Even though my wife lived in Canada for 8 years and got a little taste of North America, she is still getting used to the things that are very different here in the U.S. Even though Kansas City is much more slower paced that Chicago, it is still an American city and it moves at a good pace. When she is surprised by something here it makes us both laugh and reminds us how cool it is to have a similar background, a similar understanding of life. Actually we spend quite a bit of time laughing, from our little inside jokes to just getting each other’s sense of humor we spend quite a bit of time chuckling.
Religion is one of the things we have in common, and funny enough we ventured outside of the Catholic faith during our younger years. I think I did a little more venturing than her, but we both agree that we like going to mass and get something out of it. We don’t have a policy in religion for our friends and respect their beliefs or atheism. We are actually quite open to discussing the subject and explain what is the whole deal with the Virgin Mary or Rosaries or whatever it is that people from other faiths just don’t get. However we do not evangelize or try to convert people with words and arguments.
This week my wife was ambushed by religion. On this particular denomination I happen to have a lot more knowledge because someone in my family is a Jehova’s witness… I think this was the first time she encountered the no birthday policy they have. She asked a coworker if she wanted to sign a birthday card and was met by a very short “We don’t celebrate birthdays.” from a person she likes and appreciates already.
That right there is my problem with some institutions. The moment where you have to take a “we” stand… the moment where you stop being yourself and become just a piece of the big puzzle. Then when an unsuspecting person approaches you and touches the “I have been told I cannot do that” button, they are met with an uncharacteristic programmed response.
Some of the closest friends I made during my time in Michigan were from a very fundamentalist church. This was my second time trying a very strict protestant church. I respected most of their beliefs and helped out quite a bit around the church. I hanged out with them all the time and they became my support structure. It all ended when I refused to believe that they had a prophet that actually knew when rapture was going to happen.
I have seen this tactic before first hand and both times it involved money. The more you gave and sacrificed, the more “grace” you were going to receive. Furthermore, if things were not going well in your life, you were not giving enough. It was run like a business and they were selling salvation and in some extreme cases healing. The preacher would drive around on a brand new jag and had a brand new Harley while everyone else in the congregation could barely afford the Sunday clothes.
Like the time before when I had been ambushed by religion, they had a sit down with me telling me that I either believed what they said without challenge or I could not attend church anymore. In one conversation with someone I though was my friend my support structure was completely removed. I was very close with a couple that attended the church and we kept contact after the whole incident, but it was very clear that hanging around with me was going to cause them problem so I am waiting until the time where the world was supposed to end to give them a call. Actually it might have already passed so maybe I should call them to see if now that the prophet failed to predict everyone’s demise we are allowed to hang out… maybe there was an extension to get every last cent from their pockets.