Conversations with Conservatives

I had a lot of practice with small talk on the weekend, mostly with evangelical friends and relatives I hadn’t seen for a while. My surprise over some of the conversations let me see how my thinking has changed.

Homeschooling Mom and I were talking about our kids and how they like biking.  She has 3 boys and a baby girl.  She told me that boys like riding bikes more than girls because they are boys.  She went on to describe how her middle boy loves biking naturally as he is a boy.  No comment on her other two boys’ unenthusiastic relationship with their bikes.  Then she talked about how her baby girl is also obsessed with bikes.  However, the baby is only interested because she sees the family biking.  It isn’t because she actually likes bikes, being female.

Later, Lil’T came up to me.  “Mom, that lady is crazy.  I like bikes and I’m a girl.  That’s silly.”

Well said, Lil’T.

——————————————————————-

At a jewelry party, I was sitting with a woman whose husband is a lawyer.  She was talking about her husband’s difficulty in the first place he worked as if he was the only one who had not found the perfect job on the first try.  I told the story of a lawyer friend of mine who left his first job because he found the firm to be unethical.  The second workplace didn’t foster respect in the workplace, and he is now enjoying his third job.

Her first response, “Oh, he is a Christian!”

“Umm, no.”  This guy is an atheist, polyamorous and bisexual.   He isn’t even christian in the loose, cultural connotation.

She looked bewildered.  “Then how did he know it was unethical?”

I assured her my friend has high moral standards.  I didn’t mention he would think it immoral to follow a god who commanded genocide and promoted slavery.

She went on to tell me that God is calling her to homeschool her kids to protect them from the other kids they’d meet at public schools.  Sincerely sweet, she did apologize in case it came across that she was judging those in the public school system.

————————————————————————-

After my birthday supper, one person stayed later and asked me to pray she would find a new job.  I asked why, since I thought she liked her new place.

She said she had been asked to do things that went against her faith.  I couldn’t imagine what an elementary school would ask of her that would go against her faith.

Then she leaned over and quietly spelled out “y …. o…..g…..a”.

I had no sympathy for her feelings of violation for being asked to assist a child with disabilities so they could participate with the class activity.  When I asked why she thought that violated her faith she said it was because the Hindus started it.

“Well, the Buddhists practice acupuncture.  The Muslims and Zeus worshipers developed modern medicine.  You use both of those.”

She wasn’t impressed.

I prayed with her, feeling conflicted.  Yes, it brings her comfort and yes I can sneak in sermons like finding the joy where you are, but I feel like I am ultimately undermining her own autonomy and confidence in herself.

_______________________________________________

I’m not sure I would hold onto gender stereotypes in the face of obvious contradiction, but I did once think that morality came from an external authority and was suspicious of yoga until I learned what it was.  These are smart people who listen too much to other people’s stupid ideas.

But I did get to use my new respect of fashion in helping someone pick which necklace to buy!  Actually, it was the stuff about colour and line harmony I’m working on in art class that was most helpful.  Either way, win!

Here is another example of what I’m learning in art class.  This is my mischievous niece:

14 thoughts on “Conversations with Conservatives

  1. TWF says:

    I love that painting of your niece! Great job with the hair!

    Then how did he know it was unethical?
    All of these stories made me laugh a bit. I’ve encountered those views before, and I think they are epitomized in the quote above.

    Like you say, they are smart people, but clearly what they are exposed to warps their sense of reality. Is religion harmful? In most ways, probably not, and may even be somewhat beneficial at times. On the other hand, yes, yes it can be harmful, especially when it blinds you from the benefits of reality and from the compassionate understanding of other people.

    OK, enough preaching to the choir. 😉

  2. jen says:

    YOGA?? These conversations made me chuckle and made me feel like my head was spinning… you are a lot stronger than I would have been.

  3. prairienymph says:

    I would have laughed at the credulity over non-christians having morals, but I was so surprised.
    I did laugh when I figured out the faith violation was yoga. Took a second because she wouldn’t say the word and just kept spelling it out until I figured out what she was doing.
    I think religion is harmful in these cases. The first one refuses to let go of her gender binary since “God made them male and female”. I can see how it affects her marriage and I know it will affect her kids.
    The middle one is so scared of non-Christians that she is keeping her kids isolated. Fear + self-righteousness = no good
    The last one is putting up barriers between herself and her coworkers and ultimately sabotaging her career.

  4. Ahab says:

    Yoga!? Seriously? Did this person even bother to research yoga? My God.

    “She went on to tell me that God is calling her to homeschool her kids to protect them from the other kids they’d meet at public schools. Sincerely sweet, she did apologize in case it came across that she was judging those in the public school system.”

    Of course she was judging them, or else she wouldn’t see them as some kind of toxic moral threat. What’s the worst the public school children could teach her kids? Questioning? New perspectives? Rock music? Gay-feminist-evolutionist-wicca? Sheesh.

    • prairienymph says:

      She thought she was making me feel bad for exposing my kids to non-Christian kids. My kids would be some of the ones who scare her, what with their understanding of non-deity induced morality and knowing that gender isn’t binary and sexual orientation isn’t a moral choice. Of course, she was bullied as a child sand I completely understand that part of it. There can be excellent reasons for homeschooling and I think most of hers are.

      You don’t research what you’ve been told is an insidious gateway to Hinduism. You stay as far away as possible! The only reason I looked into it a few years back was because another Christian I respected told me about its benefits.

      Thanks, SJ. Its your composition, so technically you could sue me if I tried to sell it. Send pics of the others if you want.

  5. SJH says:

    Yoga has got me laughing too!!!

    So proud of Lil’ T for her response on Biking! She makes me proud of her strength I hope that stays with her in the times that matters most.

    Absolutely love your painting of Peanut! I’m in tears its so amazing!

  6. ... Zoe ~ says:

    Beautiful artwork.

    Love Lil’ T’s “crazy” remark. Good on her!

    As one who has been there, done that . . . yoga, yup, bad bad bad. Anything to do with any other religions or the new age . . . there is a constant undertone in the schools rumbling, caused my evangelicals/fundamentalists (yes I know not everyone sees them the same) that these things are gateways to introducing Satan and his demons into their lives. All religion in any way shape or form other than born-again Christianity is of the devil. No ands-ifs-or-buts about it. Even researching them can be a gateway. Fear takes over and if you do research then you are actively sinning and now you’ve got to repent for that and it’s a merry-go-round. Then if you start having problems, illness, financial, social etc., well then now it is all about that little gateway that opened up and Satan slipped in and voila now you have to start into the whole spiritual warfare thingy to rebuke the devil and cleanse yourself of demonic influence. (Did I mention been there done that?) :mrgreen:

  7. First, absolutely gorgeous painting. You have a gift that I can only appreciate. Beautiful!

    Second, I’m speechless. Yet I have experienced similar conversations. I don’t understand how we can all live in the same world yet interpret reality in such profoundly different ways. Yoga?!

  8. Ahab says:

    By the way, does anyone here meditate? Have you encountered fundamentalist Christians who react to meditation with the same disdain that they do yoga? I meditate regularly with a meditation group, and some of the Christians I’ve known were less than thrilled about it.

  9. prairienymph says:

    We got _Meditation for Dummies_ out from the library. My lover found everything pretty much common sense, but I have been using the techniques to help the kids calm down after nightmares. Thankfully, they don’t happen very often.
    I did tell the woman she could use the yoga time to meditate on god. But, like Zoe says, even that is dangerous. At least the phrase ‘meditate on god’ is familiar to Christians.

  10. tlethbridge says:

    Great post. I like your ability to still appreciate the individuals holding these mindsets and respect their motives. Most of what I read by people who have deconverted from a conservative religious perspective is not nearly so charitable. I find myself spending a considerable amount of time as an outsider on the inside, now. I work in a profession that is quite insular and nearly every friend I have outside of work is connected through church. I find myself in similar conversations and try to remind myself that it was not that long ago I shared their world-life view.

    • prairienymph says:

      Sometimes I can easily see the fundamentalist point of view and other times I just can’t. Even when I know I used to share it. Sounds like you are in a pretty difficult place to be relationally. Have you checked out meet-up groups?

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