Thursday, June 16, 2005

Paging Miss Manners

Have I mentioned my raging crush on Olivia Hussey?
'Twas Olivia's Juliet (in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet) who first made my heart race. How, how could she speak words of love to that pasty-faced, mealy-mouthed Leonard Whiting? Let's just say I've gotten very good at squeezing my eyes shut during Whiting's stage time. Also, I've developed a preternaturally good sense of timing during the balcony scene, allowing me to unstop my ears for Juliet's, "Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon." Juliet was a sweetie, but it was Olivia's Mary who won my eternal love.
(Thank Crystal's cool piece on cinema Jesuses for reminding me of Olivia.)
Here, I was going to run off at the mouth about how Romeo and Juliet is Juliet's tragedy, and Jesus of Nazareth is Mary's tragedy; but then I realized I don't know crap about Romeo and Juliet, nor do I know much about Christianity. Sure, I read the Gospels in college, just to prove a point to Weyton Tam (a high school friend who was certain I'd convert if I read the New Testament), but when you get right down to it the story doesn't stick to me. I'm sure I'll get the details wrong -- on R&J as well as Testament II -- and I'll have to fall back on that WEAK excuse, "It's my blog and these are my opinions, even if they are based on my imperfect memory of the facts." Well, I don't need anyone's help to make me look like a fool, least of all my own. So instead of drawing ill-advised parallels between Mary and Juliet, I'm going to change the subject and ask your advice on a tangentially related matter.
***
A patient called in a few days ago, asking for medication for a recurring problem. I phoned in a prescription for the same medications I've used in the past -- the same ones which have helped her repeatedly -- and I had my receptionist squeeze her into the schedule ASAP. Today. "Hi!" I said. "How are you feeling?" Her boyfriend, she said, took her to his pastor, who "laid on hands and healed me". (Mind you, she'd started the medications the day I phoned them in.) As I proceeded to examine her and pronounce her well, she said, "Oh, thank you, Jesus. Praise Jesus. Thank you Jesus." I kept a civil tongue. "Whatever works," I said. "Have you been saved?" Not even a I hope you don't mind my asking but. There it was, in my lap; and you know, I'm tired of saying, "I'm Jewish," only to be told condescendingly, "Oh, you people are very close to God," or, "The people of the Book! How fortunate for you!" How good for me, even if I am going to hell. Instead, I stupidly went for the funny line. (And it wasn't even all that funny.) "Trust me, I'm beyond salvation." I might as well have bent over. "Oh, Dr. Hoffman, no one's too late for salvation. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever." You get the point. But, honestly, what am I supposed to say? I'm a Jew (even if I am agnostic, which my rabbi says is perfectly okay -- I have a Jewish ethos, and that's all that matters. Hey, he's Reformed). I don't believe in salvation, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, heaven, or hell. I'm unconvinced as to the historicity of Christ. I appreciate the Christian philosophy as embodied in the Sermon on the Mount, but that's as far as it goes. If I were forced to convert, like one of my conversos ancestors, I'd become a Jeffersonian Christian. I'm sure there's a correct answer to my question. Much of Miss Manners' book is devoted to polite responses to rude questions. I've even read an earlier edition of her book, but -- and I know I mentioned this recently -- I have a memory like a sieve. Maybe next time someone asks if I've been saved, I should say, "Yes, thank you very much; the Archfiend Himself has drawn my blood, and I have signed my name upon his parchment; yea, I walk with Belial, with Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies; I cavort with the Prince of Light and Darkness, the Foul Redeemer, the Monarch of Hell; and he has cleft me with his member, cold as winter's ice, and left his mark upon me. How about you?" I mean, if I'm going to be funny, I might as well be funny. D.

14 Comments:

Blogger crystal said...

Hi Doug.

I remember Romeo and Juliet so well! I wasn't looking at Olivia, though, but at Michael York, who played Tybalt.

Yikes - I feel like cringing now, not because I inspired you but because I'm a christian ... I promise I'll never ask you if you're saved, if only because I don't think amybody needs saving ... we're probably all going to end up reborn on that alien river in Phillip Jose Farmer's book, To Your Scattered Bodies Go :-)

6/17/2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

My Brush with anti-semitism...

I can relate to this, Doug. In highschool, I had a Catholic friend (no offense, Crystal - she could just as easily have been Baptist, or a Witness, or Anglican, or United - she just happened to be Catholic). Anyway, it offended her greatly that I didn't go to church, and she kept bringing it up. One day we were watching our boyfriends play football and out of the blue she asked yet again why I didn't go to church.

"Because, Beth - I'm Jewish". (I don't know why I said it - nothing else seemed to shut her up.)

She stood there with her mouth hanging open until I felt sorry for her and said I wasn't really Jewish.

"Oh, it's okay," she said. "It's okay to be Jewish."

"I know - but I'm not."

"You don't have to be ashamed of being Jewish..."

"I'm not ashamed - I'm just not Jewish."

She spent the rest of the week trying to assure me I should be proud of my heritage, until our other friends finally convinced her I wasn't Jewish. But she also treated me like I was a little bit slow for that period. Like I might need help crossing the street, or dressing myself in the morning.

BTW - who helps you get dressed in the morning, Doug?

6/17/2005 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Well, you both gave me a good laugh this morning. Crystal: a non-proselytizing Christian? I knew there was a reason I liked you so much! I think you ought to open your own church.

Maureen: I do it all by myself, and have done so since, oh, I don't know, age twenty-three? Those slip-on shoes without laces help tremendously.

G'day to the both of you.

6/17/2005 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

I'm Catholic, so according to the "Saved", I'm worse off than a Satanist, if I understand things correctly.

John Scalzi has some good commentary on the state of Christianity. At least, I think it's good commentary. But then, I'm going to Hell. According to Jack Chick, anyways.

6/17/2005 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Jeez Pat - you think you're going to hell?

I used to be Jewish.

6/17/2005 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Ah! I love Jack Chick. My high school girlfriend actually knew the guy. To this day, whenever I find a Chick pamphlet, I save it. They're always good for a belly laugh or five.

6/17/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Oh -- yes, I'd read John's blog on My Jesus/Your Jesus. Made me jump up and down with glee. I wrote a response to that one (it's in there somewhere) and cited Jeff Sharlet's Jesus Plus Nothing, which is one hell of a good read.

6/17/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hey Pat, I'm a catholic too but I'm an adult convert so I'm out of the loop on a lot of catholic things ... who is Jack Chick?

6/17/2005 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Jack Chick writes little comic-book tracts proselytizing his version of Christianity. Read a few. They're funny, in a self-parodying way, but they're also deeply scary, in that whoever's writing them actually has that worldview.

All my humble opinion, o'course.

6/17/2005 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger amanda m. said...

when i'm asked if i've been saved i respond, "Oh yes, I've been recycled."

tom says, "Oh yes, Jesus saved us all, why did you hear something different?"

but both of us are agnostic, so we usually go for sarcasm.

6/17/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hmm. I think Tom is asking for trouble. It's like opening your door to Jehovah's Witnesses -- or is that vampires?

6/17/2005 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Stamper in LV said...

Would you be interested to know that my male students still cheese over Olivia Hussey? I always have one who asks me to rewind the bedroom scene. It's the one scene that makes the majority of the students vote for this version of R and J over the dreadful Leonardo DiCaprio version.

7/31/2005 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous bam said...

Man... Olivia Hussey had luscious tits.

8/23/2005 09:53:00 AM  
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