I’m Confused

I live in the part of the United States that is nicknamed the Bible Belt. More and more I am getting the vibe that some of the people I consider to be friends are annoyed or perhaps even angry because of my faith. According to Wikipedia, “The Bible Belt is an informal region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism plays a strong role in society and politics, and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation’s average.”

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I follow blindly.

Knowing that definition sheds a good bit of light on my confusion Since while I am a Christian, I don’t fit into the mold described as the Bible Belt. I was born to Protestant (Baptist) parents but converted to Catholicism in my 30’s. It works for me even though I admit there are certain aspects of being Catholic that I don’t necessarily embrace. That is pretty much true for me being part any formal group. I will go a step further, at the risk of stepping on toes,and say it is part of being an intelligent human being. We question things that are considered fact or truth; it is how we attain the highest levels of learning.

I describe myself as a liberal that at times leans towards the conservative side. I am a Catholic convert raised by Baptist parents. That makes me somewhat of a freak here in the Bible Belt and I am okay with that.

I am also more liberal than conservative. It is very unpopular stance in my community and I accept that some will avoid me for that reason, that is their prerogative. I just don’t understand why that should keep us from being friends. Can’t we still watch a movie, share a meal or have non-political conversations?

I believe that God gave us all free will. As an American citizen I can still enjoy freedoms including voting. I respect that others don’t always share my views and only find it annoying when they treat me as less because of them.

An acquaintance from one of my book clubs proudly shares that she is a member of a local meet-up group called the Godless Heathens. She knows I am a Christian and, at least so far, our differences have not created any tension. While I am concerned about her when it comes to eternity, I don’t preach to her. She in turn doesn’t disrespect my faith or try to change me. Clearly, we don’t agree, yet we can be respectful.

I am totally unprepared for a zombie invasion, yet I still sleep great.

Still, I am confused. If one doesn’t believe in God or a higher power why do you need a group that proclaims it? I don’t believe in zombies but I also don’t need to start a group. I don’t eat beets, I think they taste like dirt, but I don’t need to start a group of beet haters.

Can beet haters and beet lovers live in harmony?

In an online group for writers a member shared a post, an excerpt from their memoir, making it known that they are atheist. A few paragraphs later they described a time of stress and heartache and recounted how they had looked at the other person and cried, “Why, in the name of God would you do that to me?” I commented that I meant no disrespect, but wondered why anyone would cry out to God if they don’t believe in him. It would be like me saying that I cried out in the name of the Tooth Fairy.

The precepts of my faith instruct me to treat all with kindness and love and cautions me that I will be judged as I judge. I try, and frequently fall short of my goal but not everything is about being perfect. My effort gives me a more abundant and happy life. I think I am right, but even if I am not, who am I hurting as a result of my faith?

Thanks for reading. Remember to vote on Tuesday even if it is just to cancel out my vote!!

Special thanks to the following for the use of their photographs; Nick Collins, Zahre E., Aaron Burden, Karl Fredrickson and Zorik D.

3 thoughts on “I’m Confused

  1. I went through a phase of militant, outspoken atheism as well. For me, the reason I was loudly proclaiming my lack of belief (which is rather contradictory as you said) is because of long-lasting trauma and even dysfunction which dogma introduced into my life from the time before I could make my own decisions. At the age of four I barely had enough agency to pick what to eat, much less be told by the people I trusted most, my parents, that I was damned to an eternal hell if I didn’t beg God for forgiveness. It tends to create various complexes in people! Also, the seclusion placed upon my by “separating myself for God” prevented me from being well-adjusted socially. I was not permitted to watch PG-13 or above movies, listen to secular music, partake in any media that had magic or spells, and even believe in something as innocuous as Santa Claus. After all that, surely you can see why someone becomes a bit bitter! But, I have progressed past that now. I still have scorn for dogma and indoctrination in all its forms, but find myself healthily respecting lifelong faiths of others. As far as reaching “across the aisle” for friends, one of my closest compadres is an ardent Evangelical and Republican banner-waver. We shout at each other often, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love and even respect each other!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As president of the Pickled-Beets-with-Clove Clubbe, I invite you to attend any of our meetings, even if you don’t pick up your fork and partake. Even if we can’t break bread together, so to speak, it “beets” being without you! 🙂
    I think there are several reasons why atheists dislike Christians, and in a one-on-one situation, it can be a matter of incorrect assumptions, due to other Christians’ un-christian-like behavior (“Don’t you dare try to push that crap on me when you all don’t even practice what you preach.”).
    I also think there’s frustration over trying to incorrectly fill the God-shaped hole God put in us and that only He can fill (Lord knows I’ve tried that myself), and it’s irritating when Christians claim to have this figured out in a way they just cannot abide. The Bible says there is an innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something “other.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God’s placing of “eternity in man’s heart.”
    I think God keeps poking us and poking us, trying to pull us to Him, until our dying breath, if we don’t give earlier, and that can make you pretty miserable if you won’t even explore the possibility of a Creator.
    Continuing to be friendly and grace-filled toward others, while showing genuine interest in them as people, is the best approach. God loves every one of his children–enough to die for them–so we need to try to do the same. I know you do that!

    Liked by 1 person

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