For my entire adult life, I have always heard that you should never comment about politics or religion unless you want to get into a fight. I'm not looking for a fight, but I'm going to comment about something very sensitive.
I am a Roman Catholic. I was born into the faith and for a while, turned my back on it, but happily returned. Now I know that we're supposed to go out and make converts according to The Great Commission in The Bible, but I'm guilty of not being the best evangelist when it comes to my religion.
Back in the Smock of the 1950's and 60's, you would not think that the 98% of our town's population were interested in gaining converts since most of the services were standing room only. We went to church and we kept to ourselves.
We had our annual church "bizarre" (which was the way it was spelled in our weekly bulletin). I remember the pizza and the Vernor's ginger ale. Oh mercy. And the penny pitch which was not rigged. In the nickle pitch, you could win....glassware. The bingo area was off to the left in the back lot of the Smock school. At night, you could hear Tony Pindrock's voice over the vacuum tube driven public address system as players sat beneath bare light bulbs that attracted herds of moths, bats, and other night creatures.
The notice for our church bizarre was in our church bulletin, right there next to the EXACT dollar amount that everyone in Smock gave the prior Sunday. Those that were not in the "Dollar A Sunday Club" were omitted and were labeled cheapskates by those who were published. Of course our well to do folk who gave more were at the top of the page with their $20.00 or $10.00 listed. And on Christmas, FIFTY BUCKS. Imagine the amount of popsicles you could buy for fifty bucks.
But I digress. This past week, I got a couple of e-mails from someone who wanted me to know in no uncertain terms that I was a hell-bound heathen and that my Catholic beliefs were, well, satanic and that my only salvation was to immediately turn my back on my religion and join another faith.
For her sake and for the sake of those who may write me and tell me that I am truly hell-bound, I am not going to abandon my faith. Not even if satan himself popped up out of my living room floor, held out his hand, and said "Put her there." No one to my knowledge has ever produced any factual evidence showing miles of Presbyterians or Lutherans or Jews or Methodists or Mormons in line at the pearly gates just waiting for admission, saying that it was THEIR religion that was the key to the Kingdom.
So, much to the dismay and most likely disgust of those out there who disagree, I am convinced, just like all of those good people of St. Hedwig's in Smock, that we're all on the same train, but just in different cars. Oh yeah, and then we'll have arguments about whose train car is nicer.
I wrote to this woman and asked her why she didn't accept my religion as easily as I accepted hers. I have never received a response.
So lets turn to Old Hundredth or Pange Lingua Gloriosi or the Doxology or even "Morning Has Broken" and stand up and sing. God loves us. And I'll meet you outside of the really posh dining car where all of the Catholics are.