Friday, May 26, 2006

In Coeur d'Alene's City Park...
If it ain't one thing, it's another!

In one of my more recent posts, I raised a big stink about rebellious youth and my close encounter with one such person who threatened me. And I think I might have done a good thing, because a lot of commentary was generated, concerning the unsupervised activities of wild teenagers in that area. The bicycle cops, who I've pretty heavily berated, are definitely needed, so I suppose I've changed my tune. We live, we learn, we adjust our outlooks, and go forward. But there are others who lurk in the park after dark. Only, these people aren't vicious. They aren't committing any kind of crime. But invariably, you find 'em waiting for the next unsuspecting passerby, or someone sitting on a park bench that they can approach. These people try to convert you to their religion, always handing out religious tracts, trying to save your soul, and inviting you to the church of their choice. And, basically anyone who approaches you in a religious context will say something along the lines of, "if you don't do what God tells you to do in the Bible, you're going to hell." Only they'll sugar-coat it so as not to scare you off.

My Mom meant well, she really did. She was an on-fire Christian who made sure we all went to Church. She was a very sweet person, but come Sunday Morning, she'd turn into a master-drill-sergeant, because after all, we had to go to Church. And when I was a kid, we went to numerous churches. Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Quaker, Holy Rollers, Pentecostal, and so forth and so on. The upshot of all that? I can't even APPROACH a Church anymore without having a panic attack. I can't even go to a Christmas Eve service. I tried to once; got as fas as the church door, had a panic attack and I had to get out of there. I am bored to tears by sermons, doctrines, liturgies and all of the other religious "ee-i-ee-i-oh's" that seem to present themselves during a typical church service. I remember attending a Pentecostal service once; and all the pastor and congregation did for a solid hour and a half was wail, exhort and gesticulate with fervent energy their attempts to communicate with the holy spirit. At that service, the pastor singled me out and told me to come up front, and he proceeded to put his hands on my shoulders, shake me and tell me to CRY TO JESUS FOR MY SALVATION!!!! I was scared "sense"less. (That's not really the word I wanted to use.)

I have heard every conceivable Church sermon there is. I can tell what a pastor is going to say before he gets to the point. And, the points a Pastor makes could be made by an average person in, say, 5 minutes, but the Pastor has to take half an hour or 45 minutes (if not an hour and a half) making his point. He's gotta earn the money that goes in the collection plate, after all. I'm sorry, every time I went to church, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I felt like I was in a straight-jacket. I have not attended a church service in over 25 years. I've seen the hypocrisy that goes on in churches, I've seen grandstanding and posing by Pastors and congregations alike. I always liked the musical part of the services; I have some favorite hymns, and those old hymns still inspire me. But I'd rather have a root canal without novacaine than listen to a church sermon!

So I don't want to be witnessed to. I believe in God, but I just cannot STAND THE THOUGHT OF GOING TO CHURCH! I'd rather read a few Bible verses on my own, then go outside and contemplate while appreciating this beautiful world God made. And I do believe that God is the Creator, that the Earth's place in the solar system, in just the right place to sustain life, is no accident. But, sometimes when I'm alone, playing guitar outside, I don't want to talk to anyone, I don't want to be approached, I just want to be LEFT ALONE. But oh, no, anyone who's been a former heathen backslider who's been converted and seen the error of their ways, feels he or she has to "share the light" with me, because that's what Jesus wants them to do. Sheesh! I know they're doing what they feel they must do, but I just don't WANT to talk to a stranger about RELIGION, I'm sorry! I can't begin to relate how many times my personal space and solitude has been interrupted by some well-meaning Christian. So, anymore, when someone approaches me and starts their speel, I just say "I don't want to talk about religion". That's it. Kibosh!!

So I was in the park today, appreciating nature and enjoying the sound of my acoustic guitar as the gentle breezes blew around me. Just put a guitar in my hands and I'll be okay. It was kinda gray out there today, and I'm sure there were views around the lake such as in the picture below...

This is an old Ross Hall photo from the 1940's; sailboats on Lake Coeur d'Alene. I like these ghostly old black-and-white photos. I like the degree of implied solitude of that sailboat in the middle of the picture. Maybe that's what I should do; get a boat. Then the Bible-thumpers would have to swim out to me. (unless they manage to somehow walk on water!)


Blogger Phil said...

Dave, you put into words exactly what I've felt about church for a long, long time. I've always had trouble sharing my spiritual beliefs with other people, and the rituals and traditions of most religious institutions have always rubbed me the wrong way.

The comedian Brett Butler has a good quote: "Church was just another place to feel alone and uncomfortable." That's how it's always been for me, since I was a kid. I've attended many types of services, but have never felt welcome by the congregation at large, even after many months of membership. Nowadays I just don't worry about "fitting in" anymore.

7:54 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

I don't really try to fit in. I don't fit. I've tried all my life to fit, and nothing works. And, most of the time, I just don't care. For me, spiritual things are PRIVATE. I hate it when total strangers come up to me, try to "witness" to me, and tell me all the things I must do to be able to "access" heaven. Sheeeeesh. Yadda, yadda, frickin' YADDA.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Yeah, I've never fit in either. Never been part of a group, never invited to join in, etc. Oingo Boingo's "On The Outside" has been my theme song for 25 years, along with "Nobody Takes Me Seriously" by Split Enz.

I don't know why I've never fit in. I'm quite normal looking, with varied tastes and an easy way with conversation. Only now, at 40, am I giving up on "fitting in" and realizing that it doesn't really matter. I have my little family and that's enough for me.

5:07 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said... quoted OINGO BOINGO? I had one of their cassettes once; I listened to a couple of songs that were ABSOLUTELY WRETCHED. Ack! And if Oingo Boingo is quotable, I guess I don't fit! I try to be content with "not fitting", but I never really am. But I put myself under more pressure when I try to fit. What a life...

12:31 AM  

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