Through the curved stairwell window of the apartments on San Jose Avenue, Claire got a look at the twin spires of St Paul Church in Noe Valley. Ever since, she’s been demanding to go to church.
You may imagine how this makes me roll my eyes.
Far be it from me to stand in the way of my preschooler’s blossoming spirituality. Sunday morning Salome and I took the lot of them to Glide. Whatever your position on the existence or otherwise of invisible superheroes in the sky, Glide is worth visiting. They provide food, health care, housing, training and employment, counseling and HIV tests to anyone who needs them; also, they have a kick-ass gospel choir and band.
I know I said I’d shut up about $HorribleSuburbanChurch, but this is relevant: the last year I was there, Vic began one of his more pointlessly stupid crusades. Ian Marrett, who ended up marrying my sister, brought along a beautiful old spiritual: “I want Jesus to walk with me.”
Vic announced that we weren’t allowed to want Jesus to do anything more for us – hadn’t Jesus done enough? – and that we’d have to sing the doctrinally correct, if ridiculous and unmetrical, “Jesus wants me to walk with him.”
(It sounds like an idiotic argument and it was, but there was a serious point to it. Does Jesus care more about one very strict, very narrow interpretation of a set of Greek texts of dubious origin, or does he care more about what is beautiful and right? Of course I think he’s long dead and has no opinion either way, but any God worth its salt should be an inspirer of great art – the Hagia Sophia, say – and not of evil and derivative crap like the Left Behind books. Otherwise, what’s the point? There’s a whole ‘nother conversation about C.S. Lewis and Hamlet – do you really want to live in a universe in which tragedy is meaningless? No, really? – and another about the extent to which American evangelicals grotesquely overrate Lewis, and yet another about how in $HorribleSuburbanChurch even Lewis and John Donne were considered scarily subversive and not really worth reading, especially by young women – only the Bible was worth reading – but suffice it to say that by Christ, I’m glad I left.)
Naturally, Glide launched into the old, beautiful and yearning version of “I want Jesus…” just to make clear to me that this is not $HorribleSuburbanChurch. Naturally I blubbed, and within seconds an usher was offering me Kleenex. That’s what I call service.
Claire thought church was fine. She’s walking again, by the way, which is a huge relief to those of us who both love her and are tired of carrying her.
Sunday evening we had vague dinner plans with the Murgisteads, and Salome wanted to visit the Target at Serramonte Mall. For some reason we thought it would be hilarious and ironic to have dinner in the ‘burbs. Well, you can picture what happened next: hungry, desperate hipsters appalled that a Food Court could close at 7pm; a 75-minute wait at the Elephant Bar. We ended up at Denny’s.
“What, if anything, is edible?” I asked, reasonably enough I thought.
“I’m not sure I want you ragging on my people’s culture,” said Salome. “I feel defensive.”
“I’m not criticizing. I’m just… surprised. The vegetable options on the children’s menu include Teddy Grahams.”
Jack said: “Isn’t it reassuring to be reminded that we belong in the city?”
Claire devoured her Mac and Cheese. Denny’s gave us free coupons for bowling, so our hilarious ironic hipster outings aren’t over yet. Jeremy was up till 3am trying to digest his sandwich.