Sunday, January 17, 2010

Any jackass can preach.

In order to become a public high school English teacher, the first thing I needed to do was get a high school diploma. From there, I needed a bachelor's degree, and I needed to pass the CBEST. In order to keep working full-time, I had to complete a credential program, and I had to pass two content-specific tests - the SSAT and the Praxis. Beyond that, my performance was reviewed for two years before I received tenure. While there certainly are some dim bulbs and/or trainwrecks who manage to get through the system, my point in explaining all this is that I did have to go through a bit of work and study before I could have my job.

As an English teacher, I'm expected to know my subject matter. Generally speaking, I have a better vocabulary and command of grammar than the average person does. Not only that, but I have a pretty good grasp on writing and how to tell when it's done well and when it isn't. Beyond that, I have a fairly decent sense as to how I can pass on this information to others. In other words, in matters of language and literature, a lot of people feel confident in seeking my advice. What I don't get, thankfully, is people expecting me to know things about any and every topic in the world. People don't assume that I know how to fix their car, explain quantum physics, or perform open-heart surgery.

I suppose that if I wanted a job that didn't require qualifications, and I wanted people to take me as an authority on all sorts of things that I knew nothing about, I'd go ahead and be a preacher. Now look, I know that a lot of preachers are well-read, learned people. Many of them have to go to seminary and study the Bible in-depth (without considering the possibility that it's nothing more than a book of mythology though). Still, what's to stop me from preaching on a corner and starting up my own congregation? If I was a good enough of a demagogue, would it matter to my followers as to whether I had actually gone through a tremendous amount of studying?

I think of this because I recently found out that one of the biggest idiots I've ever known in my entire life has become a preacher. Let's just call him Ennis, okay? While I knew him beforehand, I had the unfortunate luck to have him as a student in summer school one year. He was the type who had to go to summer school because he essentially failed out of every one of his classes. One of his biggest problems involved waking up and getting to school on time. Another one involved him shutting his stupid mouth up long enough to learn anything.

The thing is, he wasn't a completely inept person. He was pulling off a B in my class. Now, in summer school, that's not really saying much. Still, you'll get a knuckle-dragger or two who can't even really pull that off. What was really stupid though was that when there was only about a week and a half left of a six week term, he dropped the class. He claimed that he dropped because he didn't see the point in finishing since he wasn't getting an A. To be fair, his dad made some kind of a deal with him where he had to get an A in order to something or other. Still, getting some more units in order to graduate wasn't incentive enough, I guess.

Okay, dumb is one thing, but he was also a compulsive liar. He was a BS artist of the highest order. He'd often talk about how he was going to go to UC Berkeley and become a scientist. When I was puzzled as to how he was going to pull that off, he claimed that his high school transcripts wouldn't matter because he was going to get "all A's" in junior college and then transfer. In my head, I thought to myself that I'd be impressed if he even finished a class at the junior college. (Guess what? He didn't.) He also spoke of becoming a cop, a lawyer, and a cabinet maker. He even got a job selling cars, but that didn't last for very long.

He worked for a grocery store for a while, and I know that he almost got fired from there for chronic lateness. He quit before that could happen, and a few jobs later he worked construction. Basically the only job he could be trusted with was digging ditches, and he couldn't even do that very well. Not only that, but he eventually got fired because he could never show up on time - even after repeated warnings.

My point is, the guy is a compulsive liar and an idiot, and now he's preaching. In a way, I thought to myself that it's the perfect job for him. After all, even though I never fell for his crock-and-bull stories, I know that there were plenty of people who did. The guy does have a talent for convincing the morons of this world. I can easily see him standing in front of a crowd of people and talking all sorts of crap about what the Bible supposedly says and doesn't say, and they'll all fall for the whole thing.

Of course, they'll probably also turn to him about all sorts of other things. I can't help but think of that clown shoe, Rick Warren, when he was on Larry King and was talking about everything from homosexuality to the theory of evolution as though he had any idea what he was talking about. Was it that Warren had studied psychology and biology? Of course not. He's a preacher though, so his followers will just take him at his word because after all, a "man of God" knows what he's talking about, right?

I realize that not every preacher is a jackass, but any jackass can become a preacher.


Nolan said...

I wish we got more frequent updates. I miss this guy. By the way, it's "cock and bull," not "crock and bull," although I like the way you've altered it. Makes sense.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Heh...I'm not sure why I did that, but I think that I'll go ahead and keep it that way.

Ingrid said...

What difference does it make what he preaches? A lot of wrong is being told every day, even by teachers. The problem is people have to learn to think for themselves, and that is where teachers come in.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

The difference is that people view preachers as saying things that are divinely revealed. I'm allowed, even expected, to make mistakes due to my shortcomings as a human being. Preachers aren't seen by their flock that way, so they can spout whatever bullcrap they want.

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Nolan said...

You've got the cutest little indecipherable stalker!

Angie said...

I couldn't agree more Johnson.

Did you know that in order to complete certain legal documents (specifically, my Irish citizenship papers) you have to have someone from a respected profession sign them (I'm not exactly sure why...) included in the applicable careers that I can remember were a doctor, lawyer, police officer, and a priest. Why a priest (or any of the others for that matter) has anything to do with whether or not I can be a citizen beats me. At least the others have some kind of way to be able to verify whether I'm lying on the application or not.

I know that's really off topic, but you see what I'm saying.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

The priest has GOD to tell if you're lying. : )