One of the characteristics of the conservative community that I previously did not appreciate is their loyalty.
To me, their blind devotion to tradition, people, and ideas was mostly dangerous.
But, in a crisis, it is that same devotion that becomes important.
My grandmother’s extended family has all made huge efforts to come see her. Most of the siblings have come, even those from the SW USA. They’ve scrambled to trade shifts and several family members stayed behind to do the work of those who came, on top of their own.
The church they belong to has mobilized. People have been visiting every day. Food is being sent. One woman opened up her house for most of the out-of-town visitors to stay in (the rest are at my house).
People often come to visit and pray. Some prayers are mini-sermons. Some pray for physical healing. When its my turn I speak words of peace. No sense wasting a good placebo effect, but why on earth the guilt tripping? [Your life and how you lived it are garbage, but don’t worry, Jesus will forgive you if you feel bad about it.] Is that supposed to be comforting?
This is a community that loves to give, but not receive. Those outside of the family are delighted to help. Those inside the family fight over who gets to do what.
Instead of doing dishes or digging potatoes, they now argue over who stays the night at the hospital and who gets to sleep in a bed. No one wants to sleep. Everyone thinks that they are responsible for buying and preparing food for everyone else. No one wants to eat.
Until my mom arrived, I was actually enjoying most of it. My purpose was to keep Grandpa and my aunts from breaking down. I got the visitors to tell funny stories and share their memories. I sang hymns about peace, conveniently leaving out verses about death and sin. The feeling of community and camaraderie was bittersweet but strong.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself, actually. I smiled at one aunt when she made snide comments about university. (Only trades and professions are valid reasons to go to school. Yes, study nursing, but never history.)
Another aunt lamented about her son’s liberalness since he thought it was ok to drink beer. I said nothing.
We changed the topic from government policy to how fantastic the RNs and LPNs are.
It was harder to stay silent when my mom started making comments.
“Even atheists agree that redemption theology works! It changes lives, not like the social gospel.”
“If Jesus said that the epileptic boy had an evil spirit, then he did. Jesus knows everything. So I must have evil spirits too.”
“I am so glad that I know that I know that I know who god is and that he loves me and will always be there for me.”
“I’m just a rotten sinner. Being forced to take the blame for something I didn’t do was good for me, since it helped me appreciate what Jesus did.”
“We just can’t understand god’s ways. Our intellects can deceive us. But I’m not worrying about you, God knows how to work with everyone.”
It amuses me to be the incarnation of evil around this community. I represent what they abhor. I don’t vote Conservative, I’ll advocate for birth control and abortion rights, I don’t believe Jesus is God, the Bible infallible or even divine. I think women are as human as men. Money should be spent to aid those with disabilities, and even refugees. I don’t think all sex outside of marriage is necessarily wrong. I don’t think homosexuality is immoral. I’ll drink alcohol when not breastfeeding. One aunt homeschools to protect her kids from people like me
Right now, those things don’t matter. They are loyal because we’re family. Of course, only my mom knows what I think about those things. Maybe if the others knew me better it would be different. Maybe I’d be treated like my cousin who is an unmarried father.
I appreciate the loyalty and devotion. Even if it scares me when applied to traditions instead of people.