Left, Right, and Wrong

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Shortly after I moved to Wilhelmsplatz, I received a call from Second Cousin Jim.

I’ve never met Second Cousin Jim, or Second Cousin-in-Law Judy, or Second Cousins Once Removed Samuel, Jacob, or Maria. Nonetheless, the whole family invited me to visit, since they live in the area.

Surprisingly, I agreed. Family or not, these are total strangers. It is not like me to visit total strangers.

It is also not like me to consort with Air Force bigwigs (Judy) or former army chaplains (Jim). I had reservations about spending the day with people who, I assumed, had totally different outlooks on politics and religion.

But Second Cousin Jim sounded so nice on the phone, so eager to meet me, that I couldn’t refuse. So yesterday I drove out to the Air Force Base, after a quick prayer that these people not stone me once they figured out what I’m like.

Turns out I assumed correctly about their religious views. They interpret the bible literally. Everything they think and do is deliberately, consciously informed by scripture. Striking examples:

  • [on being introduced to a friend of the family]: "This is Barbara. Man oh man, can this lady pray. She sure is a prayin’ woman."
  • "Have you ever met my brother’s son? He was born out of wedlock. I’m so glad he wasn’t aborted."
  • Me: "History is so fun! It’s my favorite thing to study!" Six-year-old: "Jesus is my favorite thing to study."

So yeah, these are some fundamental, evangelical Christians. And despite this, I had a great day.

The family realized very quickly that I practice a distinctly different form of Christianity, that I have a doggedly liberal worldview. But they were very cool about it.

I spent most of the day talking with Jim about the bible. It is a great pleasure to talk with an expert about his subject, be it religion or hog farming or belly-dancing. Jim and I disagreed about a lot, but we were civil and open and attentive. I would like to think I was a good representative of the Other for him.

And this cozy, beautiful family went a long way toward redeeming the right-wingers in my book. We covered a lot of difficult subjects, and never once did I sense any hatred or intolerance. These people look at the world in a completely different way than I do, but there was never any meanness or resentment.

This was very good for me. It forced me to look at them as individuals. I must endeavor to apprecite the unique and valid people who represent everything I don’t stand for. They are not the enemy. They’re just different.

Also got a behind-the-scenes tour of a naval docking base. Civilians don’t normally get to see this kind of thing, but thanks to Judy’s rank, I got to see some HUGE Navy carriers. They are massive. My brain couldn’t process what my eyes were seeing. They are threatening and intimidating and powerful– exactly the kind of thing my pacifist soul recoils against, but durn if it wasn’t fascinating.

Plus I got to spend time with kids, something I don’t normally do. I’m not comfortable around children, so it was good practice. We read lots of books together and I got some excellent snuggle from the three-year-old.

I wussed out of going to church with them, though. Maybe next time. Besides, I think I got enough churching from spending all day in conversation with a man of the cloth.

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One response »

  1. The Queen of Claremont

    Jesscia Darlin’I know you told me months ago that you had started a blog, but you have to remember that I am nowhere near as technologically savvy as you, despite my being (yes, possessive with a gerund) intelligent, liberal, well-read, well-informed, and far more hip than any of your previous co-workers (and shouldn’t ‘cuter’ figure into that scenario?). I (blush) have to admit that it just occured to me to read all your entries, and while I find them wonderfully entertaining, I offer this comment:WHERE THE HELL are all the references to ME, other than the beautiful bleeding bride? No mention is made of any of our many emails I have achived in my BRL account regarding:GrammarNPRIdiocy in the BRLGrammar usage and spellingPETERA crazy trip to Willemspat(or whatever you call it)Your cheating/pulling vernacular for errorsJohnny’s buttPoliticsHow many movies I tried to get you to watchHow insightful I am despite not being a college gradHow wonderful you are at what you doGrammarHow I alone mentioned at BrMgr meeting how GOOD you areBooks we both enjoyed(Grammar Snobs)….and many, many more.No mention is made of MY birthday party – I thought you met some rather interesting characters here!I do want to apologise to you for not being aware of how stressed you were during the move. Perhaps if I had been more techno-savvy, I would have read your blogs instead of just emailing and asking how you were doing. I do hope that in some small way I helped; I know that I enjoyed co-piloting our day of exploration/shopping/wandering around Food Lion for an hour trying-to-decide-what-I-could-feed-you-in-the-car-on-the-mad-dash-to-the-ferry.Guess I am just looking for my 15 minutes of fame being showcased in your blog!I also want readers of your blog to know how wonderfully impressed I am with your social awareness, your commitment to serving the public, your willingness to recycle, and your overall love of all that is righteous. Your slant on political issues makes you a great candidate for a political agenda. I love how assured you are of your ideals – kinda(there’s my favorite word!)reminds me of someone I know and loved almost 30 years ago,"They say" understanding skips a generation…that must be what makes this relationship work as well as it does!I am so very glad that you are happy and enjoying your job and living situation. BRL misses you… I especially, and the system will suffer without your input. But I revel in the fact that we still communicate, and I promise that I will now check your blog more often so that I know what is going on in your life in greater detail!

    Reply

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