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    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    You're in my way

    Christian Driving... The new opportunity for evangelism in the 21st century A.D.

    The Vatican has been made fun of for coming out with the 10 Commandments of Christian driving for Rome. But it's true. Most of the people we meet today are other drivers on the road. How better to present an example of adult Christianity to the unchurched?

    There are many reasons that driving brings out the worst in people, and I think the major catalyst is environment. Architects are perhaps most knowledgeable about the effects of environment. Stepping into a building instantly transforms the lived experience in a major way. The sounds, sights, and space change the person.

    For example, think how you immediately feel walking into a church (one at least 50 years old that is), hospital, prison, business, bank, movie theater, wal-mart, etc.. In an important way everything changes.

    Same with a car. Just inches outside there is heat, dirt, danger, and noise. But in your cozy car there is quiet, music, plush seats, and pleasant confinement. Oh, and always someone in your way... impeding your important progress... an 'idiot'.

    So many opportunities to show Christianity. The Rich Man helping Lazarus. A wave and smile to show recognition as a person. Humility. Consideration.

    And so many opportunities to break out of the 21st century trappings of safety and guaranteed long life into senility. It's not a game with a 'start over' button. Even with air bags and seat belts to ensure your safety, having nothing to do with the other person's safety, it's still a life and death risky krap shoot.

    Generally driving is all about me and my artificial environment. That's easily changed, although seldom considered.


    Drivers inconvenienced by a road-widening project subjected construction workers to so much abuse -- including death threats, BB gun shootings, even a flying burrito -- that the state revoked a rush-hour window and shut down the highway altogether.

    "If you have taken time out of someone's day and add more time to it, their patience levels go off the Richter scale," said Terri Kasinga, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

    The first sign things were going to turn ugly was after the transportation department allowed drivers to use the highway only during rush hour last summer, with traffic flowing in one direction at a time and creeping along behind escort vehicles.

    One person called and said he would climb a water tower and shoot workers. Next came angry exchanges, with one driver tossing a burrito at a construction worker. Vandals tore down barricades and construction equipment was stolen, and authorities threatened to shut down the highway.

    Last September, Charles Fenn was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on allegations that he clipped a flagman with his vehicle on his way home to Wrightwood. When authorities finally caught up with him at his house, they noticed he had shaved off his mustache, said CHP Officer Jeff Perez.

    "I'm the victim," Fenn maintained in a brief phone interview, declining to comment further.

    Earlier this year, another worker felt a stinging sensation on the back of her leg. When she looked down, she found a BB pellet on the ground, Kasinga said.

    Citing the continued clashes and the need to expand the construction zone, the state shut down the road last month and made good on its threat to yank the escorts.


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