Trip Start Jul 20, 2002
12Trip End Sep 05, 2002
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Still, a nice break before the long haul out west and intot he great unknown. Caught up with old friends, went to visit my old home out in the farmlands, and visited a couple cemeteries, including the sprawling, ornate, and historical Cave Run and the far more modest Mt
Like most southern atheists, I have a curious relationship with God and his little whippersnapper, Jesus Christ. Obviously, the fact that I would call myself an atheist (albeit one who passionately despises debating the existence of God, unlike many atheists) means that I don't attribute too much belief in the existence of God or the notion that Jesus (in whom I do firmly believe as an historic figure, mind you) was his son, but being a Southerner who spent many a Sunday in the polished wooden pews of Centerfield United Methodist, I probably think about religion more fondly and more often than the average atheist. I reckon I'm sort of like a Jew who doesn't believe in God but still enjoys the cultural trappings and history of Judaism. We Southern atheists, as far as I can tell, fall basically into two categories, neither of which involves simply paying Christianity no mind. Either we become vehement, foaming-at-the-mouth denouncers of religion, or we become obsessed with religious archaeology and history.
I fall firmly into the latter, having long ago realized how unappealing I look with foam dripping from my mouth
seems a curious or even contradictory position, then what can I do except fall back on my favorite Walt Whitman quote, to paraphrase: you say I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.
I've never really borne the grudge against religion that some people of my lack of faith seem to carry like a cross, probably because, quite frankly, most of my memories of church and religion are either pleasant or entertaining, sometimes both. Occasionally neither, but what can you do on those days but nod off and not worry about things?
When I was very young, I attended the above mentioned Mt. Tabor United Methodist. It was your typical small-town church, complete with a steeple, homey wooden interiors and that ever-lovin' lack of air conditioning which means you are always met at the front doors by hefty women in Sunday dresses who hand out those little paper fans with pictures of Jesus on them, usually waving at you with upturned palm (later, I realized, he was actually raising his hand to bless us) so that when you fanned yourself during the sermon, it was as if the very hand of Christ Himself was in there kicking up a little breeze
Yes, for some reason, I imagined that every divine display of Christ's power involved him having to wave his hands around in the air, kind of like Kermit the Frog.
I remember very little of my Sundays at Church. I know I went to Sunday School, and I remember very keenly that after every sermon, the kids could all run downstairs for cookies and warm juice, sort of our own version of Communion, but much more enjoyable and sanitary. Much less divine, I suppose, unless someone is convinced that the mystery of the
transfiguration (isn't that what Catholics call it) not only works on blessed wafers, but also allows Christ to turn a Girl Scout Thin Mint and Hi-C into his body and blood as well. I guess he's Jesus, so if he wanted to make a Thin Mint divine, there wouldn't be much to stop him. They already taste divine, after all.
Near the end of each sermon, the minister would call all us kids up to the front of the church for the children's sermon
"So you see," he said in conclusion, because he must have known by this time were thinking as much about cookies and juice as we were about Jesus, "Jesus loves everyone. The rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick. But most of all, he loves all the little people."
And as he said this he gestured warmly to the assembly of children before him. "Jesus loves the little people best of all."
I raised my hand slowly, and the minister smiled benignly at me.
"You mean midgets?"
Such were my experiences in church.