Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Serial Churchgoer" by Carolyn O'Neal

I am a serial churchgoer. A pious, non-threatening version of the serial killer. Like my dastardly counterpart, I have a specific pattern: I stalk my victims, plan my attack, collect mementoes and then move on to my next target, leaving confusion in my wake.

I began my life of serial churchgoing when I moved from the San Francisco Bay area. Church in California is different from church in Charlottesville. In California, I considered myself an oppressed minority. I didn’t go to one of the hundreds of Catholic Churches in the Bay area. Nor did I belong to any of the innumerable cults, sects or whatevers. In California, I was a Protestant. The Episcopal Church I belonged to campaigned for gay rights because we knew what it felt like to be outsiders.

Then I moved to Virginia and began attending a local Episcopal Church. It was packed. I was greeted with smiles and welcomes and please come backs. The church was beautiful. Actually, everyone was beautiful. Lovely and trim with perfect hair and teeth. Except me. In the pew was a little card for visitors. I dutifully filled it out and about a week later received a post card from the church. It was beautiful.

I next tried one of the big Baptist Churches downtown. It was packed. Again, smiles, welcomes and please come backs. I dutifully filled out the visitors’ card. A few hours later, I received a phone call, then a personal visit in my home from two nice smelling gentlemen with full heads of hair. They gave me literature and asked if I had questions. I told them I thought Jesus was wrong when he condemned both divorce and washing your hands before you eat and that I believed in legalizing gay marriage. They never came back.

Seeking anonymity, I decided next time I would not fill out the visitor’s card. I stalked another large downtown church. Its parking lot was full of BMW’s and giant range rovers. Oh my. I’d have to buy a new wardrobe. I’d have to park blocks away from the church. This was a real problem. How could I park blocks away and still wear high heels?

I had to find either a laid back popular church in which I could wear my Nike’s or an unpopular church where I could park close to the front door and wear high heels. I drove around searching for my next victim. Oops, I mean my next visit.

I finally found one--a quiet church with few cars parked in the lot on Sunday morning. It wasn’t packed. I was greeted with smiles and welcomes and please come backs by elderly ladies with blue hair. I looked around. Everyone was twenty years or more older than me, and since I’m over fifty, that’s saying a lot.

My search continues.

What have I learned from this experience? Protestant Christianity in the south is too easy. There are too many churches and if you don’t like one because of the preacher or the parking or the people, you can drift away and find another a block down the road. Maybe if there were only one or two Protestant Churches in all of Albemarle County, I could settle down. Maybe then I’d be happy because I’d be oppressed minority again.

Maybe I should become Catholic.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this, I went through exactly the same thing when we first came down from NY.



About Me

I write for lots of different venues, so this blog provides links to those places. Plus, occasionally, stuff that appears no where else . . .