to happen or not. And, again, I don’t deserve it. I’m sure I’ve got friends in Heaven and Hell.

Normally at the end when my mind starts wandering I’ve got to refocus for a grand finale about soldiers or orphans or soldier orphans.

Just for good measure I throw in the Lord’s Prayer cause that basically covers just about everything.

In a pinch, a simple “Thanks” probably covers it. He knows everything any way, right?

Rattling Around and Bumping Into Everything

There are some things you do your best to forget.

You push them deep into the back of your mind and then they eventually work themselves free and you are stuck with them rattling around and tainting your usual sense of normalcy.

Some people get hung up on an ex lover. Other people can’t ever forget a game winning shot that falls flat or a piece of financial information they failed to act upon.

It happens to all of us.

For me today it happened at the train station. Just as a train came barreling past I thought of him.

The kid was in high school. He was dealing with high school things. Bad grades. Bad complexion. Bad friends. Bad home life.

But when you’re young you don’t see how things can change. Maybe you blossom in college. Maybe you meet someone special that reassures you that you are loved and matter.

Instead, youth, with its infinite possibilities, tends to get trapped in the immediate present. Years fly by when you’re 60. Just a couple of months can grind you into splinters when you’re 17.

It was spring. It was a nice morning. He should have been walking to school and thinking about the summer or trying to make plans to meet girls down town.

Instead, he went to the Burlington Northern train tracks. I have no idea if he even thought about what he was doing. No one ever will. Did he chicken out before at the last minute? How many times had he watched an express train blaze past before he knew today was his day? Did he realize the permanence?

He stepped in front.

What ever it was that brought him to the tracks, it was over now.

These things happen. They shouldn’t, but they do.

I’ve written up dozens of stories about people killing themselves. I’ve known a few friends who have taken their own lives either on accident or on purpose.

But this one was brutal.

You see, his father worked for the rail road. It was his father’s job to investigate all the train accidents. He was the first on the scene from the rail road.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t know it was his son’s body he would be looking at until he got there. I’m know his son knew what would happen. It had to have been planned that way.

It took me awhile to figure out the connection. The last name was common. But the reaction from the other guys at the scene tipped me off that something unusual happened.

I remember an older, heavy set man with a gin blossom nose and tears running down his face pulling me aside and telling me. His father was just sitting in the back of white Ford Taurus, staring blankly out the window.

When I got back to the office I wrote the story two ways. The first version high lighted the connection to the rail road. The second one didn’t mention it.

I went to lunch. I sat on it all day. I knew if I mentioned the father/son connection they would want it high up in the story. It would probably be in the second paragraph. Other papers would pick it up off the AP wire. The televsion guys would talk about it for days. People would want me to interview his family simply because some other asshole wanted to interview his family.

You see this a lot. Tragedy hits. Victims are interviewed. Normally private lives are made public. The media chase the story until they run out of painful, embarassing details to keep a sick minded public’s attention.

But I can’t live that way. I don’t see the point in piling on more misery when someone hits the lowest point they will ever see.

So I never mentioned it to anyone, until now.

I hadn’t thought about for years until today.

I was simply standing there at the Newark Airport station trying to catch a plane back to Houston and waiting for a phone call.

Now it’s just rattling around again. It’s bumped into most everything I’ve done from 12:47 EST onwards.

It will fade again. But it will never really leave. These things have a way of popping back up.