I’ve spent the last week on the Carnival Paradise sailing out of the port of Long Beach in California. I sailed with 20 members of my extended family. It was a blast. I was able to unplug from my busy professional life and simply relax. Of course it was spring break for the 750 or so kids on board, so rest was defined as finding a quiet place out of the range of the partying hordes. I managed just fine. It is amazing what a Kindle and an IPod can do for your peace of mind.
I noticed a large number of men wearing silver-dollar-sized wooden crosses hanging on leather straps around their necks. They were all between 25 and 35, white, and well groomed. Each sported hipster hair styles. It was almost like watching my teen son with his friends. They all had a look.
I found myself at a bar with two men who were wearing the cross so I asked what the deal was, “Why are there so many of you wearing the same wooden cross?” They responded by telling me they were members of an authentic Christian church on a cruise retreat together. They wore the cross to stand strong in a world where Christianity was oppressed by the secular masses and other mislead churches.
I smiled. I recognized the warning signs of a cult behavior when I see it. They viewed themselves as special and fighting against the rest of world to keep their authentic message pure. I run into true believers like these two men all the time.
They asked if I was a Christian. My alcohol influenced, “Fuck no” may have tipped my hand. They gave me a little grief over my choice of language. I can’t remember exactly what they said, but it was your typical morality based rebuke. It pissed me off. I decided to press their buttons. I asked if getting drunk on a cruise ship in front of a couple of hundred children was a good way to spread their authentic message. I suggested that perhaps they should hide their crosses the same way they hide their wedding rings (I could see the tan lines). They exploded into a profanity laced tirade. It was epic. They were drunk and pissed and all the more enraged because I was laughing at them. My final comment… “Now that’s authentic.”