Monday, January 11, 2016

Stay Private Please

I got a lovely email from a friend from high school and with whom I re recently reconnected. It ended with her name followed by the words, “in Christ.”

One summer I met a wealthy American family who were staying in the same hotel — their son and I were both on crutches, hence their daily invitations to join them for one of their daily very smart teas, always at 16:00. I always declined.

I declined because I did not want to accept in the morning and obligate myself to be b back at the hotel so early, not because I had any disinclination to meet them. But I felt I had to accept their invitation on my last day at the B&B, so I did. Their response to every single question I asked included a reference to God or Christ.

Why do these people do this? Do they know that it makes me, and likely others, want to run to the hills? When I am with someone who does this, I am tempted to reciprocate by referencing one of my cultural affiliations. Say, for example, by ending something I was saying with, “Praise sodomy.”

Making overt Christian references in your day-to-day communication with people whom you don’t know is rude; it is very aggressive, forcing anyone offended to accept it, speak up in protest or leave. I don’t like any of the choices but I have no alternative. 

When I first decided to speak up, I asked, “What compels you to bring your faith into the foreground?” But I will not do that again because I discovered that I have absolutely no desire to hear their answer.

My next approach was to say: “I’m sorry, but your frequent references to your Christian faith make me uncomfortable.” Twice, this approach led to the person with whom I’ve been speaking to challenge my resistance and to proselytize. Again, it’s aggressive and I feel very uncomfortable; all I want to do is flee.

And this is coming from someone more God-positive than most anyone I know. I love the idea of God. I love the values the concept stands for. I revere nature and life and without my desire for God, there’d be no place or person for my passionate gratitude.

… And then there’s Sue. She’s considerably older than me, and a doll. She and I and a mutual friend were arranging to have lunch together. Paula asked what kind of cuisine we preferred. While I was thinking about my answer, Sue said. “Oh, I know a place I like.”

Paula asked the name of the restaurant and we all knew and liked it. But Paula said she found it a bit pricey and casually asked what it was Sue liked so much about it and Sue said, “There’s never any Chinks there.”

I’d known her for years and could not imagine anything like that coming from her but it did.

You can be whomever you want. You can believe whatever you want. I believe in tolerance and acceptance. Be nice to me and I will be nice to you. But please: Keep your faith and prejudices private, okay!

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