Thursday, September 08, 2005

Protect Me From Your Followers

Hold hands people, we are broaching the "taboo" (blame Kris because he brought it up).

I was raised in a Christian home - Lutheran and Presbyterian. Once we lived in town, we were fairly frequent church-going people. We did the midnight Christmas service and walked around with ashes on our heads (I do admit, as a child, being thrilled when, twice a year, my parents would space day-light savings and we would either arrive too early or too late for church and decide to go to breakfast instead). I even taught Sunday School when I was in high school (occasionally having to brightly tell the little ones "I'll be right back!" then rushing out the door to go throw up in the bushes after a particularly bad night of partying). I know all the stories and a LOT of songs (my particular favorite - feel free to sing along - "Noah he built him, he built him and ark-y ark-y, Noah he built him, He built him an ark-y ark-y, Built it out of *clap* gopher bark-y bark-y, children of the lord).

Sometime in my early 20's, things started to change. I actually started to THINK about my religion as opposed to just following where my parents had led. I had developed a bad taste in my mouth when the pastor at our church left and the new guy was just an complete and utter asshat. I couldn't believe that I had to LISTEN to this guy. He seemed much more focused on trying to get the church to get him a mini-van than he was about "tending his flock". I also read this book. What made me think the most was when he described that no matter what religion the person was during their life, when they died, they all went to the same place. I also came to believe that your religion is almost completely based on your geographic location at birth. If you are born in Central or South America, you're going to be a Catholic. India - Hindu. China and Japan - Buddhist. Middle East - Muslim. South Africa - Tribal religion. 99.9% of the time, you are the religion of your parents.

I became more of a "spiritual" person and less of a "religious" person.

The more "open minded" I became, the more distressed I was that "religious" people I met were so unaccepting. Each religion seems to ingrain in its followers that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Mormons don't get along with Baptists who don't trust Jews who dislike Catholics, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Since we moved to The Bible Belt, it has been particularly hard. I feel like I have to hide. I'm "in the closet", so to speak. Two of my neighbors are very involved in the same GIGANTIC Methodist church. They used to ask us to come along, but the invitations get less and less frequent. I think they are on to us. I think they are worried about us.

If I were to start my own religion it would be The Church of the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." That's it. Period. Would you like it if someone stole your car? Then don't' steal theirs. Would you like it if someone slept with your spouse? Killed your dog? Spray painted on your wall? Cursed you out? THEN DON'T DO IT TO THEM. It would be a karma based religion.

I was behind a car in traffic recently. On the back were not only a metal "Jesus fish" but also a WWJD sticker (to which I say ha and ha) and her license plate was something religious as well. A truck was trying to enter our lane from a parking lot and she kept scooting up to the car in front of her to make SURE he couldn't get in in front of her. I wanted to get out of my car, go pound on her window and yell, "What Would Jesus Do? He would let that poor sod out in to traffic, you cow!" I, of course, let him in. That's what I would want someone to do for me, after all.

Maybe it should be The Church of Everyone is Watching and Grading Your Performance.