spirits that speak


Selling the Gospel

i went to see a presentation tonight. the people behind a new magazine called geez were presenting some ideas about commercialism and how the Church has made use of it.

they actually used very few concrete examples of what the Church has done in terms of advertizing/commercialism, but they did show us a few pictures of "Christian" t-shirts. i sometimes wonder about the intentions of the companies that manufacture/design these types of apparel and i have seen many examples of them (mainly because i used to work at a company that helped distribute Christ-wear).

well, one of the examples they showed us was the one you see at the left of this post. right at this moment, a few hours later, i still don't quite understand my reaction to the design. i didn't have any thoughts as an intellectual reaction to what i saw. but i had the most unexpected physical reaction to it. i actually felt sick all of a sudden. like...nauseous. they showed a second design that i really had no reaction to, whatsoever. and other designs i've seen previously, while i have thought that they were extremely ridiculous, have never made me feel ill. but this one was different.

when the presenters asked for comments about the "sweet Jesus" design, i expressed my reaction out loud. someone else in the audience asked me why it made me sick and i couldn't quite explain it. i still have to guess about it.

what it comes down to is i can't quite explain it. and i don't want people to think it's a judgement on anyone (wondering about the company's intentions isn't exactly a judgement), especially not on the people that wear these kinds of designs. but, i honestly don't believe Christ-wear does the Church much good, if at all.

just my opinion, i guess...


Rediscovering the Potential to Be Compassionate

so, i work at a call center. those of you who know me know which one, so i won't say. but i do tech support. i've been there for just over a year now and talk to a lot of different kinds of people.

talking to a lot of people tends to numb you to some extent. after a while it's easy just not to really care whether or not you fix these people's problems. i mean, you still give it your best (for the most part), but you start telling yourself that it's not really your problem. especially when people get short with you or they get mad and tell you that you are bad at doing your job. i mean, honestly, if you ever call someone for tech support i wouldn't recommend telling them they're incompetent, even if they are, because at that point any help they could offer you is out the window. you'll get cut off faster than you can say "microsoft".

but a few nights ago i got a call that surprised me. i've had one or two calls like this before, and i think i have the same reaction every time. it started out normally, i got the person's phone number...then his name. right away my heart filled with dread. i had a studderer. i mean, i work in an industry where emphasis is on having short calls times (at least, as short as possible). and tech support calls can sometimes take a long time depending on various factors. when you get a studderer on the line, it's easy to think "oh man, this is death".

so my first instinct was "get this guy off the phone as soon as possible". but then i got that unexpected reaction. i started to envision all the other people this guy might have to talk to in his life (people in customer service type jobs). i envisioned many of them getting very impatient with him. seriously, he wasn't a mild studderer. it was pretty bad.

my intolerance went away pretty quickly. i felt so bad for things i thought at first and for this guy. he just wanted some help because his e-mail password wasn't working. thing is, the last person he spoke to at my center was earlier that same night. they reset his password for him and didn't even stay on the line to find out if he was able to make it work. who knew if his password was even the problem? maybe he was spelling his user name wrong. maybe he would spell the password they gave him incorrectly.

so i reset it again for him and gave him his new password, but it wasn't working for him. i stayed on the line with him for a few minutes, and made sure we spelled his username and password letter by letter as i read his user name out to him, and then he could login to read his e-mail.

the dude was so happy. he said thank you several times for taking him through it. i guess the point of the story is that i got a profound feeling that occasionally what's really a small matter means a lot to someone. even with all the calls i take, i was amazed at how talking to this guy was important because you could kinda tell that most people don't take the time (what normally would have taken only 4 or 5 minutes took about 15...which seems like a long time when you're doing something menial).

i didn't really think i cared about my job anymore, or about people. i don't think this is sounding as profound as it felt, but hey...it's my blog.