My computer has been sick for the last three weeks, which means I’ve had to do horrible boring things like thinking and reading novels while I waited for the repair people to fix it. In the hours after work each night I rediscovered my love for Charles Dickens (Steerforth is more to be admired than ever), and reread Peter Ackroyd’s adaptation of the Arthurian legends. I felt a variety of emotions. I ordered Stealing Jesus on Amazon and highlighted pretty much the whole book. Then I wove some of its themes into the planning for my next chapter, which I’ve been piecing together one line at a time in a notebook during my spare moments at work.
It’s been quite awful. I had to go back and revisit all my favorite moments in the fifth and sixth Harry Potter books (my two favorites). I think some of the problems I’ve had with my novel in the last six months are owing to the fact that I have a “journal voice” and a “novel voice,” and I’ve been trying to write my novel in my journal voice. It amuses me that the most popular thing I’ve ever written is “Grimgraven House,” which I wrote five years ago and of course never finished.
I think I may go back to chronicling and blogging, because life has been very entertaining lately and there are certain aspects of life at IHOPKC that can’t be conveyed through just talking about it. “Big Bob” Jenson*, the huge, fussy old man who hangs out at the coffee shop, looks like Jeff Bridges, and once pulled a knife on Chay, recently compared me to the devil on Facebook: “DON’T LISTEN TO BOZE, HE’S STIRRING UP STRIFE AND CONFUSION JUST LIKE THE DEVIL DOES!” My friends thought this was so funny (and apparently accurate) that this has become my new nickname, and every time a fight breaks out during Bible study (which has been happening more and more often), Chay will inevitably point to me and say, “Bobby, this is all your fault!”
It’s because during the three weeks I was without a computer I was rereading Stealing Jesus and creating the character of Jordan Mayhew, an irascible young fellow (based heavily on a certain someone who is no longer with us, but on others as well) who enjoys irritating fundamentalists like the people in our group by taking our own language and ideas and turning it around on them. I realized that in the process of creating Jordan I had become like him during last Sunday’s Bible study, when Pastor Miller said the church in America is going to be judged by God and I said, “You’re right, the church in America is full of legalism,” and he almost threw his Bible at me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so angry! Even Chay, who had been comfortably dozing with his shades on for about half an hour, sat up and took notice. And of course the whole time, Joshua David Ness (who started coming a couple of weeks ago when I invited him) was sitting at the other end of the couch with his hands in the air going, “God is going to destroy America with nukes! With nukes!”
“I promise, I’m not trying to provoke you,” I told Rich, pointing at Josh. “I’m trying to provoke him!”
“Yes you are, you’re deliberately egging me on!” said Rich, still wild-eyed with indignation. “I know there are certain groups in America that are too legalistic. That’s true. But the problem is, people go to the other extreme and think they can do whatever they want! Immorality is just rampant.”
“No, it is,” I agreed. “According to the book of James, if you look down on those of a lower social class, God is going to judge you.”
“That’s not what I meant!”
“Jesus is going to ride through Edom with a sword!” Josh was still saying, to no one in particular. “Blood will be splattered on his garments!”
“This is all your fault, Bobby,” said Chay—who slept through the rest of the lesson.