Columnist Roxane B. Salonen visited fellow Christians recently and was showered with kindnesses during her stay. Things like clean towels, and cups of coffee, and a bottle of water, and even some fresh flowers.
And gratitude filled her heart, and she had to wonder:
How do the godless respond to grace? How do secularists absorb and process love? To me, God is the ultimate host, always busy adding special touches to our lives well before we’ve arrived — birdsong, mountain streams, and flowers that bring little sparks of life everywhere.
Puppies — she forgot puppies! And kittens!
But I digress.
Indeed, countless acts of thoughtfulness happened before we ever entered the room. But how do those who deny God respond?
Salonen published her keen insights in the Forum, a newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota, under the headline “Can those without God be grateful guests?” And Salonen’s answer is, no, not really.
Imagining those who live without an awareness of God in my place, I gave them the benefit of the doubt, assuming most would be equally warmed, for we all have the capacity to be touched by God whether we recognize it as such. As humans, I’d also hope they’d be grateful for their good and kind hosts, but would it stop there, with no secondary thought about the source of goodness itself?
W00t! She bravely acknowledges that we’re “humans,” which brought a tear to my eye. (Couldn’t have been gratitude, though. Hmm.)
Ultimately, however, Salonen dispenses with the question marks, which were only there to feign actual curiosity to begin with; and, like other Christians before her, she concludes that non-believers, by their nature, are mopey and dopey and grumpy and grouchy.
It’s unreasonable to believe mere chemical reactions are behind the kind of generosity I’ve experienced in the homes of my hosts, and in the goodness, truth and beauty I see every day. … [L]ack of recognizing the true giver misplaces our gratitude, makes it incomplete. As a grateful guest, I concluded that those without God would by default be capable only of being an ungrateful guest, or at best, one half-hearted in appreciation.
Ouch! It’s like she knows me!
I feel exposed now, and have decided to come clean. You see, everything Salonen writes is true. Those who’ve visited the Firma household (and lived to tell the tale) will confirm it.
When my wife and I have guests over, we always ask them to bring the food. After they arrive with the goods, and assuming they’ve failed to secure fresh baby, we scarf down the contents of the proffered box of Cheez-Its, communicating only in grunts to demand more mustard dip and Mountain Dew.
If the mood strikes, we will then rub ourselves on our visitors to gauge their interest in a romp on the (piss-stained, I admit) furniture, where more joyless grunting can soon be heard — while the kids watch Jersey Shore reruns five feet away.
After that, it’s time for bed. We turn off the single 15-watt bulb in the living room and throw another Bible on the fire to keep the pipes from freezing. Then we all retire to our respective quarters (for our guests’ comfort, we’ve outfitted the woodshed with an old flea-ridden winter coat; I mean, we’re not monsters), each of us jealously clutching our respective bottles of Colt 45.
But that’s no way to treat guests, I see now. Roxane Salonen has opened our eyes. After reading her column, my wife and I have decided to embrace God and go to church, the better to revel in the spotless, grateful, gracious behavior that is, according to the author, the hallmark of all True Christians ™.
Thank you, Roxane, for showing us how proper humans do it!
(Image via Shutterstock)