Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Dear Bad Guru,I’ve just joined a new church and the people sometimes speak in tongues. Whoa! This is new to me, and a little bit freaky. The preacher tells me that speaking in tongues is what happens when you get a direct communication from God and then translate it into human language. Is this real? And if so, why does it sound like the people are gargling roofing nails?Signed,Loquacious in LafayetteDear Loq,Translating the voice of God is akin to using a cell phone. Some of us get a clear signal. For some the call just gets dropped and we hear silence, forever, as if God is an iPhone with AT&T. Others get an impossibly garbled signal: “What did you say, God? Kill them all? Kiss them all? What? I can’t understand you!” In the case of the tongue-speaker, God is always saying the same thing: “We’ve got a bad connection. Stop gibbering and call me back!”••••Dear Bad Guru,Hey, I noticed you were talking about iPhones in that last answer. Cool. Maybe you can help. I just got the new Verizon iPhone 4. How do I move all the contacts over from my old phone? Signed,Dialing in DallasDear Dial,That’s really a question for my brother, Bad Tech Support, but from a spiritual perspective it’s a simple drag and drop procedure.••••Dear Bad Guru,When people tell me that they’ll “pray for me” it kinda creeps me out. What if they’re praying for me to do things that I don’t want to do? Are there legal channels I can go through to make someone stop praying for me?Signed,Prayer-proof in PetalumaDear Proof,When someone offers unsolicited prayer, your first instinct is always to defend yourself. “Oh yeah – and I’ll pray for YOU, Buddy! How would you like that, huh? Huh!?” This can quickly escalate into a Prayer Shoving Match, which rarely turns out well. It’s best to just ignore people’s threats of prayer and hope they forget about you when it’s time for the weekly kneeling.I’ll forward this question to my cousin, The Bad Attorney, but from a spiritual perspective I’m afraid there’s not much you can do. ••••Dear Bad Guru,Everywhere around me I see metaphor. My pen holder is too full – is my life the same way? My coffee cup is empty – am I, as well? My bowl of oatmeal is cold and lumpy – like my soul? Help.Signed,Symbolic in SyracuseDear Sym,You’re what we in the Guru business call a “Metaph-whore.” Or, as the kids prefer, “Metaph-ho’.” Neither is a compliment. Symbolism itself is just a symbol. Throw out some pens, do your dishes, stir your oatmeal and get on with it.••••Dear Bad Guru,What causes hair loss?Signed,Thinning in TulsaDear Thin,This is a question best addressed to my niece, The Bad Beautician, but from a spiritual perspective hair loss is the natural result of superiority in thought, deed, insight, intellect, wit and virility.••••Dear Bad Guru,Why does suffering exist? Signed,Angsty in AthensDear Ang,The Bad Guru was on a cross-country flight recently (with discount coupons from his uncle, The Bad Air Traffic Controller), when the plane hit turbulence. As we bounced through the sky the adults on the plane were not having a good time. The sound of sobs and gasps filled the air, as many were certain that the end was near. They were suffering. Seated across the aisle from The Bad Guru was a small child who was giggling and laughing each time our altitude dropped suddenly. He was not suffering. He was on a roller coaster, having the time of his life, while those around him were aboard the Suffer Red Eye.Same circumstances, different attitude. Suffering is merely a state of mind. Incidentally, as The Bad Guru does not fear death, he was not suffering, though he was mildly annoyed at having spilled his ginger ale. ••••Dear Bad Guru,Oops – sorry, there was a typo in my last question. I meant to write “surfing,” not “suffering.” Why does surfing exist?Signed,AngDear Ang,My son, The Bad Kahuna, would probably give a different answer, but, from a spiritual perspective – for pretty much the same reason.
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.
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