If you are not seated, please sit down. If you are seated, buckle up. If you are buckled up, you may want to stop reading now if you’re prone to carsickness. Settled in? Okay, then. The haphazard collection of words currently assaulting your senses – both sight and common – is my 73rd and likely final column for Chatter. I know, I know. You’re probably in the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A just now remembering that it’s Sunday and then this happens. So you are not only left wondering where you can satisfy your Bible-blessed chicken jones, but also from whence you’ll be able to scratch your itch for elliptical sentence structures chock-a-block with obtuse wordification and the occasional, monthly reference to pastiness. You need a hug.
Sadly, the Chatter editorial board enforces a strict no-touching (even emotionally) policy on contributors of dubious complexion (there’s your final pasty reference), so we’ll have to make do with a psychic fist bump. But before I leave you with Tim Hawkins as your lone source of Christian comedy (What do you mean he already was?), I’d like to take a few hundred words and ramble semi-coherently about what the past 69 “Idle Chatter” columns and 4 “Interview with a Dead Guy” exposés have taught me. If anything. Hmmm.
First, I’ve learned that it’s much easier to keep a position when the job is essentially that of a volunteer. Assuming you don’t count the few times I had to slip an Old Navy coupon code to the editor (Julie, now of the emeritus variety) to get her to put down the metaphorical red pen. (The literal red pen is the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word, which I despise even more so than a patchouli-soaked hippie. Also, I never could figure out which online emporium discounts would convince her to let me discuss smiting hippies, so we’ll see if the new ed. lets that previous sentence fly.) Anyway. I assume my long tenure was also aided by my ability to meet a deadline no matter how many times I moved it, and my penchant for mentioning my kids who are totes adorbs, at least in print.
I’ve learned that most fellow believers can take a joke. In nearly seven years of poking fun (And is poking ever really fun? I think not.) at some of the more absurdist aspects of evangelical life – along with giving Moses the Twitter handle @MoHeston – I never received one letter, email, Tweet, Snapchat, Vine video, Facebook rant or gospel tract-based expression of displeasure. Sure, only about three of you actually know who I am. And my family attended church in Frisco, but farther north (as in, past the Ikea) than most Irvingites dare to drive. Also, we moved to Omaha three years ago. Nonetheless, I appreciate your collective sense of humor and/or Julie’s restraint in forwarding me complaints from the deacons.
I’d like to tell you I learned many deep, life-changing Biblical truths over the last 67% of a decade, but come on. I think we can all agree that I either made up most of my doctrinal claims, or have since forgotten the ones that are true due to my advancing fortysomethingness. Which reminds me, I never did base a column on the Book of Lamentations. Woe is me.
Lastly, I’ve learned that I can spit out 900 words on just about anything without saying much of anything of value. Case in point duly noted.
And now, since I still have about 300 words to torture, I’ll take a question. Yes, you in the back with the pre-Etsy WWJD bracelet from 1997. My favorite columns? Well, I could say that’s like trying to choose your favorite child (the dog), if having 73 kids wouldn’t get me investigated by the Guinness World Records folks (bunch of narcs). Instead, I’ll go with my two poems, Ballad for a High School Youth Group Hayride (October 2014) and The Graven (October 2015); my unearthing of Noah’s Twitter feed, @GopherWoodBoy (October 2009); my ruminations on Pentecost, Economy Sizing the Holy Spirit (May 2010); and my homage to my dad on the occasion of his 65th birthday, Cool On the Inside (July 2010). There might be others I actually like more, but I don’t have the patience of a Job Billy Duggar to read them all. Also, you can find most of these at Scribd.com/IrvingBibleChurch or JasonFox.net/IdleChatter.
So. This is the end. For now, at least. Perhaps I’ll pop up or in or over from time to time to ruminate on weighty matters like why our Christmas tree topper looks like Celine Dion. But for now I think it’s time to try something a little different. After so many attempts at weaving a little truth into the funny, I believe I’ll give weaving a little funny into the truth a go. (That’s what I get for actually studying my beliefs, I guess.) I doubt I’ll become this millennium’s C. S. Lewis, but perhaps something of eternal value will emerge from it. Hopefully not damnation.
But until we meet in the sweet by-and-by on that beautiful shore (look for my totally boss conversion van customized by St. Doober), I will simply thank you for reading and leave you with one last bit of suspect theological advice: Every argument, especially those on the internet, can be won with the phrase, “Well, that’s what it says in Habakkuk.” Because it does.
This column originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of Chatter Magazine and, if Scribd.com still exists, can be found in PDF form here.