Bus Theology

The public bus is an interesting place from day to day. Last night I entered the front door and immediately found myself listening to a verbal battle between some pre-adolesecent kid and the driver. It went on and on and it wasn’t done when I exited.

Tonight I greeted my university colleague, an elderly gentleman, as I hopped on next to my building. He is Catholic so I related to him an encounter I had had earlier in the day with young Catholic missionaries on my campus earlier in the day. I told him jokingly that they were like evangelicals.

Upon that remark, he began to rail against young Catholics. “You should have asked  them if they say the Rosary,” he said. “They don’t even believe in the saints. They don’t even know Mary is a saint.”

He reminded me he was a Trinitine Catholic, a believer in the traditional liturgy. I joked with him that he was like a fundamentalist. As he got off the bus, he said something about the Seventh Day Adventist. I didn’t hear him, but the elderly African American woman across the aisle looked at me with a grimace and said.”I don’t like the Seventh Day Adventists.”

I told her that I did not know much about them, except that they met on Saturdays. I fully anticipated having some sort of doctrinal discussion with this senior lady, who at first appearance was just sitting there, perhaps thinking of seeing her grandchildren tonight, or watching TV.

Then a voice from the front of the bus piped in. The young bus driver, who I have seen often, replied,”They believe that the Rome is the seat of Satan and the Pope is the anti-christ, which I also believe.”  

He then went into a fairly lengthy discussion of different theological nuggets he knew about. Turning the corner, he discussed Martin Luther, the Reformation, the book of Revelation, particularly the historicist interpretation, and other things.

Our driver waxed eloquent about John Hus and several archbishops of Canterbury. In particular, he educated us about Thomas Cramner, a 16th century Archbishop of Canterbury who was burned at the stake.

Apparently, he recanted, but then he recanted his recantation. When Cranmner died, he put the hand that had signed his earlier repudiations in the fire first, the driver said. (I checked it out. He’s right.)

As I got off the bus I told him,”You’re using terms I haven’t heard since seminary and I don’t remember what they mean.”

He said,”I love this stuff. It’s my favorite thing to do, to study this stuff.”

When it comes to the public bus culture, the best metaphor I can think of is the famous quote of from Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”


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