Whaddup, Jesus?

We’ve covered abortion and race. Why not round it out with some religion?

I recently found out my friend, Olivia•, is quite religious–by my standards, anyway. She attends weekend religious conferences. I attend church when my children are baptized.

“What?” I said to myself when I found out. This is someone I’ve changed diapers next to, had drinks with, and who actually fell on the floor laughing one time when she saw the shirt I planned to wear out that night. (She is not a nice person.)

I don’t know if it struck me simply because it was noteworthy, or because she didn’t fit whatever box I placed religious people—or my friends—into. Or maybe it’s just another striking example of how people don’t talk about religion.

So I decided to talk about religion.

Just like my friend, Melanie, Olivia was sweet enough to let me interrogate her for a while online.

Olivia

  • scared… lol
Jessica
  • We’ll start easy.
  • How do you feel about gay marriage? 🙂  I’ll save that for later.
  • What religion are you? I don’t even know.

Olivia

  • Well, I grew up Catholic. I still consider myself a Catholic, but the church we attend as a family is technically Baptist.

Jessica

  • Are Baptists and Catholics similar? I grew up Catholic, too, but I can only tell you the basics.

Olivia

  • Hmm… I don’t think they’re too similar. To me, Catholicism is very strict. A Catholic mass is very organized. At the Baptist church we go to, it seems more based on interpreting the scripture.
  • Also, they’re big on fellowship…something Catholics are not known for. 😉
Jessica
  • Ha, yes. My mother was excommunicated for getting a divorce.

Olivia

  • Yeah, stuff like that.
  • Very “rules & regs.
Jessica
  • But you still consider yourself Catholic. Why?

Olivia

  • I think it’s been indoctrinated in me to feel guilty about going to a church of another denomination.
  • I don’t think I would ever convert.
Jessica
  • So, we’ll just call you a Catholobap. Or a Bathlic.

Olivia

  • Bathlic is cute
Jessica
  • It’s a nice reminder that it’s hard to define religion. It’s different for everyone.

Olivia

  • It IS hard to define religion.
  • I think it’s funny that there are so many different religions & many of them are against a member going out & attending other denomination’s services. Is that what God had in mind?
Jessica
  • So what does your religion mean to you? What do you like about it?

Olivia

  • My religion (my religion conglomerate) simply means I trust in God. He is a power higher than myself—the highest power, and I look to Him in times of sorrow, confusion, anger, joy, helplessness. God is always there when I need a question answered or just to thank Him for the great things He’s placed in my life.
  • I find peace in knowing my family and I are protected on this earth and we will also find eternal happiness when we leave it.
Jessica
  • How do you respond, then, to the skepticism some people have about your belief–that if there is an all-powerful being, he can’t be interested in each individual’s daily life?

Olivia

  • I do realize this is a difficult concept. I think God may mean something different for everyone. I think that if you believe [there is a] God and you have a connection that positively alters your life, you believe in God.
  • It’s tricky to navigate around the ideas in the Bible and pin them up against science sometimes…
Jessica
  • Yes, I can see how you can define your own belief in God but also not have all the answers. I admire faith. I wonder, sometimes, whether it takes away from people’s own strength. For instance, you say that he is there with an answer when you have a question. Do you think the answer doesn’t, then, come from within yourself?

Olivia

  • Good question.
  • I can’t say that it doesn’t come from within myself, but I choose to believe that He guides us toward paths in life.
Jessica
  • Everyone thinks her life or beliefs are normal. Do you consider yourself, as a Christian, the norm or on the fringe?

Olivia

  • I do think my life is the norm. I do realize I’m probably more “religious” than most people my age, but I’m fine with that. I want my kids to grow up knowing I am sure of who I am.
Jessica
  • Do you ever hide your religiosity from people?

Olivia

  • I do sometimes hide it because I think it can turn people off or distract them if the situation is not right. But mainly, I’m fine with putting myself out there.
Jessica
  • Why do you think it distracts people?

Olivia

  • I think it distracts people if I were to, say, make a presentation on art wearing a Jesus t-shirt.
Jessica
  • Good point. Making a religious statement is like making a political statement.

Olivia

  • Right. (…Or…Left.)
Jessica
  • It’s hard to talk about religion. It sort of sets boundaries, or so it seems. “I’m religious,” so people could assume you are drawing a line that excludes non-religious people. I’m a Democrat, generally, so if I saw someone with an elephant t-shirt, I suppose I could, and would, draw some unfair conclusions.
  • Regarding the t-shirt anyway. But I do wish people would talk more about religions, and politics, and race….

Olivia

  • They’re touchy subjects, but that’s probably why they’re so touchy—people are afraid to rock the boat. And it makes it worse.
Jessica
  • I really do think most people don’t mean to offend, and most people won’t be offended.

Olivia

  • I agree.

Jessica

  • Back to gay marriage, and other socially conservative beliefs associated with religion on topics such as abortion, do you mind letting us know what you think?
  • These are areas, obviously, that create a divide, and many people have only the opinions of the talking heads on TV to listen to (on both sides).

Olivia

  • Although I’m conservative in other areas of my life, I believe in gay marriage. I find it demeaning (and weird!) that the government can shut out a group of people and deny them happiness because of their sexuality.  People say, “In the Bible, God declares a man and a woman should be married,” but didn’t he also say, “Love one another?”
  • Oh boy. Abortion. It disgusts me and I believe it’s completely unnecessary most of the time, but I can’t say I’m in favor of the government’s control of it. I know someone whose fetus was developing without the vital parts of the brain.  I am not about to put myself in this situation, hypothetically.  One could never fully realize what that position feels like.  Also, in the instance of rape and incest, there’s no way to know which would be less harmful to the victim: bearing the child from some awful event or going through with the abortion.  I just don’t feel like I (or any politician—especially male) is qualified to make that determination.  So yeah, this is a tricky one for me because God states, “Thou shalt not kill,” and that children are blessings.  …And, I totally agree with those, too!
  • Let me know if this is too “nut-job.”
Jessica
  • It doesn’t sound nut-job. It’s thoughtful and demonstrates what a tough issue it is. I think you go a bit against the grain of what people think of when they think, “religious.” And I love that.
  • Speaking of, is there anything you think is misunderstood about religious people, in general?

Olivia

  • I think people who don’t have a religious affiliation might assume that “religious” people are very one-sided and prude. Well, coming from a large Catholic family, I see many different sides to religion. We’re gregarious and silly and like to drink. We’re not Amish.
  • We’re normal, I mean. lol
  • “Normal”
Jessica
  • Ha – you can stereotype just like the rest of them.

Olivia

  • Yep.
Jessica
  • Okay – so what we’ve learned tonight is that, a. you are normal with quotes, b. you have created a new religion called Batholicism, and c. apparently, you like to drink.

Olivia

  • Sounds about right.
Jessica
  • I so appreciate it! What do I say–mazel tov? Just kidding, I know that’s Islam.

Olivia

  • You’re welcome! Your ?’s made me think!
Jessica

  • Amen, sister.

Olivia

  • Hallelujah!

*Name changed

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