Public Encounters

Bonnie Averbach was not my instructor at Temple University so much as she was the Patron Saint of Actuarial Science. People from Dubai have stopped people who have Temple University on their business card to ask if the presenter knew Bonnie. She was retiring this evening, and some coworkers and I took the subway there. On the subway, a man immediately began preaching. He was well dressed, well bathed, and well spoken, but not well versed.

Him: God sacrificed his only son for us.
Me: How can infinity sacrifice?
Him: God sacrificed his only son for us and…
Me: Answer the question. How can something that has power over all things sacrifice. Sacrifice implies loss which implies an unfulfilled desire. Infinity can not have such an experience.
*He continues speaking*
A bunch of people on the train strangely nodded when I talked. This has never happened before.
Him: God will sweep away all suffering.
Me: Why hasn’t it happened yet? How can you have omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence in a world with suffering?
Again, some people on the train nodded and an older Chicano nodded his head and said in a loud voice “it’s a tautology, man” to which a Sassy Black Woman went “mhmm”.

We got off the train at Cecil B. Moore and one of my coworkers was visibly shaken by the exchange.

Me: Are you made uncomfortable when I engage in the public square?
Him: Yes. Very much so.
Me: Ok, I won’t do it.
Him: Oh, you can, just know that if shit goes down, in no way do I have your back.

Well, I’m glad I know where I stand.