I attended Kent State University during 1972-74, shortly after the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, when four students died at the hands of National Guardsmen during a Vietnam War protest. My philosophy professor, Dr. Bob Dyal, had been a peacemaker during that time. He called himself a "former evangelical." He had a master's degree in theology from a school that believed in historic Christianity, but he had abandoned his traditional Christian faith.
I was the son of a preacher and a teacher. My view of life was quite restricted, but I expressed my views constantly and argumentatively in class. A friend advised me that even though I occasionally made a good point, the rest of the class was generally tuning me out, although they were actually listening with a critical ear. Dr. Dyal was later to tell me, "Dan, you have a keen intellect and an iron will." A former high school classmate was a bit more blunt. She told me, "I remember you. You were a smart brat." Another was even more direct: "You were a little shit."
One of my Kent State classmates. named Peter, in Dr. Dyal's class on aesthetics, the philosophy of art, apparently agreed. One day he stood up in class and said to me, "I'm tired of your half-baked ideas. I believe in the Shittist Philosophy of Life. We're all the bowel movements of the Prime Mover."
That did shut me up.
Until many, many years later, when I came up with a comeback. If you're offended by the language, please be aware that the Bible occasionally uses some pretty direct language, as in Luke 13:8. Here's how my response goes. I'd love to share it with Peter sometime.
Peter, the problem with you is, you don't know shit.
You see, there's shit, and then there's holy shit.
I understand that you felt you had to say something radical to me to shut me up. My high school classmates wrote under my picture in our senior yearbook, "I'm not arguing with you. I'm telling you." Several years after the class you and I attended together at Kent during the summer of 1974, I was attending Wheaton College Graduate School. Billy Graham came back to visit his alma mater. He said in a chapel service, "If I had it to do over again, I would read twice as much and talk half as much." I would apply the same advice, or more of it, to myself.
On the other hand, I'm going to speak you language back to you. We're all full of shit. Some of it is things we've done wrong; the rest is good things that we've failed to do. We act like we're the rulers of our little worlds and of everyone in them. We don't realize that Someone wise and powerful created our universe around twelve to fourteen billion years ago, put a lot of work into making us who we are, and expects some respect, love and obedience in return. Compared to his expectations, our efforts are, at least to some degree, shitty. We treat each other, our bodies, and our environment like shit. We're bound up in self pity and blame. We run at the mouth.
In his book _Losing Faith in Faith_, preacher-evangelist-musician-missionary turned atheist Dan Barker refers to the cross of Jesus as "an emblem of humiliation, agony and death" (p. 202).I see it, reverently, as a flush lever. Jesus, God focused into human form (see Your God Is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips), locked himself onto our sins like a soap molecule grabbing onto dirty grease, and washed away the sins of everyone who puts his or her faith in him.
If we don't take advantage of this "flush lever" or "soap molecule," however, we're stuck with our sins. When the Great Coffee Maker comes for his mug of steaming java, he'll find a cup filled with nothing but filth. He'll take it personally, since his provision for cleansing and good filling cost him the life of his beloved Son.
To extend the analogy, there are at least two things we can do with shit other than just flushing it away. Animal manure can be used to create methane, a usable form of energy. This process is described in the book _Kickapoo Sunrise: a resource directory prepared by the kickapoo valley energy alternatives staff_, published in October, 1979 by Anvil Press of Millville, MN.
Manure can also be used as fertilizer. If you live in farm country, you might occasionally find yourself behind a tractor with a manure spreader giving off "country perfume." A farmer who knows what she or he is doing can apply the substance to a field and make the crops grow better.
Picture a big, steamy pile of cow dung. Left untreated, it can contribute to air and water pollution. If, however, a seed comes along and is willing to give itself up for the cause, it can turn the shit into a beautiful, productive, higher form of existence.
At the end of her or his life, every human being will look into eternity. If they have chosen their own path and rejected the loving provision of their Creator, they will see nothing but separation from God and everything that is good, and indeed, the wrath of God remaining on them (John 3:36). Their one word response might be... "Shit!"
If, on the other hand, they've listened to the good news and accepted the forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation and restoration provided by Jesus, they will see all the rewards for faithfulness that a powerful, loving Deity could give his beloved children. They will see that their unbelief, rebellion, sins of commission and sins of omission have been detoxified and transformed into fertilizer, energy and joy with their Lord and his people forever. I'm guessing they would be forgiven if they would exclaim, with awestruck wonder, "Holy Shit!"
© 2019, Dan Eumurian, La Crosse, WI, www.PianosNSongs.com. This version September 25, 2019.
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