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burgers and Jesus


I've mentioned before (perhaps ad nauseam) that I am fascinated by human behavior. Thinking about that reminded me of an "experiment" I conducted in one of my psychology classes back in college.

Of course the assignment was to discover and document some type of behavior, then write a paper about it using your own statistics. Being a part-time fast food cashier back then, I had noticed an interesting phenomenon and decided that would be the basis of my experiment.

So I set up camp in the student union which had a bunch of fast food restaurants side by side and tons of tables in the middle. I sat close to a Burger King, I believe, and listened to men and women order food.

What I discovered (and considered a phenomenon when I was working fast food) was that when men order food they start their order as a declarative statement. They say something like, "I'll have a Whopper, large fry and a Coke."

Women, on the other hand, frequently order in the form of a question. "Can I have a diet Coke and a large fry?"

When I was taking orders I always felt like saying, of course you can have the food you're ordering. As long as you can pay for it.

Anyway, I don't recall the exact percentages, but I think women made a declarative statement 3% of the time when ordering food and men made a declarative statement 96% of the time. It was hugely disproportionate between men and women.

And just in case you're wondering, I have always ordered like a man.


I had a really bizarre dream last night. I dreamt that my 3-year-old was at preschool (she attends a Catholic school) and accidentally knocked over a statue of Jesus. The knocking over of the statue caused Jesus to come to life and bleed from his stomach.

No one seemed to think this was out of the ordinary. It was sort of something that happened occasionally but not on any kind of schedule, sort of like the running of the bulls in Spain. And when it did happen, the person who was responsible for making Jesus bleed got to talk to him in person. A mass was said and whoever was at that mass got Communion from Jesus. The person who knocked him over got Communion last, talked to Him and then Jesus turned into a statue again.

So, I think I was there to pick my 3-year-old up and they were having a mass and they told me, hey your daughter gets to go to Communion last because she knocked the statue of Jesus over.

Umm, okay. When they told me that, I was nervous because I had never heard of that custom before and I was uptight about being in the actual, live presence of Jesus. But I was trying to fake it and act like I knew what was going on.

So my kid goes up to Communion and is talking to Jesus in her 3-year-old way and I am standing back watching all of it. Mary was there (the mother of Jesus) and she was in the same state that Jesus was in. She was human but was going to go back to statue form soon.

At that moment Jesus listens to my daughter and He thinks the mass is over, so Mary becomes a statue again. Then my kid runs back to Jesus for one more word and everyone laughs including Jesus (don't kids do the darndest things?) and Jesus puts His hand on Mary's statue head.

Even though she is a statue I see her mouth smile wide like she wants to laugh, but her face is porcelain so that makes it difficult, then her smile goes back to the regular statue smile that was always there.

I am floored watching Mary's porcelain smile. I kind of feel like those people who insist they see the image of Mary on a potato chip. I feel like I have witnessed some kind of miracle. Apparently, in the dream, seeing Jesus and Mary live and in person is not as overwhelming as it is to see a statue exhibit facial gestures.

I don't completely remember if Jesus was alive or just a statue when I told Him I saw Mary smile even though she was in statue form. He must have been a statue, as I do not remember Him saying anything back to me. I kind of had the feeling that He was letting me know He feels my pain right now and He is there for me.

I frequently feel like I do not have complete faith and if I were a good Christian I would accept everything without question and would feel happy that Jesus is steering the ship no matter what's going on. But I don't feel those things in my core.

In my core, I feel sad that my mom is dying. I feel sad that my brother has an extremely aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis and is bedridden, cannot feed himself, cannot do anything for himself. He, too, is dying an extremely messy and protracted death.

Then I wonder if that makes me a chick who is not worthy to call herself a Christian.

My husband is really into a novelist -- who also happens to be an ordained Presbyterian minister -- named Frederick Buechner. He has all of the books Buechner has ever written, has attended a couple of his talks and met him at a book signing. He likes Buechner so much because Buechner does not profess to have any of the answers. He tries to muddle through and do his best, but he questions it all as well.

My husband's favorite saying from one of Buechner's books goes something like this: Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith. Doubt keeps faith awake and moving...if you don't have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep.


2006-12-24 at 8:26 a.m.

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