Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feeding the hungry for Jesus

Another great aspect of having a girlfriend is being able to plug into her social network, and one of the benefits of having a wider pool of people to interface with is that you may find yourself doing something you wouldn't engage in ordinarily.

A recent example of this was during a trip to Wisconsin, when Kate and I were offerred the chance to join her sister and brother-in-law in volunteering at their church-run soup kitchen. I should clarify - Kate was offerred the chance, and she volunteered my services. If I seem somewhat hesitant, I should make clear that the opportunity to do something selfless isn't one I'd agonize over, but this was a church-event, meaning I'd be helping the unfortunate in Jesus's name - as a rule, I don't donate money to charitable causes with a religious agenda, but I decided to make an exception in donating my afternoon to be a good Christian.

So after kitting myself out with a pretty sweet hat (mandatory) and a sweet fake name tag (also mandatory), I was ready for action. What kind of action? Well, to prepare for the onslaught of hungry homeless folk, I had to assist by wiping down tables and chairs with bleach-water, lugging large containers of gloppy foodstuffs around, folding cutlery and napkins together, and generally doing my best to make baby Jesus proud.

Sully is no more! Meet Gus, homeless-helper extraordinaire 
Once the preparations were done, it was time for the volunteers to get their breakfast. On the menu was stuffed pepper, pickled cucumber, day old bread, day old donuts, coffee, and fresh-baked cookies provided by Kate's sister. Before we could tackle the generous spread, it was time to say grace before meals. Damn Christians and their delayed gratification! The orator gave shout-outs to the bakeries and restaurants that donated the grub, presumably so God would know who to reward.

There were about a dozen volunteers, ranging in age from mid-twenties to mid-eighties, and as I was the youngest, most able-bodied of the group, I got lumbered with the most arduous task. I was the dishwasher, cleaning every implement, every tray, and every piece of cooking apparatus with a high-powered hose that melted through more than a couple of my plastic aprons.

Through the spray of steam and food particulate I'd throw covetous looks towards my fellow volunteers. Thomas and his task of 'Greeting'. Oh look at me, I'm a World War II veteran. Then I'd glare at Kate as she cheerfully carried out her duty of 'Corn Ladling', my envious grimace turning into an appropriately cheery smile to reflect hers when she caught my glance.

With the exception of the bread, it tasted a lot better than it looked

When I found out that I'd be cooped up in the kitchen, I wondered if I'd find it satisfying toiling for the less-fortunate without getting to directly witness their enjoyment on the frontline. It was a foolish notion - I was immediately invested in the work I was doing, and I can safely reflect on it as the most earnest two hours of physical labour I've ever engaged in. My back was hurting, and I was getting splashed with food and scalding hot water, but I wanted to be the most efficient damn dishwasher that kitchen had ever seen. During moments when  I had cleared my station and had to wait on more ware to arrive, I'd start addressing things outside of my jurisdiction (including cleaning some obviously-neglected pieces of apparatus).

The way the room was set up meant that those coming to avail of the food were filing past the open kitchen door, and many of them took it upon themselves to shout in "God bless you". After shrugging off the first few seemed a little ignorant, I took to shouting back "same to yourself."

It was a great experience, one that I'd happily repeat, but like I said, my quixotic notions about 'good' charity cause some dissonance (i.e: My moral compass takes issue with reaching out to the less fortunate so you can bolster the ranks of subscribers to your supernatural ideologies). I was able to rationalize the sweat exerted in Jesus's name as a purely selfish act arising out of biological imperatives. How so? Well, my girlfriend wanted me to help the homeless, and complying with her requests will assist in the fulfillment of my carnal urges to copulate with her, so really, I'm doing this to satisfy my evolutionary impulses, so at the end of the day, Darwin wins.


Jay Jigga said...

"...and complying with her requests will assist in the fulfillment of my carnal urges to copulate with her"

That is the most romantic thing I've ever read.

I just realised you're throwing in dirty z's into your writing. The Americanisation is nearly complete

SeanH said...

If you're going to use an evolutionary justification then surely "I did it cause a dead wizard said I should" is just as strong as "I did it so I could bonk my girlfriend"? Based on the presumption that there is some survival benefit to being prone to bouts of faith. Darwin wins either way =)

The conflict is between a religious justification and one based on humanitarian ethics. "Darwin wins" is as intellectually shoddy as "The wizard said so" you lazy bugger =P

Sully said...

A fair point, but it was a somewhat facetious reach to begin with.

There was no decision. Ladyfriend asked me to do something, I did it. Any rationalization is post-hoc!

SeanH said...

I figured as much. Couldn't resist the temptation to be an argumentative fuck though. You know how it is =D