Part of being human is going through every day striving to see one's glass as half full when it really seems half empty.
In general, I'm blessed in that I experience relatively little persecution for my faith. But there are days when I'm strongly reminded that I live and work in a secular world. Yesterday was one of those days.
It started early in my workday when I was having a conversation with my boss and he asked me to explain a religious reference I'd made. He's never objected to such conversation, so when I answered him by quoting from a psalm, I was jarred to hear a freelancer pipe up, "Please, no religion in the workplace!"
I apologized and lowered my tone so the freelancer couldn't hear, but it put me off balance.
Then it seemed like practically every story given me to copyedit and headline-write was anti-religion or anti-morality. Now, I'm used to getting stories on lurid things like murders and corruption, as well as the tales of "pervs" and "sex sickos" that are the bread and butter of the world's more exciting newspapers. What's hard is going from the story on a federal judge's striking down New Hampshire's law requiring parental notice (not even consent) for abortions, to the one on how Californians are rushing to meet the year-end deadline for filing abuse lawsuits against Roman Catholic dioceses.
After all that, to add insult to injury, I was given a "chit"—the piece of paper that tells me which story to copyedit—labeled, "Kiss."
At first, I thought it was going to be an upbeat story, so I trilled in my Melody-from-Josie-and-the-Pussycats voice, "Oh, that's nice, I get a 'Kiss.'"
"That's actually a very sad story," my boss said solemnly. "It's about all the singles who are afraid they won't get a kiss on New Year's Eve."
Now, the issue of datelessness on New Year's Eve is already a bugbear of mine, as I wrote earlier in these pages (in the "Captive Audience" entry). In fact, although my family has invited me to attend a "First Night" celebration with them, I'm currently leaning towards staying home from darkness onward (you don't want to be out in Hoboken or New York City after dark on New Year's Eve), eating takeout, drinking soda, and reading Volume Two of Chesterton's Illustrated London News essays. But I can assure you that is not what disturbed me about the article.
My boss's assessment of the story turned out to be something of an exaggeration. Based around the results of a Match.com poll asking singles' their New Year's kissing plans, it didn't mention their fearing loneliness, but did lament that "only 42%" of them believed they would get a kiss at midnight.
But the story then proceeded to give singles advice on how to get a total stranger to lock lips with them on New Year's Eve. Not how to get a person to talk with them. Just how to snag that all-important kiss—and what to do with one's mouth while that kiss is in progress.
The mouth advice was quite graphic—enough to put me off my food. Not that I hadn't done all or most of it in my life—and, barring disaster, will do again—but that the it was being given to people on the idea that they should practice it on a total stranger.
I suppose the audience this article is aiming for includes the women whom amfAR believes should have condoms at the ready at all times. What kind of a culture is this, that tells people they're being irresponsible when they don't attempt to block a virus—and then gives them detailed instructions on how to exchange body fluids with strangers?
I copyedited the piece, complete with witty headline ("MISSING THE BUSS") and caption for the "how-to" graphic ("Eve of Seduction")—we are required, after all, to do everything to the Lord, including serving our employer—and then walked to the washroom, feeling dirty. On the way, I noticed someone had dropped a fortune-cookie fortune. Despite my faith, I'm very superstitious [yes, I know how ridiculous that comment sounds to an atheist; that's why I wrote it], so I picked it up.
I've got to tell you, that pagan piece of paper gave me a big smile. I hope it's true. In fact, I'm going to start praying for it to be true. It reminded me that I have a vocation, and an avocation. I want to practice that avocation in every area of life.