7/19/10 Juan and Augustine, both about 20
At the park today I began a conversation with a young man in a wheelchair (Juan). His friend (Augustine), from a non-practicing Pentecostal family, listened quietly while his friend Juan did most of the talking, yet I could tell from occasional comments and sideways glances that his presence there was keeping Juan honest. Juan viewed himself as a very religious person, and although he critized priests for thinking they are "holier than thou" he had no problem appealing to his own religious record of service when asked if he thought he was a good person. This happened after the "good person" questions, when Juan saw his own guilt clearly in the light of the Ten Commandments, and he was willing to grasp at anything to justify himself. He even believed himself to be a good person simply because he gives part of his social security check to take care of his mother. He listened as I explained how Jesus provides our only way of forgiveness - that it isn't "good" people who go the heaven but forgiven people - but his initial reaction was to cling even more tightly to his own claims of goodness.