A Tipsy Night of Beer and Religion

This is a paper i wrote in college for my religion class.  It is an un-biased paper with no religion bashing or anything.  Instead of a traditional essay, i did it in story form.  I put it here as a sort of comparison to my high school papers.  Teacher notes and grade are at the bottom.  The prompt began, ‘a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a Confucian walk into a bar…’ and we were supposed to explain the similarities and differences of the religions.

 

A Tipsy Night of Beer and Religion

            The night was aphotic, and the deep, lightless stretch of concrete leading to the bar’s rusty door and burly bouncer was shadowy and obscure.  But regardless of its ominous appearance, nothing was getting in the way of Burt’s drunken venture.  Although a zealous Hindu, Burt preferred not to think about religion when he was intoxicated, or vomiting, of which he was doing both.  So he continued on undeterred.

Burt stumbled through the alleyway longing for the sweet freedom and release that an excess of malt beverages would bring, and once through the door, he collapsed into the drearily moist room, already filling up steadily with cigar smoke.  Looking around he located his friends, Big-bird and Super-fly, already hammering down their second pitcher of bubbling, goldenrod liquid.  He walked over and greeted his friends with slurred speech, who were debating heavily over their respective religions, Buddhism and Confucianism.  Frothing with saliva, Burt decided to join the conversation, spewing out words that made little sense to anyone but his equally woozy friends.  Eventually, the three of them would come to a stunning conclusion: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, all similar and different in many aspects, each have their own fundamental human problem, the solution to such, which is the goal to life, and their own rituals, and gods.

“Now us Hindus,” explained Burt shakily, “us Hindus…we…have one problem in life: samsara.”  Super-fly gave Big-bird a confused glance.

“What?” barked Super-fly, beer dribbling down his chin and extremities, “what the hell is samsara?”

Burt rolled his eyes gaudily and explained in haste, “It is the cycle of life and re-birth, in which we live, and it is characterized by suffering.  The only way to avoid this cycle is to attain moksa or liberation, which can be done through meditation, yoga, renouncing the world, or philosophical reflection.”

“phili… what?” challenged Big-bird, obtusely, his high-school education flowing into action.  “Buddhism is much simpler; allow me to explain.”  The words seemed to melt out of Big-birds numb mouth, oozing onto the table in incoherent puddles as Super-fly and Burt nodded quizzically in response, prodding him to divulge further as not to enrage their finicky friend.

Big-bird began to explain, “In Buddhism…” but the waitress cut him off, sauntering over slowly and attractively.

“Anything else, gentlemen?”  She brushed her citreous hair over her shoulder, revealing her cerulean eyes and supple skin, blemishes eluding every visible curve.  Even in the dim bar-light her eyes glowed, reflecting Big-birds gaping jaw, practically hitting the table.

“Uh…no” Burt sputtered, trying to wink charmingly, “no, we’re…we’re fine.”  She giggled at his awkward speech and brushed his arm.

“I’ll check on you later” she purred.  Burt practically choked on the free peanuts that lay before him in a wet, salty mess.

Big-bird broke the silence glowering at Burt’s fortune.  “Anyway…back to Buddhism.  See the problem is much simpler than yours, Burt.”  The words stuck thickly to Big-bird’s palate, coming out like syrup.  “The problem is dukkha or suffering.  Life is suffering because everything changes and nothing is permanent, and if you want to evade this suffering, you must eradicate desire by achieving nirvana, that is, enlightenment.”

“Seems kind of mundane,” Burt callously interjected.  Religion was evidently not a normal topic for this trio, especially when they were intoxicated.  However, Big-bird, seemingly taking no offense, continued undeterred, “and you can achieve this state by following Buddha’s eight-fold path.”

“Yea, I’ve heard of that.  Sounds like a bunch of crap to me,” bellowed Super-fly, laughing at his own joke mechanically.

Big-bird’s eyes became fire, and he struck the table.  A deafening crack splintered his two friends’ ears, exploding like firecrackers inside their eardrums.  Half of the bar turned to gawk at the impending fight.

“Alright, alright, everybody cool it.  Big-bird, maybe you need to go outside for a while,” exclaimed Burt.  “Super-fly, why don’t you tell us what is so great about Confucianism in the mean time.”

Super-fly, still staring at the indented table−yellow hair sprinkled around, sticking to the foaming, orange goop that caked the oak surface−sputtered, “oh…yea…um…sure… It is all about chaos.  The world is chaos and the solution is to cultivate order through means of becoming morally evolved.  This can be achieved by striving to be wise, courageous, trustworthy, reverent, and being filially pious.”

“At the base, they all seem similar, almost the same,” spoke Burt, “I think we need to look at our god(s) and rituals to really delve into this topic properly.”

“I suppose, but let’s get that fine waitress over here and order some wings first,” Super-fly grumbled.  Burt approved, nodding enthusiastically.

“Waitress! Waitress!” he screamed, half-hearted and foolish affection directing his words towards the blonde that had been trying to squeeze a hefty tip from him earlier.  She quickly walked over, ignoring her other tables on the way.  “Waitress, can we have…I’m sorry, how rude of me.  I didn’t even get your name.”  Alexa blinked hesitantly, slowly looked down at her glimmering nametag and stated rather obviously, “my name is Alexa.”  The slight mockery surpassed Burt’s inebriated mentality and he spoke thankfully, “alright then, may we have some wings, darling?”  Alexa spoke cautiously “sure thing,” and walked away, looking over her shoulder warily as she made her twisting voyage into the kitchen.

Burt declared with a clap of his hands, “Okay, back to business.  In Hinduism, we perform puja, which is worship and adoration directed at our god of choice.”  Peanut shells sputtered from his excitable mouth as he spoke, Super-fly taking no notice.  “You see, Hinduism has many gods, and we have the luxury of choosing which one(s) to follow.  For example, Vishnu preserves and sustains the universe; he is like the super-god.  Then there is Siva, the god of destruction, and Devi who is Siva’s wife, both of which have benign and fierce representations.  Finally, my favorite god, Ganesh; he is the crazy, elephant-headed son of Siva and removes obstacles for his adorers. What about you, Super-fly?”  As he sung the question, syllable lubricated with beer, an algific burst of air rushed into the room sending shivers and bumps coursing through Super-fly’s body.  Through chattering lips, Super-fly spake, “let Big-bird go first.”  “Okay,” Burt said, elongating the words awkwardly.  Turning around he shouted, “Big-bird, tell us about Buddhism’s rituals and gods.”

Big-bird walked over and sat down with a soft thud, contemplating on how to approach the question.  “Well, my religion does not have a god.  Instead we follow after Buddha’s teachings in doing rituals such as meditation and supporting the Buddhist monks and nuns.  If I do this, I believe that I will perhaps be re-born in another life as a monk.”  As Big-bird finished his last words, Alexa walked stealthily up to the table and placed a heaping batch of viscous, claret meat in front of him, faint clouds of steam trailing behind.

Alexa spoke wearisomely, “Here you are gentlemen, enjoy,” and retreated to another table with a crying child.  Big-bird, heedless to the hot vapors, took the bird that Alexa had laid for the men to eat and jammed it into his mouth, producing a slight bulge in his cheek.  Suppressed by the wing within his face, Big-bird howled in ironic anguish, “Ohhmmm…Ummmghhh,” before he finally opened his mouth and let the meat plummet onto his dish.  Containing their laughs, Burt and Super-fly offered him their sentiments, but they reached deaf ears, Big-bird too focused on his singed mouth to respond.

“Well I suppose I will speak next,” chimed Super-fly, attempting to hide his pleasure of karma’s retribution on Big-bird.  “In Confucianism, similar to Buddhism, there is no god per se.  We instead look to Confucius, a human such as ourselves who was sanctioned under the Mandate of Heaven, for guidance.  As for rituals, we commemorate our ancestors with sacrifice and strive to become morally evolved through filial piety and Ren.  This simply means to become human, which we can all achieve if shone the proper way to act.”  The group received Super-fly with approval or at least mild apathy and finished their meal in silence.

Though conflicting in religious and womanly views, the three friends finished their reasonably priced meal and sloppily motioned for the check using a bizarre mixture of hand symbols that, from a distance, deceivingly appeared to be the middle finger.

As Burt, Big-bird, and Super-fly finished their remaining remnants, awkwardly attempted to ask Alexa back to their apartment, and paid for their check, the night slowly began to fade into morning, gorging itself on the sun’s lutescent light and creeping into the bar through the blinds.  They made their way lethargically along the stubby, uneven carpet, bracing their wavering bodies on each other and the terracotta wall leading to the exit.  A stocky bouncer, different from the one a few hours previous, greeted them roughly, not in the mood for three seemingly drunk, religious nuts.  The morning’s light scorched their retinas as they stumbled out of the bar into the now-approachable alleyway.  A jasmine-colored cab awaited them, the groggy driver impatiently tapping his meter as he stared cynically at the incoming friends.  Behind them, the bouncer’s faint yells could be heard, the sound lessened by the trio’s drunken state, “and don’t ever come back!”

Burt gurgled in response, saliva dribbling down his features, “ehh…says who.  I love you Alexa!  I’ll be back!”

*Teacher notes: “✔ Good”

*Grade received: 70/70

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