I met a kindred spirit last week, out on a play date with the boys. She was with her two boys also, and we bonded when our elder kids almost came to fisticuffs inside a Scooby Doo bouncy castle. We chatted easily for an hour or so, between caring for the tots and when she offered her business card, so we could trade blog information and remain in touch, I was delighted, and warmed that she shared a mutual interest in us becoming friends.
So excited in fact that I bragged to my husband about my new friend and, how much we had in common. But later that evening, snuggling on the couch, I retrieved the cutesy, misleading, little business card and had a peek into my new friends artsy world and blog on our Google TV. I can't begin to explain the shock and confusion when what I opened was pure bible propaganda. I still don't know what to think.
I admit this angle shows great business acumen for the South, and her artwork - beneath the scriptures and such - was beautiful. She definitely knows her audience, which I then realized, I obviously don't. Her blog and lifework is dedicated to worship of the Good Lord and so it can't all be just an angle. My kindred spirit is obviously an avid worshiper much like her customers.
It doesn't take much delving round into her networks and such to see how well she is received within this community, and the idea that she could find anything of value in my writing was suddenly absurd. Who wants to waste time reading about my frivolous day-to day drivel, when that time would be better spent praising God Almighty? No matter that I follow the same code of ethics which the great man himself stands for - well some of them at least.
These moments truly bring home to me just how much we don't fit in with the bulk of society here in small-town Texas. Our Sunday mornings are often spent alone, while our friends are dutifully attending one of the gzillion local churches in the area. And all of these churches are packed out. Church it seems, is the most happening place to be on a Sunday - with brunch following close at the heels. Brunch I'll take.
If you haven't already worked this one out, I'm a Brit, born in Yorkshire. I wasn't raised as a devout Christian by any means, however, when I cast my mind back to any form I had to complete throughout my childhood, I was always told to write 'Church of England' in the little box beside the word religion.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I don't actually know what that means. I know we certainly weren't Catholic (to state Granddad was not a fan, would be a bit of an understatement), nor were we Protestant for that matter, and I was always aware (on a child's uncaring level) that the Irish were a bit ticked off with us over this very complex issue.
My parents were not 'practicing' Christians, meaning we didn't attend church on a Sunday. But Christmas and Easter were definitely in. I knew the Lord's Prayer standing on my head - thanks to middle school assembly - and on bank holidays Dad would always have The Ten Commandments - the longest movie in history - playing on the box, from which I acquired most of my Old Testament education.
Grace was never said at the table and there were no prayers before bedtime. I remember it being somewhat of a talking point with my school friends that my siblings and I hadn't been Christened, and for a while I thought that meant I didn't officially have a name.
Apparently my Granny wanted my Dad and uncles Christened, but Granddad was strongly opposed to the religious affair. As the story goes she even tried getting a brother to pose as the father, but Granddad got wind of the goings on and put a stop to it all, at the Church. My husband, although born and raised in Texas, still managed to escape the mark of the holy water, unless you count his Grandfather's own private ritual performed in the kitchen sink when no-one was looking...
I still don't know of any anti-religious reason behind why we weren't Christened, other than it simply wasn't necessary. I haven't really been hampered by my heathen status, other than being deemed unworthy to be Godmother, in the eyes of the Catholic church, to any of my brother's girls. But like my bro said, 'auntie' is a much better title.
In spite of my indifference to religion, I used to love singing hymns at school, especially Christmas Carols, and on the rare occasions we got to carry a lit candle stuck in an orange down the aisle, I didn't mind being in Church, but dear God, those sermons were hard to sit through.
Most church goers (as I recall) were pushing 60 at least. A dying breed - literally. If it weren't for the fact that Church weddings are still fashionable, funerals are a dead cert', and everybody loves a Christening (after all, there's no better excuse for a 'head wetting' afterwards down at the local pub) the Church of England would likely be run out of business.
As things stand in my neck of the woods, we weren't out of the norm. We were basically a pretty standard none practicing 'Christian' family. And I was very much OK with that.
When we were teenagers my big brother decided he was officially an 'Atheist'. He was quite the scientist, and although I followed steadfast in his footsteps I could never gain the courage to agree wholeheartedly that religion was all nonsense. I've never been one to burn bridges, and I felt then (like I still do now) much more comfortable sitting on the fence, than anywhere else on this matter.
With all that said, I still haven't plucked up the courage to forward my blog details on to my new found kindred spirit. I can't decide if the candor in this article would be offensive (perhaps even blasphemous) or just amusing to her - I sincerely hope the latter, but I'm still too chicken to find out.
Admittedly, since choosing to settle in the midst of God Fearing territory, we have been accepted wholeheartedly into the Christian flock, in spite of our heathen status. We have never actually 'come out' as it were, so perhaps this blog will expose us for the heretics we possibly are.
I hope not though. With all the local Church events and church playgrounds we attend (albeit in good 'faith') I sometimes feel a bit like the 'Wedding Crashers', having the time of our lives and taking advantage of the spoils at a party where we truly don't belong.
Speaking of which, this weekend it's Easter. C'mon kids, let's see how many free egg hunts we can hit - bring on the candy!