Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It was all so great and then it wasn't

Vacation was a blast. The Eagle Island on Farm Lake was beautiful. It would have been even better if we didn’t hear the constant sounds of motor boats but since we were transported to the island via motor boat and enjoyed not having to paddle our crap over there, I suppose I shouldn’t complain.

We spent the vacation with a friend I hadn’t been around for any length of time in about 12 years. Now I may be a heathen with feral children, but we did try to be on at least a modified form of good behavior. I told the kids that they were church going folk and we needed to respect that. I wanted the gallows humor and occasional “taking of the lord’s name in vain” to cease and desist for three whole days. Aside from one slip up by my son and my husband humming “Losing My Religion” by REM around the campfire (which I thought was absolutely hilarious), I think we did pretty good.

And then I learned about Jesus. Or should I say, I learned that my friend has been “praying that I would have Christians come into my life”.

And my answer to this is…

“And do what? Clean my house?”

I find this the most irritating kind of comment since I have nothing but Christians in my life. I am surrounded by Christians. I cannot take a step without bumping into a Christian, neither can I swing a dead cat without hitting a Christian. Thankfully though, the Christians I am now surrounded by are the kind that are kind and nice and non-judgemental. They keep their religion out of my life and I don’t go around dancing naked at the alters of their church. We co-exist happily and don’t try to change each other.

Now this is a decided difference from the Christians I used to be surrounded with when I lived in Oklahoma. My husband and I moved to Oklahoma after we decided to get married. We met in Osaka, Japan and needed a place to live in the states and he wanted to be near his dad who had moved to Oklahoma from Colorado after divorcing my mother-in-law. Now I was from Michigan and had never been to the south, except for the time when I was four and visiting Disney Land but that hardly counts.

We lived in Oklahoma for five years. My husband shipped out of Texas and sailed for awhile after I had our two kids. This gave me an interesting perspective on the wonders of the bible belt without having my husband there as a buffer to the inbreds and bible thumpers. I look back on that time and I wonder why I didn’t slap anyone or why they didn’t slap me. It was a relationship of mutual hostility.

I was, on more than one occasion, accosted by the bag boy at the supermarket for a quickie conversion. Now, when the bag boy is over 40 and wants to slip you religious pamphlets from underneath his uniform apron, that might be a sign to shop elsewhere. The last time I went to that store, he laid his hands on my baby daughter’s head and started speaking in tongues and his eyes got all reumy looking. We were still in the store and I was busy writing my check but when I turned around, he was all ready to baptize her using the 2% milk in the cart. I screamed for him to get his damn hands off my child and I almost gave her whiplash from jerking the cart out of his hands and running out if the store. It was not only religiously disturbing but the thought of that creep’s hands on my child, anywhere, made me queasy.

When we ended up in Carney, Oklahoma which is a thriving metropolis, as you can see by the picture, I would find the missionaries on my doorstep way to often for comfort. It seemed like every day but it had to be more like monthly. I think they must have enjoyed seeing me turn purple and scream “GO AWAY!!!”

It all hit the fan when I had a small child, barely old enough to string three sentences together, tell my toddler that she would “Go to hell ‘cuz you don’t go to my church”.

Yes, I am extremely touchy on this subject, perhaps psychotically so. I firmly believe that when I live in a country that has freedom of religion, that it means I have the right to live free of harassment from religion as well.

Things have been far quieter since I moved to Minnesota. Here, when the missionaries come knocking, I find it quite funny. I think it is because I feel like I won’t be dragged out into the street and stoned to death by my neighbors if I don’t drink the Jesus juice.

My favorite incident in MN? When I was walking with family and friends in downtown Duluth and a car with two Mormon boys drove up slowly and the driver leaned out and shouted “I’d like to talk to you about Jesus Christ!”

A drive by saving…hmmm, novel approach…

P.S My friend and I have backed off this subject as she tells me that it was not her intention to "change me". We will now back away slowly and try not to look this subject in the eye for the sake of our friendship.

But I have to include this side note, I love Ray Suarez...

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