Not that I had any to begin with.
In the 'M' section of our paper - I hate the name too, it's meant for women because it stands for everything women love - men and Memphis and other m things! I remember a few angry letters to the editor, but whatever. Monday is Health Day, Wednesday is Food, Friday is Home and Garden, Saturday has 2-3 religious pages - church listings, what this church group did, blah blah - Sunday is fashion, romance, and travel. It's also home to the comics, and only women read those, as well, I suppose. It's home to the crossword and other puzzles, as well as the advice columns - Miss Manners, "Annie's Mailbox", Doctor Gott, and, the point of this post, Billy Graham.
Every one of the Reverend's answers ends with God sent his only son down, accept him into your heart, and all will be well.
Today, a kid (or someone pretending to be a kid) wrote in asking where did God come from? Does God have a Mommy and a Daddy? Will God die? (Yes, God will die.)
The good reverend said God's always been there, and he's always going to be there, and he wants to be your friend, all you have to do is ask Jesus to come into your heart and he will and you will be saved.
I'm sitting on the living room floor, hunched over the paper, so I sit up and say, "Jesus! Come in my heart!"
This pisses off my sister, because she's not a morning person and she had to go stand in at the cold bus stop for at least 5 minutes without a personal heater or electric blanket.
"He'll only come in your heart if you mean it, you're just doing this out of spite."
"No, I'm having fun. And how will I know when I mean it?"
"You just will!"
"I don't understand."
"No, you don't."
And out she goes.
I never lost my religion, because I never had one. We were raised Christian, but at that young, extremely impressionable age, we didn't go to church, so it never felt real to me.
I hate church services. I always have. They bore me to tears. Even though we started going to the Methodist Church when I was old enough to sit still, I doodled most of the time in the paper books provided for us immature people.
Mom and Beck went back to church this fall after about 3 years out, and Mom acted even more immature - she kept signing things to my sister. (Nobody's deaf in my family, my mom works with deaf kids, and like any other language, you pick up bits and pieces. I know a cuss word, and that's all that matters.)
They used to go every Sunday morning, and I had to go. I said forcing it on me would make me hate it, that didn't matter, I needed to get out, so we compromised, and I got to take Dixie for a walk through a tree-lined path above a creek.
They haven't gone to a Sunday morning service for a couple months - I know they went to the midnight service on Christmas Eve. But Becky's getting a lot out of her youth group, and that's great. The Methodist church is the most liberal in the area, at least how it's preached at the one she goes to. (I'm not pressured to go.)
I feel guilty for not believing, for not going, for not caring about God.
To justify this to myself and my family, I decided if I went because I had to, and I didn't believe in it, that would make God angry and waste everyone's time. If I go because I want to, I think that's better. My devout Christian friend agrees with me - don't go because you have to, go because you feel the spirit, because you want to. Everyone in my family assumes I will find religion one day, but I don't know if I will, and I don't care if I do or not.
The crisis center I volunteer at is a 'ministry', but nobody's asked me what church I go to, or anything approaching that. All the volunteers there, including the woman in charge, are great people, exactly what Christians should be, at least in my eyes. Kind and giving. Of course, I think all people, of all religions and mindsets should be so kind.
Lois, the woman in charge, lives in my neighborhood, so I come in with her and usually leave with her. One day last fall, soon after I'd started, she asked me why I hadn't been at church lately. I said I didn't want to go, and that was it, it's never been brought up again.
You can preach at me all you want, tell me I'll go to hell, it won't work.
Religion is a private, personal thing, and I think converting people to your church (or any group) by telling me I'm going to hell if I don't believe exactly what I'm supposed to is just plain stupid. The converts you get, you got through fear.
People should be allowed to make their own conclusions, and believe what they want to believe. So much of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity is belief in one God who rules everything and everyone. You can't make someone believe something, you can't force a belief on anyone.
But that's my belief, and I'm forcing it on you.
So it goes, eh?
My devout Christian friend (this is the south, almost everyone goes to church every week) that I mentioned earlier - I believe that her faith is incredibly strong and real, because she came to it on her own, as a teenager. An internet Christian friend - I respect her beliefs for the same reason, she accepted Christ as an adult.
That rings truer to me than someone who believes because they've been going to church their whole lives, were baptized as soon as possible, etc. Not that their beliefs are less valid or real, I just view them differently. One group came to a conclusion, the other had the conclusion pushed on them before they knew what was happening.
I do respect everybody's beliefs, whether they came to them as an adult, or were raised with them.
I just don't share it, and telling me I will won't make it so.
But I shouldn't make fun of it on a Monday morning when Becky's on her way to school. That's suicide. I'm sorry, Beck. In my defense, though, all those weird Jack Chick Tracts say it's as simple as saying "God! Get in my heart! I'm sorry!" Which I know to be false, I was merely having some sarcastic fun. At a bad moment. I truly am sorry, Becky, I won't ask you any more questions about your beliefs.