I Don’t Want a Savory Biscuit, I Want a Goddamn Cracker

April 25, 2011


Village of Needham, England

11:10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Chosen because…it’s a Church of England church and has really cool tombstones in the church yard. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the official church name and it never opened for service.

I have a tiny little pea brain and can’t remember much of what I’ve written or read for that matter, which makes writing about the Bible without text or consistent church services fairly difficult. However, I do remember some things. I remember that Jesus and maybe God, are supposed to be with me at all times. I think that’s crap not because I make dumb decisions and find myself wallowing in sorrow wondering what the hell happened but because during this 2011 quest to experience as many churches as possible, I’ve had the damndest time actually being admitted to service.

I try this nameless church, which is surrounded by “Night of the Living Dead”-like gravestones but it never opens for the 11:15 a.m. service. I try everything short of knocking. No answer. Instead, I walk the grounds searching for ghosts, reading church bulletins and watching the cop in the adjacent Needham Coronation Village Hall parking lot talk to a female speeder who is wearing exercise attire, a rare sighting in England, and a blonde bystander who clearly wants to test his authority on a more personal level.

The churches here look the same. Cold. Ominous. Hard. The church bulletin is worn, the pre-Photoshop era graphics faded, text bleached. Among other things it says:

“1 in 5 older people skips meals to save money for heating.”

And: “Surely I am with you. Always to the very end of the age.”

I wonder if either are true, know the second isn’t. Babies get raped, children die and I can’t get into service. God is either flat out cruel or he has a fantastic sense of humor.

I Want My American Red, White and Blue

I don’t know about everyone else, but I hit a cultural sensitivity breaking point when I’m away from home for more than a month. I never have them during critical periods in travel. I won’t breakdown if I miss a train, can’t understand someone or am bamboozled into eating disgusting cuisine such as pig ear. No. My inner child throws tantrums during the most civilized, insignificant points in my trips, proving that like God who would let me in a church if he was with me every minute, maturity and cultural sensitivity are sporadically with me.

Sometimes I just loose the plot which is a snobby British way of saying I freak out and act like a child. Take the f(*#&^% savory biscuit incident. I calmly handled throwing used toilet paper in open trash bins in Colombia, a practice that doesn’t sit well with a germaphobe, but finding graham crackers in England prompted a hissy fit.

I’m too tired and hungry to go to the grocery store after my failed church experience but I go anyway because I have to eat. I turn into a five-year-old when I’m hungry so this is a bad decision. Before I get in the store I start cursing the English, silently of course. What kind of a country makes people check out grocery carts? It’s only a stupid pence or pound or some other frustrating, misshaped currency but it’s the principle – the wasted act of actually getting change and renting the trolley – that sets me off. I also hate all of the change currency bursting the seams of my wallet; the stupid “hiya” greeting (are you welcoming me or about to karate chop my face?); looking the wrong way when I cross a road; and walking to the bar to order a drink. I also can’t stand English castles. They’re nothing to look at and neither is Buckingham Palace, which is a glorified government building.

This sweet employee tries to help me, asks if the graham cracker is a savory biscuit or a sweet one, brings another employee into the conversation. I try to be calm. They’re nice, trying to help but they’re slow and cannot comprehend this long, sweet, brown cracker that breaks into two halves perfect for smooshing melted chocolate and a heated mallow. I want to tell him to shove his savory biscuit up his British ass but that’s insensitive so I do the mature thing and take my anger out on my shopping mate, who spends the next 20 minutes hiding out in an aisle far, far away from me.

Always to the Very End of the Age

Somewhere in me lies a culturally sensitive person but where she is, I don’t know. Maybe she’ll reappear in a few weeks, after I refresh myself in the states and head back out on the road where other things will amuse me until they become familiar. Maybe I’ll find her the next time God stays with his believers and, as the bulletin suggests, lets me into a church.

I can’t believe that God is with believers at all times and I’m starting to believe I may lose interest in traveling, seeking new experiences, using toilets outside of America and adapting to not having everything exactly as I want the it second I want it.

If we’re not with ourselves all the time, how can we let anyone else, least of all a controversial, possibly fictious figure be with us 24/7?

7 Responses to “I Don’t Want a Savory Biscuit, I Want a Goddamn Cracker”

  1. Mike Cope said

    Ah, Ivy.

    This is why I read you. You don’t mince words. Does it say something that I like your writing even better on your short-tempered days?

    I’ve spent much of my life wondering what “with you” means. To quote Inigo Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  2. thumpme said

    Yes, the short fuse fuels my writing. I have no idea what “with you” means but I don’t think everything or anyone can be with us at all times.

  3. Mike said

    Well, I guess you and I are operating from our working assumptions about God. If there is a God then I suppose it’s likely that this God is “with us” in some sense.

    Certainly not in the way that many Evangelicals/Pentecosts seem to imagine. Just look around!

    God is not “with us” in so many ways that my childish faith imagined. And yet there are other senses in which I continue to believe that this God is “with us.”

    I find the deepest resources of faith in scripture not in the passages where God seems to be obvious but in the places (lament Psalms . . . Lamentations . . . exilic prophets . . .) where God seems to be hiding.

    I’m struck by how I — who have suffered very little, really (though the loss of a child isn’t insignificant) — have the freedom to struggle with my doubts. Yet when I’ve visited prisons and been in 3rd world countries that have abject poverty, faith seems vibrant.

    Was Marx right? Perhaps.

    Or . . . .

  4. marg said

    How I understand it: It is faulty thinking to say that God is not always with us based on all the evil we see in the world. The presence of evil just verifies the fact that satan is alive and well.

    Humans are free to make choices. We’d like it better if God would stop some humans from making some choices but who’s to say what choices He should intervene with and which ones He shouldn’t. Some seem cut and dried, but not all. Where does the standard of right and wrong come from? (my answer would be the Bible a.k.a. the Word of God.) But my point is, God gave all of us free will. People who think God should step in are essentially saying they don’t want their free will.

    If everyone would use their free will to follow God’s ways as spelled out in His Word, the world would be a better place. But it still wouldn’t be evil-free. That won’t happen until satan and his cronies are once and for all taken care of. One day you’ll read about that in Revelations. ;o)

    • thumpme said

      I’m still trying to get my arms around how free will and religion work together. I do think we all possess free will. Where it came from is up for debate. I think many people try to slough it off by looking to other entities – religion, money, etc. – because it’s so difficult to manage.

  5. Justin Walker said

    I’m commenting from the side of a believer and I can assure you that I have the same doubts and questions towards God. Any believer who says they don’t..or at least haven’t at some point is likely not being honest. I have had screaming sessions with God and told him to stick it a time or two myself and I can assure you he was listening. I don’t know if you have taken a shot at prayer..since you have your doubts he is even there, but I urge you to try. Say whatever you want. Have you ever been home alone and wondered if someone or something was in the house and talked to them/it? try asking God a question and the let the bible fall open and see what He says.

    • thumpme said

      Oh, I’m a hypocrite. I throw up help mes when needed, having no idea when or if they’ll ever land anywhere. I can’t imagine there’s many people in this world that don’t do the same. We’re a strange bunch us humans.

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