[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was raised going to church. It’s part of who I am. Like many of my friends, I grew up in the heart of the Bible Belt. Religion was in our drinking water, you couldn’t avoid it.
No more than you could avoid talking like a hick.
My daddy’s parents were staunch German Catholics. Two of my great-aunts were nuns. Masses were in Latin. Daddy told me to answer anything I heard in church with, “Miserere mei Deus.” Which means: Lord have mercy.
Occasionally, I still use the phrase.
But now I say it during baseball games.
My mother was religious – hardcore. She’s just like a lot of church ladies. She believes in the healing power of lemon chicken casserole, macaroni and cheese, and pound cake. Baked in foil-covered dishes.
You can keep the dishes.
My friend Charles was raised atheist. He’s like a brother to me, but I can’t begin to understand what his childhood must’ve been like.
“My parents didn’t have many friends,” said Charles. “They were scientists. They questioned everything, trusted no one.”
Charles explained, “I thought church-folks were just members of a big social club. Looking for an excuse to hang out with their friends. Singing, having potlucks, eating fried chicken and potato salad.”
Don’t forget biscuits, Charles.
He shook his head. “I grew up thinking y’all were nicey-nice, soft people. Folks who used the idea of God to help you through hard times. Because you were too weak to handle it on your own.”
I couldn’t have said it any better, Charles. Not even if I tried.
Lord, have mercy.