Still Work to Do

A book I am reading features two characters: the competitive “winner” that always succeeds at every task to which he turns his hand and the philosophical teacher who is so centered as to be immune to bribery. I always wanted to be more like the latter than the former.

I go through phases of googling people I once knew. This has allowed me to track down school chums and coworkers, a rewarding reconnection. Yet it sometimes yields a reminder of forgotten slights.

I found some references to one “John Rittenhouse”. Rittenhouse is now pastor of some fundamentalist church. Why is this not rewarding? Well, Rittenhouse was the year ahead of me in high school and an arrogant, bullying asshole. Captain of the football team, he was his own biggest fan. That, in itself, is not such a problem. But he was the kind of asshole that beat up smaller kids and took cheap shots on the field. I know; I was on his team and he took a cheap shot at me.

Of course, adolescence is a tough time and rare is the person who does nothing stupid during those years. I wondered if Rittenhouse had bettered himself. It certainly does not appear that way. Not just his profession, but he married his high school girlfriend. It seems unlikely that if she liked his high school behavior that she would stay with him if he had a 180-degree change. While one leopard may change his spots, the odds of two changing are geometrically lower.

I would like to be advanced enough that this would not bother me. Alas, I am not. It still irritates me that people like Rittenhouse get away with being assholes. I intellectually know that it happens all the time and has happened since the beginning of mankind. (“Grug eat my share of mammoth. Why not Grug pushed over cliff?”) But emotionally it is hard for me to tolerate.

P.S. People like Rittenhouse are why I dislike Christianity. I know there are good Christians; I know a few of them. But my experience with Christianity is that the Rittenhouses form the majority.

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