There are certain recurring patterns in my life.
My friends have often heard me say that I assume all men I meet are gay unless proven otherwise (which very seldom happens). This is just how it is in my life. Person after person: colleagues, friends from university, friends from high school. You might say that that’s what I get for hanging around in the Arts Centre, but there were lots of ‘computer geeks’ too, and their statistic has proven just as high. So, I just laugh now when someone I’ve not seen for years gets in touch on facebook and I realise through their profile and conversations that I have to add another person to list of friends who are gay.
But today I spotted a new pattern. Most of my friends are Christians too. OK. You can stop laughing now. I don’t mean the people I’ve met since joining the church. I mean the people I knew before. I grew up among New England’s educational elite. ‘Liberal arts’ and a generously diverse secularism at its best. There are not many of my classmates who have strong religious convictions.
But the ones who get in touch via facebook? Well, even the ones I think of in stereo-types (‘oh he’s so-and-so’s friend. really clever. engineer.) suddenly surprise me with face-book tags saying that they’ve just prayed for so-and-so, or with comments about where to find the best cedar rosary beads in Seoul.
And it makes sense. I never thought about the fact that these people were Christians, any more than I asked whether people were gay (oh, the days of innocence). But those were the people I was drawn to, the people I am now willing to ‘befriend’ even when we haven’t been in touch for years, because I think ‘yes, I liked you; there was something about you; I wish I’d given you more time.’
I know I’m a patterns person — that I can create them as well as uncover them — but the thought of facebook as God’s example book does amuse me: ‘See, all those people I sent you? What took you so long?’
Though I thank God, too, for the people who don’t fit the pattern. The sceptics and atheists, artists and scientists who live out a vision of freedom and equality that is not too far from the Kingdom, but which has often been a million miles away from the church.