The Christians

Okay, Wilson, so I’ve given a couple of posts about women and my own destiny, but the main thrust of this story is the trip to Israel. I am currently in the airport in Los Angeles. It’s actually not my final stop. I lost all of my luggage, including my bicycle, in Honalulu. Don’t ask me how it happened. It’s just too weird. I had to consider going around LA by bus to do everything, but I was just so exhausted, and frankly just blown away by losing everything, well, I had to make a decision about what to do.

If I had called Rodney, he would have told me to reach down and grab a pair and get a grip for just one more week to make it to the Snydercon on the 28th. I think if I had called anyone I knew they would have told me something like that. But I called my mom. Let me tell you, Wilson, if you call your mother after she has been reading all these blog post about losing your mind, and after she has read about you riding your bicycle across Europe and flying around the world, and you tell her you lost everything you owned, and your grip on reality is tenuous, and you’re trying to come out of a major depression, I promise you, your dear mother is going to tell you to immediately come home. And if you’re feeling anything like I do, you’ll buy the ticket. So I bought a ticket to Phoenix and will head home to rest up for a bit.

That’s right, I went half-way around the world to get within 50 miles of Jerusalem and fail to arrive, and I flew half way around the world to get within 50 miles of the Snydercon, and I failed to make it. I just went home and collapsed.

I know the Snydercon is on the 28th to 30th. I know I am arrived in LA on the 21st of April, and that Zack Snyder loves the number 214. His original director cut of Justice League was 214 minutes long. There are 214 seats in the theater of this Snydercon. The anthem to this Snydercon is #fullcircle. I have just completed a trip around the planet earth, going full circle, and am ending the trip on 21/4. (April 21) Tickets to LA from Phoenix are less than a couple hundred bucks, so I could fly back if I can figure out how to get in. (I don’t have a ticket.) Otherwise, I’ll just watch the thing online and rest up and make LA plans after the Snydercon. Going back to LA is definitely the next stage of the journey, but I am not sure I am going to make the Snydercon. Maybe I shouldn’t have talked to my mom. She always wants me at home sitting in the basement not getting into trouble. So I may or may not be able to fly out there for this Snydercon if I can somehow get entry access.

It looks like I am digressing, however. I wanted to say that in addition to the stuff with the girls and with Zack Snyder and everything, I had originally been writing about the trip to Israel. There are a couple things more to say about that. The majority of the journey was a fantastic, challenging, and progressively more strange bicycle trip that turned into some kind of a PTSD motivated foray into Jungian psychology in Amman, the Interzone.

The Interzone chapter basically involved me going to Israel and testing just who in that country was interested in helping out a completely helpless stranger. I went to the Times of Israel, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the politicians of the country to see if anyone was interested in helping me out. No dice. Now there was one other group that I went to that I haven’t mentioned yet, and who I should say something about before it gets too late. I went to some Christians.

I’ll tell you how that happened. So first, I was in Jordan. There just aren’t any Jews there. I didn’t want to spend a long time in the country without any sort of spiritual connection. I had been without that for months already on the bike trip. So I found an English-speaking “broadly Reformed” Christian church of expatriates.

Coincidentally, in order to have some contiguous social interaction beyond the endless stream of travelers on the various hostels I was staying in, I started getting more active on social media, particularly the Reddit. Naturally, I started off frequenting the various Jewish communities on that social media site, but was quickly and handily banned from them all. Every last one of them that tried to interact with banned me almost from the start. Ultimately I was left with bicycle enthusiasts, superhero fans, and Christians to talk to.

So there I was, 50 miles from Jerusalem, in a conversion program to Judaism, completely stuck, basically forced to saturate myself again with Christian culture. And further, I was on my quest to knock on the gates of the nation of Israel and find out if anyone in the country was willing to take some efforts to help a complete stranger on a divine mission.

I decided to take the opportunity to investigate the Christian church yet one more time, so I added to my list of people to call a Chistian missionary organization in Israel. There are many stories of people who lost faith in their religious beliefs due to their interactions with members of their religious community. There are also many stories, perhaps more, of those who did not abandoned their personal beliefs, but who decided to go it alone and forego formal religious culture. I did the latter. It’s easy to get distracted and sidelined when one is alone, and I had been riding my bicycle around the world by myself and been driven positively nuts by the experience.

One aspect of taking the trip to Israel was to leave no stone unturned, and to do whatever I thought necessary to make peace with whatever outcome the experience afforded. I had thought that one of the reasons that things had been going so poorly for me with the politicians, the Times of Israel, and the University could just be that I was taking a wrong course, and God was just removing his aid from me. I wanted to explore that.

If God had been giving me such a hard time getting to Israel and keeping my mind together because I had not been making common cause with Christians, then if I went to go offer myself to some Christians, surely he would inspire them to help me, correct? That’s what I aimed to find out.

So two things happened simultaneously. First, I wanted to check out this church and community on its own, but then also to apply to volunteer for this organization in Israel, the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

When I called to talk to someone, they just wanted an application filled out. I had no idea how to fill out a typical application. I hadn’t worked at a regular job in years, had been moving around for years. I would really have loved to been able to get to know someone and just talk to them and interview rather than go through all the bureaucratic application processes. but that’s not how things happen in the 21st century. You have to get through the online application. So I filled one out and told them that I would take any job they had available and would do it for free. I also mentioned I had parted ways with the Christian church some four years prior, and that I was looking to see what sort of potential there would be for future interaction. Then finally, the application wanted me to provide a pastoral reference.

This was some luck! A guy who had not been in a church for four years just happened to have himself a pastor for all of a couple of weeks! So I asked one of the elders at the church if he would give me the needed recommendation. The application to the organization in Israel was taking place as I was meeting people from the church, and I had coincidentally scheduled a coffee with one of the elders just as I found out I would need this reference.

So we met for coffee, and I was really impressed with this guy’s spirituality. He talked about God all the time as something, someone, real, who he knew, not just as an abstract and distant concept. And he talked about him all the time. I really hadn’t run into anyone like that in ages. He was tempted to get a little too dogmatic about things, but he stopped himsef at a number of points. In general, I really resonated with everything this guy said.

I tried my best to explain my personal situation. My situation was wrapped up in several blog posts, and I was convinced at the time that anyone would have to read a half dozen of them to have any earthly idea what I was going through. He confessed that he was behind on reading and wouldn’t have time to look at my stuff. Par for the course. To get any kind of a grip at all about what’s going on in the mind and life of Jonathan Bailey, you’re going to have to read a book. But nobody reads the book.

I gave the most normal account I could of my condition. But having read the blog posts, Wilson, you are surely aware that nothing normal was happening. I was walking around in a dream. A dream that was basically a nightmare. A nightmare that was basically impossible to relate to anyone.

In general, though, the conversation went well, and in an off-hand remark at the point of parting, I did mention that I had just found a Chrstian organization in Israel that I was trying to volunteer for, and they required a pastoral reference for their application. He mentioned that he would write me one.

If he had just said no, the sting wouldn’t have been so bad, but he didn’t do that. He said he would write me a recommendation, and a week went by, and nothing happened. So I asked him about it, and he initially made some ocmments about wanting more information and then finally just out and told me he couldn’t write a recommendation because it was too much of a risk to his reputation.

Yes, Wilson, this struck me as more godless Christian church garbage. But I didn’t let on. I asked him to coffee every week for a month. He told me he was busy for a couple of weeks, and then finally met with me again. Now over the course of that month I had already begun to figure out that I was just going to go insane if I stayed in Amman any longer, and was already planning to leave to the Snydercon, and would only stay if some kind of door opened. No door had opened. I was just going to finish the application without a reference, and if they didn’t accept me, I would be out of there.

This second conversation ended up being quite a bit different than the first one. Since I was already mentally checking out, there really wasn’t too much of a point to having it, to be honest. When he refused to write me a recommendation, I told him that I didn’t need a reference as any sort of minister or pastor or position of reputation or anything, and would be willing to just go answer those guys’ phones. The whole exercise was about finally getting into Israel, and whether Christians were going to be any part of that.

From that point, I am not really sure he knew what to do with me. He asked about writing, and we talked about films. I told him that my favorite script of all time was from the movie Network. He was curious. He asked me who was in it. I could only remember Robert Duvall and Fae Dunaway. When he saw the movie online, he knew all the actors. Apparently he was a film buff. He knew more of the actors from the 70s than I did. But then he noticed it was rated R and refused to see it.

This would mean that this guy could not see, for example, Zack Snyder’s Justice League. I’ve been on this kick about how Zack Snyder’s superhero movies contain references to tthe divine secrets of the universe, and this Christian wouldn’t be able to see it because it was rated R. Nevermind that the Holy Bible, which I absolutely love, and I presume he does too, which is the perfect and most complete representation of divine truth humanity has ever witnessed, contains scenes of women driving posts through the heads of bad guys, Babylonian invaders dashing babies to pieces, mothers eating their children, and an entire planetary population being drowned in a global flood.

I do not tell you these things, Wilson, as some scoffer who trashes the scriptures as profane hogwash. I mention these things because the truth is violent. And this guy will read his children to sleep with the story of a Levite sending pieces of his raped and murdered concubine to the chiefs of the tribes of Israel, but he won’t take them to see a story about Superman getting resurrected. This gave me a strong impression about the Christian church, Wilson.

I’d been going to that church for weeks, living in complete solitude, and completely losing my mind, and nobody at the church noticed anything. Finally at that converation I let slip, while I was talking about planning to go to California, that I’d been depressed. But to do anything about it, he would have to know why. In order to know why, he would have to read those blog posts, but he was behind on reading.

Over all, I realized that in order to be really known, I would have to just live there for however many months or years, and then when omething unusual or bad happened to me, someone might, and I stress might, notice. This isn’t specifically the problem of the Christian church. It’s the way of the world, and any culture, group, or orgaization would function in exactly the same way. I guess my only disappointment is that the Christian church wasn’t any different than any other organization. And maybe I had a greater disappointment that God had not inspired anything unusual here.

There was really only one thing unusual that happened at that church. I started going to a prayer group with them on Tuesday morning. In my experience with prayer groups, they ask people what they need prayer for and pray for each other. But that’s not what happened here. Everyone came, ate, talked, and someone did a little lesson from scripture, and then everyone left except for a few leaders, and they prayed for people who had left little prayer cards in a box at the weekend service. Now if anyone at that church needed prayer, Wilson, it was me. But nobody asked me if I had any concerns or anything to pray for.

So the following weekend, I left a card at the service questing prayers for being able to enter Israel. I then went to the prayer meeting on Tuesday and stuck around and prayed with the leaders. When my card came up, the leaders were surprised. But, after weeks of attendance, I got somebody to pray for me. The prayer was to God, telling him that if anything was going to happen, he would have to make it happen.

At that time I was trying to get a response out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. If you read that post, you’ll know that the lack of response from those guys was a supernatural violation of the laws of probability. But the day after that prayer, I got the one and only e-mail response from those guys that I ever got. So, Wilson, their praer worked. But it only got one response, and nabody responded to my next e-mail, and apparently to get one I would need to drop off another card at the weekend service and request another prayer asking for another response or something. Sometimes God is pretty stingy with his answers, I guess. I will say, though, that the one and only positive step that I experienced at all out of any of those groups and people that I was talking to in Israel happened immediately after one of those guys prayed for me. But getting any kind of connection with anyone there by means of their bureacratic organiational systems was something that seemed like it was going to take months or years or whatever.

But concerning my final conversation with the elder from that church, we ended up parting ways amicably, with me telling him that I would drop off the application and leave if nothing came of it. So that’s what I did.

Now when I sent in the application, I did actually get a response from the Christians in Jerusalem! However, they told me they tried to call me and were unable. Another instance of the collapse of all electronic devices, apparently. Nevertheless, I was able to call them, and I would get an e-mail response every once in a while. This was something entirely different from what I was experiencing from anyone else. However, things weren’t working out.

They scheduled a call, then nobody showed up. So we scheduled another one, but by this time I had already booked my flight to Korea. I would be talking to them on the 19th, the day before I was scheduled to leave Korea and go back to LA. Now when I finally did get to talk to them, they told me I was applying for a position as a media coordinator. I had no idea about that. They also wanted information about my location, telling me I had to be in my home country. I replied that we were in luck, as I was going to be in LA in a couple of days. They told me they could not help with any visa issues. In other words, they seemed to be looking for whatever they could to find my situation untenable. So with that, I thanked them and told them that I would await their answer about whether I would be hired, knowing that I would never hear anything. So yeah, Wilson, God did not inspire any grand episode of divine intervention.

The next day, I boarded the plane to Honalulu on the way back to the USA and the Snydercon that I didn’t go to. That’s how I am going to leave this post, Wilson. This is absolutely the worst post I have ever written. But I am lucky to be writing anything in my current state. I am going to completely rework this post into something cogent, thematic, and interesting later on. But for right now, I need to just write something, and it’s good that this data is here for later. I feel like I am not even writing this. I am just blankly pressing on keys, seeing what comes out, if anything. So, as of today, this is what there is. We will see if the next post actually turns out to be something I would write. But I just want this catalog of these events here for now.

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