Tobiah Steinmetz decided to walk across America. OK, that’s not news, lots of people have done this, even though when they do, some local news organization picks up on it to fill the human interest slot. Enquiring minds need to know, and all that.
But Tobiah is a little different though, I contend, not much. Tobiah did it rolling a 40 pound crucifix behind him. He walked all the way from California to South Carolina. He claims he was told by god to do so, though I suspect there are no witnesses to this conversation, as there never are. We have to take his word on that.
He seems, in the video interview, to be an amiable fellow, one who believes what he says, so I’ll leave his beliefs at that. He most likely sincerely believes that god spoke to him and told him to do this, though I’d be more willing to accept that he’s the outdoorsy type, enjoys physical exercise, is fervent in his religion and decided, perhaps subconsciously, to combine his two passions, and maybe get a little publicity in the process. Everybody seems to crave their 15 minutes of fame, and I don’t say that’s a bad thing. (I enjoyed my 15 minutes once, on TV, though it was actually only about a minute, so I have 14 more coming to me.)
What I found interesting was the fact that he was taken care of by strangers as he walked across the country, often taken in, or given motel money, or food. He would attribute that to the hand of god. I would attribute that to the innate goodness in his fellow man. Frankly, regardless of my personal antipathy toward religion in general, if I was confronted with a sweaty, tired man pulling a cross on wheels from California, I would be curious, and if the guy was as pleasant as he appeared in the interview, I’d probably try to help him out myself. If he wanted to talk god, I’d enjoy the conversation.
Oddly, I almost envy the guy. He was able to experience something I would have loved to experience – a wonderful cross-slice of America, and not from a tour bus or an airplane, but on the ground, eyeball to eyeball with other Americans, meeting people who are not like me, but very much like me at the same time. I don’t see this as a religious story, despite Tobiah’s motivations for his walk. I see it as a humanistic story, where people dig down and interact with fellow humans, because they are human, not because of some divine intervention, despite belief in the latter.
There seems to be an implicit need to think that the only reason he would make this walk is because of god, and perhaps he wouldn’t have otherwise, but thousands of people hike across country every year. If you’ve ever hiked the Appalachian Trail, and met people on the way, camped out with them at night, you’d understand what I mean. Human interaction is a refreshing experience, especially when you meet nice people who affirm your good feelings about humanity. I’ve often walked away from interactions with strangers feeling good about myself.
I’ll bet he was in good shape by the end of the trip, something else for me to envy.
And in The-World’s-Gonna-Be-Alright department, news from China indicates that hymenoplasties are becoming very popular. What’s a hymenoplasty, you ask? That’s where women about to be married have their hymens surgically restored, in cultures where virginity is highly valued by their soon-to-be husbands. In effect, they trick them into believing they were their first. Very popular among Muslims too, it turns out, where previous sexual experience is a stoning offense. Ah, young love! Ain’t it grand?
I learned something new too, though in hindsight, I’m not sure I needed to know this:
For women who do not want to have surgery, a cheaper, faster path to “revirgination” is available in most sex novelty shops: a Chinese-made artificial hymen that purports to create a physical sensation for the man and emit fake blood when ruptured.
I’m also not sure why I tacked this story onto the end of the previous one. It struck me as a very human thing for humans to want to do, but its relevance to a guy dragging a cross?
There is none.