Last week, while we were sitting outside The Daily Grind, my friend Alex said something intelligent (as he does frequently).
It was late morning, and Gary Birdsong had finished eating his sandwich on the wall outside Lenoir, had set up his folding chair in the Pit and was commencing the day’s marathon sermon. A couple of students were already watching, grinning with predatory anticipation.
“I’m not necessarily talking about Gary,” Alex said to me, “but do you think anyone from our generation would just sit and sincerely listen to someone who came out and preached like that? About anything?”
I thought about it and told him I didn’t think so. He said he didn’t either.
A pair of men walked past Gary and stopped to point and guffaw.
This is not a column defending the Pit Preacher and his thoughts on how things should be, because I’m rather partial to alcohol and feminism.
But I’m troubled by the glee with which my peers (myself included) descend upon him and his ilk.
By his ilk, I mean those who sincerely, verbally share what they believe. We live in a print culture (which, don’t misunderstand me, is wonderful), so itinerant preacher-types and the oral dissemination of ideas have been on their way out since Gutenberg built the printing press.
Once written thoughts became widely distributed, people became much less likely to sit, listen and submit themselves to someone else’s thoughts. And now that the Internet has happened, it’s easier than ever before for one to fancy that one has nothing further to learn.