For a time during college I dated a girl who was a Christian but her parents were not. Even then it was clear I was on track to a career in ministry though the path was quite unconventional, meandering through ropes courses, whitewater rapids, and sizable portions of Appalachia. This scenario on one occasion led my own mother to ask, “What do her parents think of what you…do?” Having already pondered this question I replied that while I believed they were by no means opposed to them, her parents definitely regarded my varied exploits with a heightened level of curiosity. “Don’t we all,” said my dear mother, her voice trailing off as she turned to look out the window.
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.
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.