Monday, April 17, 2006

Was I Talking To You?

Yesterday, while at a meeting of friends and acquaintances that I attend weekly, a friend greeted me with a cordial “happy Easter!” I replied in kind, in much the same way I would wish someone a “merry Christmas.” He then proceeded to enquire how my day was. I responded with “just another Sunday…” My friend, knowing what my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are, just gave me an understanding smile, knowing that in my world, "just another Sunday" is a pretty darned good day. However, someone else standing in the general vicinity took this as an opportunity to educate me. He said something like this: “This is Easter, the day our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was resurrected…” There was more and I am paraphrasing… he used the terminology and vernacular that was probably directly quoted from the Bible.

I was not speaking with this gentleman, nor did I know him. Although this group meets in a church, it is not a religious organization by any stretch of the imagination. Those who know me will not be shocked by my response and to those who don’t - I absolutely mean no offense. I said: “That’s what I heard too,” which is of course, true. And I heard it again from him. I continued with, “and it might even be true.” That shut him up.

The facetiousness was intentional, not incidental. That does not, however, take away from the truth of my statements. I get what yesterday meant to this guy. I get what Easter means to Christians in general; I didn’t used to, but I am considerably more open-minded than I used to be. I can understand how a deep belief in something can make it true – for you. What many (certainly not all or even most) Christians don’t get is how in the world Easter and Christmas and the countless other Christian holy days don’t mean anything special to those who do not subscribe to their beliefs.

Furthermore (you knew there had to be a furthermore!), I did not ask what Easter meant. I guess this advocate of Christianity heard in my “just another Sunday” response a cry for help, for understanding - or perhaps I wanted to be saved? Needless to say, not so. Here’s the deal… this is what Easter meant (past tense) to me: When I was a kid, it was about the Easter Bunny, coloring eggs and finding them on Easter morning. When I had young kids, it was about coloring Easter Eggs, the Easter Bunny and hiding the eggs early on Easter morning. Now, it’s just another Sunday. I expect that when I have grandchildren, the ritual will start all over again and I’m fine with that.

The best quality about my spiritual beliefs is that they are unique. I don’t think I could explain it even if I wanted to and I never even try unless asked. That means I am not trying to solicit or recruit followers nor am I promoting my beliefs. Although they work for me, I have no way of knowing if they’ll work for anyone else, but I am happy to try to explain if asked. By the same token, if I ask someone else, then I am listening – genuinely and without any facetious comments. I am not close-minded, I have asked… and listened. However, if you hear me talking to a friend and I happen to mention Easter and I “get it wrong,” please don’t try to educate me, I may be tempted to say something very unspiritual - and neither of us wants that.


UltimateWriter said...

On any topic, sometimes people go overboard with their urge to educate. That's when you fake stifling a burp, grab your stomach and pull out the "excuse me, but I've got bad gas, I gotta go." line.

Sadie Lou said...

I agree that the stranger was being overzealous but I don't think he was trying to insult you with his "education". I'm always surprised when people get disgruntled towards someone who is sharing their beliefs with another.
If someone started educating me on some satanic observance, I would very respectfully tell them I'm not interested. When Mormons come knocking on my door (which I think is REALLY overzealous) I just pretend I'm not home or answer the door and tell them I'm not interested. Why be rude?
Why respond in anger or disgust?
They are just trying to share with others what is getting them through life, ya know? How can you fault them for that?
Although in your case, I think the stranger was not sharing with you but "telling" you and that's a difference. I can understand your response.

Michael K. Althouse said...

uw ~ ya, I guess that would work too.

sadie ~ the problem with the scenario I presented is that it was an "A & B" conversation. This guy needed to "C" his way out of it. It was an exchange of cordialities between friends at the coffee pot. Neither of us had ever seen this guy before. His input wasn't requested or welcomed. I guess he heard "Easter" and decided to butt right in. It would have been rude no matter how he interupted, that he used his faith as an excuse just made it that much worse.

Ellen said...

Sometimes you have to be direct to shut these people off, otherwise they feel it is their job to save or educate you.
Here's to you for thinking fast, but not rude... as I think you let him off easy, considering his abrupt educational interruption into your conversation with somebody else.

neal said...

It almost reminds me of telemarketers. They intrude on your time and don't take no for an answer. I have gotten awful crude and rude with them.

Once someone from the San Francisco Chronicle called to try and get me to subscribe. I kept saying I don't read the paper. Finally I asked if they had it in Braile because I was blind. That shut her up.

Sometimes you just have to be that way to let people know you aren't interested in what they are saying or selling.

Bar L. said...

Mike - great rant, I mean post ;)

CyberKitten said...

Firstly I would have ignored the rude interuption. If he'd tried again he would've got a few choice words.

How dare he barge in on a private conversation with his personal beliefs!

Kathleen Jennette said...

Thank you for that...

freethoughtguy said...

Great Post!

I would have offered further education ... Easter was a pagan festival before Christians co-opted it, and it was all about the Vernal Equinox before that!