And then it happened; a simple text message. “What you doin Thursday brotha?” This simple query represented a monumental turn in my foray into suburban American millennial post-Christianity-ness…and other sociological labels contradictory to any typically applied to me. Maybe I’m just as suburban and American as the next guy, but I digress. At this point I had interviewed about 25 individuals and managed at least one follow-up interview with just four of those unfortunate persons. I was still contemplating what a realistic new year’s resolution would be in regard to continuing this project when the phone beeped. For the first time an interviewee requested to meet with me rather than the other way around.
You have a lot of conversations with a variety of people, some whom you question the sanity of and others whom undoubtedly question your sanity. Then you read a few heavy, thought provoking books with intimidating titles and no illustrations. One particular title, To Change the World by J.D. Hunter (he’s a Virginia guy) keeps you awake at night and interferes even with your daydreams, but not in an unpleasant way. You take lots of notes, wear out your highlighter, stand in front of people and tell them your thoughts, and write some blog posts. Then type up your family Christmas card letter. You pray a lot. One night, after you’ve stayed up too late, indulging in the guilty pleasure of watching grown men wrapped in plastic assault one another while chasing an oddly shaped ball across a manicured lawn, you sit in your living room. There, while everyone else is asleep, in the dim glow of the Christmas tree, listening to the dog snore, you think, “What have I done?”
Coming of age in the mid 80's to early 90's Calvin and Hobbes helped me come to grips with many of the realities of suburban life in America. Of course I'm referring neither to the French theologian nor the English political scientist. No, I'm talking about two comic strip characters; a boy and his plush tiger willed to life by the sheer force of a 6 year old's imagination. Arguably the last great comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes came to an apparently premature end when its mildly reclusive creator Bill Watterson became disenchanted with the industry. In a documentary entitled Dear Mr. Watterson former editor Lee Salem explains, "Calvin and Hobbes was going to be huge in licensing...but Bill made it clear he was not going to do it." Watterson felt continually pressured to commercialize his work, as if it were not satisfactory to simply appreciate Calvin and Hobbes as legitimate art.