If They Only Knew
2010-06-24, 1:34 p.m.
So we spent three days at the home of my mother's friend from high school. It was an eerie experience because they are Very Very Christian. What I tend to refer to as "those Christians." I really miss the days when "Christian" translated into "nice person who goes to church more than you do." These days it seems like anyone who proclaims themselves to be Christian turns out to be some kind of "I hate anyone different than me" bigot, because Christ said they should be. Greeeeeeeat.
For the record: my mother is nominally Christian, in the go-to-church-a-few-times-a-year sort of way. I'm... not. I am their worst nightmare and of course I'm going to hell. Naturally, we didn't mention that while we were there. They quizzed Mom on her Christianity, but not me somehow. I don't know why they dodged that one. And they never did find out that I wasn't what they'd want me to be.
The thing is, they were mostly very pleasant people. Friendly, chatty, took us around town, fed us, were very nice. To some degree it was like hanging out with any other friends of Mom's. But underneath there was always the knowledge that if they really knew me, they'd most likely despise me, throw me out, try to forcibly convert me, all of the above. And it's hard to socialize with someone who doesn't know yet that they hate you.
(My shrink, upon hearing me use the h-word this week when recounting this to her, did not like this. She was all, "They wouldn't hate you, they'd just be afraid of you." Well, hate, fear, heavily dislike, disapprove of, take action against... either way, things wouldn't be pleasant very quickly if they ever knew that I wasn't all about the Jesus, correct? And isn't "We hates them because they are different from us" the basis of oh, all the wars ever? I don't think it's drastically different in this case.)
And from time to time, you'd hit a minefield that wouldn't occur to you would be one. There were many moments where my mouth was just hanging open in shock. For example: in normal conversation, one can mention Sleepless In Seattle without hearing that it's horrible because of the lesbians in it. (Huh?!?) The guy mentioned that he used to watch King Of The Hill, until his wife somehow corrected/shamed him about it, so he drilled a hole through the DVD before throwing it away, to make SURE that nobody would filch it out of his trash and watch it. There's just so many "wtf?" moments in this particular story. Like, what was so bad? I thought the Hill family were Christians? Why did you have to prevent others from watching it? Who the hell snoops through your trash for DVD's? And why couldn't you just break the CD in two, that had to be easier than drilling on a slippery surface?
They seem to find most of the world deeply offensive and desperately need to pretend as hard as they can that it doesn't exist. (Reminded me of a jerkass English prof at my college who also doesn't like to acknowledge the modern era, and insisted that his fiction writing class not do it either.) Of course they don't read any sort of fiction, even of the Christian variety. From what I saw of the movies at their house, they don't seem to have any that take place after 1900--which is to say, all I saw there was Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery. They refuse to read or watch any news. My mother wondered later how they ever heard of 9/11, I think they probably still don't know.
I didn't slip up, but Mom did when she mentioned someone she knows (and hangs out with periodically) that had to change gender. I immediately thought, "Oh no, don't go there," but I guess it didn't occur to her. This person had an extremely horrendous time of it and pretty much hit the point where it was either change gender or you're probably going to kill yourself, and sent out a large packet of scientific information on the topic at the time to explain why he was becoming a she. This sort of detail did not budge the guy in this couple at all. "He should have gone to therapy." Mom pointed out that yes, he did do lots of therapy, and it's actually required that you go for a year before you change genders. "Then he should have done ten years of it," the guy replied, followed by, "Well, I wouldn't associate with such a person." Science meant nothing here. Because Jesus never makes mistakes like this, donchaknow. Ditto homosexuality. They didn't exactly say too much on that topic, other than something like "so-and-so was a minister, but then he turned out to be a homosexual," but it didn't sound too good.
This is the same guy who carefully saved a worm from squishing on the sidewalk. This is the same guy who went on about his experiences in Mexico working at an orphanage and how when someone asked him for clothing or money, he should have given those things away because that's what a Christian would do. It was all a very nice story about someone who's clearly more saintly than 99% of the population... and then I thought, "Yeah, but I bet you wouldn't give your stuff away to a gay person." All that generosity is fabulous as long as "they've accepted Christ" and live in the way that you think you should. I can't help but think that Jesus wouldn't approve of scorning others who are different than you. Are you really a true Christian if you do that?
I don't think so, but obviously that doesn't matter.
The ironic thing is that other than a few things here and there, I live a pretty pure and dull life. I'm not an addict, I rarely drink, I have managed to stay gainfully employed, my behavior is downright angelic. I've rarely done anything these people would consider a sin (and let me tell you, that makes me better than half of their kids), I'm probably 95% "pure."
But that doesn't matter.
Their kids haven't turned out well. One of them is an addict (I won't even go into all the details, some of which also made my mouth drop open), and the other one is Even More Christian and even more weird about it, and apparently only just stopped being "quiverfull" after having too many kids in a row. I get the impression that the parents are always on thin ice trying to deal with them without being cut off from the grandkids. For all the careful homeschooling, nobody wanted to go to college. My mom thinks the addict one wanted to rebel, but his dad said reluctantly that he never thought the kid was right inside. I do feel sorry for them about that. "Good Christians" or not, it sounds like their kids are mostly lost to them, and I guess Christ didn't help with that.
It just makes me feel sad. That they can't/won't deal with the real world, and can't just pass off other people's choices as theirs to make without taking personal offense. That they feel like they can and should judge harshly those who don't/can't live as they do. That they feel that Jesus is fine and dandy with making those judgments. I am by no means as studied as they are in the Bible, but I'm fairly sure that Jesus wouldn't like the judging. And I feel sad that they claim to be advocates for this guy who wouldn't like how they are advocating for him.
They made comments about us coming to visit again, but I can't help but think that in a few years, if they knew what I was really like, I wouldn't get the invite.