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: