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Looking for God at the Out Back Shack

Michael Veenema | Interrobang | Opinion | August 29th, 2005

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Tamara Jacobs cautiously entered the Fanshawe campus pub for a lunch meting with one of the college's former chaplains. He usually only ventures onto campus irregularly these days, but he couldn't resist a request to talk with a student who wanted to write a newspaper columns on faith and students, and wanted a few minutes with him to answer some questions.

The chaplain had agreed, and described himself to Tamara so she would be able to pick him out of the regular Out Back Shack crowd. “I wear glasses, am fair-haired, no beard, and am not heavy,” Mitch described himself this way all the time, and it usually did the job.

Tamara found Mitch sitting at a booth, reading a paperback version of the Catholic Catechism. “Did you find that book here?”

“Yes, it's on a trial run at a couple of booths. If it goes over well with the clients, they will have copies on every table,” he explained. “Sort of like the Gideon bibles in every hotel room nightstand.”

Mitch was joking about the Catechism being left at the Shack tables, but not about the Gideon Bibles. The news intrigued Tamara. “That raises some interesting questions, but first of all, thanks for meeting with me today,” she said. “I'd like to get your perspective on how religion and faith relates to students at Fanshawe.”

“That's a fantastic topic,” Mitch replied, “and I've been looking forward to hearing your questions and discussing your column. But lets get something to eat first.”

A few minutes later the waitress brought their soup and sandwiches. When their orders were on the table, Mitch asked to take a minute to give thanks. Tamara had only a vague idea of what he was talking about, but before she was able to respond Mitch bowed his head slightly, closed his eyes for a few seconds, opened them and reached for his napkin.

“You just prayed, right?” Tamara asked.

“That's right. I thanked God for this food and asked that we would have a good conversation,” he replied. “I used to come here a lot and have prayed before digging into quite a few lunches.

“I don't think I'm the only one, but I might be part of the minority.”

Tamara looked at him briefly. “Maybe,” she said. “So what about prayer? Aren't people supposed to be in special places like churches or mosques or synagogues or temples to pray? And — it may just be me — but I have a feeling that this Eminem rap song isn't the ideal background music for prayer.”

“I can see that we might be in for a long conversation,” Mitch answered. “How much time do you have to talk?”

Tamara checked her timetable. “No more classes this afternoon for me, so I guess we can talk a little longer if you can manage it.”

It had occurred to both Mitch and Tamara that even two hours might not be enough.

Pick up the Interrobang next week to find out what happens next.
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