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.

My Anti-Bucket List

Lots of people talk about bucket lists; things that one would like to see, do or accomplish before it’s too late. Twenty years ago if I had created such a list it would have been filled with oodles of adventures, accomplishments and stellar moments. Now that I am closer to 60 than I am to 50 it is difficult to think of things to put on my bucket list.

    That fact got me to begin thinking about an anti-bucket list; things that I hope and pray I never endure or face.  Here is my top ten:

Without God I would find no purpose in life

Lose My Faith in God – I am a Catholic Christian and make no apology for it. I believe that God has blessed me and carried me through the darkest times in my life and shared my joy during the best parts.

Live longer than my child – Not much explanation is needed here. Out living ones children goes against nature and I have great sympathy for all who have had to walk that road.

Alzheimer’s – I fear cancer, strokes, loss of vision and/or hearing but the possibility of losing my mind is terrifying. I don’t know, but I think the worst would be when you brain is still strong enough that you realize you are fading into an empty shell of who you are supposed to be.  I recently read the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It was the best book I hated reading.

There are things worse than death

Experience a war on American soil – I never served in the military but have great appreciation for those that have. I can’t claim first hand knowledge of the horrors of war. I can’t begin to comprehend being surrounded by hate and death but I also know it may happen.

Be the last one standing – My grandmother lived to be 102 years old. Like most kids I used to think it would be great to live to be 100 or even forever. Now I think how lonely it would be to live when all your friends and close in age relatives to have already passed away.  I don’t want to be last.

Become bitter – Life is hard and it would be easy to focus on the painful experiences and the hurtful people.  I want to always remember to look for the good in others and to do what I can to sprinkle joy into the lives of others.

Laughter is natural, Babies laugh long before they talk.

Forget how to laugh – Laughing in a way that is hurtful or insulting to others is never appropriate. However, seeing the humor in our everyday lives and sharing a giggle or a full belly laugh with others creates positive connections, something we all need. I especially hope I keep and embrace the ability to laugh at myself.

Stop learning – There is so much that I simply won’t have time to learn so I must learn as much as I can while I can.

Refuse to stop driving when I should – If I live long enough there will come a time when I will need to stop driving. If that happens I know I will struggle to give up that independence but I pray I will gracefully give my son my keys and wait until after he leaves with the car before I cry.

Waste precious time on superficial people – The clock is ticking and time is running out. I don’t want to waste time with people that don’t really care about me or I about them. I can choose to not answer certain calls and I can say no to some requests.

    I would love to know what you have on your anti-bucket list. It’s your list so there are no wrong answers.  Do we have any list items in common?

Thanks for reading, have a blessed week!