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.