Reading the exchanges among local bloggers - especially leftybloggers - regarding Michele Bachmann's overt, "out" evanglical Christianity, I'm reminded of exactly how wide the gulf in perception between people of faith and people of unfaith (people who for whatever reason disdain or detest faith) is.
Years ago, I was working as a legal document coder - reading documents obtained through the discovery process, assigning each page a code, and creating a database record for that code indicating exactly what, if anything, notable appeared on the page. The suit involved a group of government, citizens and non-profit groups litigating against a power company over cost overruns on a nuclear power plant project in the Carolinas.
Most of the other coders were people just out of law school, getting some experience as they looked for clerk or firm gigs. But not all of us. One of the other coders was a girl named Megan, just out of Macalester, working for a summer before starting grad school at - you might have guessed it - the Humphrey Institute. Quiet, pleasant, sort of cute - and, of course, seethingly liberal.
Most of the project was...gut-wrenchingly tedious. I probably spent ten days coding "Release for Test" reports for seismically-rated pipe hangers. A week after that, I was given a pile of papers...that were photocopies of the first file of pipe hanger test release reports, taken from a different office. And so I coded them all again.
But occasionally you'd get surprises - little snips of things that'd make things interesting. Photocopies of napkins with sketches on them (which, being an NRC-regulated project, were duly filed away), expense reports for very dubious claims...
...and, one day, a letter from a fella with a confession.
This guy was an engineer who'd worked on the project in the late seventies. And he'd dipped his hands into the cookie jar, somehow wheedling about $3,000 worth of money out of various petty cash and expense accounts. He didn't get caught...
...by anyone official. But somewhere along the way, after leaving the project, he'd had a religious experience. As part of this, he felt the need to repent and atone for his sins.
And so, in the mid-eighties, he sent a letter to the company, along with a check for every penny he'd taken, and an apology.
The letter was accompanied by attachments from various accountants showing exactly how difficult it was to find a bucket in the accounting system to put "money returned through acts of conscience".
When us coders found things that were interesting, we'd occasionally read them out to our fellow coders. I read the guy's letter. It got a few laughs.
Megan giggled with derision. "That's disgusting", she chuckled, as if someone had mooned her.
I prodded Megan (quietly, tactfully and briefly) on her reaction. The notion that anyone would attribute an act of remorse to religious faith, she felt, was...out of character for Christians?
I really couldn't follow up after that.
To this day, it still confuses me.Posted by Mitch at November 3, 2006 08:03 PM | TrackBack