Sunday, December 29, 2013

My '13 Year-End Inventory

As 2013 comes to a close, it’s always fun to look back on what I partook in.  I keep a pretty thorough calendar, so the following is culled from glancing through my records of the past 12 months (this is what consumes time on a boring flight across the country).  Here’s a sampling of what I was involved with this year…

WORK (It’s not so much a job as it is “a calling”):

10,051 needy third world children sponsored through 29 radio campaigns our
                     Radio Department at Compassion International organized
Represents approximately $23.1 million over the next 5 years for good health, education,
                    nutrition, clothing, Spiritual encouragement, and opportunities for these kids
6 radio marathons hosted in different cities
7 additional radio interviews regarding Compassion’s outreach
4 conventions/retreats
4 overseas trips where I was group leader: Ethiopia, Haiti, Colombia, and Guatemala
112 conference calls


55 flights (including my 1,900th) going through 28 different airports covering 45,730
38 cities in 18 states and 6 countries (grand total of countries still at 54)
19 different rental vehicles
20 different hotels
4,170 road miles while on the job/vacation
72 days on the road


70% finished with manuscript of my second book, tentatively titled, Riff Rock:
                 Confessions of a Not-So-Holy Roller
50 blogs for, Blogger, and Facebook
Over 5,000 e-mails/social networking posts


I read 32 books this year.  Here are my faves…

Life of Pi, Yan Martel
The Early Church on Killing, Ron Sider
The Devil’s Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea
Insurrection, Peter Rollins
Selected Writings, Dorothy Day
Benefit of the Doubt, Gregory Boyd
America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, James E. Atwood
God on the Rocks: Phil Madeira
Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning *
Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning *
The Poverty and Justice Bible (at least 48 different authors) *


Also read…

Over 300 newspapers
Over 100 magazines
Over 150 articles on-line (research for writing)
Over 100 Facebook Profiles
Over 7,000 e-mails/social networking messages


I saw 76 films in theaters and on DVD in ’13.  Here are my faves….

Sound City
Side Effects
To the Wonder
20 Feet from Stardom
The Heat
Springsteen and I
Inequality for All
Captain Phillips
Muscle Shoals
12 Years a Slave
About Time
American Hustle
Joe Bonomassa: How One Man Beat the Industry


I acquired 33 new CD’s and listened to hundreds more albums. Here are my new faves from ‘13

Neal Morse: Live Momentum
Pinnick, Gales, Pridgen, (Self Titled)
The Choir: The Loudest Sound Ever Heard
Dawes: The North Hills
Dawes: Nothing Wrong Here
Dawes: Stories Don’t End
Rick Elias: Job
Daniel Amos: Dig Here Said the Angel
Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden: The Shape The Color The Feel

I saw 60 concerts/speaking engagements…here are the most memorable:

Corey Chisel & the Wandering Sons, The High Watt, Nashville, TN, 4-26-13
Anne Lamott, Nashville Downtown Library, 4-3-13
Rush, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN, 5-1-13
Mike Rayburn, Sirius Studios, Nashville, TN, 6-14-13
Doyle and Debbie Show, Zanies Comedy Club, Nashville, TN, 7-23-13
Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil, 3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN, 8-29-13
Frank Caliendo, Zanies Comedy Club, Nashville, TN, 8-16-13
The London Souls, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN, 9-28-13
Donald Miller, Neely Hall, Belmont University, Nashville, TN , 9-9-13
Steve Hackett Band, Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL, 9-21-13


20 Nashville Predator hockey games
28 gatherings of Curious Souls support group
132 business and/or friendship lunches
13th year as member of Servant Leadership Council for The Village Chapel
3nd year as member of the board for Touchstone Youth Services
2 days in hospital for heart pacemaker
7 more pieces of property researched in Guatemala
14 parties/picnics
4 art shows
3 funerals

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered." Bono on the grace of Advent

Bono’s thoughts on Advent from an extended interview he did in 2004:

I remember coming back from a very long tour.  I hadn’t been at home for months.  Got home for Christmas, very excited of being in Dublin.  Dublin at Christmas is cold, but it’s lit up, it’s like a Carnival in the cold. 

On Christmas Eve, I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  I had done school there for a year.  It’s where Jonathan Swift was Dean.  Anyway, some of my Church of Ireland friends were going.  It’s kind of a tradition on Christmas Eve to go, but I’d never been.  I went to this place, sat.  I was given a really bad seat, behind one of the huge pillars.  I couldn’t see anything.  I was sitting there, having come back from Tokyo or somewhere like that.  I went for the singing, because I love choral singing.  Community arts, a specialty!  But I was falling asleep, being up for a few days, traveling, because it was a bit boring, the service, and I just started nodding off since I couldn’t see a thing. 

Then I started to try and keep myself awake studying what was on the page.  It dawned on me for the first time, really.  It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story.  The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough.  That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in poverty, in shit and straw…a child…I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry…unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable.  There it was. 

I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, the utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this. You see, love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered.  To me, it makes sense.  It’s actually logical.  It’s pure logic.  Essence has to manifest itself.  It’s inevitable.  Love has to become an action or something concrete.  It would have to happen.  There must be an incarnation.  Love must be made flesh.

My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ.  Christ taught that God is love.  What does that mean?  What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ.  Love here describes itself as a child born in raw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor.  I don’t let my religious world get too complicated.  I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is.  God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion.  Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love.  Now, that’s not easy.

There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ.  The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is.  I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery.  The children of God are running amok, wayward.  Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. 

But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend.  When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules.  But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship.  The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma. I really believe we have moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma.  You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it. 

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.  I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge.  I’d be in deep shit.  It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace.  I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

(From Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas, copyright 2006, Riverhead Books)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nashville's downtown to change faster than ever

I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and central city layouts.  As a youngster, I spent many a Saturday wandering around downtown Columbus, OH taking notes and sketching various structures.  I enjoyed the classic lines of the white limestone State Capitol, but was equally enticed by new highrise bank buildings, and urban renewal tracts.  I read Architecture Digest, and would work for hours on my own designs for public and private sector buildings, boulevards, parks, and stadia. 

Hence, I considered myself a bit of an amateur city planner, taking note of new projects and plans in whatever metropolis I have lived in.  Being a proud citizen of Nashville for a quarter century now, I have watched as our downtown area has made some significant changes.

In the 80s into the early 90s we saw the initial Nashville Convention Center, the Fifth Third Center and US Bank towers, Renaissance Hotel, Double Tree Hotel, James K. Polk Bldg. (including Tennessee Performing Arts Center), One Nashville Place, Nashville City Center, two state office buildings along James Robertson Parkway, and the Church Street Shopping Mall built.

The true boom really began around 1994.  In the past eighteen years or so, there has been a remarkable expansion that has rendered photos of the downtown area before that era nearly unrecognizable.  Consider all these changes:

·      Bridgestone Arena. 18,500 capacity. Home of Nashville Predators NHL hockey team and 100 other concerts/events per year.
·      LP Field. 70,000 capacity. Home of Tennessee Titans NFL team.
·      Bicentennial Mall State Park
·      Downtown Library (built on the site of the former Church Street Mall)
·      Schermerhorn Symphony Hall
·      Country Music Hall of Fame
·      Gateway Bridge
·      Music City Center (new convention center)
·      Davidson County Justice Building
·      AT&T Center, aka “The Batman Building” (40 stories, tallest in state at 617 feet)
·      The Hilton Hotel  (13 stories)
·      Omni Hotel (23 stories)
·      Baker Donaldson Building (11 stories)
·      Sun Trust Plaza (13 stories)
·      Cumberland Apartments (28 stories)
·      Encore Condominiums (21 stories)
·      Veridian Condominiums (35 stories)
·      Icon Condominiums (22 stories)
·      Terrazzo Condominiums (14 stories)
·      The Pinnacle Place (30 stories)
·      Hyatt Place Hotel (11 stories)
·      Music City Central Metro Transit Terminal
·      New Greyhound Bus Station
·      Musicians Hall of Fame into first level of Municipal Auditorium
·      Nashville Rescue Mission (conversion from old Sears Building)
·      Farmers Market remodeling
·      Frist Center for the Arts (conversion from US Post Office Bldg.)
·      Davidson County Courthouse remodeling
·      Public Square Park (with 4 level garage underneath)
·      Hall of Fame Park (with 4 level garage underneath)
·      Korean Veterans Blvd. (KVB)
·      Roundabout at 8th Ave., Lafayette Ave., and KVB
·      Ryman Auditorium remodeling
·      War Memorial Auditorium remodeling
·      Cummins Station remodeling
·      Stahlman Building remodeling into condos
·      Shelby Street Bridge remodeled into pedestrian walkway
·      Riverfront Park upgrades
·      Cumberland River Park
·      Bridge Building remodeling
·      Numerous other smaller apartment/condo buildings and remodels in The Gulch
·      Broadway revitalization with many new restaurants and shops
·      2nd Avenue revitalization
·      Rutledge Hill revitalization
·      Marathon Village revitalization
·      Germantown revitalization

As impressive as all of that is, consider that in the next five years, downtown Nashville will see the most construction in its history that will radically change the look, feel, and function of the city…

·      505 Church Street Tower. 60 stories, 750 feet. Corner of 5th Ave. and Commerce St. Mixture of offices, condos, and hotel. Plus 700 car garage.

·      Sheet Music Tower, 44 stories, 500 feet tall. Corner of 4th Ave. and Demonbreun St. Mixture of offices and condos.  600 car garage.

·      SoBro Apartment Tower. 33 stories, 400 feet tall.  Primarily apartments, with some retail, restaurants.  Plus 500 car garage (Two renderings below).

·      Westin Hotel. 30 stories. 410 feet, 8th/KVB Roundabout .  Plus 400 car garage.  A couple of restaurants. No artist renderings yet.

·      Adelcia Condo Tower. 23 stories. 270 ft. tall.  Corner of 12th Ave. and Demonbreun St.. in the Gulch. All condos.  Plus 400 car garage.

·      NCC Site Tower. 28 stories. 380 ft. tall.  Corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue (site of old convention center).  Mix of offices, condos, entertainment, restaurants.  Also will include African American Music Museum, and House of Blues Club.

·      Crescent Apartment Building. 20 stories. 250 feet tall.  Corner of Division St. and I-65. All apartments.  Plus 300 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Hyatt Hotel. 17 stories.  250 feet tall. Corner of Broadway and 3rd Avenue.  A couple of restaurants. Plus 300 car garage.

·      Marriott Hotel. 15 stories, 200 feet tall. Corner of 8th Avenue and Demonbreun St.  Couple of restaurants. 250 car garage.

·      Gulch Crossing Office Bldg. 10 stories, 130 feet tall. Corner of Demonbreun and 11th Ave. in The Gulch.  Plus 300 car garage. 

·      Four Seasons Hotel. 10 stories. 150 feet tall.  In the Gulch (site still being negotiated). Plus 200 car garage. No artist rendering yet.

·      Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. 12 stories. 170 feet tall. Corner of 2nd Ave. and KVB. Plus 200 car garage.

·      12th and Laurel Apartments. 12 stories. 150 feet tall. Corner of 12th Ave. and Laurel St. in The Gulch.  Plus 200 car garage.

·      Marriott Residence Inn. 14 stories. 180 feet tall.  Corner of 5th Ave. and KVB. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Spring Hill Suites. 12 stories. 150 feet tall. Corner of 5th Ave. and KVB.  Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Sulpher Dell Baseball Stadium.  Home of Nashville Sounds AAA baseball team. 10,000 capacity. Corner of 5th and Jackson St. Plus 1,000 car garage.

·      Sulpher Dell Stadium Apartments. Corner of 3rdth and Jackson.  Plus 200 car garage. (see layout above)

·      Sulpher Dell Stadium district development. Corners of 3rd, 4th, 5th and Harrison.  Numerous restaurants, clubs, and shops. (see layout above)

·      Gulch/SoBro Pedestrian Bridge. 600 feet long, 30 feet wide, with 160 foot tall suspension tower. From Pine Street in Gulch, over railroad yard into Clark St. Will include foliage, benches, bike paths, shops, and elevators at both ends.

·      New Tennessee State Museum. Corner of 6th Ave. and Harrison. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      New Tennessee State Library.  Corner of 6th Ave. and Jackson St. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Riverfront Amphitheater and Park. Capacity of 2,000 to 8,000 for seasonal concerts, events. Corner of 1st Ave. and KVB.

·      Stix Art Sculpture in Roundabout at KVB and 8th Ave. 90 feet tall, and internally lit at night.

Beyond these that are in the formal planning stage, I also see further changes on the immediate horizon:

·      Several more major hotels in the blocks immediately around the Music City Center, especially along KVB and around the 8th Ave/KVB/Lafayette St. Roundabout.

·      SoBro, especially along First Avenue opposite of the new Riverfront Amphitheater, and on the three other corners at KVB should have major structures in place by 2020.

·      The East Bank of the Cumberland River should also finally see relocation of the scrap metal recycling plant, opening up a huge 500 acre area for housing, retail, and entertainment which could include a boat marina, continuation of Cumberland River Park, big box retail outfits like Ikea, condominiums, restaurant park, cycling velodrome, etc.

·      The large 200 acre tract at corner of Charlotte Ave. and I-40/65 has now been completely cleared.  Something large is going to be announced soon.  Could it be a massive complex for HCA?  Could it be The Gulch North? One thing is certain, it is valuable property with great access, and it will end up having as much impact on the northwest side of downtown as the Gulch did for the southwest sector.

·      Jefferson Street corridor revitalization brought on by Sulpher Dell Ballpark, apartments, and new Tennessee State Library and Museum.

·      Rutledge Hill, Germantown, Marathon Village, and Gulch revitalization continuing with multiple additional apartment and condo buildings, homes, duplexes, restaurants, and shops.

Additionally, just outside the inner-belt that surrounds downtown, there are numerous other neighborhoods that will see continued development:

·      Midtown (just west of downtown along Broadway and West End Ave.) as had a spike of construction in the past decade.  That will continue with the Summit Center (featuring 24 and 18 story towers and garages), the 19 story tall 1505 Demonbreun Apartments, The Buckingham Complex (14 story hotel, 18 story condo, 10 story offices at 21st Ave. and Broadway), more mid-size and small hotels, and high end restaurants.

·      8th Avenue South and 12 South will continue adding more condos, apartments, retail and restaurants, along with the continued housing boom (remodels and rebuilds)

·      East Nashville’s Main/Woodland Corridor leading out to Five Points. More condos and apartments, retail, restaurants, churches, and continued housing boom (remodels and rebuilds).

·      Metro Center continues its decades long growth with more corporate headquarters,  auto sales/service, education elements, and entertainment.

·      Fisk Univ./Meharry Hospital area along Jefferson Street will continue its revitalization with more apartments, retail, and entertainment, and housing remodels and rebuilds.

·      The J. Henry Hale Housing Development 10 square blocks along the western edge of I-64/40 and Charlotte Ave. will continue to grow, bringing in more retail and businesses.

·      Belmont University shows no signs of slowing down, and could become Nashville’s largest university (jumping past Vandy) within a few years.  This means continued purchasing in area neighborhoods and constructing additional educational and service structures, as well as even more dormitories.

·      Vanderbilt is not finished either.  Both on the collegiate and medical center sides. 

·      Travecca University is also growing, but not at quite the same pace.  A few new structures will be built there. 

Other areas in the center city that will see significant attention in the next 5 years:

·      Greer Stadium Site (soon to be former home of the minor league baseball team). Could become part of a Civil War Museum complex to go along with the recently renovated Fort Negly on the hill immediately next to it.  Some think it may become a high tech business park.  Others think it could be trendy housing for the arts district that is developing a few blocks away.

·      Old State Fairgrounds site.  This has been debated for the past decade.  But movement will finally happen within the next half decade.  My guess is that it will be a mixed use site of high tech, condos, apartments, and some retail/restaurant.

·      North Cumberland stretch along the river from Woodland Ave. up to Spring St.  This is all industrial warehousing now, but the views of downtown are spectacular along here, and I see some high rise condos, apartments, and other upgrades in the not-to-distant future.  Perhaps even a major league baseball stadium in the next ten to fifteen years?

All in all, in the next half-decade there are going to be more construction cranes, cement trucks, road detours, and hardhats within a two mile radius of The Ryman than Music City has ever seen before. Some may bemoan it, but I, for one, am very bullish on what all this means for our city and its future.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pi's ponderings on Jesus

This is one of my most choice excerpts from Yann Martel’s novel, The Life of Pi. Twelve-year-old Piscine, or “Pi” for short, was raised Hindu by his mother, but also trained to have a skeptical mind by his atheist father. This sequence takes place while he and his family are on vacation in the northern part of India. His older brother dares him to enter a small Catholic cathedral…which no one in their family had ever done before.

I dared to enter the church.  My stomach was in knots.  I was terrified I would meet a Christian who would shout at me, “What are you doing here? How dare you enter this sacred place, you defiler!  Get out, right now!”

There was no one.  And little to be understood. I advanced and observed the inner sanctum.  There was a painting. Was this the murti? Something about a human sacrifice. An angry god who had to be appeased with blood.  Dazed women staring up in the air and fat babies with tiny wings flying about. A charismatic bird.  Which one was the god?  To the side of the sanctum was a painted wooden sculpture.  The victim again, bruised and bleeding in bold colors.  I stared at his knees.  They were badly scraped. The pink skin was peeled back and looked like the petals of a flower, revealing kneecaps that were fire-engine red.  It was hard to connect this torture with the peaceful priest I had seen from a distance in the rectory the day before.

Catholics have a reputation for severity, for judgment that comes down heavily. My experience with Father Martin was not like that. He was very kind.  He served me tea and biscuits in a tea set that tinkled and rattled at every touch; he treated me like a grown-up; and he told me a story.  Or rather, since Christians are so fond of capital letters, a Story.

And what a story. The first thing that drew me in was disbelief.  What? Humanity sins but its God’s Son who pays the price? I tried to imagine Father saying to me, “Piscine, a lion slipped into the llama pen today and killed two llamas.  Yesterday another one killed a black buck.  Last week to of them ate the camel.  The week before it was painted storks and grey herons.  And who’s to say for sure who snacked on the golden agouti? The situation has become intolerable. Something must be done.  I have decided that the only way the lions can atone for their sins is if I feed you to them.”

“Yes, Father, that would be the right and logical thing to do.  Give me a moment to wash up.”

“Hallelujah, my son.”

“Hallelujah, Father.”

What a downright weird story.  What a peculiar psychology.

I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying.  Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag—religions abound with stories.  But Father Martin made me understand that the stories that came before it—and there were many—were simply prologue to the Christians.  Their religion had one Story, and to it they came back again and again, over and over. It was story enough for them.

I was quiet that evening at the hotel.

That a god should put up with adversity, I could understand.  The gods of Hinduism face their fair share of thieves, bullies, kidnappers, and usurpers.  What is the Ramayana but the account of one long, bad day for Rama? Adversity, yes.  Reversals in fortune, yes. Treachery, yes. But humiliation? Death? I couldn’t imagine Lord Krishna consenting to being stripped naked, whipped, mocked, dragged through the streets, and, to top it off, crucified at the hands of mere humans, to boot. I’d never heard of a Hindu god dying. Brahman Revealed did not go for death. Devils and monsters did, as did mortals, by the thousands and millions—that’s what they were there for. Matter, too, fell away.  But divinity should not be blighted by death. It’s wrong…

Why would God wish this upon himself? Why not leave death to the mortals? Why make dirty what was beautiful, spoil what is perfect?

Love.  That was Father Marin’s answer.

And what about this Son’s deportment?  Why did he give himself up? Hindu gods never did that. No spindly cross would’ve kept them down.  When push came to shove, they transcended any human frame with strength no man could have and weapons no man could handle.

That is God as God should be.  With shine and power and might. Such as can rescue and save and put down evil.

This Son, on the other hand, who goes hungry, who suffers from thirst, who gets tired, who is sad, who is anxious, who is heckled and harassed, who has to put up with followers who don’t get it and opponents who don’t respect Him—what kind of god is that? It’s a god on too human a scale, that’s what. There are miracles, yes mostly of a medical nature, a few to satisfy hungry stomachs; at best a storm is tempered, water is briefly walked upon…any Hindu god can do a hundred times better.

This Son is a god who spent most of his time telling stories, talking. This Son is a god who walked, a pedestrian god—and in a hot place, at that—with a stride like any human stride; and when he splurged on transportation, it was a regular donkey. This Son is a god who died in three hours, with moans, gasps, and laments.  What kind of god is that? What is there to inspire in this Son?

Love, said Father Martin.

And this Son appears only once, long ago, far away? Among some obscure tribe in a backwater strip of West Asia on in the confines of a long-vanished empire? Is done away with before He has a single grey hair on His head? Leaves not a single descendant, only scattered, partial testimony, His complete works doodles in the dirt? …What can justify such divine stinginess?

Love, repeated Father Martin.

I’ll stick to my Krishna, thank you very much.  I find his divinity utterly compelling.  You can keep your sweaty, chatty Son to yourself.  That was how I met that troublesome rabbi of long ago: with disbelief and annoyance.

I had tea with Father Martin three days in a row.  Each time, as teacup rattled against saucer, as spoon tinkled against edge of cup, I asked questions.

The answer was always the same.

He bothered me, this Son.  Every day I burned with greater indignation against Him, found more flaws to Him…but I couldn’t get Him out of my head.  Still can’t.  I spent three solid days thinking about Him.  The more He bothered me, the less I could forget Him.  And the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him.

On our last day, a few hours before we were to leave Munnar, I hurried up the hill to the cathedral on more time…. short of breath I said, “Father, I would like to be a Christian, please.”

He smiled. “You already are, Piscine—in your heart.  Whoever meets Christ in good faith is a Christian. Here in Munnar you met Christ.”

He patted me on the head.  It was more of a thump, actually. I thought I would explode with joy.

“When you come back, we’ll have tea again, my son.”

“Yes, Father.”

It was a good smile he gave me. The smile of Christ.

I entered the sanctuary, without fear this time, for it was now my house too. I offered prayers to Christ, who is alive. 

(from Life of Pi by Yann Martel, 2001, Random House)