A phrase from the Department of Redundancy Department, since, by definition, "you must be born again" (i.e. spiritually born, in addition to one's original, natural, birth) to be a Christian, as Jesus told Nicodemus. Became a catchphrase due to the apparent need of evangelical Christians (in their jargon-laden discourse) to differentiate themselves from the US mainstream's rote, lukewarm, Christianity. Unfortunately, many evangelicals are just as rote nowadays.

As a Buddhist I believe in rebirth. So when someone asks me if I was born again, I just say:

"Yes. And again, and again, and again..."

Unlike most of my friends from high school, I elected to stay in Ottawa for my post-secondary education. Many of the others ended up at the University of Waterloo which has one of the top engineering and computer science programs in Canada.

For some strange reason, though, almost all of the people that I knew who went there would come back professing that they had become born again Christians. I'm talking about people that I'd enjoyed a life of debauchery with throughout high school...it was just as believable as Larry Flynt becoming a born again Christian (which, apparently, he was for some time but I won't get into that).

Now, I'm not knocking anybody who decides that professing their devotion to God and Christ is the way to go. Not at all. However, I am knocking the one particular individual who decided that he would become the figurehead for all of this...we'll call him Trent.*

Trent was a real bonehead throughout high school but a nice guy regardless. We became good friends during the last two years of toiling our high school and enjoyed doing the stuff that I imagine would be frowned upon by the Christian population - getting bombed, getting laid, smoking spliffs, etc.

Anyway, this guy ends up going to Waterloo, comes back after a year, and declares that he's a new Christian man. I was wary of this declaration at first...I mean, here was a man who at one point wouldn't think twice about stealing some guy's $2,500 audio gear from his car and selling it for $10 just to spite him. However, as time progressed, it really looked like he had the "fire of Jesus" in him. Trent ended up attending church and church-related events on a very regular basis. "Good for him," I thought, "it's nice to see a guy change his life around."

The problems started when he came back to Ottawa on regular visits. I would get a call from Trent asking if I had prayed that day.

"No," I would reply, "but I will when I figure out what to pray for."

"You shouldn't have a reason to pray," he would reply, "you should just do it to praise Him."

To amuse him, I then said, "Okay, let's pray right now."

So while the guy is praying over the phone, I turned on the speaker phone with the mute button on, headed to the kitchen to grab a beer, and fired up some porn on the television.

I thought that would be the end of it but then Trent starts calling EVERY DAY...he was becoming like my own Jehovah's Witness nightmare...a Jesus stalker. He would berate me for not taking it seriously and that it was his mission to convert me, like he was some kind of Jesuit and I was some bushman.

Finally, after enduring the calls for a couple of weeks, I decided that I had enough of this clown. He called me up again and asked if I wanted to pray with him.

"Yes, let's do this. I've finally got something that I really want to pray for."

"Great," he replied, "I'll start then."

So he started by saying the usual praises and then concluded by saying that today was a glorious day for I was finally going to speak to Him. I was finally going to pray.

I started...

"God, I'm sorry that I haven't been praying to you for a long time. I haven't had much to pray for because you've already given me a lot and for that, I'm very thankful."

A pause for effect.

"However, today, I've got something to pray for. And knowing that you're an all powerful and merciful God, I'd really like to pray for this now."

Another pause for effect. I could hear Trent breathing excitedly like a little schoolgirl.

"I pray that you'll get this jackass Trent off my case."

Needless to say, we haven't spoken to each other again for several years now.

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