Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stepping Stones

The summer after I graduated from college, I got a job working for a Christian group in a national park. In particular, I worked along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's beautiful there. If you haven't been yet, perhaps you should consider it for your next vacation :) PM me if you want to know good spots :) At any rate, the job involved leading a Christian church service at one of the nearby campgrounds each Sunday morning. In addition to this job, I also worked at this country club lodge that was nearby. The two jobs could not have been more different.

The Sunday morning job was awesome. I love meeting new people and sitting and talking to them about just about anything. That was the best part of the job. Plus I got to use my writing since I did the preaching every week. It is a very humbling job to speak to so many people week after week, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I had several regular people at the services, which surprised me. I expected a new crowd every week, but several people from the nearby towns came frequently, too. The result was that I got to know several people quite well as the summer wore on. It was really neat to develop relationships of sorts with people from all different church backgrounds or even non-church backgrounds in a few cases. It was cool.

My other job involved kissing the asses of these whiney rich people (stress the whiney) who really had no clue how the other half lived. I frequently spent my hours at the job immensely pissed off. This particular country club hosts some of the wealthiest white Protestant Republicans in the country. I won't go into details, but one was involved in a pretty severe anti-women case the summer I worked there. Others were retired Congressmen (never women) and judges from very high courts. For the most part, these people were not nice. They were mysogynistic, homophobic racists. They also had their very own exclusionary churches by the lodge, and they were really more or less incapable of running them. They even had the front desk of the lodge count their offerings because they were just beyond doing that themselves.

That summer did more to shape my political beliefs, and as a result my religious beliefs, than anything I had experienced so far. I hadn't realized people like the ones at the country club actually existed until then, and it pissed me off that they did. I moved even further left than I already was and really began to appreciate Jesus' messages calling for the care of the poor. I really became a "social justice" Christian because of that summer, and for that reason alone, I'm grateful to that country club.

1 comment:

gardener said...

What an object lesson -- some of the worst advertisements for Christianity are the Christians themselves! I once saw a t-shirt that said: "Lord Jesus -- protect me from your followers." There is a lot of truth in that silly, t-shirt slogan.