I'd had my eye on him but wasn't holding my breath. He was altogether dreamy and out of my league. But he was excellent eye candy, particularly if the topic of the lecture wasn't holding my attention. (Which it never seemed to do when he was around.)
That is why I was rather taken aback when he began to notice me. It was understated at first. Just a glance and a smile here or there. But enough to make my little heart go pitterpat.
Then things got more serious. He'd ask me a question about something the professor had said or would lean in close to make a quiet joke.
And before you knew it, we were walking together pretty regularly after class ended. I felt very Marcia Brady-esque, clutching my books and swinging my longer hair as provocatively as I could. (Though I've never been the provocative type, so heaven knows how ridiculous I must have looked.)
And one day, it happened. We were ambling over to our next class and I noticed that he seemed nervous. I felt pretty confident that he was about to ask me out somewhere on an honest-to-goodness date. (See? Marcia Brady all the way.)
"So, um, Katrina," he began.
"Yea?" I answered, super casually. (You must NEVER appear overeager.)
"Well, I was wondering .... Um ... " [smiles nervously]
(Here it comes!)
"See, well, I was hoping I could talk you into coming out with me..."
"... to, um, a meeting."
I glanced at him confused. He pushed forward, now resolved to get through this all at once.
"Yea. Well, a bunch of us like to get together to study passages out of the Bible. It's really a lot of fun. Anyhow, I thought you might like to come and join me this Wednesday evening."
I stopped and turned to him, all calm pretense gone. "Wait. Let me get this straight. You are asking me out. To a Bible Study meeting?"
He laughed, "Oh man, no. Not that. No. It's not a Bible Study!" (Keeps laughing.) "No, we just like to look at the Bible together and then talk about it."
Are you confused? I was confused. And I turned him down gently, being a devout agnostic who gets kind of sleepy at the sight of a Bible. This fellow wasn't looking for a date. He already had a date. With Jesus. Who can compete with that?
Anyhow, I found out later that he'd had an interesting history before becoming born-again. (I'll leave it at that.) How I missed this, I don't know. I blame it on hormones. And his hair.
But I'd always been suspicious of born-again Christians and their seeming desire to convert people to their way of thinking. Now to set the record straight, I've been proven wrong on this before and have been very impressed with a few born-again friends. They were and are good people who never broached the subject of religion. They were funny, ordinary, and very thoughtful. The majority of born again Christians, though, freak me out a little. And that probably says more about me than it says about them. I'm not proud of it, as I realize it's pretty judgmental of me to feel this way. We all have something we're working on, don't we? :)
So why all this talk of born-agains?
In short, I sometimes fear that this is how people see me. That I see myself as born-again. That I am out to convert. That I have been brainwashed. That I have a book of rules I must follow.
But here is the difference between born-agains and my going vegan for ethical reasons. One need not follow any faith nor trust in any god. You simply open your eyes and click "play" to see what is happening to the animals we randomly call food. Animals who are just as deserving of life as our dogs and cats are. Animals who play. Who nuzzle. Who know fear. Who have nerve endings that work just as well as ours do.
It's not based on faith. It's based on documented reality. It's no longer denying what's really going on, no matter how awful it may be to initially watch and learn.
It's empathy. It's opening your eyes to what animal agriculture is hiding. (Why do you think they're falling over each other to create legislation that criminalizes those who film and expose the "industry standard practices," a new phenomenon called "Ag Gag"?)
It's saying, "I would no more eat that bacon, which came from a scared and feeling being, than I would eat your family dog. I won't do it."
There is no rulebook nor set of guidelines. If I find a product hurts anyone, then I want no part of it. Nobody has told me I can't. I just won't. I won't hurt anyone if I can avoid it. And it's not hard to avoid.
Do I want to convert others? I don't know if convert is the right word. I want to inform. I want us all to know what we're doing. That we are paying others to hurt animals, in ways that are more devious that most of us could imagine. And if that information inspires someone to join the growing movement of people who are slamming their wallets shut against animal agriculture? If it makes them say, "Nope. You've lost my support folks. I won't pay you to do that anymore." Then I'm good with that, whatever you might want to call it.
No. I'm not born-again. I just unclenched my eyes and pressed "play."
And that's about all there is to it. No meetings. No newsletter. No church. No book. No faith.
Just facts. And a healthy dose of empathy.
It's really that simple.
Press play if you want to be informed.