Who Sends Boulders Into Our Lives?

SATURDAY NIGHT WITH THE JESUS CROWD, AND THE NICEST GUY IN TOWN

Saturday night. Alone, I go to see the new Christian propaganda movie God’s Not Dead. It’s LU-DI-CROUS. To me. To every other person in the auditorium (I interviewed them as they left) it was “amazing,” and “two thumbs up.”

God’s Not Dead—conceived in the la-la land where American Christians are a persecuted minority—is centered around Jesus-loving Josh, a college freshman who courageously takes on his God-hating philosophy professor. The Professor threatens to fail the boy unless he’ll sign a declaration that God is Dead. The audience seems to believe that’s exactly what philosophy classes are like. By the end, (spoiler alert) the heroic boy wins over and converts the entire class (including “C-Dog,” the black kid), who stand up, one by one, and declare “God is not dead.” The Professor, on the other hand, gets hit by a car. He accepts, under the pounding rain, The Lord Jesus, just before he succumbs to his blunt force injury.

A side plot involves a godless liberal blogger who spends her days trying to ambush-interview the dude from Duck Dynasty. The blogger is promptly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Just as promptly, she gives up her cynicism and accepts Thy Lord Jesus, too, aided in her transition by real life Christian rock band “Newsboys,” who lay hands upon her.

I have a laugh attack through the entire thing. The people around me are sobbing with joy and sorrow, laughing thunderously, and thrusting their fists into the air yelling “Amen!”

I go downtown. Wander. A drunk guy’s walking around in red underwear. I sit down with Eric Millet in front of Crazy Horse Saloon. Sorority Girls in teased hair and fishnets are arriving by the SUV-full, laughing and looking each other up and down and folding their arms against the cold. Eric is selling $5, hand-drawn, day-glow t-shirts that say “I LOVE YOU,” with a hand saying it in Sign Language, too. I buy two.

Eric has been deaf since 2001, he tells me, when his ex-wife blacked out from a seizure and crashed into a boulder in Feather River Canyon. The last thing he remembers hearing is the sound of the accident, the impact, the glass shattering. By coincidence, he tells me, he was already fluent in Sign. He had deaf friends in Jr High, and taught himself using books from the library. Now he sells art on the street. He’s popular. Every few minutes someone stops to hug him. “I enjoy doing this, this is my life, you know,” Eric says, of selling his art on the street, his voice a bit atonal in that typical deaf way. He has A-frame eyebrows sheltering bright blue eyes. They burrow into me, watching my eyes, my expressions, my lips.

Sometimes, Eric sees people buy his art and then just throw it away down the street. “They don’t realize that if they would just treasure it, it would mean something for them, and for myself,” he tells me. Eric says a lot of awkwardly profound things like that.

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About Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff

View all posts by Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff
Former busboy, sauerkraut-mixer, and Japanese hair model, Emiliano Garcia-Sarnoff is a writer and father of two, living in Chico. After quitting a job as an Erin Brockovich-like legal investigator, then hitting rock bottom in a scene that involved roommates, tears, nudity and police officers, the UC Berkeley graduate decided to go for broke (and he’s accomplished his goal!) in the exciting world of small town weekly newspaper writing.

Comments

  1. kim says:

    I love Eric, I love his heart and his art, so does my daughter. I live in Florida now, but still buy his stuff from time to time. Thank you for writing about this amazing man… such a Chico treasure. Kim