Could It Be Satan?

Dana Carvey’s old Church Lady skits on SNL were a great send-up of the stereotypical, holier-than-thou old maid who thought that anyone having fun was headed straight to H.E. Double hockey sticks. The character was funny because she was so absurd. But living here in Bible Belt makes me fear that she’s becoming more and more the norm and not just a character on late night tv.

It has come to my attention lately that there are lots of people out there who are sure that I’m going to hell. Even though I’m an active member of my church, volunteer there on a regular basis and generally try to be a compassionate person. (Except during rush hour and then all bets are off.)

But in the minds of many people, my liberal ass is doomed to eternal damnation. For the church I attend. The candidates I vote for. The causes I support.

Many years ago we lived in Arkansas and I had to go to the funeral for the father of a co-worker. It the first open casket I’d ever seen (not a practice in the Presbyterian denomination of my youth or in the Episcopalian one I profess today). And to add to the strangeness, the preacher was literally warning of the fire and brimstone the poor dead man was already experiencing unless he had “accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal savior” in the last days of his life. You could tell that the preacher was fairly certain that the devil had notched another victory in belt with this soul.

You have to understand that no church I’d ever been to had talked about hell. It wasn’t a threat. It wasn’t something held over the heads of bad little boys and girls. God wasn’t someone who punished–he forgave. So when that preacher started ranting and raving about the firey pits, I almost laughed.

An hour later, my friends and I were completely drained. Went straight from the funeral parlor to the first open bar we could find. Leaving behind a family that was frightened instead of comforted. With images of horns and pitchforks instead of still waters and peacefulness.

One other story.

One time in East Tennessee I was buying groceries at one of the local chains. When the girl (really long hair, no make-up, Little House on the Prairie dress) got to the 12-pack I was buying she looked at me and said “God don’t want you to drink beer.” “Maybe your God don’t,” I replied. “But my church dinner goup is coming over tonight and they’ll be pissed if I don’t have enough cold beer for them.”

In her mind, I was already a goner.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Could It Be Satan?

  1. Ah, the Southern churches. I was raised a Presbyterian in the heart of Babdist country and I’m pretty sure that our reverent neighbors didn’t see much difference between Presbyterians, Catholics, Muslims and Satanists. Sounds like it hasn’t changed much.

  2. Joanie

    I love your blog!! It hits home on so many levels!! I haven’t had the experiences you’ve had, but I’ve expected them!! Awesome!

  3. Karen

    Amen Sister Cindy!

  4. Julie Fisher

    THANK YOU for the great laugh. I’ll be quoting that Cindy story for a long time to come. Might even bring it to mind on my death bed so I’ll die with a smile.
    God bless ’em–all those who “glow” (as my Mama used to say). Must be nice to be able to call it for the Lord Himself.

  5. Hahaha, that kills me. Since I’ve lived here, I’ve been nervous about bringing booze to non-Episcopal things. Luckily it’s always been accepted!

  6. hereinfranklin

    Freeman–I never even knew a Catholic until junior high–unless you count Scarlett O’Hara.

    Joanie and KB–thanks for reading, I love getting comments so come back often.

    Julie–you may quote me as often as you like.

    Kira–that’s the way I felt in East Tennessee. I’m more familiar with the territory here in Franklin.

  7. Meeting the southern religious types, it’s easier to see why religous groups tear some countries apart. It’s their way or the highway.

    I love your response to the girl who tried to warn you against buying beer. Now THAT is my kind of church dinner! 🙂

  8. The first time I brought wine to a family dinner you’d have thought the ground was going to open up and swallow me. Now, a week before, the fam calls me with their requests. The family that drinks together, well, drinks together, I guess.

  9. hereinfranklin

    Jennifer–they can be pretty scary…but I think you’ll find them just about anywhere.

    Dingo–does that mean you’re always stuck with the tab? Thanks for reading!

  10. donnadawn

    Cindy, this made me wet my pants. My family was here for Christmas and we had a party, most of the guests being from St. Paul’s. Of course, alcohol in in, on, and under everything I made. My aunt walked around the house afterward anointing things with oil and muttering in tongues. I had to bury my face in my pillow to keep the shrieks of laughter from further offending her.

  11. Great post. I feel the same way. I am a Christian, attend church regularly, etc. yet I am more liberal leaning, I vote Democrat more times than I vote Republican, care about the environment and support many causes that are typically labeled causes of the left. I am not really sure when the Republicans gained exclusive rights over Christianity. By the way, I love this blog. I came across it by accident when looking up information on Harper Lee. Your To Kill a Mockingbird post came up.

  12. Sarah…many thanks and welcome to Franklin. Sounds like we have a lot in common. It’s always interesting to find a new reader.

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