Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Birthday Wishes

It's a day late, alas, but I'd like to wish a happy birthday to my two puzzle colleagues, Leslie and Trip, who both appear in the credits of the movie Wordplay. (Trip's one of the stars!)

But let me add this about Trip: I've known him for almost twenty years now, which means he knew me when I was a fundamentalist homophobe. What he may not know is that he's one of the main reasons I'm no longer a conservative Christian. The final break with my evangelical upbringing came when three of my best friends came out of the closet in a single month. And they emerged from three different parts of my life: Trip was my best friend in the puzzle world, Brent my best friend from the evangelical world, and Ryan my oldest friend, period. When they all came out, I was left with a very tough choice: be consistent with my religion and consign them mentally to hell (i.e., pray for them constantly, try to get them to change, and in any event treat them as morally unreliable outliers), or rethink my basic principles.

Trip is wonderful: incredibly smart, incredibly wry and funny, and so decent to the core (even while being competitive, which I didn't think was possible) that I feel like I learn from him every time we get a chance to talk. So I thought about him and my other friends. And it was at that point that I saw, as starkly as I ever have, how evangelical reliance on the Bible, and an uncritical acceptance of hell, actually makes you love people less. (You can call it love, and goodness knows evangelicals do, but by your fruits ye shall know them; you can never love the hellbound the way you trustingly love your right-thinking friends.) I went with love instead of the evangelical's law, and I've been happy ever since. (Well, not at first; It was a flatly terrifying month at first, when I realized I'd given up the whole Bible and saw all certainty crumble away beneath me and really viscerally felt how much I'd been depending on it without noticing.)

But this is why, although I've amassed a panoply of arguments about evangelicalism, I don't really think you can argue anyone out of a religious faith. What I try to do with the arguments is show a.) where fundamentalist thinking is in error (about history, about the biblical text, et al.) and then b.) try to expose the real issue: why do you tell yourself that this error-prone belief is not only true but self-evident; that you have no choice in the matter?

Anyway, I'm still in touch with Ryan and Trip, and so here's to you, Trip: knowing you has improved my life immeasurably, and I can't possibly replay that with anything as simple as a funny poem.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Kath (Sax) said...

Wow. I didn't know any of this -- not surprising, there's no particular reason I should have. But thank you for sharing it.

8/08/2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger Toonhead_NPL said...

I didn't know Trip was one of the ones instrumental to your turnaround there. Goodf for him, and good for you. And happy b-day Trip!

8/08/2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger tmcay said...

What a wonderful tribute! I'm glad to understand better the significance of your long friendship. I hope Trip got a great bingo on his Birthday down in Phoenix.

8/08/2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger Cowboy Dave Dickerson said...

The question isn's whether Trip got a bingo. It's whether he got fewer than two a game. The man's scary-good.

8/08/2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger Tristram Shandy said...

Of course, by “oldest,” Dave actually means “most enduring” or perhaps “longest-lasting.” Not, like, old or anything.

Regardless, let’s hear it for the triple slam!

8/08/2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Trip said...

Awww, thanks! I wish I'd been here to thank you earlier, but I just got back tonight and will be catching up on everything over the next few days.

And I remember our early correspondences pretty well. As it happened, I was also in regular touch with another evangelical NPLer, Ostrich, but you turned out to be the sensible, human, funny one, and I wasn't at all surprised when you eventually rejected your earlier beliefs.

I'm glad that we've remained friends for so long, and I'm happy that you started this site so that I can keep up with your adventures more easily!

8/10/2006 2:16 AM  

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