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James

October 1998

Hey everybody. I'm back! Please, try to keep your enthusiastic cheers to a minimum. After driving from Lexington Va., to Austin TX, to Phoenix AZ, to Malta MT and back, I can say that this is a truly beautiful nation I call home. That having been said, I am glad to be back in the sleepy town of Lexington, and I am glad to be back amongst my friends. So, let be give you the brief rundown of my summer.

I spent a month in central Arizona doing a sedimentology project in the Mazatzal mountains for my senior thesis. I hiked up mountains, across alluvial fans and through canyons. My feet hurt, I got sunburn, and I loved every minute of it. Next I went to north-eastern Montana. Wow. I spent a month at Jack Horner's field site (through the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State) digging up dinosaur bones. For those interested, it was a disarticulated bone bed with most of the bones belonging to a Hadrosaur known as Brachylophosaurus . We found parts of at least three individuals of this Genus, and some other genera just for good measure. We also found skin impressions - Actual impressions of dinosaur skin. Wow, what a trip! More info about the dig can be found through the MSU website (www.montana.edu). Needless to say, I had the time of my life. I have never had such great experiences. Above all of the academic growth I experienced, the people I met surpassed my wildest expectations. I was totally out this summer. I had a Pride flag on the car, and I made no effort to hide my sexuality. Of the dozens of people I had regular contact with I had NO bad experiences. If anyone did have a problem with my sexuality they sure didn't tell me. Now, on to other things.

W.W.J.D.?

Many of us have seen these letters on tee-shirts, bumper-stickers, hats and almost anywhere people can reach. For those who haven't run across it yet, it stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" The phenomenon of this question has reached Christian communities throughout the United States, and presumably elsewhere. However, as with all pop-culture messages, I wonder how many people actually care about what they advertise. I have seen folks wear this message while getting so drunk they could hardly walk. That's not what Jesus would do, but hey, nobody's perfect. I have also seen people wear this message while throwing out various racial, religious and sexual slurs. Hmm.... My fears realized.

Many Christians wear it because it has the name Jesus associated with it, but they treat it as though it were a Nike swoosh, or an MTV logo. It stands for something, but who really cares what that thing is. I had a conversation recently with someone who, while not one of the people I spend enormous amounts of time with, is nevertheless someone I would consider a friend. During the course of the conversation, it became apparent that he didn't know I am gay. Thus, I told him (in a rather passive way). As I did so, I noticed that I was nervous. Now, I have come out to a lot of people, and many who have a far greater role in my future plans, or even on my day-to-day life, but this one made me nervous. "Why nervous?" I hear you ask. Well, basically because I know he is a religious person. Like me, he believes in God, and tries to follow a Christian lifestyle in the best way we fallible humans can (well, Christians anyway...). This shouldn't have made me nervous, but it did.

Some members of this society of ours would use their faith as a weapon with which to demean me, or worse, try to convince me I was somehow under the dominion of Satan (in whom I do not believe). But my friend did not. In short, he took this information and treated it as though it was any other bit of knowledge about me. "Whew!" I thought. Then the conversation went on to other things. Later, as I was about to leave, he told me that he didn't know how hard it was for me to talk about my sexuality, or what social problems associated with it that I may come across. But if I ever needed someone to talk to, or just to visit, he would be there. I already knew he was a good person. Now I think of him as an exceptional one.

A few days later I was in the geology dept. computer lab, and I noticed he had a "W.W.J.D.?" band on his wrist. Now, I have seen many wristbands, hats and tee-shirts with "WWJD?" on them, and this is the first time I knew that I was looking at someone who knew how to answer that question. He never judged, never criticized, and he never batted an eye about it. We respected each other before, as we do now. We were friends before, and we are friends still. That, my friends, is what Jesus would do. See ya next month!

James
jsammons@wlu.edu
octavius3@hotmail.com


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