February 18, 2002

"Paul made the breakthrough between the universal destination of the
Gospel and the universal condition of sin. Christian theology would call
Paul's synthesis the doctrine of "original sin". Christian theologians
and preachers have, unfortunately, not yet succeeded in developing and
presenting a coherent anthropology of original sin. Part of this
challenge is to derive a correct exegesis of the highly symbolic creation
narratives which contain fundamental truths in a very sophisticated,
ficitional genre. Despite the evident commonness and frequency of sin,
it reamins something of a mystery, still dominating us rather than we
dominating it."
- Msgr. Herron in Catholic Times.
From the time I was a child, I loved oxymorons. I relished terms like
"jumbo shrimp", "military intelligence" and "giant dwarf". Some have a
weakness for puns, I liked oxymorons and collected them. How fortunate
then to be a Christian and a lover of oxymorons, for how rich is the
bible in them. Mary is the Virgin Mother.
Christ is God made man. Moses was an Egyptian-raised Jew. David was
the runt of the litter made king. Abraham and Sarah were the infertile
couple with descendents "as numerous as the stars of the sky". Paul was
a Pharisee-Christian.
It was my great secret. The time Mom was right. I couldn't bear to tell
it, couldn't bear that she could say "I told you so". And so I thought
it would be buried with me, but I shall tell it now.

On October the 30th, 1987, the water towers next to the Continent
Apartments were sabotaged by Iranian fundamentalists upset that America
had a higher standard of living than Iran. They punctured gaping holes
into the towers and flood waters surged toward my apartment, number 319.

I had just arrived home that evening, preparing for the two or three
trick-or-treaters I expected and hoping to play some basketball on the
court out front given the freakish 70 degree temperature. A frozen pizza
was unfreezing in the oven, while last night's Letterman played on the
VCR. Larry "Bud" Melman was involuntarily touring Tierra Del Fuego.

I was reclining on my gray couch, (a couch that incidentally was saved
and still exists in my present home) when I noticed the ominous sight of
a wall of water climbing the big picture window next to me. I leapt out
of the couch despite a lunchtime 4-miler (of course I was a 25-year old
in the prime of life) and saw the water surge to the top of the window,
such that I felt like a goldfish trapped in an aquarium. Water seeped
into the corners of the apartment and the carpet became soaked.

I had no windows to look out of but the southern exposure, so I couldn't
get a good grip on where the water was coming from, though I almost
immediately suspected the water towers that Mom had warned me about on my
very first day (-May 16, 1985, as well as on the 18th, 23rd, 31st, etc..)
The towers lay just to the northwest, and that was the only explanation I
could come up with to cause water flooding well-nigh over thirty feet
high.

I ran to the kitchen for what I supposed was my last meal; the pizza was
not quite done but still good, thank you very much. Frozen pizza has an
unnecessarily bad reputation. I will admit it was hard to concentrate on
eating while being underwater and hearing sirens.

I skipped dessert in favor of rescue. It occurred to me that some of my
baseball cards might be getting wet, so I ran to the bedrooom and pulled
out the huge wood case I stored over 10,000 cards in, and, to my great
relief found that none were wet though the case itself was soaked. I
stuffed my Rose rookie card in my pocket, the sentimental one I bought at
a card show because Pete wouldn't answer my letter begging him for one.

I ran to the Sauder bookcase and wasn't sure which books to try to save.
The Baseball Encyclopedia was too big and Thoreau's "Walden" was already
wet. I saved "The Main Spark", a biography of Sparky Anderson, mostly
because it was handy. My failure to plan was a direct result of not
taking Mom's warning about the possibility of the water towers coming
down. I wrapped "The Main Spark" quickly in Reynold's Wrap, tucked it
under my arm, and fled.

I tried to open the door but the water pressure was too strong, so I went
in my bedroom and broke the window and swam through it. Years of
Fairfield YMCA swimming lessons had prepared me for this very moment, and
I was ready. At last I knew why it was important for me to graduate from
"Minnow". I held my breath and fought for the surface while holding "The
Main Spark" to my rib, the torrent carrying me past the basketball nets
to the roof of the Continental Athletic Club where I sat and waited for
rescue.

The damage to the Continent Apartments was $1.3 billion for insurance
purposes, $50,520 in actuality. Fortunatly, since I lived on the top
floor, most of my possessions were salvegable. My grey Cavalier was
located two miles away but seemingly no worse for the wear. She started
on the second try.

The wire services never picked up this story and so was mostly not known
outside Columbus. Many think that the reason the national news didn't
pick up on it was because the perpetrators, Ahmed and Muhammed, were
pro-choice Democrats who believed that Michael Dukakis should be the next
President. This was the time before O'Reilly. There is little doubt in
my mind that FoxNews would've covered this.

February 04, 2002

"The storyteller is a pale metaphor, I have often thought, for God who
creates our world and us, falls in love with his creatures, even obsesses
over us because we don't act right, and always reserves the right to say the
final word.

Does God really obsess over us? Anyone who claims to be God and doesn't
obsess over us (and the birds of the air and the flowers of the field) is a
fraud and a phony. As Elie Wiesel remarked somewhere, God made humans because
he loves stories, and our lives are the stories he tells.

I would like to think that the illumination in my story is that we live in a
cosmos that is finally, however oddly, implacably forgiving; that it is never
too late to begin again; that there are always second (and more)
chances; that it is possible, Ulysses-like, to go home again; that we will
all be young again and all laugh again; that love is always and necessarily
renewable; and that life is stronger that death."
- A.G.