Had an odd experience this week, in that the Missus, the Midget and I were invited to witness my sister-in-law’s conversion to the Baptist faith. The Missus and her whole clan were raised Catholic but my SIL married into a family of Baptists, which led her to start to consider this process. No gripes against her husband, as he’s one of the most decent men I’ve ever met and the only thing I’ve ever been able to find wrong with him is that he’s a Bears and Cubs fan.
My biggest problem with this whole thing was the concept of certainty that people were holding about their religious structure. In listening to the prayers there, it seemed to me that there were very few differences in terms of the core beliefs between her former and soon-to-be religions. It wasn’t as if she was moving from a religion that viewed Jesus Christ as a deity to one that worshiped house plants and Henny Youngman. The use of the baptism, the petitions of faith and even a few of the songs (got an interesting version of “How Great Thou Art” rolling in the place) had clear crossover.
And yet there was a sense within that church that they had “saved” someone from sheer peril and the evil of her former faith. During parts of the early prayer service when they talked about how my SIL was “finding Jesus” I wanted to pipe up with, “Yeah, she kind of found him before when she was baptized, received communion and participated in confirmation in another branch of Christian faith, but hey, let’s not ruin the narrative.” I also had a moment during the “spontaneous praying” in which someone noted that the country was founded “for them to worship Jesus” and I wanted to break out my handy copy of the First Amendment for my “spontaneous prayer.” The Missus probably captured the feeling best when she said, “It’s like after you get your ass kicked in a softball game as a kid and they make you line up and say “good game.” You know the other kids aren’t thinking it was a good game. They’re practically laughing at you for having sucked so bad.”
I think I finally came to the conclusion that there is a reason I dislike the people I dislike. These folks were like many of the Republicans I know, the Duke basketball fans I know and the other general toolboxes who seem to propagate talk radio. The conviction of absolute certainty that THEIR WAY is the ONLY WAY discomfits me in many ways. I have faith in God, I worship as I see fit and I am happy to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the choices I’ve made. There’s not a sense that this is right for everyone and yet at the end of the day, I’m happy with what I’ve done, right or wrong. However, the people who feel the need to squeeze you until you cry “uncle” to adopt their philosophy aren’t going to be people with whom I feel comfortable.
Maybe that’s just me, but if someone has to be right at all costs, chances are, they’ve been wrong all along.