Sunday, August 20, 2006

Two Days With Pastaman

On this past Thursday and Friday, the temp agency I am with got me some work, for a change. I was at a warehouse and logistics company, where I have been sent, before. When I arrived, I found that I was working alongside another fellow from the agency. We didn't speak to each other for the first hour or so, but eventually, I broke the ice with him. Might as well talk, as I am there for eight hours. It turns out this guy is from Tanzania, in Africa. A lot of Africans work for the agency, but I have never met one from Tanzania, before.
In the course of the conversation, he ends up telling me he's a Seventh Day Adventist. He's come to England to study theology, as he's a Pastor. The way he pronounces, "pastor," sounds like "pasta," so I started calling him, "Pastaman," as I have a tendency to make up names for people. I couldn't resist the temptation to debate the existence of "God," with a member of the clergy. It was an opportunity to be seized, as I don't often get the chance to talk to a man, or woman, of the cloth, as I stay away from Churches, these days. In all fairness, he was a good sport about it. He put up with two days of me questioning and challenging him, yet he never got impatient, nor lost his temper. He was a complete gentleman, the whole time, unlike some religious people, who get into debates on the internet and sink into nastiness.
I drove him to Burger King, for lunch. We went to the drive-thru window and I ordered a cheeseburger, while he ordered milk. He said he doesn't drink carbonated drinks. The milk ended up costing him 99 Pence, while we had free water, back at the warehouse. He wasn't the sharpest tack in the box. At the end of the first day, he asked me if I would object to him praying for me. Why would I object? It's not like it's going to have any affect. I suggested that he pray for something specific, that would occur overnight, so we could see, immediately, if his prayers accomplish anything. I also challenged him to read a portion of the Old Testament, which I think most Christians would find particularly uncomfortable, over night, and report back to me in the morning.
On Friday morning, I asked him about his prayer. Unfortunately, he didn't pray for an outcome that would have occurred by then, as I instructed, but gave it a year. He had prayed that by this time next year, I would find my way to "God." The problem is that when this doesn't happen, he and I won't be in contact with each other, so I can tell him that what he prayed for didn't happen. He said he read the portion of the Old Testament that I had asked him to read. This is the part about Lot and his family, after the destruction of Sodom and Gamora. After Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt, Lot's daughters have sex with him and have children by him. Conveninetly for him, he claimed that one crucial bit wasn't there, regarding how the daughters of Lot got the idea to have children by their father. We had both agreed that he would use the King James Version of the "Bible." I have left mine back in New York, so I couldn't double check, myself. I asked him why this bit of incest was in the Bible, but he sort of dodged the issue, by focusing on the children produced, rather than on the incest. He wasn't completely fluent in English, although he was a lot better at it than I was at Swahili.
Pastaman is a creationist, so I asked him how old he thinks the Earth is. "6,000 years old," he replied. I proceeded to challenge him that there are plenty of things that have been dated to being older than 6,000 years, but he just talked in circles. I asked him about evolution and my new favorite question to ask creationists: if God created Adam first, as it says in Genesis, why do men have nipples? He basically didn't answer this, but fell back into the standby that man cannot understand God, as God is superior to man. I asked him why God created so many stars and space, if we were only going to occupy this one planet? His answer...decoration. He did go on to claim that there were people on other planets and that the Bible says so, but I don't remember that being in the Bible.
Speaking of other planets, I learned that Pastaman had never seen any of the "Star Wars" films. Sky is about to start running all six of the "Star Wars" films, one per week, so I suggested he watch at least Episodes IV and V. He said he doesn't have Sky. I told him I do and suggested he come by my house and watch, but he made the excuse that when he's not working, he does stuff and doesn't have a lot of time to watch TV. TV? This is "Star Wars" we are talking about! Making sure everyone has seen "Star Wars is like a mission for me. Nando, my old Italian housemate, hadn't seen "Star Wars," so I got him to watch them.
For the bulk of the two days, he hadn't picked up on the fact that I was calling him "Pastaman," rather than "Pastor man." I finally made it clear to him and explained why I was doing it. He took this in the same good humor he took everything I dished out at him. I thought about suggesting we keep in contact, but after he didn't jump at my offer to have him over to watch "Star Wars," I didn't know if I should be so forward. I did offer him a ride to the train station, as he had come to work by train. He accepted. I said to him that it is a shame that he won't ever see me again, to find out that his prayers for me weren't granted. Pastaman said you never know, but we might see each other again.


Blogger beethoven writes said...

Good article!

8:50 AM  
Blogger JosephintheBracknell said...

Oh, you like this one, eh?

9:47 AM  

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